[Acquired Taste Book Club] Fawcett Fun! The Power of Shazam! (1995-) #1-4

Acquired Taste Book Club Week 2!

2019-11-08T20:00:00Z2019-11-15T19:59:00Z

Welcome to the Acquired Taste Book Club! For today, we’re moving on to Fawcett Comics, home of Captain Marvel! DC’s second major acquisition, they licensed Fawcett’s characters in 1972 before buying them outright later in the ‘90s. Aside from a couple stray appearances by people like Spy Smasher or Bulletman, Captain Marvel is the only Fawcett hero DC has made any extensive use of, so he’ll be the focus of most of our Fawcett weeks.

My original plan for this week was to read Shazam!: The New Beginning, but we’ll actually be circling back around to that in four weeks due to certain secret schemes which are in motion as we speak. Instead, we’ll be looking at Jerry Ordway’s “The Power of Shazam!” series from 1995. Unfortunately, we don’t have the graphic novel out of which this series spun, so we’ll be picking up with #1 of the ongoing.

I couldn’t find any summaries of the issues so I had some trouble gauging what a good stopping point would be without powering ahead and reading the selection. That means I might have to stick another issue or two onto this. I’m pretty sure the following eight issues form a pretty continuous story, though, and I try not to assign more than eight issues in a single club, so we’re stuck with only four for today. Given the number of clubs we have running, I figure some shorter selections are probably a good idea anyway.

Reading Assignment: The Power of Shazam (1995-) #1-4

The Power of Shazam (1995-) #1
The Power of Shazam (1995-) #2
The Power of Shazam (1995-) #3
The Power of Shazam (1995-) #4

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Captain Marvel’s original Post-Crisis origin was removed by Zero Hour to make way for Jerry Ordway’s version. Now, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage not having looked at that version or Ordway’s actual origin story (since it was in the graphic novel and that’s not on DCU), but as a general matter, what do you think about Ordway’s take on the character?

  2. As to the origin we do have access to, what do you think of Mary Marvel and her origin?

  3. Are the villains interesting so far?

  4. Catch-phrase-off: “Holy moley!” or “Great Scott!”? Go!

For questions or concerns, contact me @BatJamags.

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I remember trying this book a while back when it was part of the DCU Book Club and for some reason I wasn’t really able to get into it. Maybe it was the lack of the graphic novel, feeling a little lost about what it was trying to do? Definitely willing to give it another try. :slight_smile:

EDIT: Looking at it again, I think I got this mixed up with Shazam: A New Beginning. So this will be my first time with it!

Also, while the first graphic novel isn’t on here, it is available on Comixology Unlimited, for those who have it.

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@BatJamags Is there a way for you to pin this?

I looked, but I think the mods have to do it.

MODS, HELP!

Oh, actually, I might need to put it on the calendar. That would probably do it.

Aha! I found out how to do the thing! It’s pinned now!

I also already read the selection the day of, so I need to get back here and add my thoughts at some point, but I need to go unpin the first week now that I know how to do this.

Nice, now I’ll remember to read it, too. Thanks!

Well, I thought it was a little hard to understand what was going on at first, but once I got a better sense of who was who and what was happening, I thought it was pretty good. I’ve been reading a lot of Pre- and Early-Triangle-Era Superman recently, and I have thought Ordway was the weakest of the writers from that era, so this was kind of a pleasant surprise. One thing that I found a little odd was how quickly Shazam depowered Billy even though he didn’t really do anything particularly wrong. Really seemed like it was just kind of there to drum up some cheap conflict.

So, this seems like one of those book club questions that falls apart when you actually read the thing, because we don’t really know who Mary is or how she was able to draw on Billy’s power yet. But as to her as a character, I am curious to know how she ended up with the Bromfields and why Shazam couldn’t see her.

Eh, they’re alright. Ibac is basically just a thug, the Arson Fiend burns things, and everybody else is spooky and behind the scenes.

I gotta go holy moley. It’s just more fun to say, even though Scott is pretty awesome.

I appreciate how Ordway slipped in both “Holy moley!” and “Big Red Cheese” within the first few pages.

I’m not thrilled that “The New Beginning” was tossed out of continuity, as I quite liked that origin, but I still enjoyed these issues and their (relatively) lighthearted tone. The wizard Shazam really should consider becoming a Guardian of the Universe. He would fit right in with those jerks. Then again, the recurring theme of these issues seems to be, “Never trust anyone over 30” (except for Dudley, but does he really count?). Things really picked up in issue #4 when Tawny and Mary finally showed up in proper form.

