Comic Publishers

December 11, 2009

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays

Welcome to From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! With this week’s run down we’ll look at Mickey Mouse and Friends#296 and #297, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #5-10 and the ’41 Movie Serial The Adventures of Captain Marvel.


PUBLISHER: Boom! Studios

ARTISTS: Marco Palazzi

WRITER: Stefano Ambrosio

mmandfcoverbBOOM! Studios recently published a slew of Disney titles a few months ago and the one that really caught my attention was Mickey Mouse and Friends (BOOM! starting its run with issue #296, where Gemstone left off a few years back). The story running in the current Mickey title is the “Wizards of Mickey” tale, an Italian 10-part Mickey Mouse comic produced originally by Disney-Italy, published in the weekly Italian comic-mag Topolino, back in 2006. The “Wizards of Mickey” series was so popular it spun off 2 sequel comic stories, a trading card game and has been published in 10 different countries.

The “Wizards” story line is a lot of fun. It starts off with Mickey as a Wizard’s apprentice, who loses his town’s magic crystal to Pete. Pete, in traditional Disney-fashion, is a baddie, roaming the country collecting these magic crystals. Mickey tracks him down in a Wizard’s contest, which he enters with Goofy and Donald Duck in an attempt to get the crystal back. As you can imagine, a Wizard’s contest is both full of adventure and a little humor from our Mouse-House gang.

The story is just fun and a great read. You can’t beat it. If you disagree with me, e-mail me, so I can buy a plane ticket and key your car. It just doesn’t feel like some run of the mill youth-aimed comic. It’s a comic all ages can enjoy and become engrossed in reading (and isn’t that the real magic of Disney, when it actually works for everyone, no matter who you are?). The artwork is great, and the English translation has been a perfect read thus far. For the Disney collector, BOOM! has also been publishing each issue with two different covers to chose from or to collect both. The “Wizards of Mickey” saga has been doing so well, that BOOM! will be moving the story line to its own magazine titled, (you guessed it!), Wizards of Mickey in February 2010, leaving the Mickey Mouse and Friends title open for other stories and serials.



ARTISTS: Bryon Vaughns, Stephen DeStefano

WRITERS: Art Baltazar and Franco

Shazam_cover 6Bill and his elephants were taken by surprise, So Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes”- The Beatles, “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”

And when the Beatles sing about you, you pretty much have to be one of the coolest things in the universe…unless you’re a Rolling Stones fan…then you probably think I’m a big jerk for this theory.

That aside, let’s take a look at Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #5 through #10. Many folks heard and read how Mike Kunkel (of Hero Bear fame) was writing/drawing the new Captain Marvel title. However, after the first 4 issues, Kunkel moved onto other projects and the team behind the Shazam title changed starting with issue #5.

The writing could not be better with the new writing team of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani (the minds behind Patrick the Wolf Boy and DC’s biggest youth-aimed hit Tiny Titans). They just hit it right on the dot continuing from Kunkel’s run without feeling like something has changed. The story arc in issues #5 through #8 deal with Captain Marvel’s greatest villain, Dr. Sivana making his return with a giant robot and teaming up with King Kull to destroy Marvel (which included a great comic slug-fest between Captain Marvel and Kull in issue #6).  Starting with issue #9, things get a little more dramatic when Billy decides that he doesn’t want to change back into a boy after he’s in Marvel-form, and his magic powers become corrupted (this story line should wrap up with upcoming issue #11).

Now, I’m a fan of Kunkel’s animation-to-comic-style artwork, so to go from issue #4 to #5 was a hard adjustment for me. Issues #5, #7, #8, #9 and #10 are drawn by Byron Vaughns (who also has a background in animation) who stylistically just doesn’t have as much of an impact as Kunkel. Sometimes he hits and sometimes he misses. His style is more simplistic and exaggerated, so I can see why DC would think he would be a good choice to take over the art on the title; however, I’m not a huge fan. Issue #6 was drawn by Stephen DeStefano (who has an animation background with such projects as Adult Swim’s Venture Brothers). I loved DeStefano’s take, which felt like neither Kunkel nor Vaughns, and instead felt more in the realm of the classic Fawcett-Era Captain Marvel comics (fingers crossed DC brings him to do the series when they need to like they did with issue #6).

