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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Shazam Key Comic Books List

Another requested key issues list, this series will tackle Shazam key issues or originally known as Captain Marvel from Fawcett. We will start off in the Golden Age and end with some present Modern Age key issues.

This will probably bounce from title to title as there are villains specifically tied to the character who did appear in other titles. Also, Captain Marvel had several on-going titles as well during the Golden Age.

Anyways, this might be a long one or may not be. I will try to cut out as many minor and one-off characters as possible. Expect a long series. Here's part one and the Shazam key comic books featured in it.

1st appearance of Captain Thunder

We are starting off with some interesting history concerning the character of Captain Marvel who would later become Shazam under DC's revival of the character. Captain Marvel actually started out as Captain Thunder, and Captain Thunder first appeared in Flash Comics #1.

No, not the DC Comics Flash Comics #1, but the Fawcett ashcan. Ash cans were printed comics used as legal devices. They weren't published and distributed and at the most, five copies were printed. In most cases, only two copies were printed because that's all it took for legal trademark or copyright requirements.

This Flash Comics #1 Ashcan by Fawcett and the Flash Comics #1 Ashcan by DC or All-American Comics, to be technical, are two of the most important Ashcans out there in the collecting world. We obviously know that DC beat Fawcett to the punch in order to secure the title legally.

The DC ashcan of this title from 1939-1940 recently sold for $4,950,990.00! Wow!

DC Comics securing the title before Fawcett is important to the development of Captain Marvel. Fawcett was forced to change the title to Whiz Comics, and the creatives decided to also change the name of Captain Thunder to Captain Marvelous. The result was the shortened version of simply Captain Marvel.

This important and highly rare Flash Comics #1 Ashcan by Fawcett came out August, 1939.

1st appearance & origin of Captain Marvel
1st appearance of Shazam
1st Sterling Morris & Ebenezer Batson
1st appearance of Doctor Sivana

It would only be one issue later that artist Pete Costanza suggested changing the character of Captain Thunder's name to Captain Marvelous. Fawcett also could not secure the title names of Captain Thunder and Thrill comics as they were already in use.

So, the editors shortened the name and put out Whiz Comics #2 with the first appearance of Captain Marvel and his origin. The numbering is weird, because the first issue was actually suppose to be Flash Comics.

No idea why industry wants to put the #2 (#1) little dealie on it and be all technical about it. Whatever though.

With the success of Superman and Batman, Bill Parker was hired by Fawcett to create several superheroes to kick off their move into the superhero genre of comics. The first issue (Flash Comics) had several characters like the Golden Arrow and Spy Smasher, but Parker intended on introducing a superhero team of six characters, each with six different powers.

Executive director Ralph Daigh thought it would be best to combine the six powers into one character instead of six. Thus, Parker created Captain Thunder, whose resemblance is exactly the same as the character who would become Captain Marvel.

The inspiration of Billy Batson came from Wilford H. Fawcett, the founder of Fawcett who had the nickname of "Captain Billy". Speaking of Billy Batson, his origin sees him as a homeless newsboy that was led into a secret subway tunnel by a mysterious stranger.

This tunnel leads him to lair of the wizard Shazam and has seven statues representing the Seven Deadly Enemies of man. These enemies are Pride, Envy, Greed, Hatred, Selfishness, Laziness and Injustice.

Of course, Shazam grants him the power to become Captain Marvel by simply saying SHAZAM! The name is actually an acronym for the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.

February, 1940 was when Whiz Comics #2 was published and the rest is comic book history. Oh yes, and Captain Marvel was a huge success during the Golden Age, often out-selling Superman.

2nd appearance of Captain Marvel
2nd appearance of Doctor Sivana

We have the 2nd appearance of Doctor Sivana in Whiz Comics #3, and although I didn't talk about him much in the previous listing before this one, he is the first recurring villain for Captain Marvel during the Golden Age.

Doctor Sivana is an extremely important villain and is Captain Marvel's arch enemy. He is the typical evil genius villain that many baddies during the Golden Age were often modeled off of.

This character is the one who coined the phrase the Big Red Cheese, and his full name is Thaddeus Bodog Sivana. Overstreet does not list that there are actually two #3 issues for Whiz Comics. There is a 3A and 3B. Whiz Comics #3A was published March, 1940. 

