Oral history of Captain Marvel

Zack Smith sez, "I've done an 'oral history' of Captain Marvel to coincide with Chip Kidd's new book SHAZAM!: THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE WORLD'S MIGTIEST MORTAL. It has all new interviews with Kidd, Mark Waid, Alex Ross, Roy Thomas, Jeff Smith, Mike Kunkel, Jerry Ordway, Elliot Maggin and Jackson Bostwick, TV's Captain Marvel. The extended series features all-new artwork from such creators as RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN's Janet Lee and CONCRETE's Paul Chadwick, and doesn't shy away from such issues as the racist stereotypes in some of the early stories and DC's problems finding an audience for the property. Shazam!"

In February 1940, the book officially hit newsstands under the title Whiz Comics #2 , and its cover character officially renamed Captain Marvel. The cover, perhaps not coincidentally, mirrored Superman's first appearance on the cover of Action Comics #1 . Even less of a coincidence were the echoes of Captain Billy's book, both in the title and the name of its main character.

That initial story set up the legend comic fans know – orphan newsboy Billy Batson is summoned down a mysterious subway tunnel, past statues of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man (Greed, Hate, Laziness, etc.) to meet the evil-battling wizard Shazam, who is about to die (he sticks around as a ghost). Asked to be the wizard's new champion, Billy accepts the challenge.

By uttering the wizard's name, Billy is able to summon the lightning that brings wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury – The World's Mightiest Mortal, Captain Marvel!

An Oral History of CAPTAIN MARVEL: The Fawcett Years, pt. 1