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MMW CAPTAIN MARVEL Vol. 2 (plus):

Marvel Masterworks Captain Marvel volume two begins like a round robin effort casting about for a direction that will work. It begins with issue…

#10: Arnold Drake & Don Heck. This issue reads like most of the stories in the previous volume. It begins with Captain Marvel standing in front of a firing squad. The rest of the issue is a flashback catching up to where the issue began and ends with the same cliffhanger. This issue marks the starting point for the mish-mash of stories to follow.

#11-12: Arnold Drake & Dick Ayers. This issue’s story is titled “Rebirth!” and it marks a change of direction. Medic Una is killed by friendly fire and Mar-Vell is hurled into interstellar space by Yon-Rogg. He encounters a powerful being who calls himself “Zo” and who grants him super-strength, teleportation and the power to cast illusions. Zo grants him some time to wrap up his personal affairs, but before he can take revenge upon Yon-Rogg, he becomes entwined in the Man-Slayer robot’s attack upon the Cape. The Black Widow is also involved, and Mar-Vell’s disappearance makes Walter Lawson a suspect.

#13-14: Gary Friedrich & Frank Springer. Marvel continues his fight against the Man-Slayer, he confronts Yon-Rogg and saves Carol Danvers, but Yon-Rogg escapes. Captain Marvel finally finishes off the Man-Slayer, and then fights Iron Man, who is being controlled by the Puppet Master, in the middle chapter of a three-part, multi-title crossover. The issue ends with two full-panel pages and a double-page spread in which Marvel is finally summoned by Zo.

#15: Gary Friedrich & Tom Sutton. Zo reveals his plan for Mar-Vell. A large idol has been erected by the followers of the god Tam-Bor on Mar-Vell’s home planet, Hala. The idol has magnetic properties which threaten the entire galaxy. It is Mar-Vell’s mission to destroy the idol. Unfortunately, the only way to eliminate the threat is to destroy the planet. This issue is filled with Steranko-esque layouts.

#16: Archie Goodwin & Don Heck (inked by Syd Shores). The whole bit about Zo turns out to be a hoax perpetrated by Ronan the Accuser and Imperial Minister Zarek. Their plan was to thwart Mar-Vell’s mission to destroy the planet, become heroes, and overthrow the Supreme Intelligence. They used Mar-Vell as a disposable pawn and tricked him into the Zo scenario using what is essentially a holodeck. In gratitude for helping to defeat Ronan and Zarek, the Suppreme Intelligence grants Marvel a new powers. Back on Earth, Yon-Rogg kidnaps Carol Danvers.It is this issue which introduces the concept of a blue-skinned race of Kree.

Roy Thomas: At this point, Roy Thomas has an idea to revive the title, but feels he has to write it himself to make it work. Drawing on a number of sources, he approaches Stan Lee. Thomas’s primary source of inspiration was Fawcett’s old Captain Marvel series (which, at that point, didn’t look as if it would ever be published again), substituting Rick Jones for Billy Batson. For Captain Marvel’s new look, he drew upon little-know 1946 hero Atoman, and Rick Jones’, James Dean’s from Rebel Without a Cause. He also drew upon a poem by Thomas Randolph and several other sources as well. Thomas then gives Archie Goodwin and Don Heck new assignments, and has the final three pages of #16 redrawn to meet his needs. On his way Back to Earth, Captain Marvel is drawn into the Negative Zone for no particular reason (other than writer’s fiat).

Gil Kane: Enter Gil Kane. Kane had done some work for Marvel (on Captain America in Tales of Suspense and Hulk in Tales to Astonish) some years prior, and at this point he approached Stan Lee for mare work at Marvel. (I read Kane’s earlier Marvel work reprinted in the ‘70s, and was surprised, years later, that he was better known for his DC work on Green Lantern and The Atom.) In particular, Kane expressed interest in drawing Captain Marvel. (It would have been the version in the green and white uniform he had in mind, obviously.) That’s an interesting “what if” to ponder.

#17: This issue introduces the new status quo by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. Rick Jones crossed over from a recent stint in Captain America (and I think those issue work better as a lead-in, from Rick Jones’ point of view, than the previous issues of Captain Marvel). Plot-wise, Mar-Vell confronts Yon-Rogg but he escapes.

