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Comic Legends: Why Couldn't Shazam Join the All-Star Squadron?

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COMIC LEGEND:

DC wouldn't let Roy Thomas merge Earth-S with Earth-2.

STATUS:

False (with a little truth mixed in there)

Reader Joe B. wrote in about the classic 1980s Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler series, All-Star Squadron, which was set during World War II on Earth-2. One of the novel things that Thomas did with the book was that he included characters from Quality Comics, as well (DC had purchased Quality and their characters, like Plastic Man and Firebrand, decades earlier)...

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The reason why that was significant was that Len Wein had previously established that the Quality Comics characters lived on a different Earth called Earth-X.

Thomas, of course, eventually had the Quality characters head off to Earth-X in All-Star Squadron #50...

Anyhow, Joe wanted to know if it was true that Thomas was going to do the same thing with the Fawcett character (who were based on Earth-S in the DC Multiverse after DC licensed the characters from Fawcett during the 1970s) and DC told him no.

The answer appears to be basically no, but Thomas DID try to add Shazam (well, Captain Marvel, but I'm using the name interchangeably) to the team! And DC DID tell him no, but for a more pragmatic reason than not wanting to mess around with various worlds!

Thomas explained it in the 8th issue of his amazing comic book history magazine, Alter Ego, from TwoMorrows...

In 1981, however, hard as it is for me to believe now, I actually wanted more heroes on Earth-Two, not less.

Nor will it surprise many longtime comics readers to learn that I tried to ring in the Fawcett heroes, as well.

Yes, I wanted the original Captain Marvel to be in the All-Star Squadron-which meant Mary and Junior wouldn't be far behind, fresh from yet another of DC's multiverse worlds, Earth-S. If I'd had my way, I'd have been handling several All-Stars with roughly the same powers as Superman-not to mention Bulletman, Spy Smasher, and the other Fawcett guys, few of whom besides Ibis the Invincible had any super-powers.

I was informed by Joe [Orlando] and Paul [Levitz], however, that it cost DC money every time a Fawcett character appeared in a DC comic. At that time DC hadn't yet bought the Fawcett heroes; they merely leased them, and paid a pro-rated fee based on how many pages of a given issue sported their likenesses. The company position was that they just weren't worth it to All-Star Squadron.

I was naturally disappointed not to be able to include Captain Marvel and his family and friends; but again, with the virtue of hindsight, I suspect it was for the best.

Besides, I was assured that, at some future time, I'd be able to guest-star the Marvel Family. And I did.

So you see, the issue was just the financial one. As Thomas notes, he did have the Earth-S heroes show up in All-Star Squadron #36...

Eventually, DC worked out a different deal with Fawcett and they had Shazam join the Justice League...

Even that turned out to be a brief stay, as I don't know if DC and Fawcett truly worked out all of the kinks of their deal until DC ended up outright buying the characters by 1991.

Now, I don't know for sure whether Thomas would have done the same thing with the Fawcett heroes as he did with the Quality ones and reveal that they took place on Earth-2 before going to their other worlds, but I doubt it. Still, whether he would or would not have done that, that was not the reason why DC wouldn't let him use Shazam in the series.

Thanks for the question, Joe! And thanks to Roy Thomas for the information. Be sure to check out the Roy Thomas Appreciation Board on Facebook!

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Check back soon for the final part of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed!

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