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Monday
Apr082019

SHAZAM! (CAPTAIN MARVEL) MOVIE REVIEW

 

 

After seeing this film I REALLY want to talk about the spoilers but I figure just in case no one has seen it yet but plans too I’ll be non spoiler(y) as I can(at first anyway).  For those people that wanted Warner Bros to make Marvel Studio type films and “Aquaman” didn’t satisfy you then this film should.

 

STORY:

 

The film follow orphan Billy Batson trying to figure out his way in the world.  Should he try find his old family or try to make connections to his new one?  Also with the world at stake will he be able to use the new powers that the wizard shazam has given him responsibly?

 

 

PROS:

 

The main cast was impressive.  I think the the younger cast acted well and the writing for them was good as well

 

The film had a good sense of humor.  It was light and heartfelt at the right times.  

 

The overall tone was great for the characters.  There are some characters that work best with a dark tone and some with a lighter one.  Character like Spider-Man, Superman, The Flash and the Good Captain here can dabble in both but need to mostly have a more fun optimistic feel to their stories. (yeah I know that’s weird coming from the guy that really liked(and still do) “Man of Steel”)

 

The depiction of Billy was good as well.  We see him doing some illegal things at the start of the film but for an understandable(if selfish reason).  Except thinking it over I realized that no one actually got hurt because of this.  Well one cop was hungrier but hey tough it out copper!

 

I liked the depiction of the Dudley’s.  They were understanding and compassionate of the kids because of their own background but could be stern when they had too.  I’m just glad we get this version of Uncle Dudley and not the one from the 1981 cartoon that came off as a cross between W.C. Fields and Snagglepuss!  

 

 

CONS:

The cgi isn’t always the best.  I know that this is comparatively a cheaper blockbuster(how is 90-100 million is cheap I’ll never know!) and that they were doing more with less.  However, some of the effects weren’t all that impressive.  The seven deadly sins are the most obvious example.  The daylight flying was another.  The night time flying scenes were good but that’s because cgi looks better at night.

 

The villain Doctor Sivana it’s pretty obvious that he was stand in for “Black Adam” after re-reading the comic story that this movie is based on.  Which is interesting because in the comics the doctor is more of a mad scientist schemer.  Doctor Sivana wasn’t as strong a villain as I had hoped.  At the start of the film I think that the filmmakers did well building up his character but once we jumped to the present any character development was gone.  Thinking back on it what was the doctors overall plan after he got all the power?  I don’t think her ever stated that.

 

STUFF:

(RANT) At no point during the film is Billy Batson’s alter ego ever referred to as “SHAZAM”.  Levi is credited as Shazam(as is Djom Hansu) but never in the film.  Jokes are made about what to call him but nothing sticks.  Gee could it be that Warner Bros figured while making the film that having the hero named after the name he has to say to transform is stupid?  While I know they would never do it they could technically call him Captain Marvel(he just can’t be called that in titles)or how how about this Captain Thunder or just Marvel?  The way it’s used in the film makes it tough to go forward because at some point he’s going to have introduce himself with his name.

 

Now on with the nonsense!

 

What’s Mr. Mind doing at just chilling at the Rock of Eternity.  In the 3rd act we get the Marvel Family line-up.  Or should it be the Shazam Family?  So when Darla grows up she’ll become Megan Good?  I find it interesting that the filmmakers decided to have the good captain keep the mind of Billy when he’s transformed.  Depending on who writes him sometimes Captain Marvel has his own mind and personality.

 

I see that Geoff Johns run with the character really influenced this film.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  It seems when it comes to live action tv and films there seems to be an over reliance on his work than the work of everyone else who’ve significantly worked on these characters in the past.

 

I really liked that during the credits writer/artist Jerry Ordway was listed(along with artist Gary Frank)because it was during his run that I became a fan of the character.  Maybe I missed it but I don’t remember seeing Captain Marvel’s original creators C.C. Beck and William Parker in the credits.  I hope I’m wrong but if that’s the case then that’s really disrespectful.  Billy displayed all of the powers except for Solomons Wisdom(unless we count his AH-HA moment at the end as it but I’m not sure…).

 

Why did the film take place in a real city (Philadelphia) instead of the fictional “FAWCETT”?  This film does take place in the DC Universe so Smallville, Metropolis and Gotham City exist.  But adding Fawcett is a problem?

 

Dear AMC Theaters: Where’s my free comic book?!  I got one for Justice League.  There was one for VENOM but not here?  Why advertise it(there was even a big poster when you come into the theater) and then not deliver?

 

RECOMMEND:  YES.

