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.