Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bring on the Back-ups: "Mighty Master of the Martial Arts!" by Maggin, Oksner, and Colletta

Hey, hey, hey,Groove-ophiles! Although the original Captain Marvel was the star of DC's SHAZAM!, sometimes he was also the star of the back-up feature. If that's a little strange, think about this: while DC hired artists (like Bob Oksner and Vinnie Colletta) who could give the Big Red Cheese a decidedly Golden Age vibe, they hired writers (like Elliot S! Maggin) who would give the stories a modern-day flavor. "Mighty Master of the Martial Arts!" (from SHAZAM! #12 (February 1974) is a perfect example of what I'm rappin' about. Golden Age look, but everybody's Kung Fu Fightin' in this classic yarn. Dig it!


  1. Those lines over Billy's pupil dots always make me wince. I wish they would've just stuck to the Beck model. But then, I hate DC's later decision to put Cap back in his button-up suit.

  2. The "Wisdom of Solomon" isn't very cynical, is it?

    I enjoy that our martial arts expert, who trains his body all day, sits down for a meal that's a whole duck plus a giant punch-bowled sized serving of some unidentified green stuff!

  3. I would have preferred that they stick to the Beck model, but the lines and the return to the button-up suit didn't ruin the strip for me.I got used to it, and didn't really notice after a while. I thought the "suspended animation" explanation in #1 (to update the cast to the present) was an unnecessary complication, but I could tolerate it. I loved the tongue-in-cheek approach. The idea of costumed super heroes is inherently silly, and, for me, they don't work when played too straight. The current "Curse of Shazam" is a mess. DC has plenty of characters (Deadman, Spectre, Phantom Stranger) who are well suited to a grimdark series. There is no need to corrupt Captain Marvel.

    1. Indeed, Cap is incorruptible and should be treated as such. He'd be better served if they let him be on his own Earth-S where things are lighter all around and he can remain the #1 hero of his world. Slotting him in Superman's universe and the grim-n-gritty milieu that holds sway makes no sense.

      I also dislike he decision to make Cap a grown-up Billy when in fact they were two separate individuals with distinct personalities.

      Ordway did a pretty good "modernized" version of the Marvel Family back in that "Power of Shazam" series. If he must be modernized, please do it the Ord-Way!



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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