 

Despite some visual hiccups and a lackluster villain personality wise this was a really good and fun film.  The second half of the film just blew by.  If you you are a Marvel Studios fan they you’ll like this film because it get’s right what they do.  If you don’t like DC-Warner Bros films or Marvel Studio films then you won’t like this.  But if you’ve like the DC-Warner Bros films Wonder Woman & Aquaman then you’ll like this to.  All 3 have a feeling of optimism an enjoyment.  We get to also see the character realistically evolve from beginning to end.  In all 3 films the ending feels earned since we see that at the start of the film there is a good person there.  They just need a little time to mature.

 

After seeing the film I’m even more jazzed for the future.  With the introduction of Mister Mind could this mean that the antagonists for the sequel will be the “MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL”?  If so that’s good because 1. Their awesome and 2.  This delays Black Adam.  There is no reason to bring him in any faster than needs to be(I’m also a bit worried how he will be depicted in his own film(for whats been said it’ll be more as a hero and not villain or anti-hero)).

 

Initially I had a problem with Billy and his past family storyline.  It’s WAY to different than the source material.  After thinking about it I’m okay with it.  It works for the purpose for this movie.

 

While I’ve only seen a few films this year I would put this near the top.

 

1.  DRAGON BALL SUPER BROLY

2.  SHAZAM!

3.  ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

4.  CAPTAIN MARVEL

 

Here’s hoping this film performs well enough to justify a sequel. 

Sunday
Mar242019

Top 10 Best of Captain Marvel Shazam!

One of my all time favorite characters is the Billy Batson-Captain Marvel.  With his movie being release soon (it might be out by the time this comes out)I wanted to honor the characters legacy in some way.

In 2016 I did a Superman retrospective and gave a personal list of his best comic book stories of the last 25 years.  So now for the Billy Batson/Captain Marvel I wanted to do the same thing.  The difference here is I’ll reach back further than 25 years and I also won’t just focus on comic books but from other media as well.  The reason is simple.  People don’t read comic books anymore (sob).  They just consume other media about them.

 

One last thing before I begin.  Keep in mind this is only my personal list.  If you have a difference of opinion then please comment below but keep it classy and civil.

So now lets begin!

 

10. Shazam 1981 cartoon - I remember as a kid thinking this is pretty random.  Also where’s that old guy (mentor)from before?  My vague memories of the show are people in uncomfortable positions and Captain Marvel standing around.  I decided to take a look at the first episode and…wow…WOW!   We get an uncle Dudley who sounds like a cross between W. C. Fields and Snagglepuss.  Black Adam turning Captain Marvel Jr.(Freddie Freeman) into a dog for yucks and a Captain Marvel that sounds like the the 1960’s Spider-Man.  Meaning he sounded like a 45 year old accounting exec!

 

I really need to re-watch this series(hopefully it’s available on the DC streaming service).  Maybe I’ll review it one day.  The show wasn’t successful running on NBC from Sep 12, 1981 - Sep 11, 1982 and had only 12 episodes.  It was part of “The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!”.

 

9.  Kingdom Come - This is an else worlds story(a story taking place on an alternate earth timeline)that takes place years into the future after superheroes from Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman retired.  The reason was because of the rise of darker superheroes led by a new one called “Magog”.  After a catastrophic event in the midwest Superman gets the band back together to put an end to this dark age of heroes.  Not only that but they also have to combat a new group of villains.  Some of which are old timers(Catwoman, Riddler, Vandal savage and the new Ra’s Al Ghul who’s Talia and Bruce’s son) and some new kids on the block.  They call themselves the MLF.  No not the “Mutant Liberation Front” that’s MARVEL but “Mankind Liberation Front”.  How did Marvel not sue DC over this?

 

Kingdom Come is a great story from beginning to end.  I didn’t realize it at the time(but I do now)but it was a response to the 1990’s “Dark Age” of comic books.  So this is a Superman story right?  Where does Captain Marvel fit in then?  

 

He’s being controlled by someone.  Who?  That would be spoilers but let’s just say he’s used as insurance against Superman because: 

 

1. He’s as powerful as him(Superman).  

2. The whole Superman being weak to magic thing. 

 

Billy’s part in this story is bittersweet.  It’s good to see him here but it’s not as a hero and then there’s how his story finishes here which is bittersweet.

 

I will have to place this on the honorable list because while he plays a significant part in the story(the 2nd half of it really) it’s not about him.  This is primarily a Superman story.

 

8.  Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil (2007) - Let’s say you have kids and after seeing the movie in early April they want more of the good captain.  Well, this is the perfect series for them.  Written and drawn by “BONE” creator Jeff Smith.