#18: This issue introduces the concept that Rick Jones is a folk singer and also introduces his soon-to-be manager, Mordecai P. Boggs (modelled after Col. Tom Parker). Gil Kane changes to John Buscema between pages 12 and 13, but Kane will be back next issue. Yon-Rogg uses the Psyche-Magnetron to defeat Mar-Vell, but Mar-Vell turns the tables, defeats Yon-Rogg and saves Carol Danvers. (Years later we will learn that the Psyche-Magnetron had an unexpected effect on Carol Danvers, but that’s another story for another time.)

#19: Carol Danvers is written out of Captain Marvel in much the same way Dodo Chaplet was written out of Doctor Who. The story in this issue was suggested by Gil Kane and deals with the idea that the main character was a victim of a Nazi concentration camp. It was recent reprinted in “We spoke Out,” the Craig Yoe-edited collection of comic book stories which dealt with the Holocaust.

Martin Goodman: It is at this point that Martin Goodman cancelled the series based on pre-#17 sales figures.

Avengers #72: Martin Goodman may have been short-sighted, but Roy Thomas kept Captain Marvel and Rick Jones in the public eye by featuring them in this issue of the Avengers. This issue is not included in volume two of the Captain Marvel MMW, but it follows up on plot elements not only from Captain Marvel, but from Captain America and Nick Fury as well. Specifially, Scorpio is revealed to be a member of the crime cartel Zodiac, and captain America and Rick Jones reconcile.

#20-21: The post-#17 sales figures come in, and Martin Goodman reinstates Captain Marvel, for two issues only, after six months. The story features Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

Sub-Mariner #30: Captain Marvel’s next appearance is in Sub-Mariner #30, also not included in the Captain Marvel MMW under discussion. First they fight, then they team-up.

Not Brand Echh #9: This story is included in volume two, but it should have been included in volume one because it is a parody if the three-part origin story. It’s not very funny, but if you read this story first before the others in this volume, you can save yourself the time of reading volume one. I may have been pronouncing Medic Una’s name wrong all my life. I always thought it was OO-Na, but in this story, Roy Thomas calls her Una-Who, suggesting that he, at least, pronounces it YOU-Na.

This volume (next volume, too, for that matter) is a fascinating example of how a comic book might evolve over a short period of time.

NEXT UP: Captain Marvel and Rick Jones appear in “The Kree/Skrull War” in Avengers. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to re-read it at this time (it hasn’t been just too many years since I last read it), but I plan to move on to another volume of Daredevil while I decide.

I've been neck-deep in book research, so I can't really contribute -- I'm skimming stuff like the 1940s Mystery Men and Green Mask and it isn't very interesting. I've started reading the latest Golden Age Batman Omnibus but it's pretty repetitive so far and slow going.

But I can comment on what you guys are commenting on.

Jeff, your description of early Captain Marvel mirrors my memory of books I read in real time and have had zero interest in re-reading. The latter green-and-white Captain Marvel stories were just a mish-mash of mediocrity and rotating B-list creators. Even when Gene Colan drew the book, Vince Colletta was inking it, reducing it to crap. (I'm thinking of the issue that introduced the Aakon. I hope I'm remembering a-rightly.)

Roy Thomas really saved the character by turning him into the original Captain Marvel, at least superficially. It really solidified Rick Jones as the Eternal Sidekick, making his later association with Rom almost inevitable. And the primary-colors costume was far superior to the clunky green-and-whites (which remained useful to identify Kree soldiers).

I may have mentioned this before, but I didn't know anything about the original Captain Marvel until the Roy Thomas Captain Marvel issues. I was aware that "Shazam!" was a 1940s comics reference, but there was no Internet and nothing on it at my library, so I couldn't look it up. I saw Captain Marvel (played by Lyle Waggoner) in a comic book sketch on The Carol Burnett Show, but he wasn't named and I wondered who that guy was with the Pirates of Penzance cape, but none of the adults I consulted knew.  (Evidently there was another Carol Burnett Show sketch with Captain Marvel played by Tim Conway. I didn't see that one. Or maybe I"m mistaken about Lyle Waggoner, although it's hard to believe I could confuse him with Tim Conway.)

