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The rise and fall, and possible rise again, of Captain Marvel

by  in Comic News Comment
The rise and fall, and possible rise again, of Captain Marvel

NPR’s Glen Weldon recounts the history of the Marvel Family, and wonders why Captain Marvel, whose comics once out-sold Superman’s, isn’t more popular.

“He’s what other superheroes would be if they, like him, had skipped the ’60s altogether,” Weldon writes, “when superheroes began to develop personalities and — as rapidly followed — neuroses. He’s what other superheroes would look like, if they weren’t so heavily encumbered by the years of backstory and tortured exegesis that we middle-aged comic book fans eagerly pore over like Talmudic scholars.

“No wonder the theology of his origin doesn’t scan, and he sports a mysterious, quasi-military title, and that he’s friends with talking tigers. Captain Marvel is what Billy Batson — and kids like him, if they still exist — imagine, when they image a superhero.

Weldon sees promise, though, in the all-ages Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! which jettisons continuity and modern-superhero seriousness in favor of an attitude more closely akin to, “Lighten up, nerds, comics should be fun. Hey, look! A bunny in a cape!”

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