Fawcett Comics Groups

Non-Marvel Family

» SEE ALSO: The Marvel Family Black Adam
All-Star SquadronGolden Age CharactersQuality Comics Profiles

History

Fawcett Comics heroes were seldom presented in super-hero groups, in the fashion of the Justice Society. Instead, Captain Marvel was presented as the head of a "Marvel Family."

There were, however, some grouping of note. In DC Comics adventures, the pattern was similar. Fawcett hero groups appeared seldom, and usually in support of Captain Marvel.

The Crime Crusaders Club

In Fawcett Comics

Heroes recruit thugs for a fundraising campaign. From Master Comics #41 (1943); art by Phil Bard.

Super-groups were uncommon in Fawcett Comics. In 1943, one group came together in the "Minute Man" feature. It began in a residential neighborhood, where the auspicious Crime Crusaders Club met to trade stories about their recent cases. The group consisted of Minute Man, Captain Marvel, Jr., Bulletman, and Bulletgirl.

The others noticed that Minute Man was acting distant and when pressed he explained that he was angry that the criminal class hadn't contributed their fair share to the war effort. Junior gave him the idea to organize a treasure hunt — the treasure being Minute Man himself! He would offer the crooks the chance to take him down, without fighting back. His friends got the word out, and the underworld went crazy for the idea.

There was one hitch however, the heroes took all their guns away. They were allowed to buy back their guns for $100 each, which would go towards war bonds. Until midnight, the others made sure the crooks fought "fair" and Minute Man dodged their assassination attempts. Minute Man crashed his car and it looked like the end until Baron von Kornstadt stepped in and claimed Minute Man as a captive of Hitler. The thugs then fought among themselves and Minute Man slipped away by plane. After midnight the heroes mopped up the mobsters and had raised $100,000. (Master Comics #41)

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Master Comics #41 (Aug. 1943)

King Kull gets excited; Mercury recruits Ibis. From Justice League of America #135 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.
Batman, Robin, Mister Scarlet, and Pinky face the Joker of Earth-Two and the Weeper. From Justice League of America #136 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.
The Hawks and the Bullets pursue the Shade and Doctor Light. From Justice League of America #136 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.
Ibis barely manages to send Mister Atom into space. From Justice League of America #137 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.
Spy Smasher faces Ibac.. From Justice League of America #137 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.
The Marvel family wraps things up. From Justice League of America #137 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

Fawcett Heroes at DC Comics

The first modern appearance of the (non-Marvel family) Fawcett heroes was in Justice League of America #135 (Oct. 1976). This DC team was never named the “Crusaders,” as such, however an early panel referred to the heroes as crusaders. Heroes from Earth-S (the home of Fawcett characters in the DC Universe) — Bulletman, Bulletgirl, Spy Smasher, Ibis, Mister Scarlet, and Pinky — were gathered together by the wizard Shazam and his emissary, the god Mercury. The heroes were mobilized against King Kull. Kull had imprisoned the Olympian Gods, thus decommissioning the power source of Captain Marvel and his "family." Note: King Kull's first appearance was Captain Marvel Adventures #125 (1951). Minuteman did not appear in this story.

Mercury gathered heroes from Earth-One's Justice League of America (Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Green Arrow, and Hawkman and Hawkgirl) and Earth-Two's Justice Society of America (Batman, Robin, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, and Johnny Thunder). They were teamed with six heroes from Earth-S:

  • Bulletman was Jim Barr, a police scientist who had invented the Gravity Helmet that enabled him and his wife Susan (Bulletgirl) to fly through the air as human projectiles.

  • Spy Smasher was Alan Armstrong, a Virginia sportsman who battled the enemies of America with his superb physique, fighting abilities and scientific knowledge.

  • Mister Scarlet was celebrated attorney Brian Butler and his adopted son, Pinky the Whiz Kid. They pit their acrobatic skills and strange weaponry against all varieties of crime.

  • Ibis the Invincible was the ancient Prince Amentep, son of an Egyptian Pharaoh who was resurrected in modern times, along with his wife Princess Taia. Ibis used the mystical Ibistick in his fight against crime and sorcerous menaces. When this crisis arose, the couple were preparing to move into a new suburban home outside New York City.

