Christmas has once again come and gone, but before the holidays are over, there's one last celebration we all have to get through before New Year's rolls around and puts a cap on it: Boxing Day! The only problem is that the True Meaning of Boxing Day has been explored in roughly zero movies (as opposed to the True Meaning of Christmas, which has been pretty thoroughly dealt with in about 4,926), so I always just tend to think of it as a wintry celebration of people punching each other in the face.
I always try to celebrate with the most pugilistic comic I can find, and this year, that led me to 1944's Captain Marvel Adventures #35, which promised a boxing match between Billy Batson's alter ego and a soldier, and then went on to become one of the all-time craziest comic books I have ever read.
Last week, Captain Marvel Shazam Billy Batson and his super-powered alter ego returned to the spotlight in the pages of Justice League #0. For the new version, DC's going for a grittier, edgier version of the character that's sure to delight middle aged readers everywhere who want to see a little kid be a dick to everybody, but let's be honest: That grim darkness was always there, right from those original stories...
Oh, relax. Despite the unfortunate modern-day subtext of that panel, the crook here only means it in the sense of generally harming. Point is, I've been reading through a lot of Golden Age Captain Marvel Adventures comics lately, and if I've learned nothing, it's that Billy Batson and his super-heroic alter ego face even stranger situations than the average Golden Age hero, and that's saying something...
In 1939, Otto Binder and C.C. Beck created Captain Marvel for Fawcett Comics, and for a while, he was the single most popular super-hero in the world. So popular, in fact, that his adventures were outselling even Superman's, which led pretty much directly to a lawsuit from National (the company that would later become DC) that successfully alleged that Captain Marvel was infringing on their existing copyright of a dark-haired guy in a cape who went around punching out a bald scientist...
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