The SHAZAM! Archives Vol. 3

Writers: Rod Reed, C.C. Beck, Unknown
Artists: C.C. Beck, George Tuska, Pete Costanza, Mac Raboy
Foreword by Michael Uslan
Published by DC COMICS

This hardcover edition collects at series of stories originally published in 1941. Again, despite conventional wisdom of the “whimsical” nature of Captain Marvel’s earliest adventures, this edition, like Vol. 1 and Vol 2, dispels that notion. In the opening story Captain Marvel faces The Ghost Of The Deep, a mysterious figure covered in all-Black, whom we see ruthlessly murdering someone whom he’s been holding captive for days, right on the 2nd page. This figure begins sinking ships and submarines off both American coasts, and it’s up to Captain Marvel to stop him.

Other adventures included here have Captain Marvel single-handedly defending the Earth form a full-scale invasion from the Spider-Men of Mars, facing the pyrokentic supervillain, the Arson Fiend,

Of course, good ol’ mad scientist Dr. Sivana appears in this volume, in 4 stories. In one story he manages to shrink Captain Marvel down to microscopic size, along with his own daughter, Beautia, leaving them both trapped in a common flower-pot. But at their tiny size, they it’s like they’re trapped in a forest, where they must run from “giant” ants. And they discover a secret race of “germ people”, who view Sivana as their God. In the next story he once again plans to take over the United States, with the help of some “paralyzing gas” he’s invented, and in the final story one of Sivana’s own creations, a Beast-Man, turns against him, and it’s up to Captain Marvel to stop the menace.

The 4th story in which Sivana appears is significant in that it features the first appearance of The Lieutenant Marvels!

Three young boys from across the country, a tall boy from the West Coast, a short fat boy from Brooklyn, and a boy from “down south,” all happened to be named Billy Batson. And as our own Billy Batson has gotten more famous thanks to his radio career, these boys formed a Billy Batson fan club. To differentiate themselves, they’ve taken the nicknames Tall Billy, Fat Billy, and Hilly Billy. What’s really odd about this story is that in it, the boys all are aware that Billy is really Captain Marvel, they talk about reading his adventures in Whiz Comics, and therefor none of them ever say the word SHAZAM, because they’re scared of what might happen. Billy seems unfazed by this, confirms the boy’s suspicions, and takes them along with him when he goes off on as adventure as Captain Marvel. This is what leads them to Dr. Sivana who manages to capture them all. Without going too much more into details, at one point Billy needs all three boys to shout SHAZAM with him at the same time, and they all transform into heroes. Tall Marvel, Fat Marvel, and Hill Marvel.

The issue isn’t without it’s flaws. There are some racially insensitive moments, although nothing as bad as Billy Batson’s “blackface” scheme from vol. 1. In THE PIRATES TREASURE, by Rod Reed, Captain Marvel protects some island natives from treasure-hunting pirates, and in THE TEMPLE OF ITZALOTAHUI, credited as written and drawn by C.C. Beck, Captain Marvel comes to the aid of a secret Mayan tribe. In both stories Captain Marvel is portrayed as a “White Savior”, coming to the aid of the innocent and simple-minded brown natives. In the latter story he argues about keeping their existence secret, because “civilization would spoil them.”

Nevertheless, altogether this is another great collection for Captain Marvel fans.

The SHAZAM! Archives Vol. 3

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