Shazam and Mercury's first team (Superman, Wonder Woman, Spy Smasher, and Green Arrow) went to Earth-Two, where agents of Kull were attacking the risen cities of Atlantis. On Earth-Two, Atlantis was two cities, Venturia and Aurania, and ruled by strong women. Wonder Woman's foe, Queen Clea of Atlantis worked with Kull, using an Amazonian Venus girdle to control Blockbuster. Meanwhile, Ibac and the Penguin caused more havoc. The heroes averted greater disaster when Superman used his super-breath to freeze Kull's "Densor-Cloud" dispose of it in space. In the process, Atlantis was subsumed once again by the ocean (Justice League of America #135)

On Earth-S, an eclipse was created by the Shade and Doctor Light, who with the help of special satellites, were keeping half the planet in total darkness or light. Bulletman and Hawkman pursue the Shade into the Louvre, where all the paintings have come to life, while Bulletgirl and Hawkgirl investigated the planet's oceans, which were turning to ice, and its mountains into monsters. King Kull's agents here were the Earth-Two Joker and the Weeper. Kull's satellites modified the Joker's laughing gas so that it turned people into diamond. The heroes enlisted the help of Bulletman, in his civilian identity of scientist Jim Barr, to analyze the gas but it turned up inert. When they discovered the satellites in orbit, they caused them to collide and all the strange effects were reversed. (#136)

On Earth-One, King Kull sent Mister Atom to attack a model city in Montreal. The two Green Lanterns and Ibis traced the source of Atom's aura to a spaceship manned by Brainiac. After disabling Brainiac's power, Ibis sent Mister Atom into space. At this point, all the heroes returned from their missions and converged on the Rock of Eternity (which existed outside of any Earth's space). King Kull ambushed Superman with red Krytponite, making him deranged. The only hope of fighting Superman was Captain Marvel. Johnny Thunder located Billy Batson and used his magic Thunderbolt as a substitute to transform the Marvel family into their super-powered selves. Captain Marvel confronted Sueprman head-on and summoned the lightning again. The magic (to which Superman was vulnerable) broke Superman's stupor, and the Marvel's mopped up Kull as well. The villain was imprisoned with magic chains and the heroes returned to their home worlds. (#137)

Appearances: Justice League of America #135-137 (Oct.–Dec. 1976)

Fawcett City Heroes, Post-Crisis

The heroes of Earth-S band together again. From Justice League of America #135 (1976); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

In current DC continuity, the heroes from Fawcett City are said to have teamed regularly in the 1940s and beyond. However, no group name has been mentioned.

The ancient wizard, Shazam, came to Fawcett City in the winter of 1940. He bore the mummy of Ibis and secreted himself away. Soon, however, the Axis threat forced Shazam to awaken Ibis and to gather all Fawcett City's heroes to fight. They would team repeatedly throughout the war. (Power of Shazam! #12) Note: Shazam's origin can be found in Power of Shazam! #10.

On February 9, 1942, the Nazi Edouard Laslo (the Poser) took the guise of Bulletman during an act of sabotage. The real Bulletman had been summoned along with Starman to Alaska. (#35) There they discovered a strange alien worm and worked with the Green Lantern Abin Sur to defeat it. (#36)

Just after the war, in June 1945, Spy Smasher, Minute-Man and Bulletman clashed for the last time with Captain Nazi (it was not their first tussle with the villain). They followed the Captain in Spy Smasher's Gyrosub in pursuit of a freighter destined for Miami. They were too late, however; the freighter was sunk by Captain Nazi, who then fled. Little did they know, that the Captain left his precious cargo at the bottom of the sea—it contained the body of Hitler in suspended animation! But there was an additional capsule, in which Captain Nazi then placed himself. He would not awaken for decades. (#8)

The Fawcett heroes remained active well into the 1950s, when they are known to have aided Shazam in trapping the Seven Deadly Enemies of man in stone statues. These statues he then hid inside a secret subway station, accessible only by magic. Also, Ibis helped cast a spell over Fawcett City which warded off demons and slowed the march of time. Soon after this, Shazam fell prey to a common hoodlum and wandered amnesiac for years. He was later found and recognized by C.C. Batson (Billy's father). (#12) During the Cold War, Spy Smasher encountered C.C. Batson in East Germany. The two retrieved an ancient Egyptian artifact called the Scorpion, and ran afoul of Baron Blitzkrieg. (#24)

