The Heroes of Fawcett Comics

The Fawcett Legacy at DC Comics




The Golden Age of Fawcett Comics

E. Nelson Bridwell in "Shazam & Son" It began when a writer named Bill Parker turned out an idea for a hero named Captain Thunder. He was to combine the powers of six great gods and heroes, and he would debut in the first issue of a new magazine, Whiz Comics. Artist Charles Clarence Beck was chosen to illustrate the first adventure of Captain Thunder, and it was he ho designed the red-and-gold costume of the hero. But then, for some reason, accounts vary, it was decided to change the name from Thunder to — something else.

suggest Newsarama's great -13-part series from 2010, "Oral History."

The first issue of Whiz Comics was actually put out as an "ashcan" titled Flash Comics, then another as Thrill Comics (1940). Art courtesy of Heritage Auctions.


The original name for Captain Marvel was Captain Thunder. Fawcett's founder, Bill Parker, created Captain Thunder and Fawcett rushed out black-and-white ashcans 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 on the masthead, inside. Neither of these titles turned out to be viable, so when Cap first appeared on newsstands, it was in the pages of Whiz Comics (labeled #2).

As for the name change to Captain "Marvel," accounts in the The Fawcett Companion(2001) address the 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.'"

After the character was revived by DC Comics in 1973, his original name, "Captain Thunder," also resurfaced. In Superman #276 () , Superman met a surprising new hero on Earth-One.

Then in 1985, Elliot S. Maggin and Alex Saviuk created a "sequel" to that story. It was pencilled but never published, most likely because Roy Thomas had begun 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. Ten issues of Captain Thunder and Blue Bolt were published by Heroic Publishing from Sept. 1987–Sept. 1988. Roy and Dann Thomas currently hold the trademark of the name.

Read more about Captain Thunder in the Captain Marvel profile.

Back Issue #30 contains an extensive examination of this legacy.

Alter Ego #23, p.48

something in AE #30?

#138, p19-22



Publishing history of the Golden Age:

  • Whiz Comics, 155 issues (1940–53)
  • Wow! Comics, 69 issues (1940–48)
  • Nickel Comics, 8 issues (1940)
  • Master Comics, 133 issues (1940–53)
  • Captain Marvel Adventures, 150 issues, (1941–53)
  • Captain Marvel Junior, 119 issues (1942–53)
  • Captain Midnight, 67 issues (licensed character, 1942–48)
  • Fawcett's Funny Animals, 83 issues (1942–54)
  • Marvel Family, 89 issues (1945–54)
  • Mary Marvel, 28 issues (1945–48)
  • Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, 15 issues (1945–47)

The Marvels at DC (1973)

From Shazam! #15 (1974); art by Bob Oksner and Tex Blaisdell.
Inside front cover from World's Finest Comics #253 (1978), the Marvels' first appearance in that issue. Art by Don Newton and Kurt Schaffenberger.

DC acquired Captain Marvel and the Fawcett Comics characters in 1972. Citing Wikipedia:

"In 1972 DC licensed — and in 1994, purchased — Captain Marvel and his related characters. Because of Marvel's trademark [to "Captain Marvel"], DC has instead used the trademark Shazam! as the title of their Captain Marvel-related comic books and thus the name under which they market and promote the character. In 1973, Shazam and the Marvel family became an additional Earth (to the Pre-Crisis DC continuity), known for a period of time as Earth-S."

Outside of the Marvel Family, these heroes rarely appeared in groups. Fawcett published many super-heroes but most of them have never appeared in a DC Comic. Six of them appeared once in a team-up in pre-Crisis times (Justice League of America #135-136, 176). At DC, all Fawcett characters were said to live on a parallel Earth, Earth-S.

Amazingly, when DC Comics began producing new Captain Marvel adventures, they hired the character's creator, C.C. Beck, to produce the artwork! Beck pencilled covers and features through the first ten issues. Another key Fawcett artist, Kurt Schaffenberger, also worked on the series. He had come to DC in 1958 to establish the signature style for a new series: Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane.

The series was an anthology, with multiple stories per 36-page issue issue, many of them being reprints of Golden Age adventures. Denny O'Neil and Elliot S. Maggin handled the writing for most of the series' stories, until issue #25 when E. Nelson Bridwell took over a more streamlined book.

DC's original strategy was to restore the charm of Marvel's original tales using their hallmark humor and memorable cartoon style. But by this time, comics were starting to take on a more serious tone and younger fans favored a more representational style of artwork. The kid-friendly approach was phased out after a couple dozen issues, when the series ...

Beck working on "full-length novel". 12

A house ad in Shazam! #34 proclaimed "a dynamic new look" for Cap and his friends, but this came just before DC's "implosion" was looming. The series lasted only one more issue, but Captain Marvel found a home in the newly-expanded World's Finest Comics #253–282

Ran for four years ...Still $1 but not heralded as such. This issue drops to 68 pages. Marvels get 15 pages. Several months after the cancellation of Shazam! ENB and Don Newton. The series cycled between the various members of the Marvel family and featured guest appearances by their supporting cast and other Fawcett heroes.