 

This is another origin story about Billy Batson but once again it’s tweaked.  One difference here is when Billy turns into Captain Marvel it’s not a boys mind in the body of an adult.  The Captain is his own person with his own personality.  Shortly into the story Billy, the captain and Shazam not only find out that Billy has a little sister that he needs to find. They also find out about the titular Monster Society of Evil which is led by the devious “Mr Mind” who is usually a super intelligent caterpillar he’s a snake in this story though!  But it’s okay because Billy get’s help from a magical talking tiger named “TAWKY TAWNY”!

 

God I love comics! 

 

I can’t really explain well how I feel about this mini-series.  It’s heartwarming, exciting, creative, great writing.  It’s just so much fun!

 

My only problem with the story is that there never was a sequel to this.  Yes there was a 21 issue series that came out a year later(“Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM!”(2008) but it wasn’t by Jeff Smith and didn’t have the energy or fun that this did(also it may not be in continuity with the series).  Considering the current state of the character I wish that this version of the character would come back.

 

7.  Justice League Unlimited “Clash” (2005) - this was probably a lot of peoples first experience of Captain Marvel and this episode nailed the character just right.  We first see him being heroic then see him inducted into the Justice League.  Everything goes down hill from there for billy and clark.  This episode reminds me of the phrase never meet your heroes.  Because they won’t be what you built them up to be.

 

6.  Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010) - Hey a DC animated film that’s not solely focused on either Superman or Batman!  Oh wait, Superman’s in it too, my bad.  Also this isn’t a full film.  It’s more like a short film at about 25 mins.  I wish I had known that when I first bought this years ago.  Still this is a good representation of the character.  Within the first 2 mins you get a handle on Billy’s character.  He’s upbeat and positive despite his current situation and will stand up for anyone in need.

 

5.  Shazam! 1973  - It’s the triumphant return of the character after being gone for 20 years.  This time being published by DC Comics.  What’s interesting about the series is that the look and tone was the same as it was in the 1940’s - 1950’s.  Goofy, campy aiming more for really young kids.  At least at the start of it’s run.  It kept it’s light tone until issue 34 & 35(#34 has Captain Nazi in it, I mean how light can you get!).  The last issues of the series.  Looking at the comics the 70’s the Shazam one was an anomaly.  In the 70’s comics were getting more mature and serious.  It aiming for a younger demo sounds good but by this point that comic reader was aging up not down.  

 

I can’t find any numbers but it seems this series didn’t do well.  It ran from 1973 - 1978 and was bi-monthly.  Even with the popularity of the live action show it doesn’t seem this helped the comics(that’s true even today ex. Captain America: Civil War made over 1 billion dollars but the Captain America comics struggle to sell 300,000 copies a year(in the 70’s it sold that in a month!)). 

 

Still because of his new series it was able to get the character back into the for front.  This led to both of his tv series and eventually being inducted into the Justice League.

 

4. The Shazam and Isis Hour - One year after the triumphant return of the good captain in comic books in SHAZAM! (1973) a live action series was created for him and ran on CBS from 1974 - 1977.  It followed a teenage(? yeah right!)Billy traveling with a man named “Mentor” across country helping people along the way.  My first experience of the show was in the early 80’s in syndication(from the 1980’s - 1990’s if a show had even just one season it would be shown for years in syndication).  The show is a bit low rent and campy but there is fun to be had her.  Also I believe in season 3 there is a cross over with Isis from “The Mighty Isis”.

 

3.  Young Justice S1 EP 19 “Misplaced” (2012)  This appears to be a very loose adaptation of the comic JLA: WORLD WITHOUT GROWN-UPS mini-series(1998)(this lead to the YOUNG JUSTICE SERIES).  Klarion the Witch Boy (along with villains The Wizard, Felix Faust, Wotan & Blackbriar Thorn)does a spell that creates an alternate earth.  One has only kids(under 18 years of age)and the other only adults.  While Billy and the Captain are supporting players in this episode I still think he plays a huge role in that he can blink into both worlds and was also able to get one of the crystals.

 

What I really liked about this episode(Captain Marvel wise) was it should how resourceful Billy was.  The good Captain was a supporting player previously in the series so it was good to see him take a more active role in the series.  Even if it was only for one episode.  I could be wrong but the the voice of Billy here seems to be the same for the “Superman/Shazam! Return of Black Adam” short movie.

