Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chase Through Time

Before Otto Binder came to DC to write awesome Superman stories injected with his own brand of quirky humor, he worked for Fawcett Comics, writing awesome Captain Marvel stories injected with his own brand of quirky humor.

If a Captain Marvel story is written by Binder and drawn by the good captain's creator C.C. Beck, then you really can't go wrong. The story IS going to be dripping with imaginative fun.

For instance, The Marvel Family #10 (April 1947) doesn't just drip with imagination, it pours out imagination in a nearly unending flood. 

The bad guys are the Sivana family--the evil doctor and his two equally annoying kids Junior and Georgia. Their plan is to build a machine that will prevent the magic lightning from reaching earth when Billy and Mary yell "Shazam." Or when Freddy Freeman yells "Captain Marvel." So the Marvels will be unable to change into their super-powered alter egos.

But to do so, they need three elements. One element only exists 10,000 years in the past. One exists 10,000 years in the future. The last exists in the present. In fact, it's actually the same element--just in different forms during different time periods because of radioactive decay.

Since time travelling in the Fawcett Comics universe involves zipping around the Rock of Eternity, the wizard Shazam spots the Sivanas as they travel to gather up the elements. He warns the Marvels and what follows are three mini-adventures, all involving the continent of Atlantis (either above or below water depending on when) and all involving scientists who are members of the
same family.

In each case, the Sivanas manage to capture one of the Marvels, who have a bad habit of deciding to transform back into normal humans at the wrong moments. There are times, quite frankly, when the Marvels just weren't that good at their job. Wisdom of Solomon, my foot!

The Sivanas also get the elements to make their magic lightning barrier. Then--because there are moments when the Sivanas aren't very good at
their job--they decide not to kill Billy, Mary and Freddy. Instead, they'll hunt them in a faux "fox" hunt.  

Well, the Marvels can't depend on their super powers, but they can still use their brains. So maybe--just maybe--they can turn the tables on the bad guys.

The story is so much fun that the cliches aren't bothersome at all--everything (including the cliches) flows together nicely into a bizarre story that zips back and forth through time, but still makes sense in the context of the universe in which its set. Thank you, Otto Binder, for your willingness to be both weirdly logical and unapologetically silly at exactly the same time.

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