Captain Marvel #1

Captain Marvel #1, April 1966

A man with orange hair wakes up confused and looks in a mirror, asking himself who he is. He looks around the house he’s in but finds it deserted. Suddenly, he has a flashback: he’s lying on a hosptial bed as scientific types surround him proclaiming, “This will be a great day for science!”

A bald-headed scientist is particularly pleased at the puzzled expression on the orange-haired guy’s face. Meanwhile, a “scientist,” who looks like Ron Jeremy, decides that the prone man shall be called “Captain Marvel, the human robot!”

Captain Marvel is a robot!

Awaking from his reverie, Marvel continues to wander around the deserted house. He finds a library and decides he might be able to find the answers to his questions there. Sadly, the book he wants to consult is on too high a shelf, he can’t reach it. For no apparent reason, he shouts “Split!” and his hand detaches itself from his arm and flies up to grab the book! Upon his crying, “Xam!” the hand returns to his arm carrying the book. Saying the word “Xam” triggers another flashback.

Captain Marvel splits!

Marvel is in a laboratory. The bald scientist is reading from a checklist. He tells Marvel to shout “Split!” and, on doing so, Marvel splits into six pieces: head, torso, arms and legs all fly in diferent directions. The word “Xam” causes all his parts to reassemble themselves. The scientist is pleased with his work. He tells Marvel to send his head on a trip around the world. The planet is in a bad way, with cities falling all around. The scientist tells Marvel that war is about to destroy their world.

Captain Marvel's legs

Marvel continues with his exercises, splitting and beating up some test subjects. Marvel wants to know why he can split and the scientist tells him it is so that he can make repairs on his body and to prevent an attack from more than one person. He has to be careful though: his energy supply needs to be rejuvenated each day. To do this he merely has to rub the “M” logo on his chest which contains a material imaginitively called “X”.

Suddenly, the lab rocks. Explosions are heard as atomic bombs detonate. There is no more time for explanations, it’s the end of the world! Baldy gives Marvel a new pair of boots. Luckily, these are Astro-Boots capable of flight through space. On donning them, Marvel is shot into space and he looks back helplessly as his planet explodes. Yep, the picture below is supposed to be showing Captain Marvel’s planet exploding — it’s not really him looking at a big orange flower..!!

His planet explodes

Recovering from his daydream, Marvel feels weak. He remembers the scientist’s words and rubs his “M”. He instantly feels better.

Billy

A boy comes into the house and is confused that Marvel is confused. He says his name is Billy and that he’s from the USA. Suddenly, Marvel remembers the rest of his story. After drifting through space for an age, he saw planet Earth. Nearly burning up in the atmosphere, he landed near Billy and impressed the boy with his splitting technique. Later, Billy explained about Earth customs and helped Marvel buy a suit of clothes.

In order to disguise his true identity, Captain Marvel decides to go by the name of Mr Marvel.

Mr Marvel.

Well, that’s gonna fool the bad guys for sure!

A telegram arrives form Mr Marvel’s boss. It seems that somewhere along the way Marvel has gotten himself a job as a reporter for an important press service — and there’s an uprising on a Caribbean island that needs covering.

Billy goes to help Marvel pack.

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In 1954, after more than a decade of legal battles with DC Comics, Fawcett ceased publishing their Captain Marvel line of comics. By 1966, sufficient time had passed that someone — presumably owner Myron Fass — at M.F. Enterprises felt it was safe to revive the Captain Marvel title for a brand new character. One time Human Torch creator Carl Burgos came up with the basic concept of a robot that splits when he shouts the magic word, “Split!”

The resulting comic was written by Roger Elwood and drawn by an artist called merely “Francho.” As you can see, it’s pretty sorry stuff. This Captain Marvel is a real mish mash of previously-existing comics: he’s a robot (like Burgos’s Human Torch), he shouts a magic word (like Captain Marvel), he has a kid sidekick called Billy (Captain Marvel again), he comes from a doomed planet (like Superman), he’s journalist (Superman again). The art is very poor, even by the standards of the day.

M.F. Enterprises published five issues before the title was cancelled. However, once it had gone the way of all flesh, Stan Lee realised that if anyone was going to own the Captain Marvel name perhaps it ought to be Marvel Comics. Legal moves were made, and within a year Marvel were publishing the adventures of Kree warrior Mar-Vell, aka Captain Marvel.