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ADVENTURES OF THE BIG RED CHEESE
By Ed Sanchez
In 1940, Bill Parker and Charles Clarence Beck (C.C. Beck) created Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal. In many respects, Captain Marvel was their answer to DC comics' smash hit, Superman. The character (formerly and briefly known as Captain Thunder) first appeared on newsstands as the title character in Fawcett Publications' Whiz Comics. That same year, Special Edition Comics #1 became the first comic book devoted entirely to the good Captain. There has been speculation that this book was almost released as Captain Marvel #1. There was an editorial change at Fawcett and the new editor commissioned Jack Kirby to do a Captain Marvel story in 1941. This was followed by a 2nd book several months later which was advertised as #3, but released as #2 (making Special Edition the #1, Captain Marvel #1 the #2 issue, and the #2 issue #3).

Captain Marvel Adventures premiered in 1941 and featured the aforementioned Kirby story, as well as the good Captain's arch villain, Dr. Sivana. An interesting note about the cover is that it was printed on unstable paper stock, and is thus rarely found in anything above Fine condition, let alone Near Mint (the inside back of this cover was blank). Also of note is the Silver Metallic cover that was featured on #3.

With the ninth issue of the book, Otto Binder scripted his first Captain Marvel adventure, launching a relationship that would go on to last for decades. The 21st issue is of special interest because a small number of issues were printed with a miniature comic attached to the cover, and are very rare since most copies had no miniature attached. These miniature comics were only partially glued to the front cover of Captain Marvel #21 and should not be mistaken for a fully glue-affixed copy (with a blank back cover).

Captain Marvel Adventures enjoyed a healthy 150 issue run, ending in 1952 at a time when the "red" superhero fell out of favor amidst the McCarthy era and the ever broadening cold war with the Soviet Union. As times continued to change, and America's youthful innocence began to fade, there was just no room for the good Captain and the uncomplicated exuberance of his adventures.

At the height of his popularity, Captain Marvel became the only superhero ever to surpass Superman in sales, and is today still a favorite of some of the comic industries' brightest talents. In recent years, Captain Marvel has enjoyed renewed interest. Just in the past decade, Captain Marvel was featured in his own title (which ran for over 50 issues), a stunning Graphic Novel retelling his origin, and a loving tribute by comics sensations Alex Ross and Paul Dini in the form of an over-sized painted Graphic Novel. Captain Marvel is truly one of comics' greatest icons. SHAZAM!

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CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES

 

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