In the most recent episode of the Shazamcast! (about the 44:30 mark) Carl Shinyama proposed that Marvel and DC hold joint ownership of the name Captain Marvel. I’m hoping to post Carl’s notes from the episode soon but, in the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to review the precedent for Carl’s idea: the joint ownership by the Big 2 of the trademark of term super hero.
The best thing I’ve seen as an introduction comes from Brian Cronin, a comic fan and lawyer in New York City called The Superhero Trademark FAQ, published initially on his blog and then updated for CBR. It is worth reading in its entirety and I highly recommend you do so. There is, however, a core section I’m going to excerpt:
Q: What does it mean that Marvel and DC have a trademark on the word “Superhero”?
A: It means that companies cannot enter certain areas of commerce with the word/phrase “superhero” as part of their product name.
Q: What products does this apply to?
A: Publications, but basically comic books and magazines. Also, cardboard stand-up figures, playing cards, paper iron-on transfers, erasers, pencil sharpeners, pencils, notebooks, stamp albums, and costumes
Q: Does this affect our ability to use the word superhero?
A: Only if you want to make a product that fits into those categories and sell it. So, if you want to sell (you can make it for your own personal pleasure) a comic book called “Star Spangled Superhero Stories,” you would not be able to. But if you want to refer to your characters as superheroes within the comic, you can do so. This is what allows DC to refer to their character Captain Marvel as Captain Marvel within the comic, but they cannot use the name Captain Marvel in advertising or as the name of the comic, because Marvel holds a registered trademark of that name.
Q: When did Marvel and DC do this?
A: 1979. They recently re-filed the trademark.
Another interesting aspect: from time to time you see lawsuits filed by smaller entities, not all of them comic creators or publishers, challenging this trademark – see for example the cases of Ray Felix, SUPERHERO DONUTS, SuperHeroCleaners, and a whole slew of companies in the UK. It often appears to be a case of the Big Bad Corporation holding down the little man.
However, according to Cronin, defending every violation of the trademark is required to maintain that trademark:
Q: Can’t Marvel and DC just let some minor companies get away with the use? Does it really matter?
A: One of the problems with trademarks is that companies have to defend the use of the term, or else risk the term being considered generic, and thereby losing the trademark protection. So, if Marvel and DC began letting companies call their comics “Superhero ____,” they would risk a court ruling that the term was no longer associated with only Marvel and DC, and then the term would be declared “generic,” and would no longer be protectable, which was the case for such famous words as cellophane and kerosene, both once product names, but ultimately became known as generic words that any company could use (The most famous example of a company who vigorously defends their trademark is Xerox, who love to insist that you “use a Xerox copy machine to make a copy, not make a xerox!”). Other companies who constantly have to make this distinction include Roller Blade brand in-line skates and Band-Aid brand bandages.
Interesting stuff that also reminds us comics, as an industry, require certain legal protections and opportunity to earn profit in order to keep the stories and characters we love in regular publication.
Look soon for specifics on how the trademark issue comes in to play in the attempt to get modern Captain Marvel stories where the character is named Captain Marvel rather than using the name of the wizard who grants his powers.
Finally: have you listened to the episode or the previous episodes of the Shazamcast!? If not, you can find them HERE. Have you listened to them already? A quick review on iTunes would be greatly appreciated!
This episode of the Shazamcast is a free flowing conversation with Carl Shinyama of @LetsTalkShazam (Twitter).
As you will see, it’s a lengthy discussion where we touch on lots of issues connected to Captain Marvel, and finish up on a recommendation from Carl that may be the most common sense suggestion about Cap in decades!
Recognize this place?
If so, you probably know who lives there.
Sinestro shows up to make nice with Black Adam, ruler of Khandaq. And that can’t be a good thing, right?
You can check out ComicVine for a more extensive preview and a look at the really cool cover of this issue. You’re going to want to buy it I’m sure so, to help in that endeavor, here’s a way to find your local comic book shop.
On a separate note, look for the next episode of The Shazamcast to go up later today. If you haven’t listened to the previous episodes you can find them HERE. Have you listened to them already? A quick review on iTunes would be greatly appreciated.
Today author Steve Orlando tweeted this:
— Steve Orlando (@thesteveorlando) October 26, 2015
Here’s the premise according to the DC Comics website:
JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARKSEID WAR: SHAZAM! #1
ON SALE 11/11, Price: $3.99 (U.S.)
A boy becomes an army of Gods! No longer does Billy Batson have access to the powers of the Old Gods. Now, he commands the combined might of Highfather, Mantis and other New Gods. But these Gods are not passive. And they will sooner destroy Billy than give up control of their power.
Here’s the [highest res I can find] image from Comic Book resources (and you can find out more about the series of one-shots this issue is a part of on CBR here).
