This issue features the first appearance of Captain Thunder, who is an unabashed copy of Captain Marvel, who in turn was pretty much a copy of Superman. DC waged a long legal battle against Fawcett Comics, the publisher of Captain Marvel, saying that the character infringed on the intellectual property that is Superman. Fawcett Comics ended up losing the suit, and the company was forced into bankruptcy. Emerging on the victorious side of the legal battle, DC eventually bought the rights to all of Fawcett’s characters and publications.
In 1973, DC published Shazam #1 and although Superman is pictured side-by-side with Captain Marvel on the cover, the Man of Steel does not make an appearance within the pages of the comic. Supes was on the cover for the sole purpose of selling the comic, and that was it. It turns out DC wasn’t confident that their readers would accept Shazam as a serious superhero along side of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others so the editors decided to keep the marvelous captain in his own little universe — not the DCU proper.
Fast forward to 1974 and DC’s editorial team started kicking around the idea of brining Captain Marvel into the DCU. Instead of going all in, they devised a way to gauge the audience’s reaction to this type of character by creating Captain Thunder, who is literally a Captain Marvel clone. Everything from his look, to his origin, to his powers are a carbon copy. It’s in this very issue where we see Captain Marv….errr….Captain Thunder go head to head with Superman. I won’t spoil the story here because it is a pretty fun read that’s self contained to this one issue. I highly recommend you find a reader or digital copy to peruse at your leisure.
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