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.