Shazam! from the 40s to the 70s

 SFTT   (Harmony, 1977)

™ and © DC Comics

Captain Marvel and his family were among the most popular Golden Age superheroes, occasionally surpassing even Superman in total sales. A lawsuit by DC put Captain Marvel and his publisher, Fawcett, on ice in the early 1950s, but DC brought the character back into print in Shazam! in the 1970s. This meaty volume containing mostly stories from the strip’s heyday in the 1940s was released in 1977, perhaps to capitalize on the popularity of the then-current TV series.

Shazam! from the 40s to the 70s showcases the storytelling genius of writer Otto Binder and artist C.C. Beck, as well as a few Captain Marvel, Jr. stories drawn by the great Mac Raboy, one of the finest draftsmen of the 1940s. The origin of Captain Marvel, from Whiz Comics #2 (1940) is reprinted in full color. Thereafter, in black and white, we are treated to the origins of Captain Marvel, Jr. and Mary Marvel, the introduction of memorable villains Mr. Mind, King Kull, Black Adam and Captain Nazi (all of whom were subsequently incorporated into mainstream DC continuity), several Marvel Family team-ups, and a story that many people consider one of the highlights of the entire Golden Age, “Captain Marvel Battles the Plot Against the Universe” from 1948. A few perfunctory entries from the sub-par 1970s series are tacked on at the back.

DC Comics editor and historian E. Nelson Bridwell wrote the introduction and provides a bibliography of Marvel Family appearances current through 1977. A companion to the earlier Superman from the 30s to the 70s and Batman from the 30s to the 70s collections that DC released in 1971, Shazam! is by far the most difficult of the three to find. It is known to exist only in hardcover with color dust-jacket. Copies in solid condition often fetch $100 or more.

— Rob Salkowitz

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#1 Hardcover

 
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Hardcover; 1st appearance of Captain Marvel (Billy Batson); 1st appearance of Captain Marvel (Fawcett); 1st appearance of Billy Batson; 1st appearance of Shazam the wizard; 1st appearance of Wizard Shazam; Origin of Captain Marvel (Billy Batson); ca. 1977Bill Parker, Otto Binder, William Woolfolk, Elliot S! Maggin, E. Nelson BridwellC.C. Beck, Mac Raboy, Marc Swayze, Jack Binder, Pete Costanza, Bud Thompson, Kurt Schaffenberger, Dave Cockrum, Bob Oksner