Today’s super homage is a familiar one: Captain Marvel. Yes, I know he’s called Shazam in the current continuity, but he’s the Captain in this book. I and a lot of people knew the difference between the names, DC… and Marvel. I know Marvel also has a Captain Marvel. Anyway, he was probably the first homage/ripoff, debuting in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics back in 1940. He’s Billy Batson, a young boy who transforms into an adult with all sorts of superhuman abilities. Talk about a literal power fantasy.
Because of a lawsuit from DC in the early 50’s, Fawcett had to stop publication of the character for being too similar to Superman. In the 70’s, DC actually got the rights to Captain Marvel and integrated his world into the DC universe. They had his world be a part of the Mulitverse. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the character and his supporting cast got integrated into the main DC universe. Today’s issue is Superman:The Man of Tomorrow #4 from 1996. This book was released whenever a fifth Wednesday would pop up. It’s written by Roger Stern with pencils from Tom Grummett and inks from Brett Breeding. So, let’s see what happens as a boy and his wizard come to Metropolis.
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #4
Writer: Roger Stern
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Brett Breeding
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: John Costanza
Separator: Digital Chameleon
Editor: KC Carlson
Consulting Wizard: Jerry Ordway
“The World’s Mightiest Mortals!”
The issue starts out with Newstime owner, Colin Thornton, getting a mild headache. What his staff doesn’t know is that he is actually the demon Satanus. It makes me wonder if other owners of media conglomerates are demons in disguise. Anyway, he’s sensed that a powerful force has come to Metropolis. We find out that this force is actually the wizard Shazam and he’s along with Billy Batson. Since the Wizard doesn’t have to live in the Rock of Eternity any more, he’s decided to come to Metropolis with Billy. When an accident involving a crane happens, Billy says the magic word and transforms in to Captain Marvel to save the day.
Lois! Get a hamburger or something! Also, smooth talking, Clark.
After Captain Marvel saves the workers, Shazam begins to sense Satanus’s presence as well. Satanus knows this, so he gives a demonic drug to some patients who were addicted to the drug so they can take out Shazam. Meanwhile, Clark is at Lois’s apartment along with a walking Lori Lemaris. How that happened, I have no clue. Anyway, Lois and Clark are having some issues with their relationship and they’ll talk about them when Clark returns from his patrol of the city. As he’s flying around, Superman finds Captain Marvel at the Daily Planet and the two catch up on current events. Shazam is hanging around and watching Jimmy Olsen interview Bibbo Bibbowski when the patients (now demons) attack him. Luckily, Superman and Captain Marvel show up to assist the wizard.
While the fight goes on, Lex Luthor and his new girl, the Contessa, view the fight is on TV. Back in Metropolis, Bibbo also helps Shazam but they then get taken away by a giant, flying cat that also sipped on the drug. Captain Marvel helps them out while Superman takes on the demonic patients. It takes a minute, but the possessed folk and cat are stopped. Shazam is able to use his magic in order to remove the addiction from the patients. While Satanus’s plan was thwarted, he’s still able to remain in hiding. All seems done for the day, but Bibbo and the wizard start arguing over whether Superman is greater than Captain Marvel. The story ends as someone sets up a charity featuring the two heroes arm wrestling.
Who would actually win though?
I thought this was a fine issue. It’s not groundbreaking or anything like that. It’s just an average adventure/team-up between two superheroes. We get a look at what things were like for the two heroes at this time. Clark’s still sporting long hair (not a mullet) and is having issues with Lois. As for Billy, he’s hanging with the wizard. I liked that the wizard, Shazam, was in this and he had some of the funniest dialogue in the issue. Satanus was an alright villain, but I am curious about what he's been doing with Captain Marvel and the Wizard.
"Merger?" Oh... Oooh! I see now. Sly, Lex, sly.
The artwork is good but not great. While Tom Grummett is a good artist, some stuff felt off here. That image of an anorexic Lois is definitely an example. At least Lori’s legs made up for it and yes, I’m just being funny. Maybe it was some of the inking that didn’t look good, I’m not sure. I did still enjoy the artwork though. The action was pretty cool and the smaller moments were nice.
Overall, this was a fine issue. It’s not the best thing ever, but it’s still pretty good. Captain Marvel, now Shazam, got revamped in the New 52 and was featured in a back-up in Justice League. It was definitely different (Billy started out a jerk) and I can definitely understand some not liking it. It was a good story though. He’s now a part of the League these days. While the character’s not one of my favorites in general, I like him. Well, I think it’s time to move on ton another hero. Peace, God Bless, and “SHAZAM!”
NEXT TIME: ASTRO CITY!