 

2.  Shazam! Power of Hope (2000) - From 1998 - 2003 DC Comics put out six tabloid size comic books co-written by Paul Dini and painted by Alex Ross(there was Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth, Shazam: Power of Hope, Justice League: Secret Origins & Justice).  Each in the collection focus on a single defining trait for each character.  I know It’s cliche to say but this story shows just the kind hero Billy Batson is as Captain Marvel or just himself.  We see him save people and battle giant robots but then we see him giving joy and hope by just being himself and doing the right thing.  For example, Billy just by talking and listening to an obviously abused boy helps him open  up.  There’s a lot that I want to say about this book(the amazing art and writing)but I don’t want to get too emotional.  I will say that you can sum up the story and Captain Marvel with this quote from the book:  

 

“Frustration, Triumph, Despair and Joy.  The memories of those and a thousand other childhood experiences stay with me as Billy and as Captain Marvel.  It makes it easy for me to relate to children.”

 

1.  The Power of SHAZAM! Graphic Novel (1994) and ongoing series (1995) - It was these two stories that made me the fan of Captain Marvel I am today.  While he did appear before here(he was in the BWAHAHA Justice League of the late 80’s early 90’s)this was I believe his first ongoing series since the 1970’s.  This completely revamped his origin and was his definitive origin…until Geoff Johns retconned it in the NEW 52…sigh.  Anyway, the art in the graphic novel had a very paintery pulpy feel.  Initially when I read the GN I thought that this took place in it’s own reality because the designs of the book has a 1930’s -40’s feel to it.  The GN plays out his commonly known origin but adds some tweaks to it.  We see the introduction of some future villains and a mysteriously shadowed individual is tasked by Shazam to guide Billy on his journey.  

 

The graphic novel is a great introduction for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the the good captain.  The only negative possibly is that while I liked the art the current generation of comic reader may find it too dated(Jerry Ordway wrote and illustrated the entire graphic novel!).  Also looking back on it now it’s pretty obvious who the mysterious individual was.

 

The ongoing series that followed a year later is a continuation from the GN.  It’s still written by Jerry Ordway but this time he’s not doing the art for the series(Peter Krause, Mike Manley & Glen Whoitmore does the pencils, inks and colors).  Visually the pulp style is still present but minus the paint strokes.  Because of this the art looks simplified and more conventional.  The first issue does end with a bang with a fire, Billy using his powers irresponsibly, still needing to find his sister and Shazam punishing Billy.

 

This is a great series to read to get to know the character.  The original graphic novel is available in print and digital(at comixology.com).  Unfortunately none of the issues from the series are available in paperback but you can read them digitally at comixology.com as well.

 

A side note.  I find it interesting that on the cover of issue # 1 it has Captain Marvel’s name on the cover.  Per the copyright with Marvel Comics they could’ve sued DC for that(or whoever owned the character at the time.  There’s some that say that DC didn’t own the Marvel Family of characters until 1997 -1998).  Oh well, it doesn’t matter anymore.  He’s only called Shazam these days.  Not by me though(that’s still a stupid name to call him).

 

 

Well that’s a lot and I have more to say about each them but I edited myself to keep it as brief as I could.  All of these works of art are available in either trade, paperback, dvd or digitally so if you’re interested then check them out.

Sunday
Mar242019

Best of Captain Marvel Shazam Honorable Mentions

1.  The Captain Marvel Movie Serials (1941) - The good captain was the first superhero to appear in the movies(if you don’t count Zorro or comic strip adaptations).  He had a 12 part series named the “Adventures of Captain Marvel” that ran thru 1941(March 28,1941) little over a year after he was first introduced in the comics(Whiz Comics #2 cover date Feb 1940 release Date Dec 1939).  Looking back it’s not that bad.  I can why people would enjoy it.  Seeing the captain fighting against oversized scorpions and the such.  It seems it was so well received that this helped the sales of the comic book.  As I noted earlier(I may have noted it in another part of the retrospective)Captain Marvel was so popular that he would outsell Superman.  

 

Side note I do find it funny that for the flying scenes instead of wiring up the actor they used a 7 foot long paper mache’ version of him instead.

 

2.  Batman/Superman Public Enemies (2009) - The good captain appears here but it’s mostly an extended cameo.  We do get to see his power and cleverness.  I also like the fact that he states that Superman is weak against magic here.  Why do so many readers and writers of the character seem to forget that?

 

3.  Shazam in the New 52 (2012 - ?) (1st appearing in the Justice League comic as a back up feature)(2013) - At the time I liked the story mostly because of the Gary Frank art.  Inclusion of the other orphans and having them take major roles is good but I didn’t like the fact that they became the extended Marvel Family.  I didn’t mind Billy’s attitude too much in the series because this did seem realistic for a 15 year old boy in the mid 2010’s.  My main issue with the series was that now Captain Marvel was no longer Captain Marvel but was now named Shazam.  As in after the wizard.  As in the word that Billy has to say to transform and back.  Good god, that is so stupid.  From that point on in all media he’s being called Shazam.

