Created by Bill Parker & C. C. Beck
Captain Marvel Jr. created by France Herron, C. C. Beck & Mac Raboy
created by Otto Binder & Marc Swayze
NAME + ALIASES:
William "Billy" Batson, Captain Marvel
Merrill and Jocelyn Batson (parents, deceased), Mary Batson Bromfield (sister), Ebenezer (uncle, deceased)
The Marvel Family
Whiz Comics #2 (Feb. 1940)
NAME + ALIASES:
The Marvel Family
Historical: Whiz Comics #2 (Feb. 1940)
The "Marvel Family" consists of six individuals who have been granted special powers by the ancient wizard Shazam and one fake. He himself wielded similar powers for 3,000 years, before the rise of the first historic civilizations. Later, in dynastic Egypt, he tried giving the powers to Teth-Adam, known now Black Adam, but this hero turned villain. Shazam determined to wait a while and, when his death was imminent, to pass his powers on to children who were pure in heart.
So, when his time came, Shazam had a mysterious figure bring newsboy Billy Batson to him, and gave the lad the mystic powers, which Billy gained by saying the wizard's name and changing to Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal. (Whiz Comics #2)
Golden Age Captain Marvel (Fawcett Comics)
The first issue of Whiz Comics was actually an ashcan edition published to secure the rights to the name. Therefore, the indicia of first actual issue of Whiz Comics indicates it as issue number 2 (there is no number on the cover). But by the third published issue, the numbering was corrected to reflect actual number of comics that had been published. For this reason, those first three issues are sometimes also referred to with absolute numbers in brackets, e.g., Whiz Comics #2.
The next additions to the Marvel Family came when Billy, now working as a newscaster at station WHIZ, met three boys who shared his name: Tall Billy Batson from Texas, Fat Billy Batson from Brooklyn, and Hill Billy Batson from Nashville. These nicknames were chosen to differentiate them from the famous Billy. Tall Billy lives on a ranch, while Hill Billy, son of Zebediah Batson, is now a country-and-western singer.
Billy shared with the other boys his secret — that he was Captain Marvel. Even so, they were reluctant even to speak the magic word "Shazam!"
Then Sivana entered the picture, with three evil associates: bandit "Biggy" Brix, Nazi agent Herr Geyer (from the German geier-vulture), and the strange Captain Death. Each of these was sent by Sivana to capture Billy Batson — but they each caught one of Billy's namesakes. The evil scientist sent a message to Billy to come in that identity or his friends would die.
Billy knew he was walking into a trap, but he took the chance — and the four boys wound up tied to a log in a sawmill, with Billy gagged. He managed to get his gag off by holding his head just close enough to the saw. But the machinery made so much noise, it drowned out his shouts. The other three Billies added their voices, and the word was audible. And all four became '"Captain Marvels." But the others agreed there was only one real Captain Marvel, so they became his "second lieutenants" — the three Lieutenant Marvels. (The four were known for a time as the Squadron of Justice.) (Whiz Comics #21)
After defeating the villains, the three other Billies agreed to speak the magic word only in concert with the first Billy. They first broke this agreement when Billy was framed for treason and they went to his assistance as the Liueutanant Marvels.
The next family member was Captain Marvel Jr. (Whiz Comics #25) followed by Mary MarveI (Captain Marvel Adventures #18). Then came Uncle Marvel.
Mary Batson kept a diary of her work as Mary Marvel — her Good Deed Ledger, as she called it. One day she lost it and it was found by a fat fellow named Dudley, who read it and thus learned the secrets of Mary, Billy, and the rest of the Marvel Family. He then introduced himself as Mary's long-lost Uncle Dudley from California. ("Everybody has an unknown uncle from California," he said.) Moreover, when they both said "Shazam!" Dudley also changed — into Uncle Marvel! Actually, he had slipped out of his outer clothes, which concealed his costume and were fitted with zippers for quick removal.
Dudley then set up a Shazam, lncorporated, with himself as president, explaining he would donate the proceeds of money paid for the Marvels' work to a good cause, and later he followed up on this by making the company nonprofit. Mary soon realized he was a fraud when he said ''Shazam!'' without changing. But he was so good-hearted, she decided to let him think she was fooled, and the other Marvel Family members did the same.
