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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.