Wednesday, October 2, 2013
YEAR 1942: MARY MARVEL
Introduced in CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #18, Mary Marvel was the second major spin-off from the Fawcett Captain Marvel, as she was preceded by "Captain Marvel Jr" in 1941. Unlike Junior, the superheroine was literally related to her perceptor's true identity, as Mary was introduced as the long lost sister of orphan Billy Batson. The most interesting aspect of her origin-story revolves around Billy figuring out how she could possibly summon the powers of the all-male coterie of transhuman beings who made up his magical anagram "Shazam." As shown above, it was decided that a girl hero should get her power from female transhumans, even if the writer had to make up a female goddess named "Zephyrus."
In general the Fawcett "Mary Marvel" tales-- appearing in WOW COMICS the year after she debuted-- shared with the rest of the Marvel Family strong if simple plots and winsome humor. The Mary stories are a tad more violent than one expects for stories of a preteen girl. Given that Mary was one of the few heroines to be a "heavy hitter," she showed a remarkable tendency to beat the hell of her villains, though to be sure the other Fawcett heroes are about the same. Given that the company avoided overt sexualization-- Mary remains a flat-chested juvenile for most of her original run-- maybe the violence was a compensating factor.
Mary would continue to appear in DC's adaptation of the Marvel Family, as well as making her television debut in the 1981 SHAZAM! cartoon.