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Friday, December 03, 2010 

Mark Waid on Capt. Marvel

As galling as Mark Waid's become, I suppose I'll have to give him some credit for pointing out DC's been ruining the Captain Marvel family, as he explains in this interview with Popgun Chaos:
PC: Why is it so hard for Captain Marvel to sustain his own series?

MW: Some of that, I’ve just answered above–he’s not a terribly complex character. And, sadly, we tend to gravitate more and more towards dark, complex heroes as a society. The reason Cap can’t sustain his own series is that the creators and publishers keep trying to shoehorn him into the comics-shop-dweller demographics and can’t just let him be a character for kids, because we can’t figure out how to bridge the gulf between comics in their current format and young readers who would love Captain Marvel but don’t know what comics are or how to find them or how to read them. I will go to my grave believing that preschoolers would love Captain Marvel if they could just find him. Older kids would think he’s too simplistic or too light, but that’s fine. Don’t try to change the character to fit that mold; just find the audience for Cap as he is. That audience is out there.
I'm sure there's also an audience out there who've got no problem with bright, optimistic storytelling. In fact, I'm sure that wider society doesn't gravitate towards darkness and complexity as easily as what Waid suggests. Another good argument you could make here is how DC seems incapable of bringing themselves to market Billy Batson in the DCU proper as a book for kids or at least family audiences. Of course, so long as they remain fixated on the angle they've taken since Identity Crisis, that won't be possible.
PC: Mary Marvel has gone through a lot in the past few years. Do you think this is a natural progression for her character or simply a case of having her do something?

MW: Don’t get me started. A lot of what Mary’s gone through over the past decade or so has nothing to do with what’s broken or not broken about the concept, and everything to do with a bunch of creepy-ass older men working out their issues. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a Silkwood shower. It takes more imagination than most comics creators have to find something interesting about a good girl, but it’s not impossible.
Of course not, unless editorial mandate happens to get in the way, and did. That's one of the reasons why Mary Marvel has been so badly abused along with her brother, and the two of them, if memory serves, have been depowered recently.

That said, Waid himself unfortunately was involved - even if only indirectly - in a lot of this misuse of the Marvel Family, and certainly in what DC did circa the time Identity Crisis was published. As a result, I'm not sure if coming from him, the arguments have much weight. Especially if he still condones Ed Brubaker's misuse of Captain America.

Some people may have argued that merging Captain Marvel into the DCU proper (which had actually been done already in the mid-70s in one of the Earth 1/2 crossover stories) diminished his significance. But that's still nothing compared to how badly misused the Big Red Cheese has become under today's DC editorial.

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IMHO, about the only person who could write Captain Marvel today in the DCU that might actually work would be Roy Thomas (although I have to admit I'm not a big fan of his post-crisis revamp of the character. Post-Crisis, I did enjoy Jerry Ordway's handling of the character but for me, the best modern-day version of the Big Red Cheese was Bridwell and Don Newton's take on the character in the pages of World's Finest back in the mid-80s; I am continally trying to re-fill the collection of WF from that time only because of Captain Marvel and friends. I've always loved Newton's artwork (although a friend of mine once commented it was too dark for Cap) and both men had a respect for the characters of the Marvel Family.
As for Waid, I have to say that for the most part I think he's full of bat guano.

I thought Billy Batson & The Magic of Shazam was a great comic. It went back to basics, and I positively reviewed it every issue, even calling it the only "pure" superhero comic on the shelves.

So of course DC canceled it because they're morons.

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