 

4.  Just Imagine Stan Lee with Gary Frank Creating Shazam! (2002) - Hey you want to see weird?  Well then just take a gander in the early 2000’s when DC Comics gave Stan Lee a chance to reimagine certain DC characters in his own universe.  So what did his take on the good captain entail?  Well let’s see we get Merlin, Morgana, a trip to Nepal, a cult with a woman apparently trying to do her best David Bowie impersonation(!) Assassins, and a big red beastie thing tagging along with a big boobed woman.  I have no words for this.  The concept and execution of the story is bonkers.  Then again the entire Just Imagine line was crazy.

 

I think Stan missed the point on what makes Billy Batson/Captain Marvel a great character in this issue.  Also Billy Batson isn’t even Captain Marvel in the main story(I don’t even think he’s in the story at all).

 

5.  Whiz Comics #2 - Might as well start with his very first appearance. (Hmm maybe I should do a review of it.  It’s only 15 pages long(if you include the cover) it couldn’t take that long right?).  The story get’s straight to the point.  It’s the basis of every redo of his origin from the 1940’s on.  That said while the original origin is interesting it’s not what I consider very engaging.  If I had a choice I would re-read the 1995 Power of Shazam or the 2012 origin for fun than WHIZ #2. The original origin is a bit too dry and basic for me to want to go back to it over and over again.

Saturday
Mar232019

Movie Review Alita: Battle Angel (2019) 

Based on the futuristic Japanese Manga “GUNNM”(Battle Angel Alita)created by Yukito Kishiro Alita Battle Angel takes place in the 26th century.  Three hundred years after “The Fall”(a war like event) a doctor Dyson Ido finds an amnesiac cyborg in the trash.  He rebuilds and names her “Alita”(Gally in the comics)only to find out that there’s more to her that meets the eye as they get to know each other(ex.  her cyborg core is the most powerful around and she knows a forgotten fighting style called “Panzer Kunst”).

 

 

The film itself is decent.  It’s acted well(even though there is some cringeworthy line deliveries but I think most of that is because of the writing(yeeesh and people complained about “Suicide Squad”, “Justice League” and “Aquaman”(but they overlook “Venom” for some reason)). The actress that portrays Alita Rosa Salazar did a good.  She was naive, optimistic and and dived right into everything with fun an gusto.  To quote her character in the film “It’s (always)all or nothing with me.”  That’s the best way to explain her character.  The story was paced well especially the last hour.  It just seemed to fly by.  I liked the world and the action was okay.  

 

My issues with the film however are: 

 

1.  The action didn’t feel as thrilling as I thought it would be.  A big reason for this is that most of the film is in CG.  Considering the source material it makes since that this would have to be in cg but a lot of it wasn’t convincing.  A good example would be with the cyborgs.  If someone only had a cybernetic hand(like the nurse) or leg then it looked fine.  But when the only human part is the face(the the rest is metal)then it comes off like a floating head.   This got distracting since most of the antagonists are mostly metal.

 

2. It’s very uncreative when it comes the PG-13 rating violence.  Knowing the source material it probably would be too much to ask for an R rating film.  If the filmmakers are stuck with a PG13 rating hover it would be nice if they would push it more.  There are several scenes here where some violence is about to happen and then they cut away.  There have been films in the past that have made cut aways from an act of violence intense but that didn’t here.   Every time we cut away from the action I felt numb.  Add into that the severe lack of blood(black blood even(PG13 films are known for not having a lot of red blood for…reasons!)) I really didn’t feel a lot of emotion in various scenes. 

 

3.  It doesn’t hurt except when it does.  The best part of the film are the human to human interactions.  Alita and Ido’s relationship was touching and I’m glad what happened to him in the comic didn’t happen to him in the film(yet anyway).  I enjoyed the other interactions in the film as well…except when they involved with people that were mostly cyborgs.  It just felt to me that the actors were having a hard time talking to someone who wasn’t there.  This is worst in fights since I didn’t believe in the cgi effects.  I ever felt the pain of the cyborg characters.  This is bad since the last half of the film is mostly fights and chase scenes.  

 

Recommend:  Overall yes just not strongly.

 

Despite my issues it is a decent film.  If you saw the trailers and liked it you’ll enjoy the film.  The trailers are an accurate representation of the film.  It was directed well by Robert Rodriguez and I really appreciate the face that it had a good number of daylight scenes.  It’s common to have post apocalyptic films look dark and depressing all the time.  A minor issue I have is the fact that the filmmakers tried to adapt the first four volumes into this 2 hour film.  The thing about a a comic series like “GUNNM” is that a volume usually is the equivalent of a storyline.  So you basically have multiple storylines running around in this film.  This is a minor issue because I think it mostly work.

