By the time the Golden Age of Funnybooks entered its terminal phase, the public mania for superheroes was at a low ebb. A dwindling number of past-peak or licensing-sustained properties were left to fight defensive actions against a booming market for graphically lurid “true” crime and horror offerings.
Where titles as Black Cat Mysteries and Captain America’s Weird Tales were willing to flip to horror anthology formats with nominal ties to their brands, Fawcett took another approach with Captain Marvel Adventures. Instead of relegating the publisher’s flagship character to the back burner, Fawcett opted to incorporate the spooky content into the series’ “Captain Marvel and/versus a High Concept” narrative formula.
The forced grafting between moralistic whimsy and supernatural terror didn’t take so well, however, and resulted in tonally misshapen fruits like “Captain Marvel and the Vampire Burglar” in Captain Marvel Adventures #147 (August 1953).
The story began at the studios of WHIZ-TV, where Boy Reporter Billy Batson was setting the precedent for modern mainstream journalism…
Though Billy and his listeners thought they were enjoying a good chuckle at the expense of the mentally ill, the very real (and quite dapper) vampire in question quietly insinuated himself into the bustling world of post-war America.
His first fictim was an overfed tyke spotted on the street corner, whom he overpowered with his vampiric strength before ripping…
…the “Goody Goody” candy bar out of the kid’s hand and making off with it in bat form.
The incident drew the attention of the Big Red Cheese, who confronted the vampire inside one of the confectioner’s warehouses and reasoned with him in a manner befitting a red-blooded American.
Though the vampire was able to evade capture, the up-close encounter with the good Captain’s fist convinced him that he would need to resort to Old World guile in order to satisfy his hunger for Goody Goody Bars. His patience was rewarded one slow news day later, when the headline of the local paper announced that a truckload of the coveted candy was being prepped for transport to the company’s new corporate headquarters.
Though the ravenous ghoul succeeded on intercepting the truck in transit, his unnatural hunger overcame his better judgement in a sequence which brimmed with a level of sheer unnatural horror that went beyond even EC’s worst moments of excess…
So what was the deal with the dapper undead’s obsession with Goody Goody Bars? The answer with shock — and almost certainly nauseate –
After being clued in on the full story, the Big Red Cheese took pity on the contrite corpse-sucker and wisked him away for a face-to-fanged-face meeting with the Goody Goody’s CEO. Though the jowly titan of the teeth-rotting industry was initially skeptical of the vampire’s claims, one doesn’t climb their way to the top of Goody Goody’s ruthless corporate hierarchy without understanding the value of a captive export market.
The rest, as they say, was simply neoliberal capitalism at work.
(Note to self: Never eat any candy manufactured in Fawcett City.)
Recommended listening: Bis – Secret Vampires (from The Secret Vampire Soundtrack EP, 1996)
The Sweet Shop Avengerz have risen from their grave.