Thursday, January 24, 2013

Face-Off! Who's in the Ring Today?

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's Face-Off is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, Face-Off is for two singers, comic characters, bands, films, etc. to go up against each other.  For example, recently we had a post that asked readers to choose between Captain America's two main partners:  Bucky Barnes and the Falcon.

Thanks for holding it down for us!


Anonymous said...

Why don't we stop all the foreplay and just go for the big question: Marvel or DC?

Personally, I'm useless in this debate because I was always a Marvelite, but of course it's a lot more complex than that. I'd just to hear from DC fans on what makes DC better than Marvel.


Anonymous said...

When I was little, I found DC a bit silly. I enjoyed Marvel for its ‘gritty realism’ (or so it seemed to me when I was eight).

I thought Superman was just ridiculously super, Batman was basically just a detective, Robin was pathetic, Aquaman was ridiculous, Wonder Woman seemed a strange rootless amalgam of two unrelated things and the Flash was just ridiculously powerful for his one power. The thing where he could vibrate his molecules and walk through walls, which also effectively made him bulletproof, was just crazy.

The definitive art on Supes for me was Curt Swan’s which I didn’t like. Where I did get jealous of DC fans was Green Lantern, because I’d seen the Adams issues, and I also loved the Gil Kane art on the one issue of the Atom I had, but the Atom himself seemed utterly ridiculous....basically Ant Man without the saving grace of, you know, ants.

To be really honest, it came down to pocket money. If I’d had the resources, I would probably have given DC more of a fair shake, but with my limited resources I was never going to choose a DC comic over a Marvel one. But many of you did. Please tell us why? What did DC have that Marvel didn’t?


david_b said...

Richard, the 'gritty realism' was definitely permeating off the pages of Marvel mags when I was 6yrs old, will tell you that.

While I loved the splashiness of the 60s Batman series, the Marvel cartoon series ('long with Spidey and FF's series..), just seemed far more intense and serious than DC, with the gratuitous slam-bam fests (as mentioned yesterday..). As some have spoken of in the past, in DC's Silver Age, you could effectively had replaced Aquaman with Green Lantern or Flash and they'd give the same generic speech. While they were heroes (I watched the Aquaman-Supes Hour as a kid as well...), when one suddenly acquires Spectacular Spiderman ish 2, or Steranko's Captain America 113 when you're 5 or 6yrs old, you become Dorothy waking up in Oz.

A MMMS club with ranks..? Bullpen Bulletins..?? Letters pages where the editors actually respond..?

As for pocket money, when I had a few dimes to rub together.., I definitely chose Marvel. Initially for the grittiness, then for realism, later for awesome interwoven continuity, until you're actually a walking Marvel Zuvembie.

Doug said...

When I was a waif, I eschewed DCs like the plague. Becoming more sophisticated as a 10-year old, however, I did attempt to regularly purchase (we all know how distribution was) Batman and/or Detective, Superboy and the Legion, Teen Titans, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and Secret Society of Super-Villains. That was about it, and if you look at those titles they are probably the DCs that most mimic the "feel" of a Marvel Comic.

I agree with what's been said above that Marvels just seemed to have more angst, personality, and cross-magazine continuity than did DCs. I feel that Marvel drew us in, while (I didn't understand this as a child) DC seemed content to just sit back and say "our guys have been around since 1938, so what are you going to do about that? We have to be doing something right!"

Even in DCs large assembling of heroes as in the aforementioned TT, Legion, and even the JLA, those books never had the look or feel of the Avengers, X-Men (all-new all-different variety), or the Fantastic Four.

And Richard mentions creators -- give me Marvel's Bullpen of the Bronze Age over DC's any day. I'd argue that even among those who crossed over between companies, their better work was done at Marvel.

One almost-Zombie's opinion,


Bruce said...

Marvel all the way, at least in the Bronze Age. Marvel's characters felt much more developed and "real" to me. I could relate to them and their problems in a way I never could to DC's heroes.

