Writer, Editor, Author

Tag: Shazam

Comic du jour: Ltd. Collector’s Edition C-27 – Shazam!

In honor of today being my dad’s 70th birthday, I’m going to review the first comic he and my mom ever procured for me: Limited Collector’s Edition C-27, a treasury size Shazam! comic from 1974. I would have been about five when I got this comic, which I seem to recall arrived by mail order and would have been requested by me because of the Saturday morning TV show airing at the time.

Looking back at this, it’s a pretty amazing first comic. Not only is it in the huge treasury format (80 pages for $1 must have seemed like a lot back then), but it reprints eight stories from the Golden Age run of Captain Marvel and the entire Marvel family.

The story that made the greatest impression on me was the Captain Marvel Jr. story, “The Man with 100 Heads!” There’s a sequence where Dr. Slicer, the villain of the piece, captures Freddy Freeman and sets him, gagged, in a guillotine. Of course, Dr. Slicer leaves before the blade drops, and Freddy manages to get the gag free in just enough time to say Captain Marvel and save his neck — literally! Something about that scene captured my imagination and never let go.

I bought my current copy of the book a few years back — my original long since discarded and gone. Looking at this book again, I was impressed by the quality of the art and the liveliness of these stories. It also looks great. The reproduction on those treasury size pages is crisp, sharp and lovely to behold. This also was a great package for kids — there were puzzles, clip activities, a fairly sultry pinup of Mary Marvel, photos from the 1940s Captain Marvel serial and, best of all, the table-top diorama on the back cover. I’m pretty sure I cut up the back cover of my original copy to make this. Thankfully, now I can just make a copy with my scanner. Here’s what the finished bit looks like:

Having tried to cut out all the bits around Billy Batson, I wonder if anyone at DC tried to see if a kid could do this well — or even safely — and get a good result. I’m not sure this looks a whole lot better than the one I did at age five, even with my now-obsolete paste-up skills. The final product looks a bit like the boxes those old Mego action figures came in.

Either way, it’s still a brilliant comic and one of my favorites.

Thanks, Dad.

Insiders spill ‘Watchmen’ history and how the ‘Shazam!’ movie died

Two interesting comic book movie tidbits. First, an open letter purportedly from Lloyd Levin, partner of the producer at the heart of the “Watchmen” legal dispute, Larry Gordon. Llevin writes about trying to get a “Watchmen” movie made for many years and criticizes Fox’s claims as opportunistic. To wit:

From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute, came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.

And it’s at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.

The response we got from Fox was a flat “pass.” That’s it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie – yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.

Then, screenwriter John August explains on his blog that the “Shazam!” movie he had been writing is dead in the water and explains from his P.O.V. how it all went down.

In retrospect, I can point to two summer Warner Bros. movies that I believe defined the real issue at hand: Speed Racer and The Dark Knight. The first flopped; the second triumphed. Given only those two examples, one can understand why a studio might wish for their movies to be more like the latter. But to do so ignores the success of Iron Man, which spent most of its running time as a comedic origin story, and the even more pertinent example of WB’s own Harry Potter series. I tried to make this case, to no avail.

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