Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures (DC)
Grant Morrison (w) Cameron Stewart (a)
The latest chapter of Multiversity has arrived and what a joy it was to read. This time the chosen Earth is the world of Captain Marvel and his "family" of superheroes. Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel and the entire crew are here.
The villain? Not one but a whole hosts of Dr Sivana from across the multiverse of which just one, that's right just one turns out not to be a criminal. He has just "personal problems" and is a Nobel Prize winner. As for the rest? The Hannibal Lector variant looks extremly sinister.
The story? An assault on the Rock of Eternity, the "source of magic" and the imprisoning of the old wizard himself Shazam.
And a "Sivana" family of villains is created!
Oh dear trouble for young 12 year old Billy Batson, an intrepid news reporter and secret identity of Captain Marvel.
He needs to say that magic word and call for help.
Captain Marvel is of course an old Fawcett Comics creation from the 1940's that National Comics (the forerunner of DC) took legal action over as they claimed that this character was too similar to Superman. The fact that it outsold Superman for a while probably didn't please the the bosses at then National Comics.
Whiz Comics # 2, First appearance of Captain Marvel
Eventually after years of fighting in court Fawcett settled with National outside of court (paying $400,000, not sure what that is in today's money) and then pulled out of the superhero comics business. By the fifties the superhero genre was not selling and the character went into limbo.
An odd British connection is that Captain Marvel was published over here in blighty by L Millar & Sons. With the end of Captain Marvel, Marvelman was born. British readers were told that Cap had "retired" (how British).
Marvelman eventually transformed into Miracleman and itself became the subject of legal disputes over ownership until Marvel Comics got hold of the rights.
Ironically Captain Marvel got picked up by DC Comics in the seventies and was published under licence, unsuccessfully as this involved in payments per use. The other problem of course was by then Marvel Comics had their own Captain Marvel (an alien of the Kree race) and were not able to promote the title properly.
However in the 1980s as the comics market boomed DC purchased the rights to Captain Marvel outright and published the series Shazam: A New Beginning in 1987 which actually was quite good.
Since the launch of the "New 52" Shazam has appeared as a back up story in the Justice League title, but even with a film in development he has still not got a title of his own.
So pick up this alternate Earth story for now.