To read more information about the DC/Fawcett war and DC's acquisition of the properties, check out:

Publishing history of the pre-Crisis era:

  • Shazam!, 35 issues (1973–78)
  • Justice League of America #135-137 (1976)
  • All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (1978)
  • World's Finest Comics #253–268, 270, 273–276, 278-282 (1978–81)
  • DC Comics Presents #33, 34, 49, Annual #3 (1981–82) 
  • Adventure Comics #491–492 (1982)
  • All-Star Squadron #36–37, 51–52 (1984–85)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #6, 7, 10, 11 (1985–86)
  • Who's Who in the DC Universe #14 (1986)


...In post-Crisis continuity, three more of them made cameos in the Power of Shazam! series. The post-Crisis DC universe was a unified timeline, so all these heroes co-existed with DC's on the same Earth.

Publishing history of the post-Crisis era:

  • Legends, 6-issue limited series (1986–87)
  • Shazam! The New Beginning, 4-issue limited series (1987)
  • The Power of Shazam! Graphic Novel (1994)
  • The Power of Shazam!, 47 issues (1995–99)
  • Adventures in the DC Universe #7 (Oct. 1997)
  • Just Imagine Stan Lee with Gary Frank Creating Shazam!, one-shot (2002)
  • Shazam! and the Shazam Family! Annual, one-shot (2002); 100-page special reprinting Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Captain Marvel Jr. #12, Marvel Family #1, 10, Captain Marvel Adventures #75
  • Formerly Known as the Justice League, 6-issue limited series (2004)
  • Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, 4-issue limited series (2005–06)
  • The Trials of Shazam, 12-issue limited series (2006–08)
  • Outsiders: Five of a Kind — Katana / Shazam, one-shot (2007)
  • Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil, 4-issue limited series (Elseworlds, 2007)
  • Countdown to Infinite Crisis, 52-issue limited series (2007–08)
  • DC Comics Presents: Shazam #1 (2011); reprints The Power of Shazam #38-41
  • DC Comics Presents: Shazam #2 (2011); reprints The Power of Shazam #44-47

The New 52 + Multiversity


Publishing history of the New 52 era:

  • Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam! 21 issues (2008–10)
  • Convergence: Shazam!, 2-issue limited series (2015)
  • The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1 (Feb. 2015)
  • Justice League: Darkseid War: Shazam, one-shot (2016)

References + Links


Dark Mark's Comics Indexing Domain > Shazam

DC Timeline & Golden Age Character Bios

Digitial Comics Museum: Fawcett

International Superheroes: Fawcett

The Marvel Family Web 

Newsarama Articles:

Westfield Comics: "Mike Kunkel interview" (May 2008)

Who's Whose in Fawcett Comics

Published by DC Comics

  • Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!
    • ...
  • Shazam! vol. 1 (The New 52, 2014). Collecting the back-up feature from Justice League #7-21.
  • Shazam!: A Celebration of 75 Years (2015). Reprints two dozen Marvel tales from all eras.
  • The Shazam! Archives:
    • Volume 1 (1999). Collecting Whiz Comics #2-15.
    • Volume 2 (1999). Collecting Special Edition Comics #1, Captain Marvel Adventures #1, Whiz Comics #16-20.
    • Volume 3 (2002). Collecting America's Greatest Comics #1, Captain Marvel Adventures #2-3, and Whiz Comics #21-24.
    • Volume 4 (2004). Collecting Captain Marvel Adventures #4-5, Master Comics #21-22, Whiz Comics #25 and America's Greatest Comics #2.
  • Shazam! Family Archives, Volume 1 (2006). Collecting Master Comics #23–32, Captain Marvel Jr. #1 and Captain Marvel Adventures #18!
  • Shazam! Power of Hope (2000), by Paul Dini and Alex Ross.
  • Shazam!: The Greatest Stories Ever Told. DC Comics, 2008. Reprinting Whiz Comics #2, Captain Marvel Adventures #1, 137, 148, Marvel Family #21, 85, Shazam! #1, 14, DC Comics Presents Annual #3, Superman #276, L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #31, Power of Shazam! #33 and Adventures in the DC Universe #5.
  • Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, by Jeff Smith. Reprinting the 4-issue limited series:
    • Deluxe hardcover (2007).
    • Trade paperback (2009).
  • Shazam! Visits Portland Oregon in 1943! (1989). Reprinting Limited Collectors' Edition #C-27, and Captain Marvel Adventures #29.
  • Superman vs. Shazam! (2013). Trade paperback reprinting All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58, DC Comics Presents #33-34, 49, and DC Comics Presents Annual #3.
  • Showcase Presents Shazam (2007). Reprinting in black-and-white Shazam! #1-33.
  • Superman/Shazam: First Thunder (2006). Reprinting the mini-series of the same name.
The Monster Society of Evil by Mike Higgs (1989).

