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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #12!

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This is the twelfth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous eleven.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel HAS to publish a Captain Marvel comic book.

STATUS: For all intents and purposes, True

As I stated in two (here and here)earlier Urban Legends Revealed, after they settled with DC, Fawcett ceased publication of Captain Marvel.

In the mean time, at one point in the 60s, Marvel decided that they should trademark well, anything with Marvel in the title.

This include launching their own Captain Marvel character in 1968, who they quickly then trademarked.

This is why, when DC got around to publishing Fawcett’s Captain Marvel characters in the 1970s, they had to call the book “Shazam!,” as the name Captain Marvel was a trademark owned by Marvel (note the difference between trademark and copyright. Fawcett still owned the copyright on Captain Marvel, so when they licensed the character to DC, DC was able to use the name Captain Marvel IN the comic book, just not when promoting or advertising the comic book. That is where trademarks come into play).

Well, as you can imagine, if Marvel ever LOST the trademark on Captain Marvel, DC would be quick to swoop in and grab it, so Marvel knew very well that it could not let the trademark lapse.

To do so, there is no hard and fast rule, but a safe bet would say they had to come out with a Captain Marvel publication at least every year or so.

So, what did Marvel do?

They published the adventures of the Kree warrior, Captain Marvel, from 1968 until 1979 (the last few years as a bi-monthly).

Then the Death of Captain Marvel in 1982.

Then the mini-series the LIFE of Captain Marvel (reprinting his most significant achievements) in 1985.

In 1982, Marvel introduced a new Captain Marvel (as mentioned last week), and in 1989, when no Captain Marvel book had been released for awhile, suddenly, she had a one-shot!

In 1994, once again, she had a one-shot!

In 1995, the first Captain Marvel’s son had an ongoing series for less than a year.

In 1997, Marvel published an Untold Tale of Captain Marvel.

In 2000, Peter David gave Marvel’s son another boost, with a series that lasted until 2004.

So while no, Marvel does not HAVE to publish a Captain Marvel comic book, if they want to keep their trademark, they will.

And, well, they want to keep their trademark…so they WILL keep on finding ways to publish a Captain Marvel comic book.

Note that, in House of M, Ms. Marvel is known by a certain familiar name?

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Poor Aquaman. Nobody even acknowledges his super-strength; just the fish talking power.

Poor Aquaman. Guy seems like DC’s favorite punching bag.

I heard an old rumor Nic Cage bought back a lot of the comics he sold off. Of course thats a rumor and nothing more.

Oh wow, I actually have that copy of JLA. Hilarious!

Don’t you think it’s a bit of slap to Aquaman’s face that Green Arrow and Speedy got a More Fun cover of them fighting underwater?
It’s almost enough to make you want to have a school of piranha chew off your hand…

So…how often does a Captain Marvel book have to be published to maintain the copyright? Once ever 4-5 years?

It is not a set deal, but yeah, that sounds about right, which is probably why Marvel is coming out with a new Captain Marvel series this year!

That’s a pretty funny scenario in regards to Captain Marvel and Marvel being more or less forced to release a book every so often.

By the way, what was Ms. Marvel called again in HOM?

I’m not so sure DC would be so fast to use the Captain Marvel name if Marvel Comics aever gave up the trademark. I';m sure they would grapb it if it was available, but since “Shazam” has been the trademark for the Big Red Cheese for longer than Fawcett’s original run of the character, and the whole “Trial of Shazam” thing is re-defining the characters of Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman, they may be happy to just let it go. Besides, to the man-on-the-street who does not read comics much, if you say “Captain Marvel,” they are likely to use word association to think Marvel Comics automatically.

What I find somewhat dissappointing is that Marvel and DC have not come together on a Captain Marvel/Shazam crossover story. The closest we had was one panel in the JLA/Avengers crossover and the Amalgam Captain Marvel (who was in maybe a dozen panels in two team books).

Where did you get the info that Marvel Comics created their Captain Marvel because of “rumblings” that DC was looking to bring back the original? According to Stan Lee in Les Daniels’ history of Marvel Comics and Roy Thomas in the introduction the the Marvel Masterworks edition of early Captain Marvel stories, it was a reaction to the MF Enterprises Captain Marvel. Carmine Infantino tells me that the idea to bring back Captain Marvel was his alone, and it happened in 1972. Have I missed something?

Some of those issues during the those 19 years actually featured fish! DC must have decided a fish story would look better with an archer than a man who can talk to fish.
Yes, poor Aquaman indeed.

I did a little more research, including talking to Roy Thomas. I found no evidence that DC was considering reviving Captain Marvel in the 1960’s, but I did find a Wall St. Journal article about Myron Fass suing Marvel for the use of the Captain Marvel trademark after Marvel came out with its Kree warrior the year after MF Enterprises had come out with its alien robot Captain Marvel. Again, the prevailing considered evidence points to it being Martin Goodman thinking that Marvel Comics ought to have a Captain Marvel, and the realization that the trademark must be available, because the MF Enterprises comic barely lasted a year.

So please give me some reference of these DC rumors, so I can get the story straight in my history.

Also, Mark Evanier says that jack Kirby had come up with the idea for DC to acquire the rights to the Big Red Cheese. Carmine Infantino says it was his own idea. Hmmm…

I own a copy of Colossal Comic Annual #3 which was published in 1957, four years BEFORE Brave and the bold #28. And guess who is on the cover? Aquaman. So the actual first cover appearance of Aquaman was not Brave and the Bold #28 as stated. I think Aquaman may have first appeared on a cover in 1956 with Mammoth Annual. It was a 292 large comic with Superman; Batman; Robin; Aquaman; Wonder Woman; Rex the Wonder Dog and others.


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