Tag Archive: Golden Age of comics


Review by C.J. Bunce

A new edition of a book about the popularity of Fawcett Comics‘ original Captain Marvel, the world’s mightiest mortal–the superhero renamed Shazam and featured in a new movie this month starring Zachary Levi–will be the perfect trip through time for fans who have enjoyed the character in his many stories going back to his debut in 1939.  My personal favorite Captain Marvel stories can be found in the original Whiz Comics (all in the public domain and available to read online now here) and as drawn by Alex Ross in his landmark graphic novel with Mark Waid, Kingdom Come.  For the first time in a softcover edition, Chip Kidd’s Shazam: The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal has been reprinted by Abrams ComicArts just in time for the release of the film, Shazam!

For those not in-the-know, this is the Captain Marvel who now goes by Shazam (the word that causes him to bring forth his powers)–the one owned by DC Comics today, and not the one owned by Marvel Comics and also in theaters now in the movie Captain Marvel (reviewed here at borg).  Shazam: The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal is a historical work, and it doesn’t hesitate to use the name he’s always been known as by his fans.  As told by writer Chip Kidd, the Captain Marvel fan club had 400,000 people in it in its best year in the 1940s, and Fawcett projected 40 million followers of the character in books and film.  Captain Marvel books sold 1.3 million copies per month, not a common feat even today.  Does anything approach that kind of fan club status today?  At the height of the character it was more popular than Superman and Batman, and so of course the character had hundreds of tie-in products.

Readers will marvel over a reprint of the entire story from Captain Marvel Adventures, Issue #1–created by two then unknowns: Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and reprints of several colorful covers from Whiz Comics, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel Comics, WOW Comics, Master Comics, America’s Greatest Comics, Spy Smasher, and even Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny, plus pages of scans of original comic pages from ex-Fawcett staff.

The book uses photographs from a collection of some of the scarcest superhero collectibles known, including images of books, toys, and paper ephemera for Captain Marvel and the entire Marvel Family–superhero kids like Billy Batson–the boy who turns into Captain Marvel–and his friends who use the Shazam powers but remain as kids.

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Who doesn’t love a modern team-up of classic characters from the Golden Age of comic books?  The latest, Project Superpowers, is arriving at comic book stores Wednesday.  It’s a great start to another superhero team, in an ocean of superhero teams available.  Taking only a little inspiration from Watchmen, instead of creating new characters it features actual superheroes from comics of the past banding together again: The Green Lama, Masquerade, The Mighty Samson, Black Terror, The Scarab, The Death-Defying Devil, and more.  If you’re a fan of the storytelling of Suicide Squad’s Rob Williams, and agree Legenderry’s Sergio Davila knows how to draw great superhero books, Project Superpowers should be next on your comic book store pull list.

A different tale than Alex Ross’s 2008 resurrection of dozens of heroes in his Project Superpowers series, the story is updated for today, albeit pulling a few superheroes from the earlier series.   Dynamite Comics is publishing seven variant covers in all for the first book in this latest series with the Project Superpowers title, by Francesco Mattina, Ed Benes, Philip Tan, JG Jones, Stephen Segovia, and more.  “An all-new threat faces the Earth, while the team faces turmoil from within and must overcome all obstacles to prove their worth and value in a world that desperately needs its heroes.”

   

A new superheroine is about to be called to duty.  Here is a preview of the first issue and variant covers from the new Project Superpowers, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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The-Simon-and-Kirby-Library-Science-Fiction-Titan-Books

Their names evoke the best of the Golden Age of comic books.  Modern readers can still appreciate that their work stands up against the best modern storytelling.  Joe Simon and Jack Kirby hold a unique place in the history of comics, known for creating hundreds of characters, but most notably Captain America.  Throughout the 1940s and 1950s and into the 1960s they also put their own mark on the science fiction genre, carrying forward the futuristic vision and stories that melded science fiction and fantasy first brought to comic book form by Alex Raymond in 1930s Flash Gordon strips.  Jack Kirby is still king to many comic book readers today.

Titan Publishing’s release of The Simon & Kirby Library has re-introduced modern readers and fans of these classics with volumes highlighting both their Superheroes stories and their Crime stories in The Simon & Kirby Library: Superheroes and The Simon & Kirby Library: Crime.  The third installment now available reprints their collaboration in science fiction spanning more than 20 years in The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction.

Space Garbage panel

The volume includes “Solar Patrol,” written and drawn by Simon, and “Solar Legion,” written and drawn by Kirby, both from 1940.  Blue Bolt issues 1-10 plant the seeds for elements of modern sci-fi books, TV series, and movies.  Spaceships, space cars, rockets, spacemen and aliens all can be found here, with stories reminiscent of The Twilight Zone and Kirby’s classic pencil work.  The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction includes stories from several other Golden Age comic titles, including Black Cat Mystic, Alarming Tales, Race for the Moon, Alarming Adventures, and Blast Off.

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