THE MARVEL FAMILY #41, November 1949
Original artist unknown
Someday, somewhere, I'll tell you the story of how I got my grubby little mitts on a handful of Fawcett comics from the forties and fifties roundabout 1965, giving me a half decade head start on others of my generation in appreciating the sublime delights the Big Red Cheese and his extended family could provide the four-color enthusiast, but not here, not now.
Instead, let's just muse upon the glorious simplicity of this cover image, shall we? Three brightly colored individuals soaring high up amongst the clouds in the sky--each with a big, warm, winning smile plastered across their faces!?! My goodness, is it any wonder DC comics could never quite figure out a way to successfully update such a charming character as the original Captain Marvel without alienating their core, contemporary audience, a group who seems to be looking for anything but overgrown Boy Scouts as their heroes?? (Though, to be fair, I thought the Jerry Ordway helmed attempt did a reasonably decent job of appealing to fans both old and young alike.) One wonders what would've happened if the Captain and his relatives hadn't been coerced to close up shop back in 1953, waiting almost twenty years before returning from their banishment to comics limbo. Had the feature run continuously over those years, it would've surely grown and metamorphosized organically. Most likely, it would've been a radically different animal than what it was when it shut down at the outset of the fifties.

Don't believe me? Well, think of it this way--imagine if it were Superman instead whose world came to a screeching halt in the dark days of 1953. Do you really think a similar latter day re-launch would've resumed publication with stories like the ones actually published in the Man of Steel's titles by DC, circa 1971? Unlikely, methinks. Paralleling the SHAZAM! revival, a clamoring to pick up exactly where things left off from fans and pros alike would probably have doomed the Action Ace to the scrap heap of failed comebacks, done in by an outdated nostalgia, which sadly, has been mostly the fate of the Shazam Squadron. (Someday I'll tell you my theory of how the institution of the Comics Code was the best thing that ever happened to EC Comics, assuring them of a legendary status that may've been in jeopardy had they continued to endlessly crank out "surprise" ending short stories that were clearly beginning to lose steam as the end drew near for that hallowed publishing company, but not now, not today...)

A word or three about the identity of this redo's original illustrator, and those words are, "Who is it?" I'm no expert on the Fawcett pencil pushers, although I feel reasonably secure in identifying the work of the three fellas who went on to work in my decade, the sixties. As best I can tell, though, this cover isn't the work of C.C. Beck, Pete Costanza, or Kurt Schaffenberger--though I hasten to add that I could be wrong. Any help would be appreciated! But please, anything you contribute should be entirely of your own volition. I wouldn't want anyone to...ahem...force it! ("Force it"--Fawcett, get it? Huh? Huh?) (...hey, they can't ALL be winners, y'know!!) (...who just shouted out "they all AREN'T"?!? And just exactly how much did YOU pay to come here today, hmm? The nerve...)