Fawcett's heroes were called upon by the JLA and JSA to aid against King Kull. Kull had assembled an army of super-villains in his quest for world domination, including IBAC and the Weeper. Thanks to Bulletman, Bulletgirl, Spy Smasher, Ibis, Mister Scarlet & Pinky, the villains were handily defeated. (Justice League of America #135-137) Note: Because this cross-over heavily involved the Marvel Family and others, it may be entirely out-of-continuity. This arc was the first DC Comics and first modern apperances of these characters.

In modern times, Jim Barr, Jack Weston and Alan Armstrong (Fawcett's Golden Age heroes) remain active in Fawcett affairs. They sat for an interview at WHIZ radio about their last meeting with Captain Nazi. It was then that the newly awakened Nazi attempted to retrieve the body of his Führer. The capsule had failed, though, and the body was dead. (#8) Captain Nazi was subsequently captured by the Marvels. (#9)

Ibis resurfaced to help against Shazam's daughter, Blaze. Ibis defeated her handyman, Black Adam, and took responsibility of minding the Rock of Eternity while Shazam traveled. (#12) Minute-Man, now working for S.T.A.R. Labs, trailed Captain Marvel Jr. and Captain Nazi and took the villain into custody. (#19)

When Edouard Laslo was let out of prison, a neo-Nazi group quickly took him under their wing. Laslo, they hoped, would assassinate Jim Barr (Bulletman). At this time, the phony picture surfaced of Bulletman involved in treasonous activities. Barr was arrested as a traitor. In the end, Laslo was fully repentant and took a bullet meant for Barr. (#35-36, Starman #39-40)

When the Venusian worm called Mister Mind gained power, he launched the robotic Mister Atom and successfully destroyed the Fawcett suburb, Fairfield. Though this city was home to Mary and Billy's adoptive parents, the Bromfields survived. Ibis was able to absorb much of the bomb's destructive force, but not save lives. (#38) This severely taxed his powers; his former lover Taia then placed him in suspended animation. Also at this time, Deanna Barr took her mother's uniform and became Windshear (#43) and Pinky resurfaced as Mister Scarlet II. (#44)

Black Adam returned claiming that in his "death," only the evil Theo Adam had perished. This supposedly left Thet Adam in control. Despite Adam's continued loyalty to Blaze, he sacrificed himself to save Captain Marvel. (#44-47) Both Marvel and Adam are currently active with the Justice Society.

Most recently, Ibis and Taia recently perished during a mission led by Zatanna. It was during the Arachne (the secret 13th month on the sorcerers calendar), when several other magicians met at the home of Baron Winters. While on the astral plane, an entity called Gwydion incinerated all except Zatanna. (Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1)

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Power of Shazam! #8 (Oct. 1995)

The Lieutenant Marvels (aka the "Squadron of Justice")

Captain Marvel and his Lieutenant Marvels are a 'Squadron of Justice.' From Whiz Comics #21 (1941); art by C. C. Beck.
The cover of Whiz Comics #21 (1941) proclaimed a "Squadron of Justice," though that name was not used inside. Art by C. C. Beck.
The Lieutenants at home. From Whiz Comics #29 (1942); art by C. C. Beck.
Sivana tries becoming the "Anti-Marvel" in order to take the whole family out at once. From The Marvel Family #2 (1946); art by C. C. Beck.

The Lieutenant Marvels were a group of three deputy Caps whose appearance predated even Captain Marvel Jr. These sidekicks appeared about a dozen more times, making them a classic part of Captain Marvel lore. The three of them have made a handful of DC Comics appearances as well, mostly as cameos. In their first appearance, the cover of Whiz Comics #21 (Sept. 5, 1941), they were dubbed the 'Captain Marvel's Squadron of Justice,' although that term was not used anywhere else.

