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Subject: RE: (urth) DOORS: Klamm, Green
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 09:44:04 -0700
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 

Adam S wrote:

> Actually, Captain Marvel was published not by Dell, but by=20
> Fawcett -- which got its start with Captain Billy's Whiz=20
> Bang; Capt. Wilford H. Fawcett was the original "Captain=20
> Billy."  So the joke has more of a point than you thought.

Oops ... and I even knew that. If I recall correctly, when=20
Detective Comics Comics began publishing revisionist tales=20
of the Big Red Cheese, in the late '70s, they memorialized=20
the original publisher by placing his adventures in "Fawcett=20

The rest of this note is kind of a reply to Razorkittee's
"Make Mine Marvel!"

While I was always more a fan of DC's comics than those of
Marvel-in-the-Stan-Lee sense, the whole Captain Marvel=20
business remains kind of a sore spot after fifty years ...
for those who don't know, DC sued Fawcett, claiming that
Captain Marvel was too similar to their leading trademark
character, Superman, and succeeded in putting Fawcett out
of the comic business completely. However, Marvel is not
entirely innocent here either ...

In the 60 and early 70s, two comics companies came up=20
with new characters by the name of Captain Marvel.=20

One of these, if I recall correctly, and I'm sure someone
will correct me if I'm wrong, was Dell, whose Captain
Marvel character had the particularly weird power of=20
splitting his body up into separate parts, which would=20
then act independently to beat up the bad guys. His only
resemblance to CM-Classic was the shouting of a magic
word -- "Split!" rather than "Shazam!" -- to activate
his power.

The other was Marvel, who created Mar-Vell, a Kree=20
warrior who eventually became a defender of Earth.=20
In the '70s, he became the exclusive property, as it
were, of Jim Starlin, who used him as the first foil=20
for one of the great comics villains, Thanos, who
sought to gain the love of Death* by presenting her
with the Universe as a gift.

* Not Neil Gaiman's Death, a much simpler and more,
  well, elemental non-character.

Captain Mar-Vell eventually achieved the interesting
distinction of being one of only two Marvel characters
whose death was so important to the "meaning" of the
Marvel universe that they have vowed never to bring
him back: he died of cancer, and nothing the super-
science of the various Marvel genius characters could
do could save him. Like Ben Parker, whose death taught
his nephew Peter that "With Great Power Comes Great
Responsibility," Mar-Vell's death was hammered on to
show that Super-Heroism Has Serious Consequences.

The Marvel group eventually created another character
with the CM name (incidentally, they'd also created
a rather pointless "Ms Marvel," during a period when=20
they seemed to be creating cross-sex versions of many=20
of their major characters [Spider-Woman, She-Hulk,
etc.] as some kind of trademark-protection deal), a
black woman from New Orleans who can turn into a beam
of light.

But anyway, about Marvel and the Big Red Cheese.

There was a British knockoff of the character, who
went by the name Marvelman. I have not been able
to verify the following: Marvelman was created by
Fawcett's British partners to continue the series
with the serial numbers scraped off, when Fawcett
ceased publication. Marvelman eventually ceased
publication in the early '60s.

What is clearly true is that in the late '70s, one=20
of Britain's hot young comix writers, Alan Moore=20
publishing a radical new version of Marvelman, an
examination of the superhero as either god or
uebermensch or ... well ... _something_. It's one
of his finest pieces of work, and when he stopped
writing it, Neil Gaiman took it over and into yet
another radical direction.=20

ANYway, Marvel successfully forced them to change
the name. So if you want to find out what Alan=20
Moore did with the basic concepts of the Captain
("Shazam!") Marvel character, you need to look for
back issues of MIRACLEMAN.



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