 

While I doubt I will ever watch this film again I am interested in seeing a sequel if it happens.  Also while watching the film it brought back memories of the comic series so I’ve decided to re-read it again along with it’s sequel series(which is still ongoing today(“Alita: Last Order”). 

Wednesday
Mar202019

The Best Captain Marvel Comics & Media

One of my all time favorite characters is the Billy Batson-Captain Marvel.  With his movie being release soon(it might be out by the time this comes out)I wanted to honor the characters legacy in some way.

In 2016 I did a Superman retrospective and gave a personal list of his best stories in the last 25 years.  So now for the Billy Batson/Captain Marvel I wanted to do the same thing.  The only difference here is I won’t just focus on comic books but from other media as well.  The reason is simple.  People don’t read comic books anymore (sob) but consume other media about them.

 

One last thing before I begin.  Keep in mind this is only my personal list.  If you have a difference of opinion then please comment below but keep it classy and civil.

So now lets begin!

 

1.  Whiz Comics #2 - Might as well start with his very first appearance. (Hmm maybe I should do a review of it.  It’s only 15 pages long(if you include the cover) it couldn’t take that long right?).  The story get’s straight to the point.  It’s the basis of every redo of his origin from the 1940’s on.  That said while the original origin is interesting it’s not what I consider very engaging.  If I had a choice I would re-read the 1995 Power of Shazam or the 2012 origin for fun than WHIZ #2. The original origin is a bit too dry and basic for me to want to go back to it over and over again.

 

2.  Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil (2007) - Let’s say you have kids and after seeing the movie in early April they want more of the good captain.  Well, this is the perfect series for them.  Written and drawn by “BONE” creator Jeff Smith.

 

This is another origin story about Billy Batson but once again it’s tweaked.  One difference here is when Billy turns into Captain Marvel it’s not a boys mind in the body of an adult.  The Captain is his own person with his own personality.  Shortly into the story Billy, the captain and Shazam not only find out that Billy has a little sister that he needs to find. They also find out about the titular Monster Society of Evil which is led by the devious “Mr Mind” who is usually a super intelligent caterpillar he’s a snake in this story though!  But it’s okay because Billy get’s help from a magical talking tiger named “TAWKY TAWNY”!

 

God I love comics! 

 

I can’t really explain well how I feel about this mini-series.  It’s heartwarming, exciting, creative, great writing.  It’s just so much fun!

 

My only problem with the story is that there never was a sequel to this.  Yes there was a 21 issue series that came out a year later(“Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM!”(2008) but it wasn’t by Jeff Smith and didn’t have the energy or fun that this did(also it may not be in continuity with the series).  Considering the current state of the character I wish that this version of the character would come back.

 

3.  *Young Justice S1 EP 19 “Misplaced” (2012)  This appears to be a very loose adaptation of the comic JLA: WORLD WITHOUT GROWN-UPS mini-series(1998)(this lead to the YOUNG JUSTICE SERIES).  Klarion the Witch Boy (along with villains The Wizard, Felix Faust, Wotan & Blackbriar Thorn)does a spell that creates an alternate earth.  One has only kids(under 18 years of age)and the other only adults.  While Billy and the Captain are supporting players in this episode I still think he plays a huge role in that he can blink into both worlds and was also able to get one of the crystals.

 

What I really liked about this episode(Captain Marvel wise) was it should how resourceful Billy was.  The good Captain was a supporting player previously in the series so it was good to see him take a more active role in the series.  Even if it was only for one episode.  I could be wrong but the the voice of Billy here seems to be the same for the “Superman/Shazam! Return of Black Adam” short movie.  

 

4.  *The Shazam and Isis Hour - One year after the triumphant return of the good captain in comic books in SHAZAM! (1973) a live action series was created for him and ran on CBS from 1974 - 1976.  It followed a teenage(? yeah right!)Billy traveling with a man named “Mentor” across country helping people along the way.  My first experience of the show was in the early 80’s in syndication(from the 1980’s - 1990’s if a show had even just one season it would be shown for years in syndication) 

 

5.  Shazam 1981 cartoon - I remember as a kid thinking this is pretty random.  Also where’s that old guy (mentor)from before?  My vague memories of the show are people in uncomfortable positions and Captain Marvel standing around.  I decided to take a look at the first episode and…wow…WOW!   We get an uncle Dudley who sounds like a cross between W. C. Fields and Snagglepuss.  Black Adam turing Captain Marvel Jr.(Freddie Freeman) into a dog and a Captain Marvel that sounds like the the 1960’s Spider-Man.  Meaning he sounded like a 45 year old accounting exec!

