Wednesday, January 20, 2010


With One Magic Word...

I've been reading a fair amount of CC Beck Captain Marvel comics lately, and thinking a lot about what makes those old comics work so well. And what has made that character not work in just about every instance since, with isolated exceptions. Jeff Smith's Monster Society of Evil is about the closest that anyone's come in the last few decades, but even that doesn't quite work for me, as gorgeous as it is to look at.

I've flipped through the occasional issue of the new DC kids' title Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam, but they haven't really grabbed me. And then last night I saw this gem on Mike Norton's blog. I knew from his deviantArt page that he was taking over the art on the book, but I think this is the first issue for which he's done the cover, as well, the forthcoming issue #15.

Okay, that I like. I've always felt that the Marvel Family work best in a more iconic, more "cartoony" style, but without venturing too far into "goofy," and I think Norton's style here strikes a nice balance. I'll definitely be checking out the book once he takes over the art reins (with issue 13, I believe?)

In tangentially related news, I was surprised to find the following image on Amazon the other night, while searching around for something else entirely. It appears that the Justice League Unlimited toy line has done well enough that it has continued long after the show went off the air, and now has expanded to include characters who never even appeared on the show. Other DC characters, reimagined in the style Bruce Timm established for the JLU character designs. For example... the Marvel family:

I don't buy action figures, as a rule, but I'm sorely tempted to make an exception for these. It's a shame that the various attempts to get a Marvel Family cartoon off the ground in recent years have all failed.

And if you want to see how Captain Marvel could really work in animation, check out this opening from a recent episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold, which has emerged in the last year and change as the absolute best interpretation of the DC characters in years.

Chris, some day you and I will have to have a conversation about the Beck comics, which I adore. I'd love to hear your thoughts on why they work and why modern ones don't. I have some, but I'd rather hear yours.

Not so tempted on the action figures, though. Not enough Spy Smasher, Hill Billy Marvel, Tawky Tawny, and Master Man.
Agreed on the Marvel family. I don't have kids, but the five and ten year old "me's" think that Monster Society and Billy Batson Power of Shazam series, while pretty, were almost condescending, and that's why they didn't work for me. The CC Becks were goofy, fun and cartoony, but serious. I mean how much more grim than the origin of Freddy Freeman can you get in a kid's book? It's a fine line, and a testament to how good Beck was that no one's been able to do it since. "Superman/Shazam First Thunder" though was closer.

I stumbled across this cover the other day and. . well, you can make your own comparisons to modern treatment:
Perhaps this is more what you're looking for, Jess? No Tawky Tawny, but there is Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, which has to count for something.
As far as I'm concerned, Audie, the "Mary Marvel" that's been appearing in comics the last few years is a different character entirely. No connection or comparison at all.
Whole -heartedly agree with Brave and the Bold comments. It's the only animated show I watch nowadays (yet, still, can get my boy interested...). Hilarious and fun. The recent Aquaman-centric episode is among the best.
The Aquaman Family roadtrip, complete with the "Superfriends"-esque title cards, was *genius*.
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