Monday, September 25, 2017

The Mystery of Mr. Mind's Return!

Captain Marvel fans are faced with a conundrum in the pages of Shazam! #2 (February 15, 1973)!  For in this comic we have the return of Mr. Mind, the wicked worm that fought Captain Marvel for two years in the pages of Cap's golden age comics.  Mr. Mind created the Monster Society of Evil, a story line that began in Captain Marvel Adventures #22 (February 26, 1943) and ended with Mr. Mind's execution in Captain Marvel Adventures #46 (April 20, 1945).

Captain Marvel Adventures #46 (Note that Mr. Mind was placed in a museum!)
Why is his return a mystery?  It's a mystery because in Captain Marvel Adventures #46 Mr. Mind was found guilty of his crimes and was executed in the electric chair but in Shazam! #2 he is alive.  How could he return when he is dead?

Shazam! #2
That's the same question Cap, Billy Batson and Talky Tawny have!  Captain Marvel foils Mr. Mind's plot, and at the end of Shazam! #2 we find that the mystery has not been solved yet.

Captain Marvel met Mr. Mind again in Shazam! #9 (October 18, 1973) in the story, "Worms of the World, Unite!"  At the end of the story Cap asks, "Mr. Mind, how did you survive the electric chair?"  Mr. Mind's responded with, "Would you believe a segment of me broke off and I regenerated my body?"  Cap doesn't believe him and Mind promises to tell him another explanation the next time they meet!

We finally get the answer to the mystery in the story, "The Rainbow Squad" in Shazam! #31 (June 9, 1977).  Captain Marvel has captured Mr. Mind once again and asks him directly, "Just one question - and this time I want an answer!  I captured you - you were tried - found guilty of 186,744 murders - and you were executed in the electric chair!  How did you survive?"  This time, Mr. Mind gives the true story of how he survived the electric chair.  Mr. Mind replies, "You forget - I'm an alien!  My race is immune to electric shock!  It doesn't kill us - only puts us into suspended animation!"  Mind further explained that when he revived he found himself in the taxidermist shop and hypnotized the taxidermist into making a fake worm and letting Mr. Mind go!

The conundrum of Mr. Mind's mysterious return has been solved!  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Comic of the Week - Shazam! #2

The Shazam! comic of the week is Shazam! #2 which published on February 15, 1973 and had a cover date of April 1973.

This comic featured two new Captain Marvel adventures, a golden-age Captain Marvel adventure, and an article on the Marvel Family.

The first story is "The Astonishing Arch Enemy" and featured the return of Mr. Mind!  There's also appearances from Mr. Tawny and Herkimer, who was one of Mr. Mind's evil henchmen in Cap's golden-age comics.

Next we have the story, "The Nicest Guy in the World" which introduces us to the character of Sunny Sparkle.

The comic has a one-page article that gives a brief history of the Marvel Family from the golden-age of comics.  The article is entitled "Shazam and Family."  It's a good brief article, but I noted that it omits Freckles Marvel.

The final story is a reprint from Captain Marvel Adventures 139 (published October 3, 1952) entitled "The Original Captain Marvel Fights Niatpac Levram!"  (The title from Captain Marvel Adventures was "Captain Marvel Fights Captain Marvel!")

This was the second issue in a row that reprinted a golden-age Captain Marvel adventure as well as an article that gives a summary of Cap and friends from the golden-age.  It seems DC was doing that to show the continuity from Captain Marvel's original Whiz and Captain Marvel Adventures comics and his stories that were beginning in the new Shazam! series.  It refreshed the memory of Cap's original fans and gave history to Cap's new fans.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Captain Marvel and Sivana's Suspendium Watch

Suspendium is the compound Dr. Sivana created and used to put Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into suspended animation.  In Shazam! #6 (published on July 19, 1973*) Sivana and his Suspendium return in the story, "Better Late Than Never!"

The adventure begins with Billy Batson meeting his self-proclaimed greatest fan who gives Billy a brand new watch as a present.  The fan turns out to be none other than Dr. Sivana in disguise!  After Billy leaves, Sivana cackles that Billy and Captain Marvel are now out of business because of the watch.  

What could this mean?  We soon find out as Billy hears a report of a bridge collapsing and needs to transform into Captain Marvel.  As he starts to say the magic word, Billy can only blurt "Sha...." and then goes into suspended animation for two minutes and finally finishes saying,"...zam!"  The magic lightning strikes and the transformation into Captain Marvel is complete!

Captain Marvel arrives too late to keep the bridge from collapsing, and this makes Cap wonder as he says, "I can't understand it!  I got here as quickly as I could...yet I was too late!"  As Cap walks away, we see Sivana observing him and happily recounting that the watch he gave Billy is made of Suspendium, and any time Billy or Captain Marvel say "Shazam!" when wearing the watch, it puts them in suspended animation for two minutes!  Two minutes, opines Sivana, is all he needs to become the 'rightful ruler of the world'!!!

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel has decided to transform back into Billy, and as he begins to say the magic word he is placed in suspended animation for two minutes.  Once the transformation is complete, Billy needs to get back to the office and notices that his new watch is two minutes too slow so he sets the correct time.  It then turns out that Billy has actually set his watch two minutes ahead of the correct time!

Later in the day, Sivana hijacks all television broadcasts to announce that in two minutes he will attack the world with his Universal Will-Power Paralyzer which will enable him to take over the world!  Billy realizes this is a job for Captain Marvel, and as he says the magic word, the Suspendium watch explodes because it is no longer set correctly!  There is no suspended animation this time, and Captain Marvel finds Sivana and destroys his Universal Will-Power Paralyzer in a matter of seconds.

As Captain Marvel flies Dr. Sivana to jail, Cap tells him, "Speaking of time you'll be doing a lot of it -- behind bars!  I hope you have a calendar watch to keep track of the years!"

This was a fairly short adventure for Cap and Billy, but what I enjoyed about it was Sivana once again using his Suspendium compound to try and defeat Captain Marvel.  It didn't work the first time, and it didn't work this time either!

*According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics