Witness the first meeting of the Man of Steel and the World's
Mightiest Mortal! While Superman has to stop members of a
cult stealing ancient artefacts from the Metropolis Natural
History Museum, Captain Marvel battles giant robots rampaging
through Fawcett City. These separate events lead the heroes
to cross paths, and a mighty friendship is formed as Earth's
most powerful defenders team up to tackle such menaces as
Lex Luthor, Dr Sivana, Eclipso and the monstrous Lord Sabbac...
this really is the first meeting between Superman and Captain
Marvel, because this tale takes place during the first year
of the respective heroes' adventures.
These characters and their powers have been compared over
the years (indeed, during the early 1950s, DC Comics successfully
sued Fawcett Comics, the then publisher of the Captain's comic-strip
adventures, for plagiarism of the Superman strips).
However, this graphic novel (which collects the four-issue
miniseries of the same name) also explores the heroes' crucial
differences. For one thing, Captain Marvel is powered by magical
forces and therefore has an affinity with magic, whereas Superman
is vulnerable to it (the recent graphic novel Strange
Attractors reminded us how much the Man of
Steel hates magic). For another thing, the Captain is even
more of an innocent than that farm-boy Clark Kent, because
his alter ego is a young boy, Billy Batson. Just as the Batman
comics of the 1980s and beyond have questioned the morality
of a vigilante using a child as his sidekick, writer Judd
Winick touches on the ethical implications of the wizard Shazam
propelling Batson into a terrifying adult world.
thing that the two heroes do have in common, though, is their
bald-headed archenemies: respectively Lex Luthor and Dr Sivana.
The latter resembles a cross between George Burns and Montgomery
Burns from The Simpsons. (Perhaps the villainous Mr
Burns was inspired by Dr Sivana.)
Thunder is a very quick read, light of dialogue and heavy
on the distinctly cartoony art of Joshua Middleton. However,
things get more serious during the dramatic final chapter,
which makes for jaw-dropping reading.
is more a Captain Marvel story than it is a Superman tale,
but there's enough here to satisfy fans from both camps.