Uncle Marvel often begged off when he was supposed to fly by claiming he had "shazam-bago." Once he used an invention of his — a collapsible rocket motor — to fly, but it didn't work properly and was soon abandoned. (Wow Comics #18)
It appears that Dudley is his last name, as he has a real niece named Mary Dudley (called Freckles). Although she sometimes wore a Mary MarveI dress and called herself Freckles Marvel, she never pretended to have Shazam powers and is not regarded as a true member of the Marvel Family. (Wow Comics #35)
Another who has the Shazam powers Is Hoppy, or Captain Marvel Bunny. He lives in a world of funny animals, however, and is not a member of the Marvel Family. (Fawcett's Funny Animals #1)
» FIRST APPEARANCE:
- The Lieutenant Marvels: Whiz Comics #21 (Sept. 5, 1941)
- Named the "Marvel Family": Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (Dec. 11, 1942)
- Uncle Marvel: Wow Comics #18 (October 1943)
- The united Marvel Family: Marvel Family #1 (Dec. 1945)
- Entire Marvel Family, including the Lieutenants: Marvel Family #2 (June 1946)
Captain Marvel Comes to DC Comics
» SEE ALSO: Publishing History
Twenty Years Later... Shazam! (1973)
It was 1954, and Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel Jr. were attending a public ceremony in their honor, Dr. Sivana (with his children Georgia and Sivana Jr.) zapped them with a ray that spirited them away to space. Sivana had invented Suspendium, an element that would to place the heroes in suspended animation forever. But one clumsy move by Sivana Jr. thrust their spaceship into the sphere of Suspendium, too. Note: In the letters of Shazam! #9, C.C. Beck said their home city was never named, but generally agreed to be New York.
There they remained for twenty years. The Suspendium was finally 'melted' when they had all drifted close enough to the sun, which vaporized the sphere. Captain Marvel freed his friends and the Sivanas escaped.
When they returned to Earth, they found that many of their friends (including Uncle Dudley, Joan Jameson, Sterling Morris, Cissie Sommerly, Ma and Pa Potter, Prof. Edgewise, Beautia and Magnificus Sivana and Mr. Tawky Tawny) had also been suspended during this time. Sivana returned to his mountain hideaway to perfect his death projector, but Cap quickly found him and sent him to face justice. (Shazam! #1) Note: The letter column of Shazam! #22 declared that Billy, Mary and Freddy were 14 years old.
Mr. Tawky Tawny became a tour guide at the local museum. As he talked about the evil Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil, the building rumbled and fell to pieces. Mr. Mind had escaped with his glasses and voice amplifier and directed an army of insects to undermine the building's foundation. Mind launched a missile attack but Cap managed to swiftly return the alien worm to prison. (#2) Mister Mind later claimed that he survived his fate by regenerated his body from a piece broken off from his corpse. (#7) Later Tawny struggled to control his animal impulses when he was captured and subjected to a catnip potion. (#7)
...new friends... Afterwards, Cap met Sunny Sparkle, "the nicest guy in the world," whose presence made people more pleasant and giving. (#2)
Sometimes Billy struggled to understand contemporary culture such as dances and slang. He asked Shazam to look his real age, but learned that it would affect Captain Marvel, too. He grasped a mystic hourglass and was transformed into a full grown man. When next he needed Cap's abiilities, he found that his alter ego now possessed the body of a teenager — and couldn't control his powers. He ultimately decided to reverse the change. (#3)
Many of Cap's old enemies resurfaced in the time just after his return. Stanley Printwhistle, aka Ibac, had gone straight despite the encouragement of his infernal patrons. (#4) Aunt Minerva returned wanting Cap to become her sixth husband. (#10)
Jarl 499-642-831 came from the year 2349, a reporter for Billy's own Amalgamated Broadcasting System. They shared a case about Dr. Thomas Kilowatt, who invented a Midas machine that started turning the whole world into gold. (#12)
Mister Mind next reappeared inside a Georgia Sivana's apple. He proposed reforming the Monster Society with Sivana and Ibac. They challenged the Marvels to a death duel and plotted to use Mind's new death ray. Only Sivana escaped round one of this contest; he then accidentally created a society of real monsters, all bearing his own likeness. (#14)
Shazam! on Television
The television series Shazam! debuted in the fall of 1974. In comics, the series was bumped up to 100 pages beginning with issue #15 (which carried an ad for the show as well). This issue included Captain Marvel's first crossover with Superman of Earth-One. Lex Luthor (who came from "another dimension") invented a magic accumulator that reacted to a Shazam comic book. Luthor was transported to Earth-S, where he soon witnesses Captain Marvel in action. Luthor teamed up with Mister Mind whom he recognized from the Earths-One comic books. They managed to trap Billy underwater, but not for long. Luthor beat a retreat uses it again to send himself hom but as soon as he arrives Superman is there to capture him. (#15) Note: Two issues later, in the letters column of Shazam! #17, editor Julius Schwartz responded to a fan with an official designation for the Fawcett Earth: "It would be too confusing to have two Earth-Ones, so maybe we should call the SHAZAM planet Earth-S."
