Then again, he famously complained about everything.*

§ June 18th, 2021 § Filed under shazam § 20 Comments

So the reprint book I’d been wanting for years has finally come out: Shazam! The World’s Mightiest Mortal volume 3:

…including stories from late 1970s/early 1980s issues of World’s Finest and two of the digest-sized issues of Adventure Comics. In fact, I think this is the first full-sized color reprinting of those Adventure stories, which is good since I could hardly read ’em at digest-size anymore.

Anyway, those World’s Finest issues features lots of artwork by Don Newton, who was one of my favorite artists, and sadly lost too soon. Such expressive and motion-filled illustration. And unlike the reprints of the Batman stories Newton illustrated, having these comics transferred over from the brown-ish paper with the dingy printing to nice white pages works out great.

The other bonus of this book is that, of course, everyone is called by their real names. “Captain Marvel.” “Captain Marvel Jr.” “Mary Marvel.” “Uncle Marvel.” None of this “oh yeah my name’s Shazam, like my magic word and also the guy who gave me the powers” horse-hockey. Sorry, yes, I know, that battle’s lost, I get why DC did it, but honestly “Captain Thunder” was right there. Or “Captain Shazam,” which I’ve championed before but have come to realize is almost as bad.

Now the problem with being a collector is, of course, not being happy with having “Part 3” of something when parts One and Two are readily available. So natch, I acquired Volumes 1 and 2 of the Mightiest Mortal reprint series as well:

And look, it’s not just out of a sense of “completeness” I got these. I used to have the majority of issues from the 1970s Shazam! run, but gave them all up to the store. I missed having them around, so this book collection will mostly suffice, though all the Golden Age reprints of classic Marvel Family stories that ran in the ’70s series are omitted. Some issues are only represented by their covers, as the entire comic had been reprints, with only a new cover drawn for them.

It should also be noted that Shazam! #25, featuring Isis, which was not reprinted in the black and white Showcase Presents Shazam! book, does appear here. Apparently whatever rights issues that prevented the character (who had her own TV show at the same time Cap did, and even guest-starred on occasion on his program) from appearing in that earlier reprint were resolved for this.

The second volume also contains the Superman Vs. Shazam! treasury edition, another comic I had and gave up to the shop. And again, missed having. Back in 2000, I referenced this treasury in my contribution to Jess Nevins’ Kingdom Come annotations for issue #4 (under “Page 16”).

The first two volumes have a lot of wonderful art by Cap’s creator C.C. Beck (who famously complained about how he thought the new scripts were stupid, but you couldn’t tell from his drawings) and Kurt Schaffenberger, among others. The very first story starring the Big Red Cheese I’d ever read was issue #9, given to me in a big bundle of comics my grandmother picked up somewhere:

…which featured lots of new Beck work, on stories he probably hated but I loved. Look, one of them had a chimp who accidentally gets Cap’s powers, and the other story reintroduced Mr. Mind, the World’s Wickedest Worm, to the comics world, but introduced him for the first time to me. And man, I thought Mr. Mind was the coolest. It was like the extreme gap between Superman’s strength and Luthor’s brain, but made even more…well, extreme-er, I guess.

It’s nice to have all these comics together in these handsome collections. One hopes that a fourth collection can be managed, putting together Captain Marvel’s various appearances in DC Comics Presents (like this story, one of my all-time favorites), and…gee, what else? This weird mainline DC Universe tryout with the Captain Marvel-like Captain Thunder?

…as the actual Marvel Family characters were still sort of in their own “universe” and wouldn’t start meeting each other ’til issue #15 of Shazam! and that three-parter in Justice League of Ameria (the latter of which could also be reprinted in that theoretical fourth volume). Heck, I’d even allow some of those comics from the late ’80s Justice League revival, if we gotta round out the book somehow.


* …Except Axa. Cool Points to you if you get that reference.

20 Responses to “Then again, he famously complained about everything.*”

  • will richards says:

    I love this collection and am becoming more drawn to collected editions where the artwork doesn’t bleed from page to page. I was disappointed that it didn’t include the covers and contents pages (from WF,some of which were drawn by Don Newton) but overall it’s a great book. Now just waiting for the Colan Wonder Woman collection…

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Bit of trivia for you, from someone who was there at the time: In the Mary Marvel stories drawn by Bob Oksner, Oksner clearly based Mary’s appearance on the actress Linda Blair. This is Blair between her EXORCIST period and her exploitation movie period, the time when she was the reigning princess of the made-for-TV movie (the queen was Lee Remick).

    Other instances of comics characters based on actors that I have observed, but have never seen acknowledged: in his first few appearances, Amazing Man was based on Gary Cooper (in some panels the resemblance is so great that Bill Everett must have been using photo references), and whenever Gene Colan drew the Puppet Master he turned him into Donald Pleasence.

  • Dave-El says:

    Bridwell & Newton was the perfect distillation of Captain Marvel’s innocent charm with modern storytelling. Does Vol. 3 include the last two issues of Shazam! with the first Newton issue and the one by Alan Weiss?

