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Comics That Marvel Published To Maintain Their Captain Marvel Trademark

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

As I wrote about recently here, when Fawcett Comics shuttered their superhero comic book division following their loss of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against them by the publishers of Superman (then National Comics), Fawcett eventually was considered to have abandoned their "Captain Marvel" trademark.

The whole point of a trademark is that it is meant to protect customers from being confused in the marketplace as to who owns what. So if you aren't IN the marketplace, then you don't get trademark protection. Eventually, Marvel swooped in and got a hold of the trademark when they introduced their own Captain Marvel in 1967. Here's the trick with that, though. As noted, if you don't use the mark in trade, you don't get to have a protected trademark. So Marvel has to keep using the name or else it could be argued that they abandoned it. DC could then swoop in themselves and register it for THEIR Captain Marvel (who they purchased from Fawcett in the late 1980s/early 1990s after licensing it from them for years).

So Marvel has to keep publishing Captain Marvel comic books. Once trade collections became common and constantly in print in the early 21st century, this became LESS of a priority, but it is still not something that Marvel would want to go too long without having a comic book out with Captain Marvel in the title. Just better to be safe than sorry.

So here are all of the comics that Marvel has published over the years to maintain their trademark (some are odder than others).

THE ORIGINAL

This, of course, is the big one. This is the series that secured the trademark for Marvel and ran for about a decade, with gaps here and there (and a bi-monthly schedule for a good deal of the run, as well). Starring Captain Mar-Vell, the series was also the one that was currently being published when DC licensed the original Captain Marvel, forcing DC to use the name Shazam! for that comic book series.

THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL

Eventually, Captain Marvel was killed off and was replaced with a new Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau. However, the early 1980s didn't really see much action from DC on the Captain Marvel license, so things were a bit less pressing, so there was just a one reprint series of Jim Starlin's classic Captain Marvel run done in 1985.

CAPTAIN MARVEL ONE-SHOT

By the end of the 1980s, however, DC had done a Shazam miniseries and had plans to purchase the character outright, so Marvel played it safe and released a one-shot starring the Monica Rambeau version of Captain Marvel. She wasn't even on the Avengers anymore at this point in time.

CAPTAIN MARVEL ONE-SHOT

By the time Monica got a sequel one-shot in 1994, she had been out of the limelight for YEARS. It was a really good one-shot, though, by Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright, the original creators on the 1989 one-shot (Dwight D. Coye scripted it and a bunch of guys inked it). This was nearing the end of Monica's time as the good Captain.

CAPTAIN MARVEL LIMITED SERIES

Mar-Vell's son, Genis-Vell, had been introduced in 1993 and given the superhero name of Legacy. In 1995, Marvel made him the new Captain Marvel and he had a limited series by Fabian Nicieza and Ed Benes.

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