The lads who would become the Lieutenant Marvels were three young men from across the country — and all named Billy Batson. While reading Captain Marvel's comic book adventures they happened to wonder if saying "Shazam" would work for them as well. They all went to see their namesake at WHIZ radio. Each was nicknamed for their character: "Tall" Billy came from the Texas, "Fat" Billy from Brooklyn, and "Hill" Billy from Apalachia.

Billy said his magic word tp prove he was indeed as the comic books portrayed him: he became Captain Marvel. But he cautioned them against saying "Shazam!" Meanwhile Sivana, Herr Geyer and Captain Death plotted to end Captain Marvel for good. They mistakenly kidnapped Billy's new friends, and finally "real" Billy himself. They were set to be sawed to death and only together could they produce sufficient volume to make the magic word ring out. All four were transformed into super-heroes! After mopping up the villains, they agreed to keep their identities a secret, and to only use the magic word in unison. (Whiz Comics #21)

No effort was spent on explaining how these boys could (other than sharing Billy's name) summon the magic power of Shazam.

Billy invited his new friends back to visit just as Sivana hatched another plot to kidnap his nemesis. His henchmen grabbed the Lieutenenats but as before, they escaped their bonds by crying "Shazam!" in unison with "real" Billy. They also freed Sivana's rebel daughter, Beautia, who was tickled by the idea of even more Captain Marvels over which to fawn. (Captain Marvel Adventures #4)

Beautia gave Cap a tip in order to prevent violence at the upcoming Pan-American Olympic Meet. He called upon his friends to take up separate posts at the games. In order to synchronize their transformations, they agreed to speak the magic word at precisely the same hour. (Whiz Comics #29)

When America entered the war, Billy discovered that his new writer, Anton Stogg, was working for the enemy. Stogg framed Billy by rewriting his broadcasts to include secret code. Billy was arrested for treason and the Lieutenants came charging to his defense. To get there more quickly, both Tall Billy and Hill Billy transformed into Marvels — independently. (This proved that they did not need to speak the word in unison, as previously suggested.) The boys averted another attack at sea and garnered thanks from the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover himself! (Whiz Comics #34)

During an afternoon picnic, the four of them witnessed a plan crash. The dying pilot managed to utter some vague coordinates, so they split up to check out the possibilities. All four Billys were all captured and sentenced to death: In Canada, Fat Billy ran afoul of Indians; in Russia, Tall Billy met unfriendly rebels; Hill Billy was captured by Nazis in South America. Meanwhile in the Antarctic, Real Billy was ambushed by a mystery woman in black. They were set to die all at the same time — a fortuitous coincidence, as it was the same time they'd agreed to transform into Captain Marvel. Having all encountered danger, they were not sure which was the situation the pilot was concerned with. (Whiz Comics #40)

"Unlce" Dudley Marvel invited the entire Marvel Family to a first-ever "reunion" (it was actually the first time the whole crew had gathered together). The event was crashed by Sivana, who disguised himself as "Aunt Minnie Marvel," and tried to poison them all. They spoiled his plans by transforming into Marvels before drinking the tainted tea. (The Marvel Family #2)

Billy received invitations for Captain Marvel to attend "World-wide Captain Marvel Days" in four separate cities around the globe. Sivana plotted to sabotage all the events using his new, super-fast Instantaneous Rocket Ship. The Lieutenants divided and conquered. (Captain Marvel Adventures #71)

After this adventure the central Marvel Family had grown sufficiently popular. And in 1947 Cap's supporting cast grew to include Mister Tawky Tawny, a frequent guest star.

DC Lieutenants

The Lieutenants return at DC. From Shazam! #30 (1977); art by Kurt Schaffenberger.
The whole Marvel Family comes together to squash the new Monster Society of Evil. From World's Finest Comics #267 (1981); art by Don Newton and Bob Smith.
The heroes of Earth-5. From The Multiversity Guidebook (2105); art by Cameron Stewart.

When the Fawcett characters were revived by DC in the pages of Shazam!, the Lieutenant Marvels made several trivial appearances. Shazam! #8 (Dec. 1973) reprinted the tale from Captain Marvel Adventures #71, and the Lieutenants were mentioned in issue #12 (May/June 1974), in a two-page spread titled "Billy Batson's Family Album." Billy wrote: "There are three other Billy Batsons who are friends of mine: Fat Billy from Brooklyn, Tall Billy from Texas, and Hill Billy from the South. They have the SHAZAM powers too, and can turn into the 3 Lieutenant Marvels."