3rd appearance of Captain Marvel
3rd appearance of Doctor Sivana
1st appearance of Beautia Sivana

Overstreet just marks Whiz Comics #3 as the 1st appearance of Beautia Sivana, but it's actually issue #3B that sees her first appearance. She is the daughter of Doctor Sivana but is not a Captain Marvel enemy necessarily.

She was often forced to carry out her father's evil plans in destroying Captain Marvel, and is known to rebel against him. Beautia has often aided Captain Marvel, and in fact, had a crush on him without knowing he was just a boy.

April, 1940 is the publishing date for Whiz Comics #3B and the first appearance of Beautia Sivana.

 4th appearance of Captain Marvel
4th appearance of Doctor Sivana
2nd appearance of Beautia Sivina

Issue #4 of Whiz Comics doesn't really see any new appearances. Beautia comes back for her 2nd appearance and Captain Marvel and Doctor Sivana make their 4th appearance in this comic.

Not sure how Doctor Sivana or Beautia would fit into a Shazam movie. If they do appear, they might appear in the flick as bit characters, but who knows?

When we're talking about any of these early Golden Age Captain Marvel keys, they are already quite valuable in higher grades but not totally untouchable in lower grades. Guide has this issue currently at a GD for $343, which is raw of course.

A 9.2 low NM for Whiz Comics #2, first appearance of Captain Marvel, is guided for only $11,000. I know, "only", right? Still, if we are considering a Golden Age DC character, which they did gain the rights to Captain Marvel and his cast of characters, even Whiz Comics #2 can be considered highly over-looked.

Might not be the case of late since a Shazam movie was confirmed, and this one most likely won't be an easy find online or off. May, 1940 is the publishing date for Whiz Comics #4.

5th appearance of Captain Marvel

Early Captain Marvel appearance in this issue, and I believe the numbering becomes normal after this issue. 5th appearance of Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics #5, and the villains of Doctor Aloysius Lake, Mister Scar and Mister Chung are all one-off characters. No big deal of importance.

According to Overstreet, low NMs are clocked in at $5,000 and GDs are $300 bucks. 

Whiz Comics #5 was published June, 1940.

6th appearance of Captain Marvel
5th appearance of Doctor Sivina

After a one issue break, Doctor Sivana comes back in issue #6 to thwart Billy Batson as Captain Marvel. In his 5th and ridiculous evil scheme, Doctor S. imports six rocket ships of exotic animals to earth from Venus and then opens up a circus with hopes of making a fortune and becoming the most powerful man on the planet.

Of course, these space animals get loose and Captain Marvel has to fight them while Doctor Sivana makes his escape back to Venus. 6th appearance of Captain Marvel and 5th appearance of Doctor Sivana, Whiz Comics #6 was published July, 1940.  


Part 1 is done, but we still have quite a few more to go concerning Captain Marvel key issues or Shazam as the character is now known. We already have Dwayne Johnson or the Rock confirmed as Black Adam, but still no word on who will play the titular role.

There is a lot of history concerning this character and his Golden Age key issues are widely hard to find in this current market. Not to say that they aren't up there in value. They sure are. 

Only copies I could find thus far is at Heritage for these rare finds. I left up the other links just in case they magically pop up at those sites in the future.

Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created and kick started this character in the world of comics, but they would not be the only ones to contribute to the evolution of this character.

How well this Shazam movie franchise does is up in the air. I think many will bypass the Fawcett Golden Age keys and go for ones that DC published in the 1970s.

At least, that's how it appears in the current market.
Part 2 of this series is just one click away below.


  1. Hey Mayhem,

    I once read that the King himself was inspired by Shazam and designed his outfits after him. It was explained that his parents didn' t have much time for him, and he spent his childhood reading comics, mainly Shazam. Can you confirm this? I think it would be great if someone like Elvis truly drew some inspiration from our hobby.

    Max Rebo

    1. Hello Mr. Rebo...Elvis was a huge fan of Captain Marvel Jr. That is definitely confirmed, but I am not sure how big a fan he was of Shazam or Captain Marvel Sr.

      Since they are a part of the Marvel Family and often crossed over into various stories, I can assume he was a fan of Captain Marvel Sr. also, but Captain Marvel Jr. was his favorite. Yep, Elvis did use Captain Marvel Jr.'s costume as inspiration for his later Vegas costumes, and the King of Rock N' Roll was a comic geek.

    2. I mentioned this briefly in the Rock N Roll & Comic Books I did early last year:

  2. been looking to learn more about shazam but just found out stan lee coming to heroes con in charlotte CANT WAIT JW