Shazam!, The - Archives, VOL 04 Hardcover – Aug 4 2004
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Of the dozens of costumed imitations that sprang up after Superman's debut in 1938, the most eminent was Captain Marvel. Declining sales and a long-running lawsuit filed by Superman's deep-pocketed publisher led to the Captain Marvel comic book's discontinuation in 1953, but the character is fondly remembered, as is the magic word Shazam that transformed teenaged reporter Billy Batson into the World's Mightiest Mortal. Captain Marvel's success was due not to his similarities with Superman but to his differences. Unlike the Man of Steel's square-jawed earnestness, Captain Marvel had the personality of an adolescent in a grown-up body, and his adventures' cartoonlike visual style complemented their whimsical humor. The stories lavishly reprinted here come from early in the character's career (1941-42) and include the introduction of his young protege, Captain Marvel Jr. The best of this batch showcase the artwork of Captain Marvel's originator, C. C. Beck, whose simple, assured cartooning surpasses the crude attempts at realism by the other featured artists. These delightful, if naive, strips epitomize the golden age of superhero comics. Gordon Flagg
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In fact, the amazing thing is just how bad most of the early Capt. Marvel stories are. With a few notable exceptions, they appear to be slapped together by a sweatshop of artists, Timely-style, with the story plotted out panel by panel. This is true not just of this volume, but also 1-3 of the Shazam Archives as well. For a lifelong fan of the original Fawcett material that DC used to reprint in the monthly Shazam magazine and those great tabloid size editions, it was truly shocking for me to see how pointless most of the stories are. I mean, most of these stories are bad even by golden age comic book standards, far worse than Superman, Batman or Justice Society stories of the same period. And I am a die-hard Capt. Marvel fan, not some modern era fanboy.
This stuff in this book makes the contemporary Timely material seem like Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. Clearly, when Otto Binder came on board, Cap really must have just come together for the 1st time. I recommend this book only for completists; the rest of us should save our money. Message to DC comics: you ought to be doing some TPB format anthologies of the good Fawcett material, people would scoop it up fast as you could print it.
There were Captain Marvel stories, which varied in quality and artist. Next time, just pick 10/12 Captain Marvel stories, showing a progression from the very early Cap to the middle years...and, then, another volume, showing Cap from the middle years to the early 50's when Fawcett caved in to DC.
These would sell...and, if you want an all Marvel Family or an all Cap, Jr. or an all Mary Marvel Archives,do them.