  • Rob S. says:

    That Shazam 9 cover reminds me of a question I’ve had ever since I saw it: What are the origins of “Vootie”? I’d first seen the word in Nexus — which Urban Dictionary claims originated the word, but that’s clearly not the case. There was a funny animals APA called Vootie starting in 1976, which apparently published the first Omaha, the Cat Dancer story. But Shazam 9 came out in 1974, so it’s the earliest appearance of Vootie I’ve found so far. How far down does this rabbit hole go?

  • Rob S. says:

    Answering my own question a little: It goes at least as far back as 1955, when Mad published a parody of J. Fred Muggs, having him say “Vootie.” The story is “The Dave Garrowunway Show,” by Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis, and appears in Mad 26. But is that the first Vootie, or does it go back further? Why that word?

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    I remember reading in interviews that DC was very budget minded at the time and only licensed the Marvel characters, not the other Fawcett characters. That’s why they didn’t show up, and their stories weren’t reprinted. C’mon you know Bridwell would have loved to do some Fawcett character reprints in those 100 pagers.

    I vaguely remember reading that Captain Marvel was licensed by DC for quite a while before they finally bit the bullet(man) and purchased them outright.

  • I remember those issues; they were my introduction to the Shazam Family and I still remember them fondly.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Oddly, there was one reprint of a non-Marvel Family Fawcett story during this period (apart from the reprint of the entirety of WHIZ COMICS #2 as a “Famous First Edition”). DETECTIVE COMICS #441, one of the “100 Page Super Spectacular” issues, included an Ibis the Invincible story. I can only suppose that was a test, to see if there was enough reader interest to justify paying the licensing fees.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Alternate theory: It was simply a blunder, akin to the inclusion of a “The Fox and the Crow” story in the book THE GREATEST 1950s STORIES EVER TOLD. In that case, the person picking the stories was unaware that series was based on a series of animated cartoons, and assumed that DC owned the characters outright. Perhaps whoever picked the reprints for DETECTIVE COMICS thought the same rules applied for the Fawcett characters as the ones from Quality Comics (the same issue included Plastic Man and “Alias the Spider” stories; the previous one had a Doll Man story, and the one before that had a Kid Eternity story; the Quality reserve was definitely being tapped).

  • will richards says:

    ‘Vootie’ was also spoken by the baby in the Neal Adams-drawn Clark Kent back-up in a 70s issue of Superman (or Action).

  • Whenever I hear “Vootie!”, I think of Wally Wood. Likely in one of the issues the from the Eclipse mini-series. I also remember as the individual saying that was a weird alien the way Wood drew them.

    So it could have been in Sally Forth, because there was a sequence on the moon, just to get excuses for Sally’s suit to tear off. And I’ve seen it several times. Sometimes with a question mark.

    I think this is just a word that was free to be used and didn’t have to make sense. Like most of the stuff on Rowan & Martin’s LAUGH-IN. I’m 61 now and I still don’t understand most of the repeated gags, just like didn’t when I was on 30 and it was on TVLand. (Rocky & Bullwinkle can still be dense for me, but that’s another story.)

    Anyhow. Just a word anyone can use. Maybe back then it was just the drinking buddies that used it. I would give twice the current price of a current DC comic where Luthor says “Vootie!” just once.

  • Rob S. says:

    Nice! Thanks, Will & Wayne! More clues to the great Vootie mystery! And yeah, Laugh-in is a great example of nonsense in-jokes that just would catch on and spread.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    By a nice coincidence, this very same issue of SHAZAM! was recently discussed at the Classic Comics Forum, and the same question as the origin of “Vootie” arose. One commenter proposed that it came from the jazz musician Slim Gaillard, who is described by Wikipedia thus: “Gaillard was noted for his comedic vocalese singing and word play in his own constructed language called ‘Vout-a-reenee, for which he wrote a dictionary.” He even acquired the nickname “McVouty.”

    The dictionary is here:

  • Donald G says:

    Bronze Age Lex Luthor and Brainiac lovin’ the nightlife and havin’ to boogie on the disco round. Clark, Lois, and Jimmy gape in astonishment.

    Lex: Shake shake shake! Shake shake shake! Shake your vootie!

    Brainiac: Perhaps it you removed your earplugs, you would get the lyrics right.

    Jimmy: Jeepers! This has got to be the worst dance club ever!

  • Rob S. says:

    Oh, man — Turan, that’s gotta be it! That’s an amazing find, and I’m definitely going to be digging into that dictionary whenever I need some Jazz Age (or slightly more recent) slang! And I see that he wrote “Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy),” so I’m already a little familiar with his wordplay.

    And Donald, I’m dead certain Steve Lombard is also at that disco, striking out at the bar in some inexplicable way that involves a circumspect deployment of heat vision.

  • Mikester says:

    what’s even going on in here

  • Myles Lobdell says:

    I think Slim Gaillard may be the ticket! Here’s a video link:

  • Myles Lobdell says:

    Perhaps more apropos, here’s a song in which he actually repeats the fabled word:

  • Patrick Gaffney says:

    There was also a APA at this time called VOOTIE.

    “Vootie was initially a “funny animal” apa because there existed no shorthand for “not an apa for superhero comics”. It was principally a collecting point for artists whose interests were not only funny animals, but also undergrounds, classics, animation and foreign comics. One way or the other, the greater number of contributions were anthropomorphic. But the content was counter-culture.”


  • Snark Shark says:

    Discussing “Vootie”! Will “Squa Tront” and “Spa Fon” be next?