Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bracketology: Dressed for Success -- 6th Round (the Final Four)

Doug:  A potentially-lively discussion was brewing in the comments section of last Sunday's Bracektology post, so I'll move it over here for today's topic.  Thanks to Inkstained Wretch and Garett for the immediate impetus.  You can see a reprint of the exchange below -- let's use these comments as a take-off point for today's interaction; and thanks for playing along!

Doug:  Question -- which company had better art in the Bronze Age, Marvel or DC?

Inkstained Wretch said...
The Marvel bias in the final round is pretty striking. I wonder how much of that is based just on Marvel's strength relative to DC in the Bronze Age? I mean, Marvel just sold better back then so does that give it a stronger nostalgia factor? Or did Marvel's sell better in the first place in part because they had better costume designs?o

BloggerDoug said...
If I counted correctly, we began this series of polls with 33 DC costumes, 2 independents, and 61 Marvel costumes.

I think we all just read more Marvels as kids... And let's face it -- the comics were better due in large part to plots aimed at college-aged kids, better art (overall), and a pushing of the envelope that made Marvel's Bronze Age overall more exciting than DC's. Of course this is my opinion only.

AnonymousGarett said...
Did Marvel have better art during the Bronze age? DC had Kirby, Adams, Aparo, Wrightson, Kubert, Grell, Garcia Lopez, Kaluta... and Byrne and Miller switched to DC later on, as did Perez and Kane.

Might be a good topic for a day! 

Doug:  Consider this a 2-for-1 today, kids.  I saw the pic below on a site yesterday and thought I'd pass it along.  It was taken on the set of Iron Man 3, filming in Florida.  Feel free to add these comments to the art discussion above.


Anonymous said...

Ref. Brackets, I’m really pleased that Doc Strange has made it all the way through. He is one of the more obscure characters, but I think he’s deserving of a top spot here because his costume is not only very cool, it’s systemically linked to his powers, his back story and everything that happens in his milieu. The cloak and the amulet are not just props or designs; they grant him powers which he does not have without them.

I think the fact that when Roy tried to turn him into an actual super hero with a mask, a form fitting costume and a secret identity, it didn’t work. Turned out they got it spectacularly right the first time.


dbutler16 said...

I actually have no idea who had better art. Frankly some of the top artists, such as Perez, Kirby, and Byrne, worked at both companies, which complicates matters. I think it's a tossup, really. I think the Legion was blessed with mostly very good artists, and I also liked the art a lot for the most part on the JLA and Batman, and of course the New Teen Titans. There weren't a lot of other DC titles I regularly bought, so it's tough for me to judge beyond those few. I saw a lot of good and a lot of bad with Marvel, since I collected far more of their titles.

As an aside, I just started reading the Giffen/DeMatties Justice League International volume 1 TPB (I can't believe how much I enjoy a comic that makes a joke out of one of my favorite superhero teams) and it struck me how many great costumes there are in that group – Batman, Mister Miracle, Shazam, Guy Garner, Dr. Fate. How many superhero groups have had so many “A” costumes (my grade for all of the aforementioned) in one group at one time? On the other hand, there are some costumes in that same group that don’t really work for me – Martian Manhunter, Black Canary (that iteration, anyway), Blue Beetle, and Dr. Light. Well, Dr. Light’s costume is actually pretty good except for the tiara.

dbutler16 said...

Richard, I agree with Doc Strange. That's also why, a couple of days ago when we were discussing the best thing about each individual costume, the one thing I said I didn't like about his costume is the tights. However, he does have one of the best capes of all time, which might actually be a topic for another bracketology!
Speaking of great cape,s I just realized that Mon-El was never even part of this bracketology. Shame on me for not even nominating him (and the rest of you, too!).

Doug said...

I think, in regard to art at the Big Two, that I can look at a few pages and just say "this feels like a Bronze Age DC". Guys like Ric Estrada... does that help?

I like Joe Staton -- don't know if he'd have worked out at the House of Ideas, although I know he did do limited work there. Similarly, I cannot really imagine Sal Buscema at DC.

dbutler, great point about artists moving between companies. Add Declining Don Heck to the list.


Edo Bosnar said...

