When Did Captain Marvel First Gain the Nickname 'The Big Red Cheese'?

In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Mark asked when Captain Marvel was first nicknamed "The Big Red Cheese" in the comics.

Over the years, "The Big Red Cheese" has been such a great nickname for Captain Marvel because it perfectly captures just how different his stories were, for the most part, from other superhero adventures. There was a certain amount of charming innocence presence in the stories of young Billy Batson turning into Captain Marvel, Earth's Mightiest Mortal. While kids could always dream of being Superman, with Captain Marvel, they almost COULD see themselves as becoming Captain Marvel because that's precisely what Billy did! In addition, these comic book adventures typically were more magic-based, which also gave them a certain sort of charm and offbeat nature. This doesn't mean that these stories weren't violent, as, well, come on, it was the early 1940s, EVERY superhero comic book was super violent. It just means that these stories had a unique charm that made them stand out and likely led to Captain Marvel becoming the most popular superhero comic period circa 1944. There's few other comic book superheroes who could have gotten away with literally doing story books of their adventures in the mid-1940s...

So that's why I think that the nickname has latched on so well, but the funny thing is that it was introduced as an INSULT! Yep, his most popular nickname was actually a case of the fans reclaiming an insult of the good Captain by his arch-nemesis, Doctor Sivana!

Sivana actually has been around for just as long as Captain Marvel, as he debuted in Whiz Comics #2 along with Captain Marvel (written by Bill Parker and drawn by C.C. Beck). Billy's first major mission as Captain Marvel was to defeat an evil plot by Sivana...

Sivana was then used CONSTANTLY in the early issues of Whiz Comics and then in Captain Marvel Adventures, when Cap got his own solo title. Remember how often Joker appeared in early Batman stories? Sivana probably had him beat because he showed up in nearly every Whiz Comics adventure BEFORE Captain Marvel expanded into his solo book (the solo books back then were anthologies just like the original series, only each of the stories were about the main hero. This meant that you were going from one story per issue to four, and as a result, it was almost impossible to not bring back the regular foes for at least one of those four stories. That's why Joker appears in almost all of the first dozen or so issues of Batman).

Anyhow, Sivana would often insult Captain Marvel, and often they would involve him calling him "Big" and them something after that. Like here, in Captain Marvel Adventures #1 (by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby and Dick Briefer - Fawcett was bringing in the big guns for their first issue of Cap's solo series), when he calls him a Big Lump of Muscle...

Okay, so when did he come upon "Big Red Cheese?" Turn to the next page to find out...

1 2
Batman Bane feature
Gotham Never Belonged to Batman or Bane - It's Actually [SPOILER]'s

More in CBR Exclusives