BySam Plank, writer at
"You have to be what you are. Whatever you are, you gotta be it." -Johnny Cash. Tweet a tweeter at my twitty twitter, @tw1tterintw1t
Sam Plank

Now that the internet is on fire with the rumor that Brie Larson is set to play Carol Danvers, we're all talking about Captain Marvel. But what about that other -- and first -- Captain Marvel? You might know him as Shazam these days, but the Captain Marvel name stretches back even further than Marvel's character.

Long story short? Fawcett Comics started publishing Captain Marvel comics in 1940. DC got mad because he was too much like Superman, and eventually took over the rights to the character. In the DC world, Captain Marvel became Shazam, but in the 60s, Marvel started publishing a character they called Captain Marvel. In order to retain the trademark, Marvel had to keep publishing Captain Marvel comics, and... yeah, I have a headache now, too.

The trademark battle was just the start of some of the wacky stuff comic book readers would see Captain Marvel -- Shazam -- go through.

1. Captain Marvel Gets Cheesy

Billy Batson and some other fine folk come upon a cheese tree. The cheese on this cheese tree is emitting some funky funk, so Billy utters “Shazam!” and becomes Captain Marvel, doing something to the tree and saving the day.

Sure, this is from the 40s, but even so... a cheese tree?

2. More Battles with Food

This time, it's yeast! When some yeast got out of control, and it was apparently up to Captain Marvel to save the day. Some salt or a refrigerator would have done the trick.

3. Captain Marvel's Origin Story

Billy Batson was a homeless newsboy who was led into a dark subway tunnel by a mysterious stranger. When he came back out? He had years of therapy and a horrible fear of trains!

No, no, no. He had superpowers that could be summoned by saying the name of the wizard who gave them to him, Shazam. And of course, a rock fell on Shazam's head and killed him, right after he gave Billy his powers.

4. His Greatest Foe Was a Worm

But not just any worm! A really smart worm named Mister Mind. Who was from another planet. And was telepathic. And rode sea horses and controlled huge sea creatures. So basically, Aquamanworm?

5. That Time a River Got Revenge

Not only did it get revenge, but it had its own soliloquy thing at the end! I'm not even going to go any further with this one. Just read what the river has to say, and drift away peacefully.

6. Walking Dead Tiger, Eat Your Heart Out!

Another creation of the 1940s-era Captain Marvel comics, Mr. Tawny is a walking, talking tiger who just wants to fit in with the humans. There's all that, and also his tweed suit, which makes him that much more awesome. Tawny's origin story? He was just a normal tiger who was accused of killing a man, so he was given a serum that turned him into his man-like form to clear his name.

7. Why the Fascination with String?

Multiple times, we have string as a main antagonist, or at least a main point of the story.

Here, we have what appears to be Mr. Tawny tied up with string:

And here, we have a mysterious string coming from a portal, presumably leading to another dimension:

Never mind the tear in the fabric of space and time....we have mysterious string! And of course, they keep pulling. Remember these two things, and you'll make it through life okay: you never put your ear up to a hole in the wall of the truck stop bathroom stall you're in, and you never pull on weird string coming from another dimension, because this might happen!

Considering Captain Marvel got his start in the 40s, it's safe to assume that the internet has only scratched the surface of the weirdness of those comics. Did I miss any that any of you might know about? Let me know in the comments!


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