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The British Version of Shazam Gets His Powers from Bananas

The popularity of Shazam has long been established in DC Comics, sparking an entire family of similar characters built up around the hero. However, there is one similar hero who is definitely not a crime-fighting equal but is instead the British version of Shazam. This version is more of a parody than an equal, though he has proven to be a powerful hero, one who gets his powers from eating bananas. 

Bananaman made his first appearance in the comic strip publication called Nutty in February of 1980. The hero was created by Steve Bright, Dave Donaldson, and John Geering and has appeared in a number of other publications since his initial debut. Bananaman became so popular that there was even a cartoon based on the comic that ran from 1983 to 1986 on the BBC. While the airtime for this version of Shazam was short lived, Bananaman was still published as a comic well into the 2010s and remains relevant to this day. 

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The similarities between Bananaman and Shazam are striking, especially when considering the heroes’ alter egos. Much like how Billy Batson becomes the godly hero after uttering the word "Shazam", Bananaman’s alter ego, Eric Wimp, becomes his version of Shazam whenever he eats a banana. Once in his nearly indestructible form, the similarities continue between Bananaman and Shazam. Bananaman has super strength, flight, invulnerability, and the power to breathe in space. One of the differences between the characters, which is where the parody seems to lie, is that Bananaman is incredibly stupid. The comic strip says Bananaman has the muscles of twenty men and the brains of twenty muscles. While the comic pretty obviously takes a jab at Shazam, he isn’t the only comic book character on the chopping block. 

The Bananaman series mocks a lot of preexisting comic characters, including one of the most villainous characters in Marvel Comics, Doctor Doom. In the Bananaman Universe, there is no Doctor Doom, there is only Doctor Gloom. While having almost nothing in common with the Marvel villain aside from the name similarities, Doctor Gloom is a parody of not just Doctor Doom but all villainous doctors in comics who exude villainy seemingly for its own sake. 

The British version of Shazam gets his godly powers from bananas, which itself isn’t a particular parody of anything rather it is just a ridiculous source of astonishing power. The comedy really arises once Wimp becomes Bananaman and goes on countless misadventures depicting him doing his best to save the day. While Bananaman does pale in comparison to Shazam, he is an incredibly fun character who calls out funny comic book tropes and pushes the importance of potassium intake. 

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