Dr. Sivana


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Dr. Sivana

(pop culture)
Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana—a creepy madscientist caricature with a bulb-shaped head, Coke-bottle glasses, profound overbite, and white labcoat, premiered in the original Captain Marvel's very first comic book, Fawcett's Whiz Comics #2 (1940). An egghead ridiculed for his outrageous inventions, Sivana in retaliation devotes his genius to evil and holds ransom the airwaves by blocking radio broadcasts with his “radio silencer” until “the World's Mightiest Mortal” tunes out his scheme. Throughout comics' Golden Age (1938–1954), “the World's Wickedest Scientist” barraged Captain Marvel with an eccentric arsenal including comainducing “Suspendium globes,” a mind-controlling “hypno ray,” a “time-travel device” that enabled him to venture into the past and attempt to prevent newsboy Billy Batson from becoming “the Big Red Cheese,” a freezing “cosmic gas,” robots forged of the “living” metal “Sivanium,” an invisibility-granting “Shazamium bracelet,” and a silencing “mute ray” that robbed young Billy of his ability to speak his powers-inducing magic word “Shazam!” Sometimes operating from a lab on Venus, Dr. Sivana was dedicated to global conquest and was a member of Mr. Mind's Monster Society of Evil. He was often aided by his homely adult children, son Sivana, Jr. and daughter Georgia, while his handsome progeny Beautia and Magnificus disapproved of their father's machinations. The Sivanas disappeared in 1954 when Fawcett Comics lost a legal battle with DC Comics over Captain Marvel's alleged semblances to Superman, shutting down the entire “Marvel Family” franchise of titles. DC resurrected Captain Marvel and company in 1973 in the series Shazam!, their twenty-year absence attributed to Sivana's Suspendium. DC's revival maintained the whimsy of the Golden Age tales, an ill fit with the changing climes and reader maturation of the 1970s. Dr. Sivana, by extension, lost his footing, an anachronistic throwback to the scientist-villain of the Great Depression era. He continued to be featured, however, in numerous Shazam! tales, and was seen on live-action television in the 1979 campy telefilm Legends of the Super-Heroes, in which he was delightfully portrayed by Howard Morris, best known as mountain wildman Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show. Allan Oppenheimer voiced Sivana on Captain Marvel's NBC's animated series, Kid Super-Power Hour with Shazam! (1981–1982). Despite his television visibility, Dr. Sivana still seemed out of place in the increasingly grimmer DC Universe. A 1987 attempt to make Sivana darker (Shazam!: The New Beginning) also connected him to Billy Batson's family, but was excised from continuity in another reboot, 1994's Power of Shazam! In the contemporary DC Universe, Dr. Sivana's technological achievements at one time made him a billionaire, but his underworld connections and implications in the murders of Billy and Mary (Mary Marvel) Batson's parents ruined his reputation and put him at odds with Captain Marvel. The estranged father of Beautia and Magnificus, Sivana has made scattered appearances in the 1990s and 2000s, partnering with Mr. Mind in 1996 and reviving the Fearsome Five—Psimon, Mammoth, Shimmer, Jinx, and Gizmo, the latter of whom died by the mad doctor's own hand—in a 2004 Outsiders storyline. Whether he will one day return to the upper echelon of supervillainy remains something even his heralded “time-travel device” cannot foresee. While Captain Marvel has been frequently merchandized over the decades, Sivana has rarely accompanied him, a 2003 Pocket Super Heroes miniature from DC Direct being among the rare toy appearances of the villain.