Put it this way: I sampled an issue of Superman as a kid, and the story involved him literally pushing the Earth out the the path of a death ray. Even to a nine-year-old, it felt ridiculous. By contrast, Spider-Man was dealing with a sick aunt, past-due bills and problems at school, not to mention a variety of villains out for his scalp. DC's heroes were fairy tale characters - Marvel's heroes were your friends (albeit really cool friends).

Having said that, DC turned things around in a BIG way in 1985-86, and almost all of the new books I've read in recent years have been DC titles.

Anonymous said...

DC's heroes were adults, Marvel's were teenaged mentality, thus the chord struck with Marvelites.

Doug said...

Anonymous (thanks for signing a screen name) --

If you've never noticed, we generally don't do the drive-by insult thing around here. Nope -- this is a community for discussion. Feel free to join in!


Karen said...

"DC's heroes were adults, Marvel's were teenaged mentality, thus the chord struck with Marvelites."

I don't think I would agree with that entirely. Sure, Spidey, the Torch, and the X-Men were teenagers,and faced the problems most adolescents face (with a lot more on top of those). But what about Cap -displaced in time and still feeling guilt over his young partner's death? The Thing - angry and full of despair at being a monster? Iron Man - constantly worried about his heart? These were certainly 'adult' problems. I think the key thing is, every Marvel hero had some sort of problem, maybe more than one, that drove their character. You got a sense of a real person, whereas with the DC books of the same period that I've read, I saw very little of the personal life, or very little personality even, of the heroes. As Richard said, particularly in the 60s, they were interchangeable personality wise.

The first DC book I started reading was Legion of Super-Heroes, right as it transitioned from Cockrum to Grell. It was a combination of great art, a huge group of teen-aged super-heroes, and space adventures, that got me hooked. The stories themselves, at least initially, were not all that well-written -I certainly didn't think they were as good as most of the Marvel books I was reading! But as the 70s went on, and the talent was exchanged, DC got better (in my opinion).

When I came back to comics in the 2000s, I started with the JSA and other DC titles. Now I would say there's not a whole lot of difference between the two companies, at least in overall quality. But I'm not really reading new books any more. I gave up about a year and a half ago. They're just not going a direction I'm interested in.

Doug said...

I think that while DC's characters were adults, the stories were for the most part (particularly in the Silver Age) marketed to children. Marvel, on the other hand, figured out rather quickly that their books had an appeal to teens and college students and began to write (and the art pretty quickly evolved as well) the stories toward 20-somethings. Huge difference to me.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Richard - I'm another Marvelite/Zuvembie.

Agree with all the observations so far. Expanding on the idea of DC being established and Marvel being the new kid on the block - remember, these were just funny books. To corporate muckity mucks there probably wasn't a great desire to have to pay creative people. To those guys it was about things like Brand, Image, Distribution, etc. In the early 70s if you had asked the "man on the street" if he ever heard of Superman or Batman he would have said "Of course". But Spiderman or the Hulk you probably would have gotten "Who?" So Stan felt he HAD to do something different. DC, not so much.

I'll throw in another favorite term around here - "suspension of disbelief". I like Bruce's comparative of Superman and Spiderman. If you could suspend disbelief and believe that a teenager could be bitten by a radioactive spider but all of the rest of the story was rooted in reality, could you buy into it? I sure did.

But that Superman story is just plain ridiculous.


Mike said...

Wow, cutting to the chase -- man, I like it!

In the Bronze age when I was a kid, I was big time Marvel ... Spidey, Daredevil, Powerman/Iron Fist, and Conan my tops! I liked Batman, but when it came to comic reading it was all Marvel. For some reason in the mid 80's the writing on the Batman and Detective titles got really good to me. Miller left DD, I never liked McFarlane and what was going on in Spiderman, and PM/IF and Conan were being cancelled. So then I picked up a bunch of Batman and Detective back issues from the Denny O'neil/Neil Adams days of the 70's and man I was hooked! Great stuff!! I started heavily collecting Batman ever since, focusing mainly on the older rather than the newer.

Btw, someone mentioned animations and boy, you check out what DC has been doing in the Batman, Superman, and Justice League animations from the early 90's to today and you'll see they've really been nailing it. The strength of the DC characters really comes out, and many of the story-lines come directly out of that Bronze age period.