Shazam! #15-?? contained a series titled. Each issue talked about Shazam's benefactors in detail. The letters of 15 about Hercules.
There were no major changes in tone for the comic book . Old foes like the vengeful Prof. Gilbert Thorne replaced a civic statue with one of the Seven Deadly Sins (#16)
After a string of 100-page issues, the book returned to 36 pages and despite the fact that the character was on television, Shazam! #21–24 featured only reprint stories.
His new foe, the pointy-eared Zazzo, came from another dimension (and bore resemblance to Mr. Mxyzptlk). He managed to channels Shazam's magic lightning into himself, transforming into a reverse-colored version of Cap. But when Freddy accessed his own powers, Zazzo's were withdrawn. (#19)
Sterling Morris ordered Billy to uncover Captain Marvel's secret identity after one Miss Bridges implicated Maxwell Zodiac as the hero. Billy, Mary and Freddy found that Zodiac had indeed also been granted superpowers by the magic lightning, at the same time as Billy's first transformation. The magic Zodiac in three, and he retreated to various labs to invent mostly-innocuous champions to battle the Marvels. When he was struck again by the magic lightning, he recombined and then flew away. (#20)
In the fall of 1976, the Shazam! series was retooled in 1976. After a slight pause in publishing, and when the television series was in its third season, the comic began sporting a special DC logo. Shazam! #25 was heralded as "A DC TV Comic." and the cover featured Cap's TV costar, Isis. Like the Marvels, "television's favorite heroine" (in her second TV season) was part human, part goddess. By day, Isis was Andrea Thomas, who had acquired the amulet and scroll of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt. These artifacts gave her the powers of nature and of animals.
witness a school demolition, making way for a new one. When a coworker is trapped in rubble, Andrea spreads her arms and says "Isis O Might Isis!" and is transformed, uses telekinesis to save her. Cap arrives after to meet her. S Their friend Cindy gets into trouble, Isis gets wind, summons power of wind to fly. Ad with Shazam and Isis, and Super Friends. She commands gold to act to her will to defeat her quarry. Bridwell and Schaffenberger: Billy and assistant Whitey Murphy prepare a story about great younger heroes, runs afoul of Sivana. Sterling Morris prepares to send Billy on a long trip. Plug for JLA appearance. Last issue under Schwartz. (#25) Following this, Isis starred in her own comic book, which lasted for eight issues from 1976–78 (when the show ended as well).
The Fawcett stable of characters were introduced to the greater DC multiverse in a three-issue crossover with the Justice League ... (Justice League of America #)Writer Len Wein had been bringing back lots of "forgotten" characters from DC's Golden Age and genre features, and from Quality Comics (whose characters were also acquired, in 1956).
