Here at VillainPaper, we believe Saturday mornings are for cartoons and comics! In that tradition, each Saturday morning we highlight two or more comics that we're reading to kick off the weekend. Every comic we feature in this space is available right here on VillainPaper, any time on any device! Check out today's offerings and then hit the "Join" button below, or click here for some free reads!
This weekend we're proud to showcase some iconic Golden Age comics featuring Captain Marvel, a character more popular than Superman for a time in the 1940s! Given Captain Marvel's success in his own comic, publisher Fawcett in 1942 expanded the line to include a bevy of sidekicks and family members that together were the Marvel Family. Today, you can find Captain Marvel's spiritular successor, Shazam!, among the DC comics line.
Captain Marvel Adventures #18
A product of artist C.C. Beck's imagination, Captain Marvel debuted for Fawcett in Whiz Comics #2 (Feb. 1940). Much like Batman's and Superman's alter egos of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, respectively, Captain Marvel's alter ego was a young boy named Billy Batson. Upon speaking the word "Shazam" to call upon the powers of ancient gods and heroes (channeled through an almost-as-ancient sorcer), Batson could transform in a powerhouse of speed, agility and strength.
With the help of artist Peter Costanza, Beck's iconic character took off. By December 1942, Captain Marvel had been firmly established among the top comics at the time. Fawcett's "Red Unit," consisting of the Captain Marvel Adventures, Captain Midnight, and Funny Animals titles, nearly tripled in circulation between July and December 1942, when Issue #18 was released.
Issue #18 is notable for Mary Marvel's addition to the Captain Marvel family, a creation of Captain Marvel writer Otto Binder and artist Marc Swayze. Mary Marvel was the alter ego of Mary Batson (introduced as Mary Bromfield in this issue), Billy Batson's long-lost twin sister. She joined Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. (aka Freddy Freeman) as the only other individuals granted the power of Shazam!
Issue #18 features Mary's origin story and discovery of her superpowers! But there's plenty more ... Batson ally Professor Archimedes Bram completes his "Imagino-Reproducer" with terryfing results ... evil thief Brutus Duval and gang crash the first annual meeting of the "Society for the Collection of Obtuse What-Nots" ... and Captain Marvel has to save Tim Tucket from his own wishes!
The Marvel Family # 46
From Captain Marvel's earliest days, the evil scientist Dr. Sivana has been his greatest adversary (this is still true today with the DC Comics reboot), following Captain Marvel through his own series, as well as Fawcett's other Captain Marvel titles Whiz Comics and The Marvel Family! The mad scientist's aims are deftly described in the opening panel of the Marvel Family #46:
As we all know, Dr. Sivana has but one aim---to smash civilization and rule the world! Yet will his dread name become honored, and ring down through history as the greatest intelletual genius of all time, far above Edison, Newton or Einstein? Such is the fantastic development the mighty Marvel Family must battle on the grim day when civilization vanishes!
Intrigued how Dr. Sivana could possibly achieve this? Why, in true 1940's sci-fi style, through a series of ray guns, of course! An immateriality ray turns human innovation into a ghost, while Dr. Sivana's amnesia ray eradicates all human memory ... and turns him into the superhero!
You'll just have to subscribe to see how the story ends! And while you're at it, make sure to check out Issue #46's other features: Mary Marvel's "Adventures in Robot Paradise," and Captain Marvel, Jr. in "The Mystery of the Vanishing Whales!" Plus, Captain Marvel has to figure out what's turning everyday citizens to stone!