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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Number 949


Let's get small


When I began reading and collecting Golden Age Comics I liked the Captain Marvel stories and their sense of humor. It wasn't that other comics, even comics of "my" era, the early 1960s, couldn't be funny. It was just that the Captain Marvel stories seemed to be built on humor, rather than just having humor injected into some of the stories. Even today, looking at this not-untypical battle between Captain Marvel and villain Sivana I'm impressed by the sense of fun that permeates the strip. Maybe that's why I don't care about most superhero comics; they take themselves too seriously.

After all, the premise of Captain Marvel is a kid turning into a superhuman adult by using a magic word. What's sillier than that? But with the tongue-in-cheek scripting of Otto Binder and artwork by Peter Costanza the story works. In what other superhero comic would you see the villain when caught yell "Eek!" or be defeated by a clout to the head and a sound effect, "Bong!"? "Sivana's Capsule Kingdom" is from Captain Marvel Adventures #134, 1952.








6 comments:

Jeff Overturf said...

You're right about the humor, Pappy...that Big Red Cheese was nothing BUT fun. Never did they feel the need to give a pseudo scientific explanation of how Sivana's schemes worked, they just DID. If only comics, or just about anything, could be this fun again!

Worf said...

Did you ever notice how much Dr. Sivana resembles Drew Carey? makes you think, don't it...

Chuck Wells said...

I'ts this very factor that has rendered most modern use of the Big Red Cheese unreadable.

I thought that the recently cancelled DC Kids series, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, was the best Captain Marvel comic since Binder and Schaffenberger's 1970's era stuff, particularly when Mike Norton illustrated the latter issues.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I always thought Alan Moore made up the bit where Billy didn't change into Captain Marvel but was swapped with his from another dimension for Miracle Man, but here the Captain talks about Billy in the third person as well...!

Pappy said...

Ger, there is a dual thing going on in the Captain Marvel stories. Cap does refer to Billy in the third person sometimes. Alan Moore was updating the concept, giving the magic lightning some sort of explanation, but it was really unnecessary in this earlier series. It was just understood by the readers, young boys with power fantasies, wishing they could say a magic word, become a big, strong, handsome man who could beat the crap out of everyone!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Ah, but the beauty of Allan Moore's concept was that they didn't! They were just replaced by him! Doesn't make it less fun, though.