A-a-and as we race headlong into Christmas week, here’s a 1972 festive “gift” from DC. Captain Marvel was a sensation during the 1940s, his comics being among the best sellers ever. That didn’t sit too well with DC’s lawyers, who claimed Fawcett Comics’ “Big Red Cheese” plagiarized Superman. The legal battles raged on for more than a decade, before Fawcett — in the wake of falling sales — threw in the towel and gave up publishing comics altogether in 1953.

Twenty years later, and in need of a big hit, DC bought the rights to the defunct character. However, in the intervening period, Marvel Comics had come to own the trademark on the “Captain Marvel” name. Hence, DC had no choice other than to name their revival after the hero’s magic word — and SHAZAM! was born.

Sadly, his time had passed.

Art by CC Beck.

©2009 DC Comics