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Foundationed Deep – Captain Marvel Jr. and Kid Eternity

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This is the latest in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces looking at particular odd/strange/interesting instances of retroactively connecting different comic book characters (for instance, Uncanny X-Men #268 retroactively established that Wolverine knew both Captain America and the Black Widow from World War II). Here is an archive of all of the past pieces.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Tom C., we discuss the absolutely astounding connection between Kid Eternity and Captain Marvel Jr.

Enjoy!

Okay, first off let’s examine Captain Marvel Jr’.s debut in the fall of 1941 in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #25 (by France Herron, CC Beck and Mac Raboy).

Young Freddy Freeman is on a boat with his grandfather at JUST the wrong time…

Captain Marvel is so distraught over inadvertently leading to the death of the old man and the seeming death of the young lad that he takes drastic measures…

Okay, so that’s Captain Marvel Jr. Note that he was seemingly SUPPOSED to die.

Now, exactly a year later, in Quality Comics’ Hit Comics #25 (by Otto Binder and Sheldon Moldoff), another grandfather is on a boat with HIS grandson ALSO at the wrong time…

That is, of course, a Nazi submarine. It sinks the boat. The grandfather is killed in the sinking of the boat but the Nazis aren’t done there…

However, when the young lad gets to Heaven…

Because of the mistake, he is instead sent back to Earth with brand-new powers…

Okay, so that’s Kid Eternity. Note that he was seemingly NOT supposed to die.

The SAME month that Kid Eternity made his debut, the second issue of Captain Marvel Jr.’s solo title came out. In one of the stories, Freddy Freeman is saved from Captain Nazi while in London by a familiar looking detective…

Later, the detective saves Freddy again, only now in his Captain Marvel Jr. identity (Captain Nazi poured molasses all over Freddy)…

In the end, Captain Nazi is defeated and the dumber readers are given one last big clue as to the identity of the mystery guest…

You might be saying to yourself, “What the hell, Brian? How is this possibly relevant?” I wish I could tell you that it wasn’t.

There are way too many images in this piece to keep it all on one page. So go to the next page to fast forward nearly forty years!

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27 Comments

It was a superb use of continuity and meta-history. Roy Thomas must be jealous.

The Crazed Spruce

November 29, 2013 at 3:25 am

Gotta say,I’m loving this new feature. :)

I actually remember reading “The Secret of the Freeman Brothers” back when I was a kid. Heck, it might even be the first Captain Marvel story I ever read. It took me years before I realised that Kid Eternity was retconned into being part of the Marvel Family, but he worked very well with them, despite the completely different power set.

Bridwell’s Marvel Family work was easily the best use of the Shazamers at DC.

What in the shit? This is the most complicated thing I’ve ever seen in comics that doesn’t involve Hawkman or the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I don’t think Bridwell ever turned in a bad story, no matter what the page count or characters or artists he was blessed with.

That’s awesome.

Bridwell’s Inferior Five sent up legacy heroes before the term even existed.

I’ve never understood what the limits to Kid Eternity’s powers are- can he just summon dead heroes? Dead people who went to heaven?

He can summon both the spirits of real people and fictional ones–in one story he deals with a crook by having Javert beat him up, for instance. He can call up both historical characters and the recently dead.
It’s implied but never stated that he can only summon people from heaven: Master Man, his player on the other side, is specifically given the power to call up the damned. There’s some ambiguity though, because in one story the Kid calls up Jesse James who’s getting some sort of shot at redemption, IIRC.
One more point about Bridwell: he did a remarkably good job of fitting the comics series to the dull 1970s live action series (which is why Billy has to communicate with the gods by that gadget in one of the stories Brian posted, and why Uncle Dudley has a moustache).

That might be the most amazing and sensical retcon I have ever seen. Everything fits perfectly. Awesome job there.

I usually HATE this kind of obsessive continuity wrangling. HATE it. Without exception. That’s why I hate so much of Roy Thomas’s work.

However this one is so impressive and meticulous I have to admit…I kind of like it. It’s incredibly clever. Despite how I usually react to these types of stories, I can’t help but be wowed.

I’m not sure there’s a better compliment than T liking something such as this.

Those Marvel Family stories in World’s Finest were superb. There were a lot of features going on in that comic at the same time, but it was head and shoulders above the rest.

What was the run in World’s Finest or has this been collected? I would like to.pick these up.

I also remember this story from years ago. Brilliant.

Only when DC decided to move Kid Eternity over to their Vertigo line, I thought they were doing the character and the Marvel Family a disservice.

What was the run in World’s Finest or has this been collected? I would like to.pick these up.

The Shazam stories ran from World’s Finest 253-282, alongside the other recurring features: Superman/Batman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Creeper, Black Lighting, Red Tornado et al. To the best of my knowledge they haven’t been collected, which is just plain silly because if there were a vol. 2 of Showcase Presents: Shazam! it would start with these stories.

Too bad that Morrison had to go and ruin Kid Eternity.

CC Beck and Mac Raboy were drawing those characters in Whiz Comics #25 separately, weren’t they? It’s kinda odd looking. This was a fun read, though.

I thought there was a reference to this in the Kid Eternity Vertigo series.

Man, Freddy Freeman has a big diary.

Raymond Wonsowski

December 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Wow. That is clean and meticulous to the point of amazing. Bridwell was a Bronze age genius, right up there with Maggin. Really cool stuff.

Is it just me, or does the Kid Eternity origin story seem very well-written for it’s time, specifically the plotting and dialogue? Compared to a lot of the other Golden Age stuff I’ve seen, it reads way smoother than a lot of the National (aka DC) stuff.

Is it just me, or does the Kid Eternity origin story seem very well-written for it’s time, specifically the plotting and dialogue? Compared to a lot of the other Golden Age stuff I’ve seen, it reads way smoother than a lot of the National (aka DC) stuff.

Nope. I actually meant to mention that, but, well, as you can see the piece was already really long. But anyhow, yeah, it is a really well-written comic with a novel premise. The whole story is even better. Then again, Otto Binder WAS pretty damn awesome.

If I recall correctly, the World’s Finest retcon also accounted for St. Peter looking exactly like Shazam in the original Kid Eternity origin by saying that it actually was Shazam, just filling in for St. Pete that day.

That may well be the most seamless retcon I’ve ever seen! That stands to reason, though, Bridwell excelled at this type of thing. I’ve never read a bad story by him.

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