Thursday, March 13, 2014

TRULY GONE AND FORGOTTEN : THE LIEUTENANT MARVELS

Not you buddy, we're busting you back to Corporal.

Fawcett Comics’ motto was surely “Stick with what works”, which is why they turned their highest-selling superhero – the big red cheese, Captain Marvel – into a franchise. Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr and even Hoppy the Marvel Bunny followed in the Captain’s yellow-booted footsteps - as did an unpowered “Uncle Marvel” who spent an inordinate amount of time hovering around underage Mary Marvel all the time, jeez, do we have a Child Protective Services Marvel around here?

Also part of the Captain’s entourage were his Lieutenant Marvels, a trio of similarly powered, similarly suited, similarly dubbed super-adjuncts who made themselves available whenever Cap needed a little extra muscle power without the threat of bringing in someone who threatened to become more popular.

The three Lieutenants gained their power the same way as Cap, by invoking the name of the wizard Shazam and thereby being bestowed with the same array of powers. Of course, we all know the word “Shazam” stands for:

S – Strength, lots of it
H – Hella toughness
A – A Cape
Z – Zoom, look at him go, he is fast
A – Also boots
M – For the many things she gave me.

While Captain Marvel is Billy Batson, famous radio reporter and ward of the state, the Lieutenants are also three young men named Billy Batson; a tough Brooklyn tubbo kindly named Fat Billy, a country cousin equally kindly nicknamed Hill Billy, and a tall drink of water who I don’t think had anything going for him and was called Tall Billy. What would they have done if two of them were fat? Anyway, when not addressed by their collective name, the trio were individually addressed as Fat Marvel, Hill Marvel and Tall Marvel, which probably did wonders for their self-esteem.

Gifted conversationalists, the lot of 'em.
Although they popped up fairly often in the Shazam books – more often in the Seventies’ revival than the original Forties incarnation, really – there’s not been a lot of depth given to the characters, which seems a shame. Maybe Fat Marvel killed a guy, maybe Hill Marvel’s on meth, maybe Tall Marvel knows how to knit. These guys could be interesting, they ought to be given a chance (They should not be given a chance).

They also had a song. It went like this:
“Marvels here, Marvels there
Marvels, Marvels everywhere
We chase evil to its lair and beat it
Marvels short, Marvels tall
Marvels, Marvels one and all
When we hear our duty call we meet it
We don’t know what to do
We’re always in the dark
Living on a powderkeg an giving off sparks
Awwwww suffragette!”

It went exactly like that.

1 comment:

John said...

Man, you are on a roll! The pop song references are hilarious, but my favorite part is what "Shazam" stands for.

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