I plan on picking this one up, despite my reservations about the changes to the character, just to let DC know there is a market for the character. Proceed, of course, as you see fit.
If High Father, Mantis, and the New Gods aren’t familar to you here’s an introduction from Chris Sims on Comics Alliance. An excerpt:
Jack Kirby created a series of comic books that were truly mythological in scope. But rather than dealing with the explanations that the rapidly advancing science of the 20th century had made irrelevant, he focused on other, more metaphysical questions: What is the nature of good and evil, and is it possible for one to arise from the other? What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to lose that freedom? Can the horrors of war and violence be justified? These weren’t new questions by any means, but they were the ones people ask that don’t have easy, scientifically provable answers, which is why they persist and inspire stories that explore them.
You’ve probably heard by now that Captain Marvel is apparently getting an update to his New 52 look. I’ve went digging on the interwebs to find the highest resolution picture I can find for the Shazamcast audience to scrutinize to its heart’s content.
The shot comes from the solicitation for Justice League #48 (January 2016).
(Click for Larger Version)
Here’s Cap highlighted:
So, what do you think?
Update: Courtesy of io9 (blue language warning on the link) we have not just Captain Marvel’s new look for Darkseid War but also something of an idea about his new role:
Superman, the new God of Strength, beats the ever-loving crap out of Lex Luthor, just because he can—and leaves him bloodied and near-death on Apokolips, Darkseid’s former domain. Shazam, for seemingly little reason, gets turned into the God of Gods, which I’m not even a sure is an actual thing. But hey, it’s not like the rest of this issue is anything but full on craziness.
So there’s that.
Do you reddit?
If so, you know how dismal this screenshot is:
Old posts on the main page. No banner modification. The front page of nothing but Neglected.
That sad-sack subreddit is the one dedicated to Earth’s Mightiest Mortal and, if you are a Cap fan, I think you will agree with me in saying it is far beneath the character’s worth.
I mean, compare it to Spiderman’s:
Now, of course, Captain Marvel is no where as popular as Spidey. Nonetheless, check out that cool banner and custom icons. Look particularly at those recent post dates.
Those are the fruits of a healthy subreddit.
That isn’t a worthy goal in-and-of itself. However, considering reddit’s popularity – particularly among younger users of the web – it seems like an underused utility when it comes to helping new fans find the character and his stories.
So this post counts as a casual appeal: when you find Captain Marvel content on the web – whatever it is – would you consider posting it on /r/Shazam?
If you feel like writing something about Captain Marvel for the web would you consider reddit as your forum (if you don’t have a blog or some other means of publishing the content), i.e. would you consider writing it up on /r/Shazam?
I’m not asking for the posting of Shazamcast content; it seems that community doesn’t much care for links from here. However, raising Cap’s public profile will take efforts on several fronts and, being a central aim of The Shazamcast, reddit seems like a good place to make an effort.
Either way, thanks for taking the time to read!
Listen to the episode here.
1. Super Creepy, Right?
3. Theological Overtones
4. These Guys Related or Does Advanced Age Bring Appearance Uniformity?
5. Yeah, Morris, Because IT IS RIDICULOUS!
You have found Episode 02 of the Shazamcast, a podcast dedicated to Earth’s Mightiest Mortal, Captain Marvel of the DC Universe.
Have you read Whiz Comics #2, the original origin of Captain Marvel? Here’s your chance for a guided tour through one of comics’ most important origin stories!
41 years ago today Otto Binder died in Chestertown, New York at the age of 63.
In his lengthy and varied career as a writer he was responsible not only for a large volume of early Captain Marvel stories but also co-created (mostly with artist CC Beck) what amounts to the distinctive Captain Marvel mythology – Mary Marvel, Tawky Tawny, Black Adam, Mister Mind, The Monster Society of Evil, Ibac, King Kull, Mister Atom, and even Dr Sivana’s two evil children, Georgia and Thaddeus Jr.
In one of the greatest examples of irony in comicdom, after Captain Marvel was legally shut down because of his similarity to Superman, Binder went on to develop the Superman mythology in a way highly similar to his work on Cap.
It is thus no wonder that Comics Alliance’s Benito Cereno has placed Binder’s name among the greatest creators of the Golden and Silver ages of comics like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Bill Finger, and Jerry Siegel – as well as identifying Binder as perhaps comics’ most underrated creator.
You can remember Binder today by reading his first Captain Marvel story in Captain Marvel Adventures #9 titled “Captain Marvel Saves the King.” You can find the issue on Comic Book + and The Digital Comic Museum.
Thanks for all the great stories Otto!
This gorgeous piece comes from issue #5 of Ross’ 2005 Justice series which you can learn more about here and purchase here. If you, like so many others, find Ross’ work engrossing you are in for a treat: TwoMorrows Publishing has an extensive write up (based in part on an interview with the artist himself) about Ross’ work on Captain Marvel and his family.