But with Thomas' Captain Marvel, something twigged me into understanding that it was an homage to a previous character. And as I thought about it, I began to put the pieces together ... "Shazam!", a superhero who switches places, a character famous enough to be on Carol Burnett that I'd never seen, the name Captain Marvel, scanty information from the few "history of comics" books I owned ... I suddenly got it. Captain Marvel was based on ... Captain Marvel! Five years or so later, DC finally published the first comic book featuring the original Captain Marvel since 1953, cementing my assumptions.

Sensei, I also read Batman: Europa when it came out, and echo your complaints.Bah!

'Tec, I discussed the Dynamite Thunderbolt a few pages back, where I also discussed the Watchmen connection. I should dislike it just because Gillen is building on something he didn't write, and the original writer has expressed his distaste for such, but I couldn't help but like it. It doesn't change a word of Watchmen, but it gives us an exploration of some of the concepts beyond the 1986 setting (and brutal ending) of Watchmen. It scratches an itch I didn't know I had.

And thanks, everyone, for adding to my reading list. I'll be looking for Redfields, Faithless and Spider-Man: Life Story.

Pardon my ignorance folks, but I thought Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt was at DC when they bought ownership of all the Charlton heroes back in the 1980s before the original Crisis On Infinite Earths.

So how did the character wind up at Dynamite?

While DC had the character when it purchased the Charlton heroes, the rights reverted back to creator Pete Morisi and his estate who licensed Thunderbolt to Dynamite in the 2000s.

Lee Houston, Junior said:

Pardon my ignorance folks, but I thought Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt was at DC when they bought ownership of all the Charlton heroes back in the 1980s before the original Crisis On Infinite Earths.

So how did the character wind up at Dynamite?

Oh. Thanks Phillip. I didn't know that.

But, what about the rest of the Charlton heroes? Does DC still own them? Because they've hardly done anything with most of the characters lately.

Blue Beetle (Ted Cord) is in Heroes In Crisis. How he came back to life, I don't know!

Captain Atom was a New 52 book, I think.

With Doomsday Clock still going on, I doubt that DC will use the Charlton heroes any time soon.

Phillip, et al.

I knew about the Captain Atom New 52 attempt.

The rest is news to me.

But I'm in the same boat with a lot of other comic book fans wondering what (if anything) DC will do with the Justice Society and the Legion of Superheroes once Doomsday Clock is over.

For me, it won't be a question of just who the creative teams are, but what their approach will be as well, especially on the JSA.

"I didn't know anything about the original Captain Marvel until the Roy Thomas Captain Marvel issues."

I'm pretty sure my first exposure was Kurtzman & Wood's "Superduperman" parody from the MAD comic book (reprinted in an early '70s MAD annual).

EDIT: Or, no... it could have been the Whiz Comics #2 treasury edition. It would have been whichever came out first.


EDIT: I just realized I never got that "Billy Spafon" joke until just now.

INVADERS #4: I don’t hate this EYKIW as much as I would have a couple of years ago. In fact, I don’t hate it at all. I miss a clear delineation point in the Marvel Universe (such as Crisis on Infinite Earths at DC), but eventually one must come to accept that this is no longer the universe in which Bucky died in 1945, Toro died in 1968, and the Sub-Mariner went missing from 1955-1962. In the MU as it now stands, Prince Namor eventually regained his lost memories, with the help of Professor Xavier, and travelled with him for a time (prior to 2012’s First X-Men EYKIW). Namor eventually lost his memories again, until revived by the Human Torch in Fantastic Four #4 in whatever year that story now took place.

STRANGERS IN PARADISE XXV OMNIBUS: I read this in a single sitting over the weekend and, man, did I miss a lot reading it initially in periodic monthly installments! This is so my favorite “independent” title. I like it more than Paper Girls, more than Stray Bullets. When I said 9regarding the last issue) that I hoped that wasn’t the end, I didn’t know about Terry Moore’s follow-up series, Five Years: “One story. One world. Five years. That’s all we’ve got. Unless they can stop it.” Strangers in Paradise is basically reality-based; Echo is science fiction; Rachel Rising is fantasy; and Motor Girl is what it is. Moore brings these four diverse series together in XXV and creates the “Terryverse”; Five Years continues it.

