Sunday, August 7, 2011
Why Captain Marvel?
No, not that one. The other one. No not her, either. Or him. LOOK, IT'S THE DC ONE, OKAY?!
SHAZAM! With that one word our young Billy Batson swaps bodies with the magical superhuman himself, Captain Marvel! You've all heard of his adventures, from his fights against Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind and the Monster Society of Evil, to crying in the arctic with Superman because his friend died, Captain Marvel has done it all.
But why have I chosen such a classic character for this week's Thought Balloons? Well... It's mostly because he's starred in the best all-ages comic EVER created; SHAZAM! The Monster Society of Evil, by Jeff Smith (of Bone fame). In that title we had this very fresh approach to superheroics thrown at the reader, that of it being a large responsibility, sure, and adventures having high stakes, but more than anything the adventures are FUN. Remember fun? I'm not talking about "oh haha Deadpool mentioned Miley Cyrus, that's hilarious" fun (because that's awful), but rather that sort of good-natured feeling that just makes something really exciting to read, regardless of subtext or author intent.
That and it's open to endless interpretation. Captain Marvel has had a tendency to be... reinvented, with certain aspects of him and his family altered drastically from relaunch to relaunch, in those varied attempts to make lightning (ha. ha.) strike twice. So you could tell a story where the Billy Batson persona is always present, or where they're seperate, or use Freddy Freeman as Captain Marvel instead. Or why not have Mr. Mind and his race of mind-worms from venus, or the more modern approach of him as a gross winged thingy from DC's 52 maxi-series? And of course you can play with the six gods that lend him his power (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury), or the ancient wizard Shazam, in both his crushed-by-a-rock and not crushed variants. Or his "made up of six kids and a tiger" Flashpoint version that's doing the rounds at the moment. JUST LET RIP.
If you want a good grip on the character, Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil is where I'd direct you, but you can't go wrong with Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, Trials of Shazam, or the Showcase Presents: SHAZAM volume.
Or just use wikipedia if you want the coward's way out ;)