So anyhow, if I had to pick I'd choose DC ... but I'd rather have both -- or at least up until Marvel went Mutant crazy at the end of the Bronze Age. I know, I know .. DC went Bat crazy .... but I'm a little biased there.

Inkstained Wretch said...

It seems like Marvel by a landslide here. Let me offer a qualified defense of the Distinguished competition.

First off, I'd agree with the general consensus that Marvel's characters had more developed personalities -- more distinctive traits, more quirks, more real-world problems -- that made them seem three-dimensional. The main problem with DC was that too many of its characters' personalities were basically interchangeable. Part of what made the Justice League animated series so great was that it didn't have that problem.

One of the exceptions was the Barry Allen Flash. Yes, his powers were too broadly defined but he had an appealing everyman character: decent small-town married guy, then widower, dealing with a bunch of cloddish villains who never seemed to learn. It was the first DC comic I got into.

Fury of Firestorm had similar real-world feel to it, plus an intriguing, offbeat hero.

More broadly, DC had a vast store of classic characters and villains that created a rich universe of its own: The Justice League of America, the Green Lantern Corps, the Justice Society of America, the Legion of Superheroes, the Teen Titans, to name a few...

DC had most of the greatest artists of the Bronze Age working for it from at various times: Nick Cardy, Dick Dillin, Joe Kubert, Dave Cockrum, Mike Grell, Gene Colan, Walt Simonson, Jim Aparo, Gil Kane, Keith Giffen, Rich Buckler, Dave Gibbons, Jerry Ordway, and Bernie Wrightson. Yes, even Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko...

At about the time that I was reading DC its main writers were guys like Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Steve Gerber, Doug Monech and Gerry Conway. They weren't bad... DC also had this new guy called Alan Moore, who you may have heard of...

There were several classic runs on the Batman titles during this period. Moore turned Saga of Swamp Thing into one of the best titles of the era. The Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen run on Legion of Superheroes is regarded as a highpoint even by people who don't like Marvel. Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway created the terrific All-Star Squadron. Marv Wolfman and George Perez did some of the best work of their careers on the New Teen Titans. Gil Kane returned for several projects including some of his best art on Sword of the Atom. We all love the weird, wonderful Bob Haney/Jim Aparo Brave and Bold stories. Aparo also that great run of Spectre stories for Adventure Comics.

Point-by-point Marvel may come out on top, but the notion that it was an obvious, crushing victory is, methinks, rather short-sighted...

Edo Bosnar said...

Heh - I so like that my "Marvel(ite) zuvembie" coinage is catching on...
Alas, I'm also one of those zuvembies (additionally afflicted by a teenaged mentality), so I really can't engage with Richard's original challenge for DC fans to explain their preference. One thing I will say is that, unlike Richard, I didn't specifically shun DC - all throughout my comics-reading childhood, I always read and enjoyed a far share of DC stuff.

Anyway, I was going to write a longer comment, but Inkstained kind of made some of my points more eloquently. Building on his argument, I guess I would say that I prefer Marvel's output from the 60s/70s way more than DC's for many of the reasons mentioned above, while I would say the 80s saw DC sort of catch up and by the end of the decade even take the lead in producing higher quality stories.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Marvel was aimed at a somewhat older audience than DC. When I was 8-10 years old, I was mainly a DC fan. I disliked Marvel's emphasis on angst and soap opera, and their long, complicated serials and story arcs. I liked DC's simpler plots and (usually) complete-in-one-issue format. Maybe if I'd been older, my attitude would have been different. I had a neighbor who was 12-13 at the time, and he was the original Marvel Zombie. He fancied himself an intellectual, and the X-Men moping around feeling sorry for themselves seemed terribly sophisticated to him. By the mid 1970s, DC was (it seemed to me) imitating Marvel, with continued stories, angst, and heroes constantly bickering among themselves. The only difference between the Avengers and the JLA was the costumes. IMHO, during the Bronze Age, the two publishers' house styles became so similar that the question "DC or Marvel?" has been irrelevant ever since.

Anonymous said...