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  1. Captain Marvel’s original Post-Crisis origin was removed by Zero Hour to make way for Jerry Ordway’s version. Now, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage not having looked at that version or Ordway’s actual origin story (since it was in the graphic novel and that’s not on DCU), but as a general matter, what do you think about Ordway’s take on the character?

I don’t really know much about the character past what was introduced in Young Justice and a few of mentions here and there; so for me this was a pretty solid introduction to the characters and their city. Not having experience with any other writer for the character in comics i believe Ordway’s take on the characters are great! So far the heroes are likable and the recurring “foil” character aren’t too one dimensional, i feel like the are fairly interesting too. overall. im probably going to keep reading this series.

  1. As to the origin we do have access to, what do you think of Mary Marvel and her origin?

I like the idea of Mary, it was a good idea to have an overarching drive behind Billy being superhero other than “I have powers and must due the right thing”; however, I feel like they should have had her missing for longer than 4 issues. I feel like with the small and -at this point nonexistent rouges gallery her addition this early in was a bit of a let down.

  1. Are the villains interesting so far?

I liked the concepts, but they are not much of a threat yet i find his interaction with his less than desirable relatives the more interesting segments so far. the story is reminiscent of some of the gold and bronze age stories that got me introduced to comics in the fireplace
.
4. Catch-phrase-off: “Holy moley!” or “Great Scott!”? Go!

“Holey moley!” all the way! seems more like a Billy thing to say for some reason.

Cant wait for our next reading assignment! :slight_smile:

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Thanks for pitching in!

Yeah, they didn’t sustain the “Mary is missing” plot thread for very long. That page space could’ve been devoted to beefing up the rogues gallery a little.

Just finished it up – really liked these issues. It felt like a good mix of that magic that made the Golden Age Cap work, but in a more modern setting and storytelling.

Captain Marvel’s original Post-Crisis origin was removed by Zero Hour to make way for Jerry Ordway’s version. Now, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage not having looked at that version or Ordway’s actual origin story (since it was in the graphic novel and that’s not on DCU), but as a general matter, what do you think about Ordway’s take on the character?

First off, I’d like to reiterate that if you guys have Comixology Unlimited, the graphic novel is there to borrow, and I happened to read that first.

I really dig this take on the character. First off, I believe this is the first time we have the interpretation of Billy being in the drivers seat and being a kid in an adult body, which I think is just a far more compelling idea for the character.

Secondly, it’s interesting that @AlexanderKnox talked about this having a “lighthearted tone,” but going through this I was surprised at how dark this book got at times. Like, the nightmare early on where Billy as Cap is being dragged into a fiery pit by the people he failed to save? Holy crap! It was also interesting seeing Billy trying to get by as both an adult and a kid, trying to do good at school and keep paying the rent. It makes sense that a boy who had been abandoned like he did would fight hard to keep his independence, because at that point it’s all he knows. It made for some interesting scenarios, like Billy working side hustles in his adult body, trying to hide the superhero identity at the same time. It kind of reminded me of Spider-Man and other sort of young, down on their luck heroes.

As to the origin we do have access to, what do you think of Mary Marvel and her origin?

First off, I have to give Mary props for being so calm and game when she’s suddenly greeted with a giant talking tiger in a dapper suit. If that happened to me, my first reaction would be “Oh God, it’s finally happened. I’m having a psychotic break.”

Anyway, overall I like her – I get what people are saying about wishing there was more villain work, but I’m also fine with them building up the Marvel Family at the same time. Maybe it’s because I’ve read more of him as Shazam and the Shazamily, but I feel like the character fits more in an ensemble like this.

Are the villains interesting so far?

In these issues? No, not even remotely. Like, they all just seem like they’re kind of there, and I think part of it is because we have no introduction to them. It looks like much like what they did with Post-Crisis Superman, they launched a big story that detailed Captain Marvel’s origin, then they just jump us in four years later and let us kind of pick things up as they go along. That’s nice enough in theory, but I feel like these issues don’t really give us any real interesting hooks on why we should care about characters like Ibac or the Arson Fiend.

That said, I will give them props for basically using the Three Stooges as goons.