By the end of XXV, the government has gotten ahold of a formula which could destroy all life. We’ve got five years, tops. If you’ve never read Strangers in Paradise before (or if you have, but haven’t read the other series), XXV really is a good jumping on point. You won’t be able to appreciate fully how well it fits together, but you’ll be able to appreciate it enough. It’s a fairly quick ready, but fascinating, gripping. It will draw you in and won’t let go.

EARLY BATMAN: I’m continuing to make may way through Kane/Finger Batman for as long as the mood strikes me. I’m usually a “Superman” guy, but I’m digging these early Batman stories more than I did the last time I read through them, which was in 2004. (I remember because my arm was in a sling and I had a difficult time holding the book and turning the pages.) There is a lot more continuity to early Batman than there is to early Superman. Maybe that’s the appeal. Finger knows when to shut up and give Kane a wordless panel to set the mood, and Kane knows how to use one to its best advantage.

My very first comic, Justice League of America #103 (D'72), had Superman confronted by an enchanted Rutlander dressed as Captain Marvel! Supes' thoughts were very meta! After that, my next exposure to the Big Red Cheese was either a SHAZAM! 100 Pager or tabloid!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

INVADERS #4: I don’t hate this EYKIW as much as I would have a couple of years ago. In fact, I don’t hate it at all. I miss a clear delineation point in the Marvel Universe (such as Crisis on Infinite Earths at DC), but eventually one must come to accept that this is no longer the universe in which Bucky died in 1945, Toro died in 1968, and the Sub-Mariner went missing from 1955-1962. In the MU as it now stands, Prince Namor eventually regained his lost memories, with the help of Professor Xavier, and travelled with him for a time (prior to 2012’s First X-Men EYKIW). Namor eventually lost his memories again, until revived by the Human Torch in Fantastic Four #4 in whatever year that story now took place.

Wait, what? Namor and Professor X did WHAT? WHAT WHAT WHAT? Criminy.

I"m enjoying everyone's "first Captain Marvel memories" stories. Back in the pre-Internet days we all had to learn things helter-skelter, so we all have different stories about how we first heard of this or that. In my case, I still sremember the time and place of my epiphany, when various bits and pieces of information came together as "Captain Marvel" in my mind. It was quite a revelation to my 9-year-old brain. Also: Pirates of Penzance cape. What's up with that?

But by the time Shazam! #1 came out in 1973, I was a Captain Marvel expert, thanks to the Steranko History of Comics, which came out in 1970. I could have just waited a year or two for Steranko to tell me who Captain Marvel was, instead of figuring it out.

Jeff, the GCD doesn't list any reprints of "Superduperman" between 1954 and 1981, but it is clearly wrong. If you're right that Superduperman was included in the Famous First Edition F-4, the Treasury reprint of Whiz #2, that would have been 1974 or '75. And I could swear anyway that I had read most or all of the comic-book size issues of MAD before the DC Archives series, so there must have been a collection or series of reprints in the '60s or '70s that I don't remember. (Russ Cochran, according to GCD, wasn't until 1986.)

Anybody have any idea where I (and Jeff) saw "Superduperman" before the '80s? "Starchie?" "Batboy and Reuben?" I swear, I can rattle these stories off from memory, and can repeat most of the jokes, so I must have read them somewhere pretty early on. (My memory of the '80s is spotty and I don't remember a damn thing from the '90s. I wasn't much enjoying comic book collecting then.)

And speaking of Captain Marvel homages, there was also Zha-vam from late '60s Action Comics.

As to Peter Cannon, Philip beat me to the punch. My understanding is that Thunderbolt was always owned by Pete Morisi, and then his heirs when he died. That's why Thunderbolt has appeared so infrequently. Was he in Agents of LAW? I'm trying to remember if he ever crossed over with any other character, because if he did, DC can't reprint those stories.

Thunderbolt is still in the Crisis On Infinite Earths collection, even though they portray him as another speedster like the Flash.

I've read a lot of the earlier MAD parodies way before the 80s in various paperbacks from the 60s-70s, possible even in MAD annuals. Amazed that there's no reference to them!

I do own the Complete First Six Issues of MAD collection and 1997-98's Tales Calculated To Drive You MAD magazines which reprinted three issues in each.

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