CAPTAIN MARVELMedium: Comic Books
Published by: M.F. Enterprises
First Appeared: 1966
Creator: Carl Burgos
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Quite a few comic book characters are what one might call "unauthorized revivals" of older ones — that is, they use the names and/or motifs of earlier characters owned by other companies, which, being defunct, aren't in a position to sue. For example, Marvel Comics got the name "Daredevil" from a character published by Lev Gleason from 1940-50, and the name "Ghost Rider"
from one published by Magazine Enterprises from 1950-54. Nowhere was the contrast between an original character and an unauthorized revival so pronounced as in the case of the original Captain Marvel — one of the best-loved, most memorable characters in comic book history — and this one, which bombed in its time and is virtually forgotten today.
This Captain Marvel was published by M.F. Enterprises, a company so minor it could almost be called a fly-by-night. The character was created by Carl Burgos, who, a generation earlier, had given us the altogether better-received Human Torch. Credits were sparse, but when they appeared, they indicated the writer was Roger Elwood and the artist's only name was Francho. Carl Hubbell, a minor comics artist of the 1940s and '50s, wrote and inked at least one story.
The protagonist's name wasn't the only thing about the series reminiscent of earlier ones. Like Superman, he was the sole survivor of an exploded planet. Like Burgos's own Human Torch, he was a robot. His villains were named after such familiar characters as Dr. Fate, Plastic Man and The Destroyer. Another villain was at first called The Bat, but — presumably responding to complaints that it was too close to DC Comics' trademark on "Batman" — they changed his name to The Ray — which happens to be the name of a character that had belonged to Quality Comics.
His sidekick was 10-year-old Billy Baxton, not quite an echo of the original Captain Marvel's Billy Batson. In civilian life, he masqueraded as Roger Winkle, whose occupation varied from journalist to college professor. His supporting cast was fairly ordinary and seldom seen — in fact, most stories didn't even mention the Winkle persona.
This Captain Marvel did have one unique super power, not seen before or since. By crying out "Split!", he could send various parts of his body flying off in different directions; thus, he could punch one villain even while kicking another on the other side of the room. It seems as though some interesting visual effects could be done with such an ability — but none ever was. The character did little besides engage in routine, derivative slugfests.
The first issue was dated April, 1966; the last September, 1967. Altogether, six issues were published. Except for the fact that it might have "inspired" Marvel to do its own version of Captain Marvel, it had little or no impact on the world of comics.