As both Karen and I noted in the preceding comment thread, it's now down to one costume that basically goes back to the Golden Age (Batman), and three Silver Age classics. I find it quite interesting also that those three Silver Age costumes (Spidey, Dr. Strange and Iron Man) were all designed by Steve Ditko.
As for who had the better art, I think it's pretty much a toss-up. As noted, many artists went back and forth between the two companies during the 1970s (most notably Cockrum, Perez, Simonson, Chaykin, DeZuniga, Golden, and, especially, Rich Buckler), which created a kind of consistency in the "look" of most comics put out by both companies. And both DC and Marvel had top flight talent working for them at any given time. In fact, to Garrett's DC list of "Kirby, Adams, Aparo, Wrightson, Kubert, Grell, Garcia Lopez, Kaluta" I would add Marshall Rogers and Don Newton, and then counter it with a Marvel list of John Buscema, Gulacy, Brunner, Russell, Colan, Sienkiewicz, Starlin, Barry Windsor Smith, Mayerik, Thorne, Bingham, Day, Layton... I could go on, but you get the picture.
Doug, if I understand the point in your comment correctly, you're talking about a signature art style that makes it possible to distinguish one company's product from the other's. I think that only works with certain artists, i.e., pretty much anything drawn by either of the Buscemas screams Marvel, while Aparo or Garcia Lopez would generally identify a comic as DC.

William said...

Steve Ditko has always been my favorite "Silver Age" artist. And, as Edo just pointed out, he was an incredibly talented costume designer, for which he doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves IMO. Probably my favorite costume designer ever in fact. As he not only designed Spider-Man, Iron Man (red and gold), and Dr. Strange, he also designed the new Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Captain Atom (twice) and The Question, all for Charlton Bullseye. Which are some of the best looks any self-respecting super hero ever sported. And over at DC he designed Hawk and Dove, The Creeper and Shade: The Changing Man. Later in his career he created both Speedball and Captain Universe for Marvel (both very cool and memorable designs). And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

As for the other debate on who had the best art of the "Bronze Age", Marvel or DC? Well, that's easy to answer. When the likes of John Byrne, George Perez, and Frank Miller were working for Marvel, then Marvel had the best art. And when Byrne, Perez, and Miller were working for DC, they had the best art. Pretty simple if you ask me. :)

William said...

Oops, I forgot to comment on the Iron Man movie image. If I'm just judging by the pic alone, my first gut reaction was "Uhhgg!" Iron Patriot?? Come on! How many Iron Men are going to be in this movie? Because you know War Machine is going to be in it as well. (Unless Iron Patriot is James Rhodes in this one). And the Tony Stark armor looks awful, IMO. What's with the tan color instead of the shiny gold? Once again, Uhg! Uhg I say!

david_b said...


It's like 'Oatmeal Man' along side Iron Patriot..

Both are terrible.

As for the final four, great acknowledgement of Mr. Ditko. The virture of at least ONE DC outfit coming into the final four's still pretty good, for all you naysayers and professed Marvel Zombies out there. It'll be down to Bats and Spidey obviously, but as mentioned several times now, the Bronze Age isn't represented because these are Golden and Silver Age creations. As for which company had best artists, it's technically a tie, both with the movement back and forth of the best artists during the Bronze Age, plus each had 'definitive ownership' as to the look and feel of their beloved characters, Buscema on Avengers, Adams on JLA, Romita on Spidey, the list goes on.

Doc Strange against the iconic Spiderman..?? "Oh, the pain, the pain.."

Love 'em both, but I'll stubbornly lean towards the underdog (Strange), in the distinct minority. The fact he can bring down Galactus with a mere thought, AND dress as snazzy as he does, still rules.

Karen said...

Reports say that the "Iron Patriot" is in fact James Rhodes. I guess I could live with that armor for him. But I cannot stand that butterscotch monstrosity next to it. I sincerely hope that is not the main Iron Man armor. How you can take such a great suit -hot rod red is never a bad choice -and screw it up is beyond me.

Inkstained Wretch said...

One of the differences between DC and Marvel in the Bronze Age is that a lot of the top DC heroes had costumes that had changed little since the Golden Age -- the revamped Flash, Green Lantern and Green Arrow being the big exceptions. The Silver Agers changed little too.

DC was just less willing to change the classic look of those characters (lest they damage the merchandising).

Marvel on the other hand was unafraid to alter the look of even its top heroes. How many different versions of the Iron Man armor were there? How many different X-Men costumes? Remember Byrne's change to the Fantastic Four's look? Even Spider-Man got a complete re-design in the 80s.

