Thursday, December 2, 2010

1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes Captain Marvel Character Card



I loathe the many inadequacies of DC Comics. There are all these great characters in their stable to be a fan of, but at the end of the day, their entire existence is about promoting two thirty-something white male protestants as the be-all and end-all of super-heroics. If someone besides Superman or Batman sells for DC, they'll play it out for a while, but as soon as the worm turns Property #3 will be abandoned or sabotaged to feed the World's Finest machine. Only in the last few years have Green Lantern and the Flash been given a sustained marketing push across all media. Wonder Woman remains a licensing goldmine but publishing afterthought. Meanwhile, Marvel Entertainment is worth a fortune because they spread the love across a whole spectrum of characters whose individual popularity ebbs and flows, but as a whole work to consistently sustain the company.

The above rant was inspired by Captain Marvel. You see, in his day, the guy outsold Superman. He had tons of merchandising and spin-offs, his own movie serial and TV series, cartoons and almost as many imitators as Superman himself. The name Shazam was so well known it became a regular catchphrase on one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Your great-grandfather or grandmother think The Avengers was just a British spy show, but they know Captain Marvel. Their son at least knows Shazam. Yet, time and time again, DC has mismanaged the character in one failed launch after another. You know how Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Captain Marvel at DC. He looks like Superman, but is written as dumber and less powerful, in an increasingly antiquated manner, by progressively lesser known creators. That sounds like suck-cess to me!



As you can see above, the Big Red Cheese has some almost unparalleled stats. A point of dexterity over Wonder Woman, two points of strength over Martian Manhunter, two points of bodily resilience over the Spectre. Yet somehow, the Wisdom of Solomon equates to a measly 4 Intelligence, his anti-psychic/magic defenses are middling, and he's 4-10+ points below the Man of Steel in everything. I won't even get into the 2+ times disparity in Hero Points. This guy is supposed to be a contender? This is how you handle what was once among the most famous heroes in the entire world? Holy Moley! Mess with a Kryptonian bull, and you get the horns, by golly!

Belated thanks to Tom Hartley, whose offering of a batch of about 30 character card scans was the taste I needed to seek more. He then sold his box set for a very reasonable price to a poor student to facilitate this crossover, because I just had to scan them all for myself.

3 comments:

LissBirds said...

I think you may be rubbing off on me because I griped about Batman on my own Mairfairsivus post. And I started out as a Batman fan!

I always liked Captain Marvel, because I get an instant Golden Age vibe from him, especially when an artist draws him with a pug nose and squinted eyes. Plus, he had some cool villains like Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind.

It's frustrating to like so many second (and third) string characters, but then I think if any of them become mainstream/more popular, they'd probably lose a lot of the unusual, quirky qualities that give them a cult status. In other words, I'd rather hunt around to read a hard-to-find gem like American Secrets and enjoy it over picking up the latest issue of Brightest Day to get my Martian fix.

mathematicscore said...

Man, Capt. Marvel that I have a ton of love for, but aside from the Jeff Smith reboot (I've never read the Golden Age stuff) I've read little that properly "gets" him.

I mean, seriously, Martian Manhunter has more quality appearances that him, and that is saying something!

I would seriously love to helm a JLI reboot with more or less the original line up and just run with it. MM, CM, GL (GG) and Dr F, all kinds of big time superheroics could be had... plus the joys of Batman, Blue Beatle, Booster Gold, AND Mister Miracle. Not to forget Black Canary and Dr Light. I love that whole series, warts and all, but I would've loved to have seen them stick with that opening lineup, even just for another six issues. Who needs Supes or Wondy?

Diabolu Frank said...

M.C., I like what little good Shazam material I've been exposed to, which is kind of like saying I think I'd enjoy a billion dollars based on the tens of thousands I've made over the course of my entire life. I've got the Jeff Smith trade sitting on my holiday reading stack. One of my very many dream projects is to throw a batch of fallen non-DC greats into one entirely JLA-unrelated super team of their own. Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Spy Smasher, a new Blackhawk, etc...

Liss, I think you may need to edit that first post, because I'm sending you the Batman card.

I worry sometimes that Martian Manhunter will get popular enough to start bugging me. However, the character is so essentially flawed/self-sabotaging, I can't see it happening. J'Onn was arguably at his most famous during the JLI years (when he beat Captain Marvel, but began being constantly beaten/killed by Superman in real & imagined stories) and JLA (when J'Onn served as a punching bag for every fourth new Superman villain.) There are plenty of mechanisms in place to keep J'Onn in his place.

Restoring Captain Marvel would take a tsunami-like sea change at DC. If Alex Ross couldn't even really get a good wave going, I can't see anyone else pulling it off.