Holy Moley! Michael Cho’s eye-catching Shazam! collection covers simply sparkle

Still listed for release next month is Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 2, a second collection of 1970s Shazam! from DC Comics – made all the more appealing by another terrific cover from Michael Cho.

DC’s collections of the 1970s adventures of Shazam began with Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 1 last year, collecting Shazam! #1 – 18.

Based in Toronto, Michael Cho is a cartoonist and illustrator who’s illustrated many comics and covers for publishers such as Marvel and DC. He’s also painted covers for Penguin and Random House, drawn numerous editorial illustrations for clients like the New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly and the New Yorker – and provided the wonderful key art for the 2027 Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

An art book of his drawings, Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes was published by Drawn & Quarterly in 2012. His first creator-owned graphic novel, Shoplifter, was published by Pantheon in 2014 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List.

DC Comics revived Captain Marvel, now known as Shazam! for copyright reasons, in 1973, whose Golden Age adventures had sold in the millions of copies, shortly before the debut of the hero in his own TV series on CBS.

These new adventures reunited the entire Marvel family for all-new adventures, combining the cartoony art of C.C. Beck, the original artist from the best-selling comics of the 1940s, with the modern, tongue-in-cheek sensibility of writers including Denny O’Neil, Elliot S. Maggin and E. Nelson Bridwell.

1970s Shazam! comic covers by C.C. Beck. 13th Dimension notes Superman on Shazam! was by Nick Cardy, with Superman’s face inked by Murphy Anderson
1970s Shazam! comic covers by C.C. Beck. 13th Dimension notes Superman on Shazam! was by Nick Cardy, with Superman’s face inked by Murphy Anderson

Alongside C.C.Beck, artists on the series included Rich Buckler, Pat Broderick, Dave Cockrum, Dick Giordano and more.

This second 300-plus page volume collects Shazam! #19, #20, #25-35, and All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58 – presenting more of the hero’s offbeat adventures, including “The Strange and Terrible Disappearance of Maxwell Zodiac” and “Mr. Tawny’s Big Game”.

During this run, SHAZAM! was cancelled at the start of the “DC Explosion”, but after a six month hiatus, was revived as a DC TV Comic, the hero sharing his book with Isis, just as he shared the television show of the same era. This was her first appearance, before moving into her own series.

The live-action Shazam! television series, produced by Filmation, ran for three seasons on CBS, and features on DC Universe service in the US, remastered in HD.

The show originally ran from 1974 to 1976 on CBS’ Saturday morning lineup. From 1975 to 1977 it was known as The Shazam!/Isis Hour that included The Secrets of Isis, about an Ancient Egyptian superheroine resurrected in the body of a schoolteacher, played by Joanna Cameron, who also appeared in three episodes of Shazam!.

1970's Shazam! TV series

Starring Michael Gray as Billy Batson and Jackson Bostwick as Billy’s alter-ego Captain Marvel/Shazam in Season One, replaced by John Davey in Seasons Two and Three, the late Les Tremayne also appeared as Billy’s guardian, Mentor.

(In his appraisal of the series for Vulture, Keith Phipps notes that two episodes into filming Shazam!’s second season, the series parted ways with Bostwick under disputed circumstances, allegedly firing him after he failed to show up for a day of shooting. Bostwick sued Filmation and won, claiming he was seeking medical help after an on-set injury, a not-outrageous claim given that he performed many of his own stunts. (That he had home movie footage as evidence probably didn’t hurt.) Filmation hired the very different-looking John Davey to step into the part, a substitution that was hard to miss).

In this take on the character, recently revived again for the big screen and first leapt to the screen back in 1941 in the Republic Pictures’ film serial film Adventures of Captain Marvel, the wizard know as Shazam from the comic was absent from the series. Instead, Billy got his powers directly from the six “immortal elders” that make up the “Shazam” name – Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury, voiced by an uncredited Adam West and others.

Running to a total of 28 half hour episodes, the series revolved around Billy and Mentor traveling across the United States in a RV, with Billy transforming into Captain Marvel along the way in order to offer assistance to anyone who needed it, and, rather like many other “stranger in a strange town”-styled 1970s shows, often saw them teaching life lessons to viewers in the process.

SHAZAM – AMAZON UK LINKS

Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 1

Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 2

Shazam! On AmazonUK, including the recent film, also available through Amazon Prime (Affiliate Links)

MICHAEL CHO ONLINE

Web: www.michaelcho.com
Twitter: @Michael_Cho
Instagram: @michael_cho_art

FURTHER READING…

13th Dimension: Shazam! The Star-Crossed ’70s World of Captain Marvel

Vulture: Before Shazam! Was a Big-budget Movie It Was an Extremely Odd TV Show for Kids

Comic Basics: DC Explosion and Implosion – The History and Why It Can’t Be Ignored

With thanks to Michael Neno for sending me down this rabbit hole.

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: DC Comics, downthetubes News, Superhero Comics, US Comics

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