Captain Marvel is #1!

Captain Marvel #1 FakeOkay, I realize I’ve done a lot of Marvel Family-centric posts here lately. I honestly intended that I was going to move away from that this time. But I couldn’t help myself!

My original plan here was to do a straight recreation/reinterpretation of the cover of  Captain Marvel #1, published by Marvel Comics in 1968 and featuring their alien version of Captain Marvel (Kree, to be specific). It was to have been kind of a little joke, that it would be a Captain Marvel, but not the same Captain Marvel I usually draw. Plus, I’ve always kind of liked the Kree Captain Marvel’s original green and white outfit for some reason.

But then, as I was looking at the cover, I remembered a conversation I’d had with FCA Editor P.C. Hamerlinck. For those of us with an interest in comics history (who did what, who published what, and when), sometimes it’s fun to play a game of “What If?” You take events as they happened, then propose a change. It’s like throwing a stone into a stream, and seeing what ripples it makes. In this case, P.C. and I once had a conversation where he threw out the idea, “What if instead of DC picking up the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, it had been Marvel Comics that had made that call?”

That conversation suddenly came to mind as I looked at the original version of this cover, and realized that the pose of the Kree Captain wouldn’t take much to rework it slightly and make it work just as well for the original Captain Marvel. So I got hooked on the idea. This was the result.

Please bear with me for a little fanboy indulgence here: who do I think would’ve been the likely candidates to do this book, if Marvel had bought the rights back then? Everyone’s obvious first thought would likely be Jack Kirby. However, at that point in time, Kirby’s contributions to Marvel were moving towards being mostly just between the covers of Fantastic Four and Thor. I believe it’s more likely that someone from the second wave of Marvel creators coming in at that time would’ve been given this assignment. Artwise, at the moment, I’m thinking perhaps Bill Everett might’ve been the best choice. He had some of that Marvel energy going for him, yet he also still had a certain “cartoony-ness” to his work that I think Captain Marvel needs.

The writing side of the equation is a no-brainer. I’m sure Roy Thomas would’ve argued a very strong case for his being the one to get this assignment. And I’m thinking Stan Lee most likely would’ve given in and handed the book to him.

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12 Responses to Captain Marvel is #1!

  1. Mark Christiansen says:

    Absolutely fantastic piece, Mark!

  2. Lyle Dodd says:

    Out of the back issue bin……a hero!

    This was an iconic Gene Colan cover that I thought no one would capture its energy……because realistically its a very simple cover. And yet, here it is! Not only is it the Big Red Cheese….but its the Big Red Cheese triumphant!!

    I just wish I could pull this issue out and read it.

    • Mark says:

      You raise a really good point that I’d never considered about Colan’s original cover. When you analyze it and break it down into its component elements, it’s actually a pretty straightforward idea. Yet somehow, that original cover had a real impact that stuck with me from when I first saw it years ago. It’s a good example of the whole being greater than just the sum of its parts.

  3. John G. Pierce says:

    Excellent job, Mark. Very well thought out, as usual, but striking in its simplicity, as was the original cover (as you so aptly point out).

  4. John G. Pierce says:

    You’re welcome, Mark. I immediately made this cover my wallpaper du jour yesterday (and it is still there today!). And as Lyle said, I wish I could pull this out and read it. It is hard to tell what it would have contained, given that Roy Thomas, though a fan of the original, has often stated that he felt that trying to work in the Fawcett style was a mistake commercially. So it seems likely that he would have wanted to update the character somewhat. It also helps to remember that, assuming that we’re following the original timing here, this issue would have appeared before either volume of Steranko’s Histories, and I’m still convinced that it was his articles on Fawcett comics in Vol. 2 which guided DC’s thinking in terms of trying to recreate the Marvels in their original styles. So that’s two elements which suggest (to me, at least) that this hypothetical version would not have been done in a very Fawcett-y (?) style. It would have been good, no doubt — but different from Fawcett, and different from what DC would do just a few years later.

  5. Clay says:

    I think Al Williamson would have been great on the cover, with Murphy Anderson inking.


    • Mark says:

      That might’ve been an interesting combo. I’m trying to imagine it. But I guess I was thinking more in terms of artists who were doing work for Marvel in the late ’60s, right around the time they published their Captain Marvel #1. I know Williamson later did some work for Marvel. I can’t recall though whether Murphy Anderson ever did.

  6. John G. Pierce says:

    As far as I know, Murphy never worked for Marvel. However, he had been a fan of Captain Marvel in his boyhood, and after DC obtained the rights, reportedly did submit a drawing in hopes of getting the job. Murphy is a great artist, but it is hard to imagine his more semi-realistic style on CM. On the other hand, he might have been able to make it work. I recall having read that he had a hard time inking Carmine Infantino’s pencils because of the anatomical exaggeration and distortion which Infantino used (to great effect, it should be noted). I keep hoping that one of these days his submission drawing will surface, but that seems unlikely, especially after nearly 42 years!

    • Mark says:


      The only reference I’ve been able to turn up thus far of Mr. Anderson doing Marvel characters would be his cover for Alter Ego #13, which was a reworking of the cover to Justice League of America #1, swapping out the JLA for members of the Avengers.

      It definitely would be interesting to see his Captain Marvel tryout drawing! Perhaps, being such a fan, he might have tweaked his usual style into a more Beck-influenced direction.

      • John G. Pierce says:

        That is entirely possible, Mark. I’ve met Murphy before, but never thought to ask him about Captain Marvel.

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