Monday, June 16, 2008

Jules Feiffer's Superheroes Week: On Captain Marvel

“Villains ranged from mad scientist Dr. Sivana (the best in the business), who uncannily resembled Donald Duck, to Mr. Mind, a worm who talked and wore glasses, to Tawky Tawny, a tiger who talked and wore a business suit. A Disney land of happy violence. The Captain himself came out dumber than the average super-hero—or perhaps less was expected of him. A friendly fullback of a fellow with apple cheeks and dimples, he could be imagined being a buddy rather than a hero, an overgrown boy who chased villains as if they were squirrels.”

—Jules Feiffer, The Great Comic Book Heroes

5 comments:

Phillyradiogeek said...

This description sounds about right. DC has felt the same way, which is why they've had such a hard time including the Marvel family into the DCU since they acquired the characters.

Although frankly, I like Cap for exactly the character traits Feiffer describes. The classics stories are light as a feather, unpretentious, and great fun. What more can you ask from a comic book?

Sea_of_Green said...

Sivana looks like Donald Duck ...!? Well, by Jupiter! Why did I never see that before?

SallyP said...

You have to admit that the concept of Mr. Mind was pure genius.

Jacob T. Levy said...

I'm struck by how much more successful the integration of Black Adam, Sivana, Mr. Mind, and even Shazam into the DCU has been than the integration of the three Marvels themselves. Mad scientists fit in just fine. Mr. Mind is so utterly unique that you can do one of a kind stuff with him. Adam (at least through the end of 52) had been given great development from his time in JSA onward.

But three heroic Kryptonian-levels powerhouses with the wisdom of Solomon are all kinds of disruptive if taken seriously in a broader superheroic universe. The old Power of Shazam series kept them tied to Fawcett City like Starman was tied to Opal City, but without that conceit, it seems impossible to know what to do with them (although here's a hint: the correct answer is *not* Mary in Countdown or Billy in Trials of Shazam).

Caleb said...

I'm struck by how much more successful the integration of Black Adam, Sivana, Mr. Mind, and even Shazam into the DCU has been than the integration of the three Marvels themselves. Mad scientists fit in just fine.

Yeah, 52 was essentially a 52-part series--one that out-sold just about everything else DC published at the time or since--about the DCU fighting a couple Captain Marvel villains. I don't see why they tried reinventing the franchise in Trials when it seems like just putting Black Adam and company in the same book would be pretty viable.

It's unfortunate that so many creative people look at characters like Captain Marvel and Martian Manhunter and focus on their similarities to Superman, rather than their differences.