Easy Traveling Heroes
Billy was assigned by Sterling Morris to report from a tour across America. Uncle Dudley was his driver, and Shazam arranged it so that Billy could call upon his patrons at any time… using the Eterni-Phone. They set out in a souped up van for Washington, D.C., where, coincidentally, Doctor Sivana had just made the Capitol building disappear. Billy rang up Hercules for his expertise; the demigod told him that the building hadn't moved. Captain Marvel deduced the truth, traveling via the Rock of Eternity to 100 million years in the past — where Sivana had hidden the building. (Shazam! #26)
Billy and Dudley's reporting path followed Sivana, next to Philadelphia. There the mad scientist used a reincarnation machine to recreate Blackbeard, and other historical villains. The god Mercury sent Kid Eternity and Mr. Keeper to help Cap by summoning their own army from the past. (#27) Soon after this, the Marvel Family would discover that Kid Eternity was actually Freddy Freeman's long-lost brother. (World's Finest #279)
In Boston, Sivana used his reincarnation machine to bring back Teth-Adam. When the Egyptian emerged from his coffin, he uttered "Shazam!" and became Black Adam again. Adam destroyed the machine and made for the Rock of Eternity. After another round trip to the past, Dudley tricked Adam him into saying "Shazam," and Marvel hit him with an "amnesia punch" so he would not remember to say it again. (Shazam! #28)
Sivana next tried to pit Ibac against Captain Marvel. But Ibac's alter ego, Stanley Printwhistle, hated being Ibac and once he'd changed back, Sivana was captured at last. (#29)
Even prison could not stop Sivana from inventing new menaces. After reading about Superman in Action Comics, he created a robot brain to create his own "man of steel." He created an android of Joe Magarac, a legedary Serbo-Croatian hero who was made of metal. Sivana made an army of robots, which Cap countered by calling in the entire Marvel Family including the Lieutenant Marvels. (#30)
Billy's working tour was no quieter with Sivana out of the picture. In Columbus, Ohio, Mister Mind unleashed the Rainbow Squad, an army of six women whose powers aligned with Shazam's (Dauntless for courage, Sibyl for wisdom, Dynamoll for atomic radiation, Virago for strength, Gibralta for her light aura, and Celeritas for speed). As luck would have it, Dudley and Billy had just reconnected with Jack Weston, the man behind the Minute Man! Minute Man helped them overcome the Squad and expose Mr. Mind. (#31)
Mister Mind plagued Cap in two more cities. In Detroit, Billy met Tawky Tawny, who tried out for the Detroit Tigers baseball team. (#32) In Indianapolis, Mind reconstructed Mister Atom as a racecar called the Atomobile. (#33)
Captain Nazi cropped up in Chicago, stoking terrorist fervor. asher and Bulletman. When the Marvels were in suspended animation, he had set plans in motion and then put himself in stasis as well, so he could awaken when they were free again. Billy called Captain Marvel Jr. for help in bringing him down. (#34)
Billy and Freddy were attacked in New York by King Kull, who sent them back in time. They encountered Mary at a time before they had ever met (and even prompted her to transform — proving that she had gotten Shazam's powers at the same time as Billy, but didn't know it. King Kull was attempting to turn time back to his own era. He lured the Marvels into Hell to battle monsters of legend like the Furies, Typhon, Echidna, and Satan himself. The heroes smashed Kull's machine and reversed the time effects. When they returned to station WHIZ, they learn from Mr. Morris that he has had to sell it to Ebenezer Batson, Billy's real uncle, who stole his inheritance. (#35)
World's Finest Comics
After the cancellation of Shazam!, Captain Marvel found a home in the newly-expanded World's Finest Comics. Captain Nazi returned and used a mind control device invented by Sivana to try to bend the world to his Aryan will. (World's Finest Comics #253, 258)
Billy's uncle Ebenezer had made a deal with Satan for financial gain, but he was now willing to enlist Captain Marvel's help to free himself from the bargain. Ebenezer agreed to restore Billy's inheritance if Captain Marvel would help him. Marvel defeated six infernal champions and the devil retreated. Ebenezer signed over his holdings to Billy, who turned around and saved WHIZ station by buying it from Sterling Morris. (#254)
Captain Marvel met lots of new friends and foes during this chapter of his career. The performer called Dreamdancer bewitched both Billy and Jim Barr (aka Bulletman), leaving Mary and Bulletgirl to challenge her. She was defeated when the ladies tricked her into performing her hypnotic dance backward, and the men were released. (#255)
Nate Dallas was cursed by a deal made with the Gamester, an alien who took human lives in exchange for Dallas' gambling wins. Cap revealed the Gamester as a charlatan from 2347 who actually knew the fates of the people he was "killing." (#256) Note: This story named Billy's parents: Merrill and Jocelyn Batson.
