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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Shazam! 9 - Mr Mind's hate projector, Captain Marvel Jr begins, and Captain Marvel gives a monkey powers

With Shazam! 9 (Jan 74) the reprints stop (for the moment), but the division into three stories continues. I think one of the reasons that the stories from this period do not, on the whole, grab me is simply that they are too short. The book is not long enough for three good stories.

O'Neil and Beck open the issue with a Mr. Mind tale. The worm is determined to form another Monster Society of Evil, and recruits an evil scientist who has invented a hate projector.

The machine turns Mr. Mind's hatred of Captain Marvel into a physical force. But because Mr. Mind is so small, he needs his army of worms to concentrate as well, to make the force strong enough to affect Marvel. So Captain Marvel seeds the clouds, makes it rain, and that drives the worms to the surface and breaks their concentration., enabling him to defeat Mr. Mind.

Mr. Mind returns the following year.

Captain Marvel Jr begins a back-up series in this issue, which will rotate with a Mary Marvel series. Maggin scripts, with Dave Cockrum on the art. The story deals with Freddy Freeman and his newspaper stand, which disappears one day as he is in the process of selling a paper.

Freddy spots a strange airship stealing a statue, and makes the not unreasonable assumption that it also stole his newsstand. Freddy switches to Captain Marvel Jr and pursues the aircraft as it steals an elevator. He follows it back to its base, where he learns the criminals behind the thefts are stealing to melt the objects down for their rare metals. Freddy defeats them, but there is no trace of his newsstand.

The next morning he finds a brand new, modern newsstand being delivered by his boss. The other had simply been taken away to be replaced, apparently be men who do their job incredibly quickly and quietly. At least the art is nice.

The final story, the cover story, is also by Maggin and Beck. Sterling Morris enlists Billy Batson to play a wizard on a show featuring a monkey, because the actual actor is sick. Billy puts on a turban with a glowing green gem, which winds up having the effect of deflecting the magic lightning bolt that comes down when Billy says Shazam.

So it's not just the ape who winds up getting powers, Morris and one of the other actors does as well. Billy just keeps saying the magic word until the ape pulls the turban off of him. Only then does the boy figure out what is going on. He retrieves the turban, changes into Captain Marvel, and the uses the deflection effect to turn the others all back to normal.

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