Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Captain Marvel and the Seven Deadly Sins

Does anyone else remember reading Captain Marvel comic books, or am I the oldest codger in the group?

I LOVED comic books when I was a kid. Spent HOURS reading them and more hours with those I was tired of reading in the basket of my bicycle, riding around the neighborhood, trading with my friends for comics I hadn’t read yet.

And the adults all said, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. What are these kids nowadays coming to? Those comic books are eating their brains and morals.” Well, except my parents. Not sure what they thought of comics, but they realized that I read ALL THE TIME, and was reading real books at least as much as I read comic books. They just wanted to get me outside in the sun so people would quit asking them if I was anemic. (Now I pay the price for their good parenting by having occasional skin cancers. It’s OK—they aren’t the scary kind. Just leave my face with white polka dots when they're removed.)

Anyway, the Captain Marvel comic books were my introduction to the seven deadly sins, though according to Wikipedia, I don’t have it quite right. First, they say Captain Marvel had lost most of his popularity by the time I was old enough to read. Then, though I remember greed, gluttony, envy, sloth, hubris, wrath and lust, they list a slightly cleaned up version they call the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man: greed, envy, laziness, pride, hatred, selfishness and injustice. (Wouldn’t want to expose the kiddies to the word lust, right?)

I also remember Billy being a crippled newsboy. Wikipedia says he was homeless, but doesn’t show him with one crutch as I remember.

The one thing Wikipedia and my memory agree on is the origin of the word SHAZAM. It’s an acronym for six legendary heroes who grant attributes to Billy to turn him into Captain Marvel: Solomon for wisdom, Hercules for strength, Atlas for stamina, Zeus for power, Achilles for courage, and Mercury for speed. When Billy says the word, a bolt of lightning transforms him into Captain Marvel. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way for me or Gomer Pyle. (Actually, Gomer Pyle pronounced it SHAZAYUM, but I pronounced it correctly, and it still didn’t work.)

So most of my childhood memories have been rent asunder by research into the seven deadly sins. Man, I just KNEW I learned the word hubris from Captain Marvel. It’s such a cool word.


  1. Now I did not know how the word Shazam originated. One lives and learns I guess ...

  2. SHAZAM is a good word. Liked your post.

  3. Cool lady too! Yes, I was introduced in the same fashion. I loved comic books which lead to reading books without pictures! Just like a grown up. Thank you.

  4. What a cool and unique take on the prompt! You are so creative. Totally enjoyed this and I am not a comic lover nor do I know anything at all about the famous and obviously misunderstood or misremembered hero. Glad you did!

  5. Thank you all for your comments. And Jo, I just always think of Captain Marvel when I hear "Seven Deadly Sins." It's a curse. Some day I'll be in church listening to the minister and will shout SHAZAM right in the middle of his sermon.

  6. I just got into comics/graphic novels a few months ago. I need to get into Captain Marvel it looks like!

  7. I do remember the Marvel Comics, though, in my youth, my favorite comic was Richie Rich. I recall a stack my grandmother gave me that went back to at least the early 50's. I do remember SHAZAM but I did not know that it was an acronym, or what it stood for. That was a fun tidbit to grab a hold of.

    This was a fun take on the prompt Angela... enjoyed!

    1. My very favorite, I think, was Wonder Woman. Strong female role models were few and far between when I was a kid. I also liked an obscure comic called Submariner. He's the first real anti-hero I remember. Also Ghost Rider and Tor the Cave Boy. As you can see, my tastes were eclectic. : - ) But I'll never forget SHAZAM or the transforming rhyme from Mary Jane and Sniffles: "Magic words of poof poof piffles, Make me just as small as Sniffles." : - )