Classic Comic Cover Corner – Marvel Family #1

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Marvel Family #1 – December, 1945

Cover Art by C.C. Beck

Marvel Family #1 – December, 1945
Marvel Family #1 – December, 1945

A couple of weeks ago it became official that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been cast in the upcoming “Shazam” film (read about it at ABC News.) This came as quite a surprise in that, first off, they’re going forward with a Shazam movie? Is this something the public has been clamoring for? The second shock is that Johnson, who now is, arguably, the biggest star in the DC Movie Universe stable, is not even playing the main character, but will instead be playing the villain in the movie, Black Adam. Let’s be thankful it’s not Mr. Mind.

I’m all for superhero films. I’m a lifelong comics fan from back in the silver-age, so I remember the days when comics were looked down on instead of looked to as source material for Hollywood’s next blockbuster movie. But I can’t say I was ever a big fan of Shazam, and with so many other awesome characters still untapped, Captain Marvel (AKA Shazam) seems to be a very haphazard choice for a company struggling desperately to keep up with the competition (i.e. Marvel Studios.)

Whiz Comics #12
Whiz Comics #12

The Rock has long been associated with DC’s Lobo character, and I still think he is perfect for that part. The popularity of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie has proven that the world is down with an awesome space opera, and DC’s “Main Man” could have been their cosmic savior, but … no … instead we’ll have Johnson playing Black Adam, one of the most obscure characters in the collective pop culture consciousness.

Watching DC manufacture their movie universe is like watching Shazam pilot the wingless “Engine of Doom” (see Whiz Comics #12), and one has to wonder if they are putting any thought at all into their decisions outside of trying to compete with Marvel’s press juggernaut.

All that said, Johnson as Black Adam is not a bad casting choice, and I do sincerely hope they can make a decent film out of the Captain Marvel family of characters. (If you are interested in why it’s Shazam instead of Captain Marvel, read our CCCC column from January, 2014.)

Back to today’s showcased comic cover, Marvel Family #1 from 1945 (back when the characters belonged to Fawcett Comics – not DC.) This book has the first appearance of Black Adam (or Teth-Adam), a 5000 year-old Egyptian who also got his powers from the wizard, Shazam, but not so much of the responsibility part.

Marvel Family #1 – December, 1945
Black Adam in Marvel Family #1 – December, 1945

The villain travels to 1945 to cause hate and discontent and the whole Marvel Family is hard-pressed to stop him. That is until Uncle Marvel (who doesn’t even have any real superpowers), saves the day by tricking Atom into saying “Shazam” and converting back to his normal human self.

If DC needs a fat, white-haired and balding old guy to play Uncle Marvel in the new Shazam movie, I’ll be available. It wouldn’t be the stupidest move they ever made.

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Bob Leeper
Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.