Classic Comic Cover Corner (New Year Edition) – Shazam #11

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

Shazam #11 – March, 1974

Cover art by Bob Oksner

Shazam #11 - March, 1974
Shazam #11 – March, 1974

SHAZAM! Just like that it’s a new year and despite the apocalyptic efforts of the U.S. Congress, Russian meteors and Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, we’re still here with another year of incredible classic comic covers ahead of us. Not even the evil Doctor Sivana could have guessed that, forty years after it appeared in spinner racks and newsstands across the country, Shazam #11 would be one day be showcased in our humble little comic corner.

This simple, but heroic, cover has the “World’s Mightiest Family”, including Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr. and Mary Marvel, saluting the New Year in 1974. This book also has a Christmas story within its pages, “The Year without a Christmas”, by Elliot Maggin, where Dr. Sivana tries to reduce the length of Christmas Day to a measly 10 minutes. You can bet Fox News would have been all over this if they had been around back in the day.

Shazam #11, page 7 original art by Kurt Schaffenberger (DC, 1974.)
Shazam #11, page 7 original art by Kurt Schaffenberger (DC, 1974.)

This comic came out the same year as CBS’s live-action Saturday morning television show of the same name, featuring Michael Gray as Billy Batson, who would morph into Jackson Bostwick ((later replaced by John Davey) as Captain Marvel after shouting the word, “SHAZAM”, and acronym for the ancient heroes Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury.

Captain Marvel has been around almost as long as Superman (first introduced in 1939 by writer Bill Parker and artist C. C. Beck), but when his comics started selling better than the Man of Steel’s, DC Comics slapped Fawcett Comics (Captain Marvel’s publisher) with a copyright infringement lawsuit and the “Big Red Cheese” didn’t see the light of day from 1953 until DC purchased the rights to the character in 1972, where he has remained part of the DC Universe(s).

To add to the confusion, in the sixties Marvel Comics snagged the then unused trademark name and gave it to their own Captain Marvel character (or the Kree pronounced Mar-Vell) and they continue to reintroduce the hero every couple of years in order to maintain their license for the name.

So who do you think would win in a battle between the original Captain Marvel and the Kree Captain Mar-Vell? My money’s on the lawyers.

Happy New Year to all of our NERDVANA readers!
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