Shazam! #14 (Sept./Oct. 1974) presented a "Shazam Trivia Quiz" which asked readers to distinguish between the three Lieutenants and their homes.

The three Billys made their first legitimate DC appearance in Shazam! #30 (July/Aug. 1977). Sivana escaped from prison and sabotaged a steel mill. A worker was thrown into a vat of metal and emerged as the steel-plated Joe Magarac — named for the spirit of an American folk hero. This Magarac was actually a villain with a robot brain made by Sivana. He manufactured a menagerie of steel creatures and even a steel Superman, and Captain Marvel needed to recruit all the Marvels for help. They appared to have grown a bit older, and Hill Billy had moved to Nashville to pursue a music career.

Whem an all-new Monster Society of Evil emerged, Billy was summoned by the wizard, who warned that only the combined might of the Marvel Family would triumph. Captain Marvel rounded up Fat Billy, who was preparing for a football game; Hill Billy was performing in Nashville; and Tall Billy was at home on his ranch. (The story asserts that they must say the magic word in unison.) Each engaged a different villain: Mary Marvel took on Oggar; Junior with Black Adam; Hill Marvel with Sivana; Fat Marvel with Ibac; Tall Marvel with Kull; Cap with Mister Atom. And together they located their leader, Mister Mind. (World's Finest Comics #267)

The Lieutenants and Dudley were on-hand during the great Crisis, helping to save people from the shadow demons of the Anti-Monitor. (Crisis on Infinite Earths #12)

The three were again canonized into the Marvel Family by their inclusion in the entry from Who's Who #14 (Apr. 1986, see art at the top of the page).

Post-Crisis

After the Crisis, there was only one unified timeline. The Marvel Family was folded into the same continuity as the rest of DC's characters, and completely rebooted. The longest running Shazam series in this era was Jerry Ordway's Power of Shazam! (1995). The Lieutenants made no appearances in it.

Their only true post-Crisis appearance was a one-panel cameo in The Trials of Shazam #2 (Nov. 2006). The story took place after the death of Shazam (Infinite Crisis #1), and the magic in the DC universe had been flipped on its head. It was said that all those who'd possessed the wizard's powers were affected, and one panel showed the Lieutenant Marvels.

After Infinite Crisis, DC's multiverse was reestablished; there were 52 Earths. While the post-Crisis Marvel Family remained on Earth-0, there weas now also an Earth-5, which resembled the old Earth-S, home of the Marvel Family. Captain Marvel from Earth-5 appeared in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #1 (Oct. 2008).

Grant Morrison further defined the new multiverse in The Multiversity Guidebook #1 (Mar. 2015). The entry for Earth-5 displays an illustration of the entire Marvel Family including Uncle Marvel, the Lieutenants, and Mr. Tawky Tawny.

» FIRST APPEARANCE:
Whiz Comics #21 (Sept. 5, 1941)
Together with the entire Marvel Family: Marvel Family #2 (June 1946)
DC, Pre-Crisis: Shazam! #12 (May/June 1974)
Post-Crisis: Trials of Shazam #2 (Nov. 2006)

» APPEARANCES:

Fawcett:

  • Captain Marvel Adventures #4 (Oct. 1941)
  • Whiz Comics #29 (Apr. 1942)
  • Whiz Comics #34 (Sept. 1942)
  • Whiz Comics #40 (Feb. 1943)
  • The Marvel Family #2 (June 1946)
  • Captain Marvel Adventures #71 (April 1947, reprinted in Shazam! #8)

DC, Pre-Crisis:

  • Shazam! #12, 14, 30
  • World's Finest Comics #267
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #12
  • Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #14

DC, Post-Crisis:

  • Trials of Shazam #2 (Nov. 2006)
  • The Multiversity Guidebook #1 (Mar. 2015)

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Non-Marvel Family:

  • Adventure Comics #491–492 (1982)
  • Power of Shazam! #8, 11, 19, 24, 34, 35, 41, 44 (Ibis was a regular from #12–43)
  • World's Finest #279–282 (1982)

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