The Marvel Family is a group of fictional character, a team of superhero in the Fawcett Comics and DC Comics universes. Created in 1942 by writer Otto Binder and Fawcett artists C. C. Beck, Mac Raboy, Ed Herron and Marc Swayze, the team is an extension of Fawcett's Captain Marvel franchise, and includes Marvel's sister Mary Marvel, their friend Captain Marvel Jr., and, at various times, a number of other characters as well.
Because Marvel Comics trademarked their own Captain Marvel comic book during the interim between the demise of the Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel comics in 1953 and DC's revival in 1972, DC Comics is today unable to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under those names. Since 1972, DC has instead used the trademark Shazam! for their comic book titles with the Marvel Family characters, and the name under which they market and promote the characters. When referring to the Marvel Family on comic book covers or various merchandise, they are by this legal necessity called the "Shazam Family".
The Marvel Family was established in 1942 after the introductions of Captain Marvel's partners the Lieutenant Marvels (Whiz Comics #21, September 1941), Captain Marvel, Jr. (Whiz Comics #25, December 1941) and Mary Marvel (Captain Marvel Adventures #18, December 1942). With Junior and Mary's additions to his adventures, Captain Marvel became the first superhero to have a team of sidekicks who share his powers, abilities, and appearance; a concept later adapted for heroes such as Superman and Aquaman, among others.
The members of the Marvel Family appeared both separately and together in many of Fawcett's comic book series, including Whiz Comics, Wow Comics, Master Comics, Captain Marvel Adventures, Captain Marvel, Jr, Mary Marvel, and The Marvel Family. By the late 1940s, Marvel Family comics were among the most popular in the industry, and the Marvel Family had expanded to include both non-superpowered characters (Uncle Marvel and Freckles Marvel) and even funny animal (Hoppy the Marvel Bunny). By 1953, all of these books had ceased publication, due to Superman publisher DC Comics' lawsuit against Fawcett.
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Official Site: DC Comics
Links: Marvel Family Wiki Entry Marvel Family Homepage Toonopedia