I know you hate drive-bys, Doug, but I don’t think that anonymous commenter was insulting anyone. It was a valid & sensible point, whether or not we agree with it. If it was an insult, it was a pretty lame one. I think we were all about 7,8 or 9 when we started reading these comics, so being told we had the mentality of teenagers means we were pretty advanced for our years.

As Karen said, Spidey, Johnny, the Xmen, but I think Marvel made a conscious effort to target teenagers with the ‘hero-who-could-be-you’. Where you had Hulk, you had Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade or later Jim Wilson, Rick Jones also served as teen support to both Captains America & Marvel and the Avengers, Hawkeye wasn’t a teen, but his attitude to Cap was pure rebellious teenager, I think Wanda & Pietro were teenagers, when the Xmen did grow up, teen characters like Kitty & Jubilee were introduced and then the New Mutants, and we never knew what age Clea was, but she was certainly an ingénue. Marvel always had plenty of adolescents in the mix.

Bruce’s point about Superman is bang on and really illustrates the silliness and therefore blandness I got from DC. Every issue, he got into an implausible scrape which was resolved by the revelation of yet another super power. I loved the explanation of why no one recognises Clark Kent....because his powers of super – hypnotism are working ALL the time. Excellent.

Despite my genuine reservations about DC, I wonder if there’s an element of imprinting involved as well? If I had started with DC and bonded with their heroes, house style and milieu, perhaps I would be a diehard DC fan. But I kind of suspect not. When DC did do something brilliant, like Watchmen, I was all over it, and I think if that had been typical of DC’s output, I’d have flipped from Marvel easily.

Inkstained....Dude! I read that twice. You make an interesting point that key characters like the Flash could have given the Marvel characters a run (!) for their money in the realism stakes. Didn’t expect that point to be made of DC pre-1985. If I understand your main point, what seems to underpin it is this: while Marvel may have had a house style, atmosphere, ethos and continuity that made Marvel overall better than DC overall, there are many, many key exceptions in terms of writers, artists, runs, storylines, and titles. So Marvel whole over DC whole, yes maybe, but DC whole is much LESS than the sum of some of its pieces. It’s hard to argue with that, esp. later. I don’t think Marvel has anything to compete with Watchmen, V & From Hell.


david_b said...

Edo, I hope I earn the Edo 'no-prize' for mentioning 'Marvel Zuvembie' first today..

As for the mentality aspect, we've covered this several times earlier (especially the incredible year-by-year analysis Doug and Karen did a few years back..). DC had their stable of 'ruling royal' characters during the early Silver Age, so they could skate on minimal change or character insight/development for years without challenge. Their established branding didn't require anything more than one-dimensional stories or continuity, again, marketed to younger viewers. It was Stan with his 'antennas up' that tapped/exploited the emerging market, as all spelled out in Howe's 'Untold Stories' book among others.. He was both very lucky timing-wise, and smart. His characters were birthed and grew right along with the baby boom generation.

As for him typically takin' all the undue credit on stuff by Ditko and Kirby, 'Hey, good for him'; it's always the victors that get to rewrite history.

And agreed on the points of interchangeability... Reading the 'Shooter Years' now in the 'Untold Stories' book; sheesh, talent went back and forth between the two like a revolving door..

Edo Bosnar said...

david_b, ha! As stated in so many Marvel letters' pages of the 1970s, your no-prize is in the mail...

William said...

My Marvel vs. DC experience is a roller-coaster ride of sorts.

When I was very very young I liked DC, mostly because of the live action Batman TV show and the Super Friends cartoon. Back then I used to buy the occasional comic book, and they were almost always DC. I would sometimes pick up a Spider-Man, but in those days I thought that Marvel was too complicated and dark for me. I liked the more simple and colorful heroes of the DCU more back then.

That all changed when I was around 10 or 11, and I bought a pocket trade paperback that reprinted the first six issues of the Fantastic Four. loved that book so much that I had to have more more more! That is when I started on a regular diet of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Avengers, Daredevil, The X-Men, etc.. I pretty much became a Marvel Zombie and I don't think I read another DC comic until the New Teen Titans came along. I really loved that book at the time, and it sparked my interest in checking out some other DC titles.