 

I really need to re-watch this series(hopefully it’s available on the DC streaming service).  Maybe I’ll review it one day.  The show wasn’t successful running on NBC from Sep 12, 1981 - Sep 11, 1982 and had only 12 episodes.  It was part of “The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!”

 

6.  *Kingdom Come - This is an else worlds story(a story taking place on an alternate earth timeline)that takes place years into the future after superheroes from Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman retired.  The reason was because of the rise of darker superheroes led by a new one called “Magog”.  After a catastrophic event in the midwest Superman gets the band back together to put an end to this dark age of heroes.  Not only that but they also have to combat a new group of villains.  Some of which are old timers(Catwoman, Riddler, Vandal savage and the new Ra’s Al Ghul who’s Talia and Bruce’s son) and some new kids on the block.  They call themselves the MLF.  No not the “Mutant Liberation Front” that’s MARVEL but “Mankind Liberation Front”.  How did Marvel not sue DC over this?

 

Kingdom Come is a great story from beginning to end.  I didn’t realize it at the time(but I do now)but it was a response to the 1990’s “Dark Age” of comic books.  So this is a Superman story right?  Where does Captain Marvel fit in then?  

 

He’s being controlled by someone.  Who?  That would be spoilers but let’s just say he’s used as insurance against Superman because: 

 

1. He’s as powerful as him(Superman).  

2. The whole Superman being weak to magic thing. 

 

Billy’s part in this story is bittersweet.  It’s good to see him here but it’s not as a hero and then there’s how his story finishes here which is bittersweet.

 

I will have to place this on the honorable list because while he plays a significant part in the story(the 2nd half of it really) it’s not about him.  This is primarily a Superman story.

 

7.  Shazam 1970’s live action series (1974 - 1977) - One year after his return to comic books the good captain received a live action tv series that ran from 1974 - 1977.  It followed a teenage Billy Batson(teenage? Really, REALLY?!) and his adult guardian named “Mentor” as they travel cross country and help people along the way.

 

8.  *Shazam! Power of Hope (2000) - From 1998 - 2003 DC Comics put out six tabloid size comic books co-written by Paul Dini and painted by Alex Ross(there was Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth,, Shazam: Power of Hope, Justice League: Secret Origins & Justice)

 

9.  *Shazam! 1973  - It’s the triumphant return of the character after being gone for 20 years.  This time being published by DC Comics.  What’s interesting about the series is that the look and tone was the same as it was in the 1940’s - 1950’s.  Goofy, campy aiming more for really young kids.  At least at the start of it’s run.  It kept it’s light tone until issue 34 & 35(#34 has Captain Nazi in it, I mean how light can you get!).  The last issues of the series.  Looking at the comics the 70’s the Shazam one was an anomaly.  In the 70’s comics were getting more mature and serious.  It aiming for a younger demo sounds good but by this point that comic reader was aging up not down.  

 

I can’t find any numbers but it seems this series didn’t do well.  It ran from 1973 - 1978 and was bi-monthly.  Even with the popularity of the live action show it doesn’t seem this helped the comics(that’s true even today ex. Captain America: Civil War made over 1 billion dollars but the Captain America comics struggle to sell 300,000 copies a year(in the 70’s it sold that in a month!)). 

 

10. Just Imagine Stan Lee with Gary Frank Creating Shazam! (2002) - Hey you want to see weird?  Well then just take a gander in the early 2000’s when DC Comics gave Stan Lee a chance to reimagine certain DC characters in his own universe.  So what did his take on the good captain entail?  Merlin, Morgana, a trip to Nepal, a cult with a woman apparently trying to do her best David Bowie impersonation! Assassins, and a big red beastie thing tagging along with a big boob woman.  I have no words for this.  The concept and execution of the story is bonkers.  Then again the entire Just Imagine line was crazy.

 

I think Stan missed the point on what makes Billy Batson/Captain Marvel a great character in this issue.  Also Billy Batson isn’t even Captain Marvel in the main story(I don’t even think he’s in the story at all).

 

11. *Shazam in the New 52 (2012 - ?) (1st appearing in the Justice League comic as a back up feature)(2013) - At the time I liked the story mostly because of the Gary Frank art.  Inclusion of the other orphans and having them take major roles is good but I didn’t like the fact that they became the extended Marvel Family.  I didn’t mind Billy’s attitude too much in the series because this did seem realistic for a 15 year old boy in the mid 2010’s.  My main issue with the series was that now Captain Marvel was no longer Captain Marvel but was now named Shazam.  As in after the wizard.  As in the word that Billy has to say to transform and back.  Good god, that is so stupid.  From that point on in all media he’s being called Shazam.