Catch-phrase-off: “Holy moley!” or “Great Scott!”? Go!

“Holy moley,” obviously. Has Marvel even said “Great Scott” in the past? I always thought that was more of a Perry White thing.

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It certainly has some dark moments (and I should have qualified my statement a bit more), but it’s pretty toned down from The New Beginning (and consciously so). It’s admittedly much darker than the classic Captain Marvel fare (unless you count Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman, but that’s a stretch).

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Yeah, there really was some interesting stuff exploring Billy’s having to be self-sufficient.

Honestly, even Billy had surprisingly little to say about his stuffed tiger coming to life, but Mary’s non-reaction was hilarious.

“Great Scott” is mainly Superman’s thing. I was trying to poke fun at the rivalry between the two characters. Probably could’ve phrased that more clearly.

1. Captain Marvel’s original Post-Crisis origin was removed by Zero Hour to make way for Jerry Ordway’s version. Now, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage not having looked at that version or Ordway’s actual origin story (since it was in the graphic novel and that’s not on DCU), but as a general matter, what do you think about Ordway’s take on the character?

I liked it. It’s always nice to when a writer is able to take a character like Captain Marvel (none of that Shazam crap) and modernize him in a way that still allows the character to feel like himself. I also liked how the story was a balance of light and dark moments. For some writers these days it can be hard to find a balance between the two but here you have Billy doing “lighthearted” things like getting embarrassed when woman fawn over Captain Marvel or accidentally telling Dudley about being Captain Marvel in a case of mistaken assumption or being late for school as a result of his duties as Captain Marvel on the one hand. And you also see him dealing darker issues like his parents having been murdered or being an orphan cheated out of his inheritance or trying to keep the authorities from knowing he lives alone to the darkest of all in having nightmares dealing with deaths that he was unable to prevent. It made for a good reading experience for me to not have one of these aspects be overwhelming.

2. As to the origin we do have access to, what do you think of Mary Marvel and her origin?

While we did get all that much on “Mary Marvel”, we did get a bit on Mary Bromfield. We know she is an orphan, that Black Adam killed her parents and that her nanny was willing to anything to protect her as recompense for her bother’s actions including finding her a good adoptive family and giving her life to protect Mary. We also know she is very smart and that she has some sort of memory loss possibly due to seeing her parents murdered.

3. Are the villains interesting so far?

I do find them interesting especially how they seem to transform between their villain selves into people that seem harmless and can blend in with a crowd. I haven’t had much experience with villains that do so and I found that aspect alone really interesting.

4. Catch-phrase-off: “Holy moley!” or “Great Scott!”? Go!

Is it bad that when I saw the phase “Great Scott” I immediately thought of Doc Brown and not Superman? Anyway as much as I like “Holy Moley” the catch phrase “Great Scott” just appeals to me more likely because of the “Back to the Future” connection.

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I don’t believe I’ve ever read these initial issues, however, I did read a large chunk of this book back in the day, so my opinion is a bit informed of later stuff. That being said, I quite enjoy Ordway’s take on the character. He brings a certain nostalgic feel to it that fit Captain Marvel perfectly and sets this book apart. [quote=“BatJamags, post:1, topic:204410”]

As to the origin we do have access to, what do you think of Mary Marvel and her origin?
[/quote]

Like you all have said, there really wasn’t much of an origin there yet, however it was intriguing and I’d like to more about what happened. I’m okay that he found her so quick, I think one of the overarching themes of the title is family so you have to bring them together pretty much right off the bat to get to that.

Well, yes and no…but I think that’s sort of by design. Like I said above the story is more about Billy and relationships with his family ( by both blood and choice) around him, so the focus is more on fleshing out those characters. The non-“super” villain characters I did find interesting, though.

Well, Holey Moley is more what I would say naturally if I’m not cursing, but Great Scott! is a lot more fun to say. But you have to say it in your best Doc Brown voice! (i’m with @JasonTodd428 in thinking of Back to the Future on that one, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all).

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@JasonTodd428 You raise an interesting point about the villains all transforming the same way Billy does. Makes me curious what the backstory is on that.

@ralphsix Yeah, I was surprised how well the balance was struck of the sort of “classic” Captain Marvel feel with modern storytelling and heightened drama.

Thank you all for participating! I’ll be putting up the next installment ASAP.