New Girl

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“And a Happy New Year to you … in jail!”

Mary Marvel’s debut as Wow Comics’ headlining feature was certainly stacked in the Shazam Girl’s favor as Otto Binder’s story not only featured The Big Red Cheese, but also featured appearances from Mr. Scarlet and Pinky and doubled as a heartwarming Christmas story.

Under such circumstances, Mary could hardly fail. She remained Wow Comics lead character for the next five years and enjoyed a three-year run in her own magazine. Although her star fell a bit further than the other Marvels during the post-war super-hero slump, Mary continued appear in Fawcett’s successful Marvel Family comic until the publisher closed down its comic-book operation in 1953.

Mary Marvel Week continues with “The Night Before Xmas.” The story originally appeared in Wow Comics #9 (Fawcett Publications, January 1943) and was written by Binder and drawn by Marc Swayze.

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Mary Mary

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For the next seven days, I’ve decided to highlight the Golden Age adventures of one of my favorite comic-book heroines: Mary Marvel!

Created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze, Mary’s adventures were generally fantasy-oriented affairs geared toward young girls – an audience that is apparently invisible to Marvel and DC these days.

The good-hearted Mary Batson, whose appearance was obviously modeled after Judy Garland, fulfilled just about every function of a fictional role model for children and – unlike her Silver-Age descendants – was unafraid to throw a hay-maker or two in the pursuit of justice.

She was as clever and self-reliant as any Golden Age character, even if Miss Batson did have an unfortunate tendency to find herself bound and gagged.

(To be fair, though, Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman often found themselves in similar situations. It’s one of the hazards of being a Marvel, I suppose.)

Like her Marvel Family compatriots, Mary disappeared from the newsstands for several decades after Fawcett finally acceded to DC’s demands in the infamous “Superman vs. Captain Marvel” lawsuit.

The “Marvel” spirit lived on, however, in the form of Supergirl – a move Superman Tyrant-In-Chief Mort Weisinger commissioned to expand the Man Of Steel’s market to the young girls once enamored of Mary Marvel. In a bit of irony, the writer assigned to bring Kara Zor-El to life was none other than Otto Binder.

Of course, DC would later bring the Marvel Family back into print but we all know what eventually came from that attempt.

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From Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (Fawcett, December 1942), here’s “Captain Marvel Introduces Mary Marvel.” The story is by Binder and art by Swayze, with Captain Marvel Jr. figures illustrated by Mac Raboy.

The original cover, shown at the top of this post, was painted by C.C. Beck.

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