Captain Marvel (DC)(Earth-S - Fawcett)
Real Name: Billy Batson
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When Billy Batson says the magic word "Shazam!" and transforms into Captain Marvel, he is granted the following powers:
S for the wisdom of Solomon As Captain Marvel, Billy has instant access to a vast amount of scholarly knowledge, including most known languages and sciences. He has exceptional photographic recall and mental acuity allowing him to read and decipher hieroglyphics, recall everything he has ever learned and solve long mathematical equations. He also has a great understanding of divine phenomenon in the mortal world. The wisdom of Solomon also provides him with counsel and advice in times of need. In early Captain Marvel stories, Solomon's power also gave Marvel the ability to hypnotize people. (Solomon is the only figure in the list not taken from Greco-Roman mythology.)
H for the strength of Hercules* Hercules' power grants Captain Marvel immense superhuman strength, making him one of DC Comics' most physically powerful characters; he is able to easily bend steel, punch through walls, and lift massive objects, (including whole continents like South America). In the comics, this strength has evolved in parallel to that of Superman.
A for the stamina of Atlas Using Atlas' stamina, Captain Marvel can withstand and survive most types of extreme physical assaults, and heal from them. Additionally, he does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe and can survive unaided in space when in Captain Marvel form. Pre-Crisis, it was implied in some stories to give him invulnerability.
Z for the power of Zeus Zeus' power, besides fueling the magic thunderbolt that transforms Captain Marvel, also enhances Marvel's other physical and mental abilities, and grants him resistance against all magic spells and attacks. Marvel can use the lightning bolt as a weapon by dodging it and allowing it to strike an opponent or target. The magic lightning has several uses, such as creating apparatus, restoring damage done to Marvel, and acting as fuel for magic spells. If Billy is poisoned, for example, transforming will enable him to survive.(Captain Marvel Adventures #8) Pre-Crisis it was claimed in some stories to give him invulnerabilty.It can also turn other Marvels back by striking them. It aids interdimensional travel at the Rock of Eternity.
A for the courage of Achilles This aspect gives Captain Marvel the courage of Achilles, giving him bravery and in one story it is claimed to give him fighting skills. In the Trials of Shazam! mini-series, this was changed to Achilles' near invulnerability. It also aids Captain Marvel's mental fortitude against most mental attacks.
M for the speed of Mercury By channeling Mercury's speed, Captain Marvel can move at superhuman speeds and fly, although in older comics he could only leap great distances. This also gives Marvel the ability to fly to the Rock of Eternity by flying faster than the speed of light.
Billy and his sister Mary were separated following the death of their parents and left in the care of their uncle Ebenezer. Tragically, Ebenezer threw Billy out and stole his trust fund. Left penniless and homeless, Billy struggled through a sorrowful existence in Fawcett City, finding work as a newsboy. For shelter, he often slept in the subway terminals.
One night, a mysterious stranger - later revealed to be the spirit of Billy's father - convinced Billy to follow him deep into the subway tunnels. There, Billy found a marvelous train decorated in strange hieroglyphics and mystic runes. Billy and the stranger rode the train deep into the bowels of the earth and arrived in a looming cavern that held grotesque statues symbolizing the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man. These enemies include Envy, Lust, Greed, Pride, Wrath, Sloth, and Gluttony. Their, Billy met the ancient wizard Shazam, a champion of mankind for thousands of years. Withered with age, Shazam sat on a throne poised ominously beneath a massive stone block suspended above as if by magic.
The ancient wizard revealed that he had selected Billy to be his champion to fight for good as the "strongest and mightiest man in the world--Captain Marvel!" The great Wizard Shazam ordered Billy to speak his name, a thunderous Bolt of lighting exploded in the dark cavern and revealed the almighty form of Captain Marvel!
S - for the endless wisdom of Solomon
H - for the legendary strength of Hercules
A - for the stamina and might of Atlas
Z - for the unlimited power of Zeus
A - for the courage and invulnerability of Achilles
M - for the unrivaled of flight of the god Mercury
With that, the Wizard Shazam was immediately killed as the large granite block fell from above his throne. Billy vowed to fulfill his singular role. Whenever he needed advice, Billy lit a brazier near Shazam's throne, summoning the wizard's ghost.