I think this affected the voting in that the DC's costumes seem more old hat while Marvel's seem more vibrant... at least subconsciously. I think this explains the Marvel bias in this contest even though the same artists worked for both companies.

Edo Bosnar said...

William, I think Michael Golden, and not Steve Ditko, created the Captain Universe costume.

Fred W. Hill said...

Regarding "old hat" costumes, Inkstained, judging solely on my memories of being a kid getting into comics circa '68 - '72, what put me off DC at the time had nothing to do with the costumes but everything to do with "old hat" stories and cardboard characters. In short order, my pre-teen self judged Marvel to have the better stories and being that I had a limited budget to spend on my 4-color habit, I stuck with Marvel until I was in my early 20s and had a little more money to check out what the Distinguished Competition was doing, which turned out to be pretty good in the early '80s.
As for "best" costume, of the remaining choices, I'll go with the classic Spider-Man, an entirely subjective choice as he was my favorite superhero in the Bronze Age. But Doc, Bruce & Tony all had great costumes too. Interesting that even after his change to the red & gold armor, it took awhile before they got the helmet just right, while over in Strange Tales, once Dr. Strange earned his new cape & amulet after his initial confrontation with Dormammu, Ditko seemed compelled to up the ante, telling ever more complex & compelling stories (of course, Kirby was doing the same thing over in FF & Thor).

Doug said...

Back to the feel of Marvel and DC -- I wonder how much of it had to do with inkers? Yes, Vinnie Colletta worked at both houses (as did Ernie Chan), but I'd argue that the DC house style overall was inferior to Marvel's house style.

Guys who crossed over, and I'm speaking of the 70's and not the 80's, still had a different "feel" about their work when at DC.

As to guys who didn't cross over -- Swan, Murphy Anderson, etc. -- they lent themselves to DC's house style. Ramona Fradon -- nails it for me, as did the previously-mentioned Ric Estrada. John Calnan's Batman as well.

Not ever going to disparage Aparo, for sure.

As you can see, it is tough for me to put my finger on just what the line of separation is!


Anonymous said...

Edo – really interesting point about Ditko. Hadn’t thought of that.

Dbutler – glad we’re Doc Strange buddies. There’s not a lot of middle ground there, IMO, you’re either in or you’re out.

David B – you highlight the virtue of having at least one DC hero in the running, but if it comes down to Batman vs Spidey, Batman could seriously win the whole thing.

On the subject of failing to nominate obvious people, we kind of ignored the Surfer because he doesn’t really have a costume as such, but let’s face it; no one looks cooler than the Surfer.

William – you’re right about Ditko’s superb designs, but you highlight only the heroes. Think how many superb baddies he designed: Nightmare, Dormammu, Eternity, Mysterio, the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Vulture, Sandman, the Lizard, Electro, all the early Spidey ones.

Doug – you’re right that Joe Staton did limited work at Marvel, but he did pretty much everyone at one point or another: Avengers during the classic Englehart Celestial Madonna/ GS period, Hulk (inking Buscema), the Surfer, the FF, Xmen, etc. I think there’s enough there to make the decision.

Regarding Vince Colletta, even though he worked a lot at DC and was even their Romita for a while, I think he’s pure Marvel. When his inks were dropped from Kirby’s pencils at DC, Kirby was accused of abandoning his Marvel roots, when in fact it was only Colletta’s inks that had changed. Colletta was literally THAT synonymous with the Marvel house style.


dbutler16 said...

Richard - you are quite right about the Surfer. He is sleekly beautiful. OK, maybe sleekly isn't a word, but you get my meaning.

I agree that Ditko might be the best al time designer, but I don't care for his artwork. Let him come up with the designs and let someone else draw them.

Garett said...

When you talk about inkers, Doug, I'd say Giordano represents DC in the '70s--even though he worked for Marvel too. I don't think Giordano quite gelled with John Buscema, so maybe there's a DC/Marvel difference there.

Nice lists Edo, and I'd add Mike Zeck for Marvel.

I liked Colan's work better at Marvel. His Batman and Wonder Woman didn't thrill me, but Dracula did. I think it would've been cool to see Garcia Lopez take on the X-Men.

humanbelly said...

