I’d heard about this story for years but had never read it before stumbling over it by accident as I was researching something else. But you’ll be the recipient of my good fortune, as this means that I can now share it with you. As we’ve talked about previously, in the Golden Age of Comics, no other companies ever really tried to duplicate the success of DC’s Justice Society of America in ALL-STAR COMICS. One quasi-exception was the Marvel Family, who headlined their own series starting in 1945. But we aren’t speaking here today about just any old Marvel Family adventure, but rather a story that was a little bit more specific.
It’s ostensibly a Mary Marvel story, though her brother Billy Batson puts in an appearance as well (though he never summons Captain Marvel in the course of this adventure, leaving all of the heavy lifting to Mary. ) Fawcett had capitalized well on the success of Captain Marvel, to the point where he was regularly outselling Superman. They’d also expanded the Marvel formula by introducing Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, as well as a few lesser characters, the Three Lieutenant Marvels and Uncle Marvel and even a Baby Marvel at one point. The Captain would also be used as a sort of spokesperson to introduce new characters on the covers of their first appearance and give them his personal seal of approval. This must have worked, because Fawcett did it again and again.
But there was another Marvel character who was appearing regularly at this point, and this story represents his one and only encounter with his fellow Marvels. This was Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, the rabbit funny animal version of Captain Marvel that had been introduced in Fawcett’s FUNNY ANIMALS series, and whose adventures wound up continuing even after the rest of the Marvel Family had closed up shop (though he had to change his name to Happy the Magic Bunny and his uniform had to lose its stylized lightning bolt. his magic word became Alizam!)
This story was written by Otto Binder, the person who authored an astounding 57% of all of the Marvel Family stories ever produced, and illustrated by his brother Jack Binder. Jack had started out running an art studio that packaged whole comic books for publishers–he was involved with the creation of Daredevil for Lev Gleason’s SILVER STREAK COMICS years earlier, for example. By this point, though, I believe the shop was behind him and he was simply operating as a regular freelance artist.
In this adventure, Mary Marvel is dispatched by an astronomer friend to prevent a recently-diverted asteroid from colliding with the Earth. While out in deep space, she winds up getting embroiled in a war between the people of two separate kingdoms on two different asteroids–all of whom are anthropomorphic animals. In order to help his sister out, Billy Batson (rather than, you know, summon Captain Marvel and take action himself) hustles over to Animalville where the toon animals live, and solicits the help of Hoppy as Captain Marvel Bunny. Nobody questions or even stops to think about the fact that somehow Hoppy and his entire coterie of walking, talking animals are living just a short walk from where the Marvel Family lives. It’s all handled matter of factly. Comic books were simpler back in those days.
What this really functions as is a plug for Hoppy’s own series in FUNNY ANIMALS–though it’s not al that much of a plug, as the book isn’t even mentioned and called out, and the story is buried in the middle of this issue of MARVEL FAMILY. Still, it makes for a unique adventure in the Marvel canon.
6 thoughts on “Lost Crossovers: THE MARVEL FAMILY #28”
Billy just says he goes to Animalville. It’s not stated he does it only by mundane walking. He might use some mystic method, off-panel. Maybe there’s a special magical subway car for it.
It’s not unreasonable to get an anthropomorphic animal to deal with a conflict between anthropomorphic animals. But I was disappointed when all Hoppy seemed to do was to beat up the dog people. Surely Mary could do that herself, and she didn’t seem to have any inhibition against punching them. Maybe being pounded by a (relatively) big hairless ape is deemed an honorable defeat, but the same from a rabbit is considered deeply humiliating.
O, that it would be possible for comics to be this whimsical again!
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No sooner did I type the above, than I stumbled upon Cosmo, the Space Dog #1 at my friendly neighborhood MU app. Delightful! Even the Guardians withheld their obscenities this time… though I’m not sure about Groot.
This is brilliant. 🙂 It makes perfect sense that Fawcett’s Funny Animals live in the same world as Captain Marvel without anyone batting an eyelid, in a way that would just seem strange with any other superhero. That’s part of what makes him so cool!
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After all, everyone got past Cap hanging out with a talking tiger.
I’m more puzzled by the astronomer knowing Mary Bromfield is Mary Marvel. Was he a regular character or did they just hand-wave it?
Binder also staged the first Superman vs. Shazam battle when he had Superman meet Zhavam (lightning of Zeus, strength of Hercules etc.) in a three-parter in Action Comics.
Hoppy the Marvel Bunny is such an endearing character it’s surely only a matter of time, alas, before the likes of Grant Morrison or Garth Ennis have him genocidally laying waste to a city or two.