Over all, Billy Batson and the Magic of  Shazam! is an enjoyable read and I look forward to seeing where the series goes from here.


captain-marvel serialCaptain Marvel was the first superhero to make it from print to live action film, back with this 12-part film serial from 1941. It was produced by Republic Pictures, who had a knack for adventure serials and produced what many consider the best serials of the time (they also produced the Dick Tracy serial based from the popular comic strip). Originally Republic was supposed to produce a Superman serial, but due to an agreement with Fleischer studios producing the original Superman theatrical cartoons, no other media could be produced based on the Man of Steel at the time and the deal fell through. So Republic, wanting a superhero serial based off a popular comic book, moved on to the next best thing, our Shazam-shouting hero, Captain Marvel.

Truly The Adventures of Captain Marvel in everyway is both an entertaining series of cliff-hangers and a fantastic adaptation. Tom Tyler (who also played the serial version of pulp favorite hero The Phantom) brings the perfect mix of life and humor to Captain Marvel. The plot centers around the world’s mightiest mortal pitted against a masked villain named the Scorpion, who is out to collect six special lenses, that when aligned properly can turn everyday rocks into gold. The action scenes and special effects are well executed for its time and is a labor of love, not something that was quickly churned out like other serials of the day.

If you don’t mind watching something in black and white, The Adventures of Captain Marvel is just as good, if not better in my humble opinion, then any DC Comics TV-show right now. Plus, you can pick up the entire 12-part serial on most websites for under 15 bucks!

Drew McCabe



  1. Infinite Speech

    my 3 yr old actually picked out the Mickey Mouse and Friends book when I took her to pick up my comics and It was actually a pretty good story. I had to read it at least 4 times to her that night lol

  2. Scott

    Welcome to comicattack Drew! I look forward to your columns, I have kids and am always on the lookout for titles to add to my pull list for them. Boom studios has an excellent collection of kids titles.

  3. Eli

    Welcome Drew!

    I don’t have any kids, but this column is awesome help for me in suggesting titles for the local public library.

  4. Great work Drew and welcome to the team! I’ve met Mike Kunkel before and thought he was one nice dude! It’s funny to me that BOOM! is continuing the Mickey series into 2010 considering Disney bought Marvel.


  5. Drew

    Thanks for the welcomes! To follow up on Andy’s comment, Boom seems to be not going anywhere with their Disney/Pixar titles or their Muppets titles (The Muppets are also owned by the Mouse). The Boom’s youth-titles are all doing well and have had a lot of great responses. As it looks, the Disney/Marvel deal may have just been to get more money from character licenses and Marvel maybe left untouched.

  6. Billy

    Welcome aboard! Nice job on these reviews. My daughter is always asking to buy some comics but I’m not always sure on what’s appropriate for her age(9). I do let her buy Archie because I know that’s safe. LOL

  7. The Movie Lady

    Welcome Drew!! Great job on your reviews they’re very informative. You sure know your stuff!

  8. […] my first column I reviewed a chunk of Billy Batson issues, and click here to check out my original take on how the series was heading. Happily since then, things have […]

  9. […] the Captain Marvel movie serial, it has been preserved fairly well and looks nice on DVD. With Green Hornet mania cropping up […]

  10. […] can easily be tracked down for your viewing pleasure this week! also if you like serials, check out Captain Marvel or The Green Hornet […]

  11. […] 9.) WIZARDS OF MICKEY zaps away! BOOM! Kids has produced an endless amount of great titles this past year. The Wizards of Mickey story line moved into its own title in 2010, and now is collected in three trade paperbacks. Wizards of Mickey was a fantastic Mickey Mouse adventure that hit all the right high notes. It was epic, it was fun, it was very Disney. It’s easy to see why this title was so popular in its original run in Europe. The whole wizard competition felt very much at home with any RPG fan, and was just as good. Hopefully someday we’ll see more with this story, but for now, as mentioned, all the issues are collected and reprinted in three wonderful trades for us. (Originally reported here) […]

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