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Whiz Comics 22
"Capt. Marvel And The Temple Of Itzalotahui"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (eleven pages) Script, pencils, and colors by C.C. Beck Inks by Pete Costanza

The splash page shows Capt. Marvel ascending stone steps within a Mayan temple, his right fist clenched. Above him, amidst clouds of smoke and flames, looms a monstrous green creature. Behind Cap are a startled Whitey Murphy, John Malcolm and an exotic Indian girl.

Billy Batson is seated in his office at station WHIZ, preparing for his next broadcast. His secretary, Miss Dalshaw, announces to the star boy reporter that Mr. Murphy is here to see him. A trim white haired young man in a green suit enters and Billy exclaims "Whitey!...we were on the Malcolm expedition together the time we made that movie about Captain Marvel." Billy asks Whitey about Mr. Malcolm. Whitey tells Billy that Mr. Malcolm has disappeared on another expedition to Central America.

Billy and Whitey leave the office for Studio B, where Billy reports the news of John Malcolm's disappearance to his radio listeners. He assures his audience that a rescue expedition is being formed and he will send back daily reports.

After the broadcast, Billy makes phone calls and plans. Next panel, he and Whitey board an Amalgamated Broadcasting plane for Central America. Two panels later they are on a riverboat entering the dense jungle. An interpreter named Pauncho is employed to communicate with the natives. Pauncho finds out from the natives that Malcolm's party was seen heading into the jungles where they are situated.

As the rescuers move deeper into the jungle they observe a stone totem marking the country of the ancient Mayan Indians. The rescue expedition makes camp. Near the roaring campfire, Billy Batson operates a portable radio transmitter and informs listeners that he is deep in the jungles of Guatemala on the trail. Many days later, the trail leads to a hidden lake. Whitey spots an island with some ancient buildings on it. Billy orders Pauncho to have the men build rafts so they can cross over. Pauncho tells Billy the men will not go to the island bacause it is the home of Itzalotahui, an ancient god.

That night native drums are heard at camp, a warning to all to "go back or die." Billy and Whitey awaken the following morning to discover all the men have left. Only Pauncho and his parrot stayed with the expedition. Pauncho warns Billy and Whitey of an attack by angry natives. Billy sees the natives approach wielding knives and spears, and says "I guess it's time to call on Capt. Marvel. Shazam!"

With one magic word, a magic lightning bolt strikes, and Billy is transformed into Captain Marvel. Cap orders the Indians in their native tongue to take him and his friends to the island, and they respectfully obey. Aboard the natives' canoe Whitey Murphy asks Cap how he knew the Indians' language. "Don't forget, Whitey," Cap replies, "that besides being the strongest man in the world, I'm also the wisest. I got all the wisdom of the ancients, too, from old Shazam!".

At the mention of the wizard's name, magic lightning strikes again and Billy, unprepared for the transformation, loses his balance and falls overboard. Whitey helps his buddy back into the canoe. Billy sheepishly says, "Woops. I fooled myself that time." The natives are still respectful of Billy and appear somewhat in awe of his sudden transformations.

They reach the island and are directed to an ancient building made of stone. Billy, Whitey and Pauncho enter a long, dark passageway. At the tunnel exit, Billy sees another Mayan temple. Before they reach it, however, the adventurers are overwhelmed by a swarm of chattering, biting monkeys (Holy Moley, Whitey! I don't think we're in Kansas anymore). Billy hasn't even time to speak his magic word. However, Pauncho's parrot, hovering nearby, and perfectly reproducing Billy's voice, shouts the word of power for him. Captain Marvel appears and effortlessly tosses the monkeys aside. The monkeys return to their mistress, a beautiful Indian girl standing nearby. She leads the three strangers to the temple entrance. Captain Marvel moves a huge stone slab blocking the entrance aside, as Whitey stares curiously at a stone idol which is carved into a perfect caricature of his own facial features. Their first inspection of the temple does not turn up anything, so Capt. Marvel suggests they pitch camp and resume the search the following day.

