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Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal Hardcover – December 1, 2010

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although he is largely overlooked today, in the 1940s comic books starring Captain Marvel outsold even those of Superman. Book designer (and memorabilia collector) Kidd has assembled rare merchandise and promotional items issued during the character�s heyday. The oversize pages sport lovingly photographed toys, figurines, clothing, secret decoders, temporary tattoos, and other rare collectibles featuring the �World�s Mightiest Mortal� and such spin-off characters as Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel. Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with Captain Marvel will get little hint of just why his exploits were so popular: although Kidd includes a sampling of the comic�s covers and panels, only one complete story is reprinted, and it�s an atypical one drawn by celebrated superhero artists Jack Kirby and Joe Simon instead of premier Captain Marvel illustrator C. C. Beck. After a decade-long copyright-infringement suit by Superman�s publishers, the captain�s comic was discontinued in 1952. DC has since updated the character for modern readers, and his younger fans will likely be bemused by this testimony to his bygone popularity. --Gordon Flagg

About the Author

Chip Kidd is an award-winning graphic designer and writer, and an editor-at-large for Pantheon Books. His books on comics include Bat-Manga!, Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, and Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. He lives in New York City.


Geoff Spear is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared on numerous book covers. He lives in New York City.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (December 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810995964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810995963
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #731,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mark Luebker on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most people seem to love the Chipp Kidd's work or hate it. I'm in the former category, and THIS book just knocked me out.

A word of warning: If you're looking for yet another recounting of the history of the original Captain Marvel, look elsewhere--this is not the book for you. There are plenty of excellent histories to be had, and a subscription to PC Hamerlinck's FCA is a great way to supplement them.

However, if you're looking for a gorgeous collection of photos of the incredible range of Captain Marvel and Marvel Family ephemera that Fawcett and its partners produced during the 13 golden years those characters were in print, stop wasting time reading this review and place your order NOW. This is a must-have.

I've long been fascinated by the incredible range of merchandising that Fawcett did for these characters--an idea decades ahead of its time--and here are stunningly detailed photos of the best of it, including some of the rarest stuff, repros of original designs for some pieces, and even side-by-side comparisons of original art pages and published comics.

This is what I'd hoped the DC Vault and Marvel Vault books would be. While Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal doesn't include facsimile reproductions like the Vault books, it shows so much more of the Marvel Family and Fawcett merchandise than either of the former does of their subjects that it just blows them away.

This is a book I'll be returning to it again and again, a visual feast. Heck, the quality of the photos and the amount of detail has me thinking about attempting my own facsimiles or reproductions of some of the items, since that's probably the only way I'm ever going to have examples of the really rare and really cool stuff. I'm already trying to decide whether to use Sculpey or Play-Doh to try my hand at one of those Cap syroco figurines...
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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful By David Swan VINE VOICE on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't deny that the product description is accurate but that was my biggest worry. I am a big Captain Marvel fan but I'm not a ravenous Captain Marvel fan. I love the stories by C.C. Beck and Otto Binder and I'll grab up any reprint I can find and I wish that DC Comics would start to publish the Shazam Archive editions again. Supposedly they were going to reprint the lengthy Monster Society of Evil storyline but that project seems to have been put on indefinite hold so in my desire to get SOMETHING with Cap in it I bought this book knowing full well that is was probably not what I was looking for. It's a nice big coffee book size, with glossy pages, a lovely die cut hard cover and high quality binding. Unfortunately there is but one story reprinted here and it's kind of an oddball in that's it was done by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

So what do you get? Images from a Captain Marvel collection owned by a fellow named Harry Matetsky. This includes pins expanded to full page size, patches, box covers, chipped up figurines, advertisements, fan club letters, single panels blown up like a Roy Lichtenstein painting. I also discovered that in the 1940's Captain Marvel was a shameless corporate shill who pushed possibly hundreds of products. The images are presented in a way that one might present artwork. For instance there is a photo of the original costume from the 1941 Captain Marvel serial that focuses on just the lightning bolt and chest button. If you consider images of unassembled paper toys and roughly drawn film posters to be artwork this might be the book for you and I'm not saying that many aren't lovely. The photography is superb but many of the images are of cheap 70 year old toys with a bit of wear and tear.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scott West on November 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is simply the best book I've bought this year. Period.
As a Captain Marvel fan, this is a MUST OWN. If you enjoy 1940s or 50s comics, toys, memorabilia, or just cool stuff about that era of superheroes then buy it as well.
The price is right on the money for this hardcover. The book design is superb. It's fantastically photographed with a lot of good concise info about the world's mightiest mortal. This book gives a great glimpse into what it must have been like to be a kid in the 40s wishing you could say "SHAZAM!" to become our favorite big red cheese but settling instead for the many different novelties and toys one could find in the corner five and dime. There are a lot of rare vintage items that I've never seen before, some only having a couple known examples. My only wish would have been to include a complete list of all the items in the book for us collectors to use as a reference. Chip, take note for the next book.
Overall, this book excels as a reference for vintage Captain Marvel merchandise. There are some examples of the comic stories and art but that isn't the focus. I hope Chip Kidd does many more books like this one. I think I'll go back and buy his "Batman Collected" book after thoroughly enjoying this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frank Benge on July 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This doesn't actually cover Captain Marvel himself... it covers a plethora of marketing. Interesting, but NOT what I was hoping for.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been involved in the field of comic character collectibles for over 40 years. Before you discount this review based on perceived bias do yourself a favor and continue reading on.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I do not offer this type of accolade lightly. It is rare that a book can capture the very real experience that people of different ages enjoy by reading comic books or illustrated narrative as some view it. Reading the books was one thing, finding out that others share that enthusiasm is another. Seventy years ago it must have been hard to describe what it felt like to find out you were part of a larger community that shared your enthusiasm. Fawcett, the publishers of Captain Marvel, quickly realized this and immediately moved to expand it. They created an entire department to cater to the fan with information, premiums and numerous products available to readers. It quickly developed into an early form of social networking. This is the first book to deal primarily with everything associated with the books and characters and this phenomenon. I usually view books published on collectibles with a very jaded eye. Authors normally go down the path of self promotion, with an agenda attempting to inflate the value of their own collection. Even worse when dealing with the stories, they distort history by focusing on sensational words, phrases or storylines going over the top with the "pows", "wows" and garish color. This book is a visual feast with a main course focused on the Captain Marvel fan base and the products that were produced to feed that frenzy.

Chip Kidd and his team have made Captain Marvel and the period in which he existed relevant again.
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