Two Morrows

  • Alter Ego #3 (Winter 2000). Fawcett Collectors of America (FCA) special, with Marc Swayze, C.C. Beck, plus Alex Ross' Shazam!
  • Alter Ego #16 (June 2002). FCA section with Alex Ross on Shazam! The Power of Hope.
  • Alter Ego #20 (Jan. 2003). FCA with Marc Swayze, C.C. Beck, Mac Raboy, Kurt Schaffenberger, Bud Thompson & more!
  • Alter Ego #37 (June 2004). Spotlight on Captain Marvel.
  • Alter Ego #41 (Oct. 2004). Golden Age Captain Marvel artist Emilio Squeglio interviewed
  • Alter Ego #55 (Dec. 2005). Special Fawcett and Christmas issue.
  • Alter Ego #64 (Jan. 2007).
    • "The Monster Society of Evil" by Roy Thomas, pp. 3-19.
    • "Maybe 'Shazam!'—or Maybe 'Schmeling!'" by Roger Dicken, p. 20.
    • "Emilio Squeglio Adventures—Part I" by P.C. Hamerlinck, pp. 68-72.
    • "Mac's Marvel & Mongo" by Jay Disbrow, pp. 74-78.
    • "Bud Thompson & the Boy in Blue" by P.C. Hamerlinck, pp. 80-85.
  • Alter Ego #75 (Jan. 2008). FCA special.
  • Alter Ego #85 (May 2009). Captain Marvel vs. Superman.
  • Alter Ego #91 (Jan. 2010).
    • "The Return of Emilio Squeglio" by Emilio Squeglio, pp. 73-79.
    • "Researching the Red Cheese" by Jerry Ordway, pp. 80-82.
    • "Frank Coghlan, Jr. (1916-2009)" by P.C. Hamerlinck, pp. 83-84.
    • "Black, Blacker, Blackest: Fawcett's Dark Dopplegängers" by P.C. Hamerlinck, pp. 85-88.
  • Alter Ego #98 (Dec. 2010). Captain Marvel cornucopia in the FCA section.
  • Alter Ego #110 (June 2012). A special Shazam!/Fawcett issue.
    • "Captain Marvel" radio show
    • Commentary by C.C. Beck re the 1939 origin of the Big Red Cheese
    • Roy Thomas on the 1980s Secret Origins "Shazam!" origin
    • Marc Swayze's Golden Age memoirs
  • Alter Ego #130 (Jan. 2015). A FCA Christmas special.
  • Alter Ego #138 (Mar. 2016).
    • "'Nay, Never Will I Serve Thee, Mr. Mind!' Or, 'I Think I Was A Fawcett Kid': An Interview with Harlan Ellison" by Brian Cremins, pp. 4-16.
    • "Captain Marvel's Day(s) in Court: C.C. Beck's 1944 DC vs. Fawcett Deposition" by P.C. Hamerlinck with J.T. Go, pp. 17-23.
    • "The World's Mightiest Waste of Time and Money: by C.C. Beck, edited by P.C. Hamerlinck, pp. 24-26.
  • Alter Ego #147 (July 2017).
    • "Otto Binder's Big Look Back" by Bill Schelly, pp. 3-4.
    • "The Early Comics Years of Eando Binder" by Roy Thomas, pp. 5-16.
    • "Otto Binder's Fawcett Universe" by P.C. Hamerlinck, pp. 20-69.
  • Back Issue #30 (Oct. 2008). Spotlight on 'Saturday Morning Heroes,' with three articles about the Shazam! television series.
  • Back Issue #93 (Dec. 2016). Bronze Age history of Shazam!
  • The Fawcett Companion. P. C. Hamerlinck, ed. TwoMorrows, 2001 (160 pp.).
  • Hero Gets Girl! The Life and Art of Kurt Schaffenberger by Mark Voger. Two Morrows, 2004 (128 pp.).
  • Modern Masters Volume 13: Jerry Ordway by Eric Nolen-Weathington. Two Morrows, 2007 (120 pp.).
  • RetroFan #4 (Spring 2019). Saturday morning live-action Shazam! TV show, featuring interviews with John (Captain Marvel) Davey and Michael (Billy Batson) Gray.

Other Publishers

  • The Best of Captain Marvel. Nostalgia, Inc., 1975. Black-and-white reprints of Captain Marvel Adventures #22, 24, 35, 42.
  • Comic Reprints #[10]. Nostalgia, Inc. , 1975. Reprints Wow Comics #1.
  • Comics Feature #12/13 (Sept./Oct. 1981), pp. 132–139. "Shazam in the 1970s: The return of the original Captain Marvel," by Rich Morriseey.
  • The Monster Society of Evil. Mike Higgs, ed. American Nostalgia Library, 1989. A deluxe reprint volume of the entire Monster Society serial. Oversized, slipcased hardcover book, limited to 3,000 numbered copies.
  • Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal, by Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear. Harry N. Abrams, 2010.
  • Shazam from the Forties to the Seventies. Harmony Books, 1977.


  • Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam. Warner Home Video, 2010.