Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Say The Word...

...Feel The Power.

The Power of Shazam #1, March 1995.

(*EDIT, 3/5)

Ten years after the residents of Earth 5 got "folded in" to the continuity of a singular earth, Captain Marvel and the rest of his family finally get a reboot. And it's quite fun.

One of the challenges of blogging about this collection is the collection's ability to suck me in (just as it did when I was a kid who was supposed to be cleaning his room!). In one of the recently discovered boxes, I discovered the first four issues of this series all together...and I couldn't help by dive into them right off, and I've been enjoying the ride.

The series is great, with all the classic elements of the earlier Captain Marvel series. First off, Jerry Ordway is writing, but also doing cover art, which means we have a Captain who looks as he should...which is to say, very square-jawed and heroic, and with more than a passing resemblance to the original model for the character, actor Fred MacMurray. Interior artists Peter Krause and Mike Manley do nice work on continuing that look, as well as establishing the unique look and feeling of the Cap's hometown, Fawcett City.

In these first four issues, Billy Batson is secretly living on his own and as the Captain, is moonlighting as a dockworker. This wreaks havoc-a-plenty with his school life and he finds that he's knocking heads with his teacher, Miss Wormwood.

Now, that little bit I found (and still find) distracting: Miss Wormwood is Calvin's third grade teacher in the Calvin and Hobbes strip by Bill Watterson...and having her here, in that purple polka-dotted dress, feels a little cheap. You'd think that Ordway could've come up with an original name.

I wonder how Watterson felt about this. With DC having only come out of a major lawsuit that tied up the use of Captain Marvel for so long, you'd think they'd have been a little more careful. But anyway, let's call it homage and move along.

By the third issue, Billy has his radio announcer job at WHIZ Radio again, and his employer has arranged a tutor for him...so that should draw to a close the little battles with Miss Wormwood, anyway. As announcer, he hosts a county-wide spelling bee and meets both his long-lost sister, Mary (who's suffering from some memory issues and doesn't recognize her brother...though she suddenly recalls that her father looked like Captain Marvel) and Freddie Freeman.

In the fourth issue, Mary's old Tawky Tawny doll comes to life and helps Billy, convincing Mary to "say the word" and become Mary Marvel...which she does, just in time to rescue Billy from a gang of thugs who were trying to kidnap her.

I look forward to finding whatever else of this series remains in my collection and sitting down some rainy morning or evening to spend a little more time in Fawcett City.

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