Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Superman vs. Captain Marvel

My friend apparently is having a conflict of shall I comment on these two super gentlemen or not. His post appears and then it disappears. I'll comment on these two gentlemen anyway and see if my post remains in place.

Comic Books were a big deal in my boyhood, such a big deal in fact, that the 1950s usual gang of idiots sitting in Congress blamed them for all the ills of society, at least as far as juvenile delinquency and youthful misdeeds were concerned.  A few years they blamed all such ills on Elvis Presley and Rock 'n' Roll and then on Television. The current gang of idiots in Washington DC now blame all our ills on computer games.

Superman first appeared in Action Comics in 1948. Captain Marvel slipped on his cape in Whiz Comics (a somewhat unfortunate name) in 1939. As far as this kid was concerned the two super heroes existed in mutual peace; however, the real conflict was one of super dimensions between Fawcett, DC and Marvel Comic Book Publishers that went on for decades. In fact, Captain Marvel disappeared for a number of years after 1953 when DC sued Fawcett for copyright infringements. Somehow Marvel snatched up the rights to Captain Marvel in the dust that followed and DC couldn't actually publish the Captain until those Marvel licensed the character to them. Bizarre how these legal affairs get entangled.

My friend showed pictures of the two superheroes of a more modern time. They look all chiseled and in his opinion attractive. Back in the day when I was reading their adventures they were so fine looking. Both the covers shown here are from 1953, just before Captain Marvel was vanquished by DC to comic book limbo. Superman has some hint of muscle, but no six-pack or rippling muscles down his forearms. Captain Marvel just looks a bit chunky.

I didn't care about how they looked as a kid. Most of the early comic heroes were not well drawn. I just liked the stories. And I liked Captain Marvel better than Superman.  Maybe it was the persona of his alter ego. I mean, Billy Batson wasn't just Captain Marvel in glasses. He didn't even wear glasses. He was a kid just like us boys reading this stuff. He could call out to this wizard Shazam, and be transformed into Captain Marvel. How cool is that? You didn't have to come from some other planet, you just had to know a good and powerful wizard. Man, that could happen to any of us and then let the bullies look out.

I never saw much reason to single out Captain Marvel for copyright infringement. He seemed quite different enough from Superman to stand on his own. Most those super heroes fed off each other anyway.  A lot of them ran around in long underwear and capes. Look at Batman.

Speaking of costumes, at least most super heroes got shorts to wear over their tights. It must have been a bit embarrassing for Captain Marvel dashing about in those form fitting red leggings. No wonder he was red.

In those early years both of these characters made it to live action films and TV. They were not represented well in that media. The actors just didn't really look that super. There was George Reeves, kind of more puffy looking than he-man bounding about on TV for a number of years.

Here he is on the right having his bicep admired by TV comedy great Lucille Ball.

On the left we have Tom Tyler, an actor who played a couple costumed super heroes in his day. Beside Captain marvel, he appeared as The Phantom. He is pictured with Radio comedy great Judy Canova.

This is downright embarrassing. At least George Reeves looked somewhat imposing towering over Lucy. Tom Tyler looks ready to do a pas de demux from Swan Lake with Baby Snooks here.  

But no matter these choices of thespians to portray our The Man of Steel and The Big Red Cheese, I liked the comic and I liked Captain Marvel better than Superman.

I liked Batman better than Superman, too. After all, Batman was just a mortal man who trained himself to be a super crime fighter. Bullets didn't bounce off him and he couldn't fly or leap tall buildings. Maybe you could never be as good as Batman (especially his repelling up and down those tall buildings since I feared hight), but at least with some dedication and effort you could improve your body and your skills. You didn't have to be born in outer space or even know a wizard.

There were certain super heroes who had more appeal to me than others. I never liked Submariner at all and I didn't really get into Captain America. Aquaman was more appealing than Submariner, but still a lesser light than say Green Lantern. I am not sure why anymore, but I liked The Green Lantern when I was a kid. I always looked forward to his stories.

Maybe it was because my favorite color was green.

It sure couldn't have been that costume he wore.

But my mostest bestest favorite of all was Plastic Man. I loved the way he could stretch into any shape and be purling about as a chair. Here comes our villain to sit down right into Plastic Man's clutches. Of course Plastic Man was written with a good deal of humor. It was almost a satire of the genre.

Here is a final look at our main featured characters in live action.

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