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Friday, 23 June 2017

Shazam! 31 - Minute Man saves Billy Batson

Bridwell and Schaffenberger are joined by Bob Wiacek as they bring back Minute Man, another old Fawcett Comics character, in Shazam! 31 (Sept/Oct 77).

Billy and Uncle Dudley arrive in Columbus, Ohio and stop off at a restaurant owned by Jack Weston. Billy knows of Weston's secret identity as Minute Man, although the story implies that Weston had not gone into action as the one man army since World War 2. Indeed, this is his first appearance since 1944. But it is worth noting that no mention is made of suspendium or the period in which Captain Marvel and the others were held in suspended animation, as if Minute Man had not been one of those kept young that way. It's not as if they had much time to discuss those things, though, as six women burst in to rob the place, each possessing one of Captain Marvel's powers.

The women gained their powers from a mysterious man with a high pitched laugh, and his alien assistant. The guy seems to know a lot about Captain Marvel, including his secret identity. He is upset that the women did not attack him with lightning, as they had been ordered to, but they capture him as a Billy Batson anyway.

Weston and Uncle Dudley use the disco machine to talk to Achilles, and this persuades Weston to go back into action as Minute Man. In the cover scene, he rushes in and removes Billy's gag in time for him to turn into Captain Marvel before being crushed by the block.

The man behind this turns out to be a machine, piloted by Mr. Mind. Captain Marvel believed Mr. Mind to be dead, and this story seems to ignore the earlier appearances of Mr. Mind in this book. Between this and the lack of awareness of suspendium it is as if there was a complete reboot when this became a DC - TV comic, the earlier stories being erased from continuity. Mr. Mind escapes through a crack between floorboards, and will be back in the following issue.

The final panel has Minute Man say he will be resuming this identity, and that we will see him again. We won't. Minute Man is not seen again for almost 20 years, returning in Power of Shazam.

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