Honoring his commitment to the Wizard, Captain Marvel became the world's defender against the forces of evil.
The Trial of Superman
In 1941, DC (or, technically, National Comics Publications) entered litigation against Fawcett for copyright infringement. They alleged that Captain Marvel was just a bit too close to Superman for comfort. The case drug on for a decade. In 1951, Fawcett appeared to have won, with the judge declaring that, while Captain Marvel strips were illegally derivative of Superman, DC had not defended its copyrights vigorously enough. The McClure Syndicate, responsible for some of the Superman newspaper strip syndication, had failed to properly copyright their use of the Superman character.
Thus DC appealed, asking the courts a simple question: if we license Superman to another party, and they don't copyright their original Superman stories, do we really lose our copyright on Superman? The appellate judge answered with a resounding no. He struck down the earlier verdict, while upholding the trial judge's opinion that Captain Marvel and Superman strips were too similar. "The evidence," he wrote, "leaves no possible doubt that the copying was deliberate; indeed it takes scarcely more than a glance at corresponding strips of Superman and Captain Marvel, to assure the observer that the plagiarism was deliberate and unabashed."
[It is important to note that both the trial and appellate judges were basing this decision upon the content of the stories, and how those stories reflected upon an assessment of their star characters. Thus, while we might today think that there are really a lot of differences between the abstract concepts of Superman and Captain Marvel, a frame-by-frame comparison of early Captain Marvel stories vs. early Superman ones presents a different conclusion. Many of the stories and situations are indeed quite similar, given that both feature wide-eyed, innocent reporters, mad scientist super-nemesises, and an almost identical display of super-heroics.]
Before awarding damages, however, the judge was presented with an out-of-court settlement between the two companies. Sensing by now that the steam was out of the super hero business, Fawcett agreed to cease publication of its comics, and paid $400,000 to DC.
Though barred by this agreement from printing new Captain Marvel material, they did retain a level of copyright. When DC revived the characters in 1973's Shazam!, they ironically had to license them from Fawcett. In 1980, long after the Shazam! revival had died a quiet death, DC bought the Fawcett characters outright—just in time to kill off the Earth-S concept in 1985's Crisis.
The power of Shazam
It's worth pointing out that DC's lawsuit was undoubtedly made more urgent by Captain Marvel's commercial success. It would probably be unfair to say that this was the only reason, as DC had entered similar litigation against characters like Wonderman and Fawcett's own Master Man, who had not built up any significant success before being slapped with a cease and desist order. (Wonderman, for instance, had only one issue to his name before a lawsuit was filed.)
Nevertheless it is slightly curious that DC allowed Captain Marvel to be published for over a year before attempting to fight him. [A cease and desist order was delivered to Fawcett in June 1941; the lawsuit was filed in September 1941.]
By that time, Captain Marvel had fully begun to show signs of eclipsing Superman. Fawcett in no way, therefore, obeyed the cease and desist order they'd been given. Thus, for the entirety of the legal action, they continued publishing Captain Marvel stories, greatly expanding his universe, and his profits, as the wheels of justice creaked along. By the mid-1940s Captain Marvel was the most popular comics character in America. Captain Marvel Adventures sold well over 10 million copies annually at the time.
Superman, DC's most popular character, was getting left behind.
Why DC waited to sue, therefore, is an interesting question to which we might never quite know the answer. What is certain, though, is that it was a costly delay that DC has yet to really recover from the character. As of 2006, he has never, under DC's complete control, appeared in a live action project, and it took until 1995 for DC to use the character in a way that received any serious acclaim. Even so, the majority of the money historically made on the character has so far resided in Fawcett's pockets. And a lot of it came directly at the expense of Superman, simply because DC hesitated before going to court.
First Appearance: WHIZ Comics (1940) #2
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
#5 Action Comics (1938)
- 'Stars In Their Courses'
#554 Adventure Comics (1938)
- 'If Superman Didn't Exist...'#583
- 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Part Two'
All-New Collectors' Edition (1978)
C-58 All-Star Squadron (1981)
- 'SUPERMAN vs. SHAZAM!'