One quick addendum to the Joe Staton-at-Marvel topic:

He inked a number of issues of Incredible Hulk (extremely well, I might add), and his contribution was both enormous and unsung. He was the regular inker when Herb Trimpe finally left the book after, like, 8 years, handing the pencilling reins over to Sal Buscema. This was a HUGE blow to us long-time, rabidly-faithful readers (Herb had, literally, been drawing the Hulk for the entirety of my comic-reading childhood). HOWEVER, disaster was averted largely because Joe managed to keep the visual "feel" of the book consistent during that transition between two very different pencilers. This was no small feat at all, believe me. And I didn't even realize it until the last time I did a read-through. We all expected to hate Sal's Hulk, and yet somehow he seemed comfortably familiar w/ Joe Staton's inks supporting him. Against all expectations, we ended up embracing Sal almost immediately.

And quiet ol' Joe Staton was the hero that made it possible!


humanbelly said...

Oh, and the final four, here? Two of them are/were the faces of their respective companies (Spidey & Batman), one is a hot face-come-lately in the public eye (Iron Man), and the fourth is a legitimately great outfit design (Doc Strange). I don't know. . . doesn't objectivity seem to be slightly in question when the "best costume" award happens to be a contest among 3 of the most currently popular characters out there? Doesn't that seem a little. . . coincidental? That and the fact that a Spidey/Bats final seems likely?? (I just have a hard time making myself believe that those are the two best-designed outfits-- bar none. . .)

(Still pullin' for Mysterio, Jay, Alan, and Alex. . . )


Anonymous said...

Yeah-- I mentioned this in an earlier Bracketology- seems like this best costume design contest has turned out as they say: A FAIL! (Didn't think I'd end up using that term ever, but think it works pretty good here.)

And speaking of a fail-- it seems to me this apes a major upcoming 'contest', with two 'characters' who don't necessarily deserve the award, but perhaps have been nominated under misunderstood parameters, and a 'thrown' process. 12 years, and it seems as if no one's learned anything at all; MAJOR FAIL FOR US ALL!

Kind of like peeing against a hurricane. As for the costumes though, I would like to say that Spider-Man's costume IS actually a really inspired design.


humanbelly said...

NOT a politically-orientd blog, here. Surely you've recognized that as you've been visiting, yes? We'll pontificate away on many things pop-cultural, sure, but beyond that-- you kind of see that's not this community's mission-statement, right?

Gotta disagree on assessing this Bracketology event as a "fail" also, even with my own observations in mind. The goal clearly isn't results-oriented as much as it's process-oriented. The fun (which I've had MUCH of, BTW!) is in the discussion and the wrangling over who-should-beat-who-and-why. Even if the results are suspect due to unavoidable sympathy w/ favored characters, ha!, it really doesn't matter, y'know? Even at it's most objective, it's still gonna be SUBjective, because it's just a loose, fun, exercise w/ very, very wide initial parameters.

If it didn't clobber Doug w/ the workload, I'd vote to have them running about every two weeks or so!


Doug said...

Thanks, HB, and thanks too for the reprimand.

Folks, the only partisanship tolerated around here is for Marvel or DC, with the occasional third-party love thrown around for Charlton or Warren, etc.

Let's keep this a fun, accessible, four-color lovefest.



Anonymous said...

Hi Adam – gotta agree with HB. Spidey & Bats are two of the most iconic heroes and iconic costumes regardless of recent movie-enhanced profile. Personally, I didn’t see Spider Man (yet) and voted for Batman based on the cosy in the comics (the grey/blue/black costume that looked so cool drawn by Adams, Giordano, Miller and others). I don’t really have a clear picture of the Nolan bat suit in my head except that it was a rubber body suit. Only the cowl looked distinctive to me.
By your logic, that we’re all dazzled by the recent media profile of these heroes, and then if we’d done this last year, Spider Man and Batman would have lost out to the Green Lantern and the Green Hornet because they had movies out and Spidey and Bats didn’t. I suggest that that would not have happened. Also, the fact that only one of the Avengers made it this far suggests that movies play no part.

Also, ref the elections and having learnt nothing in 12 years, well, on behalf of the rest of us (I mean the 96% of the world’s population that are hugely affected by the US elections but don’t get to vote in them.....makes you wonder how we’d explain the concept of democracy to aliens...) we thought that the 2000 election was a coup d’état in which the ‘winning’ candidate did not get a majority of the popular vote, and did not get a majority of the votes cast (state-wide) in Florida, which is what carried the election. He lost, but still got to be President. But then the American electorate voted the usurper back into power in 2004, largely because of his perceived success in the post 9/11 War on Terror decimating Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite the fact that the 9/11 bombers were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt & UAE and Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan. So what do we know?

