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Foundationed Deep – Captain Marvel Jr. and Kid Eternity

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Okay, years later, DC bought Quality’s characters and licensed (and eventually purchased) Fawcett’s characters. In 1977, E. Nelson Bridwell brought Kid Eternity into the pages of Shazam! #27…

That’s not important in and of itself except it established that E. Nelson Bridwell was thinking about the character.

Five years later, the Marvel Family had their own back-up series in World’s Finest, written by Bridwell and drawn by Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte (sadly enough, all three members of the creative team passed away within five years of this series of stories).

In #276, a mercenary shows up with his group of soldiers for hire to help Captain Marvel, but there sure seems to be a lot of them…

At the end, we learn why…

What a mystery!

In the next issue, Captain Marvel Jr. is aided by Jack (of Beanstalk fame)…

In the next issue, Mary Marvel is aided by a Norse servant of Thor (Thialfi or something like that)…

In the next issue, while on a case, Freddy begins pondering the recent mysterious help they have been having and made him think back to a case he went on in 1942 (the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes case)…

Later on in the issue, they are once again aided by the Greek god of healing…

but wait…

Yes, Captain Marvel Jr. and Kid Eternity are BROTHERS!

The next issue, we learn why Kid Eternity didn’t let Captain Marvel Jr. know that he was still alive (in some sort of fashion)…

Yes, the mistake in Heaven was that the Freeman boy who came in with his dead grandfather was supposed to be FREDDY, but his brother Christopher was taken by mistake because he ALSO died with a different grandfather. And that is how Sherlock Holmes was able to help Freddy out in 1942 – it was Kid Eternity helping him!

As far as I know, no one ever did anything with this newly established family of Freddy’s.

If you are amazed/mystified/bewildered that someone could be that meticulous so as to use coincidences and plot points in forty year old stories to come up with a new plot point then, well, you are obviously not familiar with E. Nelson Bridwell.

Thanks for the suggestion, Tom! If YOU have a suggestion for a future edition of Foundationed Deep, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

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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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