He changes back into Billy. Whitey and Billy set up an emergency generator and portable radio transmitter as the island girl watches. Late that night all seems peaceful as the tropical moon rises above the campsite. The tranquility is disturbed by a sudden roar from deep inside the temple. Billy wants to find out what is inside. The island girl tugs at his arm pleading, "No. No. Itzalotahui. Puixti. Itzalotahui." Billy and Whitey go in. They descend a stone stairway and come upon a scene of pure terror-- at the bottom of the steps is a huge doorway leading to a chamber filled with smoke and flames and a towering green monstrosity. The roaring and growling is now louder than ever. Whitey and Billy flee the temple and run for cover. Outside, the roaring stops. Billy is ashamed of himself and resolves to go back at once.

In the next panel Whitey, holding a flashlight, and Billy return to the darkened chamber where they saw and heard the monster. Billy reaches out and touches something directly in front of him. The ground starts shaking, and the chamber is suddenly alit with flames and smoke as the massive form reappears. Billy exclaims "Shazam!", and the ancient mountain is rocked by a magic lightning bolt.

Captain Marvel flies straight toward the monstrous monkey god. The creature's huge left paw swings and catches Cap unawares, sending him sprawling. Leaping back into the fight, Capt. Marvel's right fist connects with the ancient god's head, as the whole island rocks and trembles.

Meanwhile, Whitey Murphy is running scared deeper into the Mayan temple. He fails to see a gaping hole in the corridor ahead and falls into a dark room. Whitey realizes he is not alone as a pair of eyes peer at him through the darkness. Proceeding with caution, he discovers the stranger is none other than Mr. Malcolm, lying in the far corner and weakened by tropical fever.

John Malcolm explains to Whitey how his men refused to accompany him across the lake, so he continued alone. The indians tribesmen would not permit him to leave the temple, claiming that his entry brought their monkey god back to life after one thousand years. Whitey assures Malcolm that Captain Marvel is taking care of "old Lotta-Hooey now" and they will be "out of here in a jiffy."

Indeed, as Whitey assists Malcolm through the temple chambers they are greeted by Capt. Marvel, who is carrying an enormous stone. The stone is actually the carved upper body of the monkey god, and Capt. Marvel places it back on the statue's base. Malcolm understands now the monkey god was merely a stone idol. Whitey is puzzled at how the creature was able to move. Cap explains that the Mayan indians who put the statue there were "a bunch of tricksters". Gas flares escaping around the idol's waist made it appear to move. The whole mountain is full of natural gas-- and maybe oil deposits, too.

As they exit the temple, Whitey is thrilled by the prospect they may become rich. Captain Marvel suggests they've done enough damage to old Itzalotahui and bringing in prospectors and oil men would only despoil the island's natural beauty. Malcolm agrees. Before Whitey can object, Mr. Malcolm directs their attention to the island girl, now kneeling before him. "No buts, Whitey. You wouldn't want to see the Indians, like this little girl, having to work in the white mens' camps, would you? Civilization would spoil them."

The adventurers leave the island, Malcolm being carried on a stretcher by two natives. Malcolm reveals to Whitey it was the girl who brought him food and water during his stay in the temple, unknown to the tribe. The long voyage back to civilization begins. A closing caption informs the reader "There may be dangers on the trail ahead, but Capt. Marvel will be there to handle anything Billy can't take care of." The end.

C.C. Beck, with Bill Parker, created Captain Marvel for Fawcett Publications in 1939. Beck drew many of the CM stories published by Fawcett between 1940 and 1953. This story is significant because it is the only golden age Captain Marvel story written and drawn by C.C. Beck. Beck's clean line drawings, semi-humorous and semi-serious, combined with the adventure setting in an exotic locale, remind me in this instance of Herge's Adventures of Tintin. Tintin and his companions shared a similar adventure, Prisoners Of The Sun.

This story also reminds me of numerous stories of Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck and his three nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie), as they explored faraway lands. Those stories were written and drawn by Carl Barks, one of the true greats of the comics industry.

This story also marks the first comic book appearances by Whitey Murphy and John Malcolm, two characters from the Adventures of Capt. Marvel movie serial by Republic Pictures.

The cover of Whiz #22, drawn by C.C. Beck, shows Captain Marvel and Billy Batson standing side by side, with a long jagged lightning bolt in the background. This cover idea was reworked by artist Bob Oksner and appeared on the second Shazam! tabloid-sized comic, Limited Collectors' Edition C-27, published by DC in 1974.

The preceeding story originally appeared in Whiz Comics #22, cover dated October 3, 1941 and published by Fawcett Publications.