This is the twelfth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous eleven.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel HAS to publish a Captain Marvel comic book.
STATUS: For all intents and purposes, True
In the mean time, at one point in the 60s, Marvel decided that they should trademark well, anything with Marvel in the title.
This include launching their own Captain Marvel character in 1968, who they quickly then trademarked.
This is why, when DC got around to publishing Fawcett's Captain Marvel characters in the 1970s, they had to call the book "Shazam!," as the name Captain Marvel was a trademark owned by Marvel (note the difference between trademark and copyright. Fawcett still owned the copyright on Captain Marvel, so when they licensed the character to DC, DC was able to use the name Captain Marvel IN the comic book, just not when promoting or advertising the comic book. That is where trademarks come into play).
Well, as you can imagine, if Marvel ever LOST the trademark on Captain Marvel, DC would be quick to swoop in and grab it, so Marvel knew very well that it could not let the trademark lapse.
To do so, there is no hard and fast rule, but a safe bet would say they had to come out with a Captain Marvel publication at least every year or so.
So, what did Marvel do?
They published the adventures of the Kree warrior, Captain Marvel, from 1968 until 1979 (the last few years as a bi-monthly).
Then the Death of Captain Marvel in 1982.
Then the mini-series the LIFE of Captain Marvel (reprinting his most significant achievements) in 1985.
In 1982, Marvel introduced a new Captain Marvel (as mentioned last week), and in 1989, when no Captain Marvel book had been released for awhile, suddenly, she had a one-shot!
In 1994, once again, she had a one-shot!
In 1995, the first Captain Marvel's son had an ongoing series for less than a year.
In 1997, Marvel published an Untold Tale of Captain Marvel.
In 2000, Peter David gave Marvel's son another boost, with a series that lasted until 2004.
So while no, Marvel does not HAVE to publish a Captain Marvel comic book, if they want to keep their trademark, they will.
And, well, they want to keep their trademark...so they WILL keep on finding ways to publish a Captain Marvel comic book.