Given that Clinton left office after 8 years with a $236 billion budget surplus, and Bush left office after 8 years with a $400bn budget deficit and doubled the federal debt ceiling to over $11 trillion, it would indeed be interesting to speculate how things might have gone under Gore.

Sorry Doug, Sorry Karen...I know, can open, worms everywhere....


Garett said...

The Spider-Man/Dr Strange vote is a tough call for me. Strange is elaborate with unusual colors, shapes and patterns. As someone mentioned, it's unusual to have those leggings with no boots or shoes, but he's lighter than air so it makes sense with the character. Great exotic costume.

I voted for Spidey though because I'm appreciating his outfit more and more. I like the way his "belt" comes up his front to his head, then down his arms to the gloves--makes him different on the front and back. And the webs going down only part of his arms are like a web in themselves, stretching from shouders to hands--better than all-web arms. The different spiders on the front and back. Of course the eyes and the web pattern on him. It appears very simple, but there's actually a lot going on, design choices that could've been much more ordinary.

Doug how about calling a tie at this point, and combining the finalists into the greatest costumed hero ever-- Dr. Strangebat Ironspider!! Imagine the box office! ; )

david_b said...


You forgot to mention 9/11 was an inside job.


Please check actual stats on 2000popularity vote, which I have (several times..). Mr. Gore won by a monsterous .5% (half of 1%) Oh, clearly an intimidating margin for a beloved two-term VP.

humanbelly said...

Say, when did Spidey finally lose those little underarm webbings? Was there an official "that's it, we're not drawing 'em anymore" moment? There's pretty much no fight that those little frilly things could actually live through. . .


Anonymous said...

Understand HB, but that is directed against the whole set-up, and is NOT partisan. The WHOLE thing is a joke, and it's been going on for years and years, even though our liberty is endangered at an increasing rate; the efforts to impose on our freedom, privacy, and to institute totalitarian measures is monumental. BOTH so-called 'parties' are responsible, and people are responsible for continuing to prop up these lies and liars.

Anyone who takes a comment that is aimed at the system itself, and turns it into something partisan, reveals their own dependence on partisanship. People continue to give business to this dog and pony show.

I guess Canada, the UK, and Japan, for instance, can go ahead and let all the other countries vote in their next elections. The UK has a 'tiny' bit of influence and power, so maybe the world population should vote there, especially.

Oh, and there is plenty of evidence from 911 that does not match what people were/ are told 'officially'- don't understand why something that has eroded our civil liberties, put this country in a decade long regional war, and helped debilitate an economy has had such troubling things swept under the rug. The elevator rebuild just prior to 911 (of which the records have been stated by the NYC Department of Buildings to not exist), discussed in 'Elevator World' - March 2001 issue, is pretty interesting.

HB-- I do appreciate what you said. As far as the costumes, it just seems disappointing; I realized it is difficult to separate enjoying a character, and just judging the costume, but I gave great effort into doing just that. Guess it's an extremely difficult task with so many costumes, and I do see the merits in some of the last remaining contenders.


humanbelly said...

Guys, guys---
Did anyone read Doug's calm response above? You know, the fellow whose blog this is?

Here, let me put it in Bendis-speak:

Not. A. Political. Forum.

In Hulk-speak:

"Political talking makes Hulk sad. And bored. Talk should go away."

In Asgardian-speak:

"Strewth-- a time and place there is for such matters to be debated and examined at length. But is this that place? Nay, I say thee-- a thousand times nay! And neither shall it EVER be the time! For this is a refuge! Yea, a HAVEN from such matters both profane and mundane! A SANCTUARY! And we do charge thee: DEFILE IT NO MORE!"

Wolverine, Black Bolt, and the Watcher wanted in on it, too-- but one has to draw a line somewhere. . .

(I was actually hoping to hear a little more discussion about the questionable armors. . . )


david_b said...

Hulk-speak took the words right out of my mouth:

"Sad and bored."

What a well-spoken gentleman.

Anonymous said...

Despite the fact that we're probably heading into critical mass, and people's lives have both mortally and quality-wise been destroyed, I'll take your advice, and not defile the sanctuary. Too bad such pesky things as totalitarianism are 'sad and boring', though.

You're correct; the blog host, Doug, IS gracious. Enjoy your sanctum sanctorum-- I'm an outsider among outsiders, anyway, so I'll just leave you to it. Thank you, Doug- you really do a very good job with all this. Take care.


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