Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from Nick Fury, Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls.

Captain Marvel was created in 1940 to be Fawcett Comic’s version of the popular DC hero Superman. After being approached by a stranger while trying to sell his papers on a rainy-night, Billy Baston followed the stranger, who turned out to be the wizard Shazam.

The wizard explained to young Billy that he had been fighting evil for 3,000 years and was growing tired. Thus, he gave his powers to Billy. In order to activate his powers, Billy had to shout “Shazam!” and he would be grow several years and feet, and be granted the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the endurance of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the bravery of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.

Captain Marvel’s main foe was the evil Dr. Sivana. Known for being smarter than his contemporary supervillain counterparts, Sivana soon found out his hero’s identity (something that always managed to escape most other villains) and spend a good deal of time trying to keep Billy from saying the magic word.

Sivana’s daughter, Beautia, was the main love interest in the comic. Her power was that her beauty “affects every man who sees her as a powerful drug.” Not even the “Big Red Cheese,” as he was scornfully called by Sivana, was immune to Beautia’s charms.

Shortly after gaining his powers, Billy discovered he had a long lost twin sister, Mary. Upon learning Billy’s secret, the first thing Mary wondered was if she too could have the powers of Shazam. Billy’s reply was immediate. “…you know who…wouldn’t give his powers to a girl.”

Billy was quickly proved wrong, however, because when Mary shouted “Shazam!” she was granted the powers of Selena, Hippolyta, Ariandne, Zepphyrus, Aurora, and Minerva. This trend in the growing family continued after Billy’s friend Freedy Freeman lost a scuffle with Captain Nazi and almost froze to death. Taking Freddy to the same lair where Billy was granted his powers, Billy appealed to the wizard to help. In return, Freddy was given the ability to transform whenever he said “Captain Marvel!”

It should be noted that neither Mary nor Freddy experienced the same growth spurt that Billy did during their transformations. Both stayed relatively small.

During the 1940s, all three Marvel family members enjoyed publication success, and the Captain Marvel comic sold more than any other comic during the period. This drew the attention of DC Comics, who decided that Captain Marvel was a little too much like Superman after all. Hit with a copyright infringement suit, Fawcett Comics stopped publishing Captain Marvel.

When Captain Marvel comics began being published again in 1972, it was under DC’s logo. By that time, Marvel Comics had trademarked the name Captain Marvel, so DC was forced to publish the comic under the title of Shazam!
Though the new Captain Marvel solo series only lasted 35 issues, since then, the character and his Marvel family have appeared in numerous min-series and specials. Among them are The Power of Shazam!, the Trials of Shazam! and Shazam! The New Beginning. In addition, Captain Marvel joined the Justice League and Captain Marvel Jr. joined the Outsiders. Captain Marvel’s old villain, Black Adam, became a major character in the Justice Society books, and later, 52. Mary Marvel’s most notable role of late has been a tragic turn to the dark side as depicted in the Countdown storyline.

Though originally began as a way to cash in on the Superman buying craze, the character of Captain Marvel became a beloved favorite in his own right. Both Captain Marvel and his supporting cast survived a major lawsuit and are now integral parts of the DC comic book landscape.

Essential storylines:
~ Legends
~ Shazam! The New Beginning
~ The Power of Shazam!
~ Trials of Shazam!
~ 52
~ Kingdom Come
~ Superman/Shazam: First Thunder

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