Captain Marvel befriended a town full of mythic misfits who'd been forced from their ancient homes. Centuars Dion and his wife Hydia, Sylvius the Satyr, Phylla the siren, Pythia the Lamia, and Melissa the mermaid came out of hiding to help save their town from a natural disaster, and were then welcomed by the townspeople. (#260)
Another new menace was the Graybeard Gang, led by its namesake, who had lived over 100 years thanks to a gas from an Egyptian tomb. (#263)
Billy was surprised by a a visitor from 9000 years in the past — the "first" in the line of Shazam's champions. They returned to the past where he revealed the gods who powered his own abilities: Marzosh, Arel, Ribalvei, Voldar, Elbiam, and Lumiun. Together they defeated the "three-form monster," Sin, Terror and Wickedness and imprisoned them at the center of the universe; a nearby space mountain was used to contain them and this became the Rock of Eternity. Before Marvel returned home, the Champion transformed and revealed that he too was a boy, the boy who would become the wizard Shazam! The boy filled that role for 3000 years, until his gods were forgotten. (#262)
Mister Mind finally made good on his desire to create a new Monster Society of Evil, reforming it with all Captain Marvel's greatest foes: Sivana, IBAC, King Kull, Mister Atom, Black Adam and Oggar. (#264) Marvel responded by rallying his own troops. Not even an alien army amassed by Sivana and Ibac could best the powers of Shazam. (#265-266) The whole Marvel Family (including the Lieutenants) defended the Rock of Eternity from the the Monster Society. (#267)
In 1981, Sivana was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Ironically, his death ray was now used to kill pests; another kept cities pollution free; and another created food from rocks. Sivana hated the idea, but when Cap bathed Sivana in rays of kindness and peace, Sivana welcomed the award. (#273)
Satan returned a few more times, granting power to villains to do his bidding on Earth. He created the Darkling from Dora Keane. Her darkness prevented the magic lightning from touching the Marvel Family. (#278) Darkling returned alongside Satan's other protégés (Ibac, Sabbac and Master Man), who attacked Billy and the others while they were on vacation in the mountains. (Adventure Comics #491) Note: The Master Man was a foe of Kid Eternity's, first appearing in Quality Comics' Kid Eternity #15 (1949).
Kid Eternity secretly helped the Marvels several times, by sending helpers from the literary and historical past. He finally revealed that he was Freddy Freeman's long-lost brother. (World's Finest Comcis #280) Eternity and his pal Mister Keeper were key in helping when both Mister Mind (#281) and Master Man returned again. (Adventure Comics #492)
Earth-One, Jimmy Olsen reads a Captain Marvel comic book. When Clark Kent goes into action, he finds he's wearing Cap's uniform — and powers. He recalls meeting Cap in JLA #137. It's Mr. Mxyzptlk. He goes to the Rock of Eternity to get to Earth-S. He finds Cap, dressed as Superman and when Clark calls the lightning, he turns back to Clark. They're attacked by a monster. Later Clark has dinner at Mrs. Potter's with Billy. Mxy is working with Mister Mind. (DC Comics Presents #33) Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and Uncle Marvel join the case. Their powers are fine. Again at the Rock of Eternity they find a force barrier. It's taken over by the villains. Mxyzptlk calls forth King Kull, and empowered more by magic. Mister Mind recalls his history, the Monster Society original. When the heroes fall back to Earth, they find cartoon rabbits running from a robot rabbit. Two rabbits are sent to another Earth — Hoppy and Millie. He transforms into Captain Marvel Bunny in time to save Jr. and Mary from Kull. When Mister Mind says he wants to kill Superman, Mxy wants out, says his name backwards and goes home. (#34)
Crisis on Infinite Earths
During the great Crisis caused by the Anti-Monitor, the Marvel Family appeared when Earth-S was succumbing to the anitmatter wave. (Crisis on Infinite Earths #6) Harbinger spent her power to save it, then Earth-S began the process of merging with Earths-One, -Two, -X (Quality Comics), and -4 (Charlton). Captain Marvel was a soldier in the final battle against the super-villain army. (#10) Eventually he discovered that he could no longer return to Earth-S. (#11)
The original name for Captain Marvel was Captain Thunder. When Fawcett's founder Bill Parker created Captain Thunder, Fawcett rushed out black-and-white "ashcans" to try to secure the trademarks on his signature comic book title. The first ashcan was titled Flash Comics, and another as Thrill Comics. The character wasn't named on the covers, but he was in the first panel of the story inside. Neither of these magazine titles turned out to be viable, so when Cap first appeared on newsstands, it was in the pages of Whiz Comics (numbered issue 2).