 

12. *The Power of SHAZAM! Graphic Novel (1994) and ongoing series (1995) - It was these to pieces of art that made me the fan of Captain Marvel I am today.  While he did appear before here(he was in the BWAHAHA Justice League of the late 80’s early 90’s)this was I believe his first ongoing series since the 1970’s.  This completely revamped his origin and was his definitive origin…until Geoff Johns retconned it in the NEW 52…sigh.  Anyway the art in the graphic novel had a very paintery pulpy feel.  Initially when I read the GN I thought that this took place in it’s own reality because the designs of the book has a 1930’s -40’s feel to it.  The GN plays out his commonly known origin but adds some tweaks to it.  We see the introduction of some future villains and a mysteriously shadowed individual is tasked by Shazam to guide Billy on his journey.  

 

The graphic novel is a great introduction for anyone interested in learning more about the the good captain.  The only negative possibly is that while I liked the art the current generation of comic reader may find it too dated(Jerry Ordway wrote and illustrated the entire graphic novel!).  Also looking back on it now it’s pretty obvious who the mysterious individual is.

 

The ongoing series that followed a year later is a continuation from the GN.  It’s still written by Jerry Ordway but this time he’s not doing the art for the series(Peter Krause, Mike Manley & Glen Whoitmore does the pencils, inks and colors).  Visually the pulp style is still present but minus the paint strokes.  Because of this the art looks simplified and more conventional.  The first issue does end with a bang with a fire, Billy using his powers irresponsibly, still needing to find his sister and Shazam punishing Billy.

 

This is a great series to read to get to know the character.  The original graphic novel is available in print and digital(at comixology.com).  Unfortunately none of the issues from the series are available in paperback but you can read them digitally at comixology.com as well.

 

A side note.  I find it interesting that on issue# 1 it has Captain Marvel on the cover.  Per the copyright with Marvel Comics they could’ve sued DC for that(or whoever owned the character at the time.  There’s some that say that DC didn’t own the Marvel Family of characters until 1997 -1998).  Oh well, it doesn’t matter anymore.  He’s only called Shazam these days.  Not by me though(that’s still a stupid name to call him).

 

13. *Justice League Unlimited “Clash” (2005) - this was probably a lot of peoples first experience of Captain Marvel and this episode nailed the character just right.  We first see him being heroic then see him inducted into the Justice League.  Everything goes down hill from there for billy and clark.  This episode reminds me of the phrase never meet your heroes.  Because they won’t be what you built them up to be.

 

14. *Batman/Superman Public Enemies (2009) - The good captain appears here but it’s mostly an extended cameo.  We do get to see his power and cleverness.  I also like the fact that he states that Superman is weak against magic here.  Why do so many readers and writers of the character seem to forget that?

 

15. *Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010) - Hey a DC animated film that’s not solely focused on either Superman or Batman!  Oh wait, Superman’s in it too, my bad.  Also this isn’t a full film.  It’s more like a short film at about 25 mins.  I wish I had known that when I first bought this years ago.  Still this is a good representation of the character.  Within the first 2 mins you get a handle on Billy’s character.  He’s upbeat and positive despite his current situation and will stand up for anyone in need.  

 

Still I have 2 nitpicks.  

 

1.  Superman/Clark Kent is in this episode(calling it a a movie would be silly)while he plays a part I think the story could stand on it’s own without him(for some reason nearly all DC animated films have either Superman or Batman in them.  It’s become a crutch by this point).  Instead of having there just have Talky Tawny have a larger role.  Or heck throw in Uncle Dudley for crying out loud.

 

2.  It’s not a actual movie.  As I noted earlier this is more of a short film.  It’s barely 20mins long.  It’s disappointing that the Good Captain didn’t receive a longer treatment.  He’s been around since the 1940’s!  He’s had by that point a movie serial series, live action tv series, a cartoon series and several comic book series as well.

 

Despite all of that for anyone that’s interested in the character this is a great primer for them.

 

16.  The Captain Marvel Movie Serials (1941) - The good captain was the first superhero to appear in the movies(if you don’t count Zorro or comic strip adaptations).  He had a 12 part series named the “Adventures of Captain Marvel” that ran thru 1941(March 28,1941) little over a year after he was first introduced in the comics(Whiz Comics #2 cover date Feb 1940 release Date Dec 1939).  Looking back it’s not that bad.  I can why people would enjoy it.  Seeing the captain fighting against oversized scorpions and the such.  It seems it was so well received that this helped the sales of the comic book.  As I noted earlier(I may have noted it in another part of the retrospective)Captain Marvel was so popular that he would outsell Superman.  

 

Side note I do find it funny that for the flying scenes instead of wiring up the actor they used a 7 foot long paper mache’ version of him instead.