#36 Amazing World of DC Comics (1974)
- 'Thunder Over London!'#37
- 'Lightning In Berlin!'#38
- 'Detroit is Dynamite!'#51
- 'Monster Society of Evil!'#51 (Newsstand Edition)
- 'Monster Society of Evil!'#52
- 'From Fear To Eternity!'#53
- 'Worlds In Turmoil'
America's Greatest Comics (1941)
Captain Marvel Adventures (1941)
Captain Marvel and the Good Humor Man (1950)
Captain Marvel Storybook (1946)
Captain Marvel, Jr. (1942)
Comics Values Monthly (1986)
#44 Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985)
- 'Changes Of Address'#45
- 'Monitor Duty'
Crisis on Multiple Earths (2002)
Dave Stevens: Complete Sketches & Studies (2011)
DC Challenge (1985)
#5 DC Comics Presents (1978)
- 'Thunderbolts and Lightning'#6
- 'A Matter of Antimatter'#7
- 'Don't Bogart That Grape...Hand Me The Gas Pump!'#9
- 'All This and World War, Too'#10
- 'Jules Verne Was Right!'#11
- 'How Can You be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?'#12
- 'Fathers Against Suns'
Annual 03 DC Goes Ape (2008)
- 'With One Magic Word'#33
- 'Man And Supermarvel!'#34
- 'The Beast-Man That Shouted "Hate" At The Heart Of The U.N.!'#49
DC Universe by Alan Moore (2012)
DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore (2006)
TPB Dime Action Book (1941)
- 'DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore'
Don Rosa Collection (2011)
Flashback Golden Age Comic Reprints (1970)
#2 JLA - Die neue Gerechtigkeitsliga Sonderband (1997)
- 'Special Edition Comics #1'
#8 JLA in Crisis Secret Files (1998)
- 'Aus den geheimen Archiven 2'
#1 Justice League of America (1960)
- 'Justice, Chapter One'#5
- 'Justice, Chapter Five'#6
- 'Justice, Chapter Six'#7
- 'Justice, Chapter Seven'#8
- 'Justice, Chapter Eight'#9
- 'Justice Chapter Nine'#10
- 'Justice Chapter Ten'#11
- 'Justice, Chapter Eleven'#12
- 'Justice, Chapter Twelve'
#137 Last Days of the Justice Society Special (1986)
- 'Crisis in Tomorrow!'#232
Special Limited Collectors' Edition (1973)
- 'The Last Days Of The Justice Society'
C-21 Marvel Family (1945)
- 'With One Magic Word ... Shazam! The World's Mightiest Mortal'
Master Comics (1940)
Secret Origins (1986)
#1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#13 SHAZAM! From The 40's To The 70's (1977)
- 'The Shazam Family... And Their Greatest Friends!'#14#15#16#17#18#19#20
- 'The Strange and Terrible Disappearance of Maxwell Zodiac'#22#23
- 'The World's Mightiest Project'#24#25
- 'Isis...As In Crisis!'#26
- 'The Case Of The Kidnapped Congress'#27
- 'Fear In Philadelphia'#28
- 'The Return Of Black Adam'#29
- 'Ibac Meets Aunt Minerva'#30
- 'Captain Marvel Fights The Man of Steel'#31
- 'The Rainbow Squad'#32
- 'Mr. Tawny’s Big Game'#33
- 'The World's Mightiest Race'#34
- 'The Fuhrer of Chicago'#35
- 'The SHAZAM Family -- At War With The Beast King!'
HC Shazam! and the Shazam Family! (2002)
- 'SHAZAM! From The Forties To The Seventies'
Shazam!: The New Beginning (1987)
Special Edition Comics (1940)
Super Powers (1986)
#1 Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane (1958)
- 'A World Divided'
#42 The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
- 'The Romance Of Superbaby And Baby Lois'
HC The Monster Society of Evil (1989)
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia'HC
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated And Expanded'
The Shazam! Family Archives (2006)
The Super Friends (1976)
#35 The Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics (2009)
- 'Circus of the Super-Stars'
HC WHIZ Comics (1940)
- 'The Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics'
Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe (1985)
#4 World's Finest Comics (1941)
- 'Cadre to Chris KL-99'#14
- 'Luthor I to Masters of Disaster'
Wow Comics (1940)
X-Mas Comics (1941)
Marvel Family (DC)(Earth-S - Fawcett)
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