In Whiz Comics #2 (Feb. 1940), the hero had been renamed to Captain "Marvel." Accounts told in the The Fawcett Companion (2001) address this matter. Writer Otto Binder presumed that Fawcett's founder, Bill Parker, named the character Captain Thunder, but that "It might also have been [C.C.] Beck himself who suggested Marvel instead."
Ralph Daigh, Fawcett's Editorial Director, said plainly, "As to why the name of our hero was changed from Captain Thunder to Captain Marvel, I just thought it sounded better." But artist Pete Costanza recalled, "When the character's name was being changed from 'Captain Thunder' I suggested 'Captain Marvelous' instead. This was shortened to 'Marvel,' so I can't take all the credit.'"
Fiction House published a character called "Captain Terry Thunder," for its Jungle Comics #1 (Jan. 1940). It is not known whether this influenced Fawcett's decision to change the name.
Over the years, this history has inspired the creation of other characters called "Captain Thunder." The first came just a year after Captain Marvel returned to comics at DC. Shazam! writer Elliot Maggin introduced a Marvel counterpart called Captain Thunder in the pages of Superman #276 (June 1974).
This Captain was from a parallel Earth. Thunder's alter ego was Willie Fawcett, and he became stranded on Earth-One after an encounter with his enemies, the Monster League of Evil. Willie arrived in Metropolis and soon met Superman, uttering the word "Thunder!" to transform into a super-hero. Like Billy Batson, Willie had met a medicine man of the Mohegan tribe named Merokee. Before "passing on," Merokee bestowed the boy with seven supernatural powers: the Tornado, (power) Hare (speed), Uncas (bravery), Nature (wisdom), Diamond (toughness), Eagle (flight), and Ram (tenacity). Captain Thunder's uniform was nearly identical to Captain Marvel's, but featured a sunburst symbol instead of a lightning bold.
Captain Thunder's recent battle had turned him evil and so he clashed with Superman, fighting to a stalemate. Superman tricked him into changing back into Willie then devised a plan to get Captain Thunder to access his wisdom powers and come to his senses. This wisdom led Thunder to calculate his path home; he uttered "Thunder!" one last time and disappeared. (Superman v.1 #276) Note: At this time, Superman had not yet met anyone from the Fawcett Earth-S.
In 1985, Elliot S. Maggin created a "sequel" to that story with artist Alex Saviuk. It was pencilled but never published, most likely because Roy Thomas had his own plans to use the name. Roy, with Dann Thomas and Dell Barras created an all-new Captain Thunder and his son, Blue Bolt. A dozen issues of Captain Thunder and Blue Bolt were published by Heroic Publishing from 1987–92. Roy and Dann Thomas currently hold the trademark of the name.
Captain Marvel sometimes used a magic metal called Marvelium, which could only be shaped by a Marvel.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- All-Star Squadron #36-37, 51-52 (1984–85)
- Adventure Comics #491-492 (1982)
- All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (1978)
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #6, 7, 10, 11 (1985–86)
- DC Comics Presents #33, 34, 49, Annual #3 (1981–82)
- Justice League of America #135-137 (1976)
- Superman v.1 #276
- Who's Who in the DC Universe #14 (1986)
- Whiz Comics, 155 issues (1940–53)
- Special Edition Comics #1 (1940)
- Captain Marvel Adventures, 150 issues, (1941–53)
- America's Greatest Comics #1-8 (1941–43)
- Marvel Family, 89 issues (1945–54)
- Mary Marvel, 28 issues (1945–48)
- Shazam!, 35 issues (1973–78)
- World's Finest Comics #253–270, 273–282 (1978–81)