Then, in the 80's there was a DC explosion when "Crisis On Infinite Earths" came along and John Byrne and Frank Miller started doing work for DC on Superman and Batman, etc. and so, along with my usual Marvel stuff, I started adding a few DC titles to my pull list. I especially liked Byrne's Superman and the "Bwa Ha Ha" Justice League. But eventually, after a few years, most of those books started to decline in quality and I mostly lost interest, and was again exclusively reading Marvel.

But then in the early 90's "Batman The Animated Series" came along, and rekindled my interest in DC. To say I loved that show would be an understatement. It was, and remains, one of my all time favorite comic book related properties. I also love all of the spin-off series that came later like Superman, Justice League and even Batman Beyond. (I own them all on DVD). I consider the Timm animated universe to be the definitive versions of the DC characters. I don't think they have ever been handled as well in print as they were on TV.

These days I don't really read any new comics from either Marvel or DC (with the exception of Mark Waid's Daredevil). I hate the whole New DCNU 52 or whatever it's called. And "Marvel Now" doesn't look to be any better. So, I guess my new comic reading days are pretty much over. But I still enjoy discovering new old stuff from both Marvel and DC. I'd have say that for me, when it comes to printed comic books Marvel reigns supreme, but in the field of animation, DC comes out on top.

Anonymous said...

As a kid, both (and I still like both to a certain extent) but if I had to pick one...Marvel. Just something about the characters, the writin, just...everything fits together so well.

Mike W.

Bruce said...

Inkstained Wretch makes some good points in defense of DC, and as Karen said, the gap between the two companies definitely tightened up as the Bronze Age progressed.

I have to think a big reason for that was the influx of veteran Marvel writers - namely Len Wein, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman and Gerry Conway - to DC. Those four were major creative forces at Marvel during the early to mid-70s, and they all ended up being major players at DC after Jim Shooter took over at Marvel. They brought with them the type of storytelling that they had done so successfully at Marvel.

david_b said...

Broken down, Marvel had a few major things going for it when most of us came on the scene..:

1) It had tension.. LOTS of it.

2) It blatantly welcomed readers, readers who could interact, with Letters Columns and the Bullpen page. It gave a new readers a 'Hey, we've been here for a while, where have you been..??'

3) Swirled in the writing and dramatic art (warmly remembering watching Greenskin fightin' Sandman and Mandarin in Hulk 114 as a 6yr old as I write this), there was 'something more'.

All comics started becoming edgy by that post-primetime Batman timeframe, but Marvel did it better by very nature of it's style. As I mentioned back on the year-to-year synopsis done here, Marvel's style lent itself smoothly to this style, gaining readership. In contrast, DC's post-Dozer heyday had the heavier burden to adjust to changes in readership changes, resulting in a few titles closing down (Aquaman, GL/GA, Titans, etc..).

Inkstained Wretch said...


Yeah, that was pretty much what I was trying to get across. DC's characters were not wholly devoid of personality.

In addition to the Flash and Firestorm, there were other cases: Green Arrow had a long-running back-up feature in Detective Comics that was pretty good in terms of humanizing him as a swaggering, cocksure urban-liberal type.

The Huntress had a great-back-up feature in Wonder Woman too that had her grappling with her legacy as Batman's daughter.

And Batman as a brooding, dark, driven man was a characterization well in use before Frank Miller came along.

It is a pity this style wasn't more common though. Superman and Wonder Woman in particular cried out for some kind of strong editorial vision that they didn't get until after the Crisis.

Doc Savage said...

Isn't that pretty
much what Anonymous said? D.C. heroes were written as adult role models for children readers. Marvel heroes were written to appeal to teenagers who related to the "problems" faced by the Marvel heroes, most of which were wholly ridiculous to an adult reader.

I read both for different reasons. I always thought D.C. had better plots, though. And Julius Schwartz had responsive letter columns before the Marvel Age, just to clear that up. Marvel was, for me, more fun.

Garett said...

I.W., glad you mentioned Firestorm. I liked him, and read his comic for the first while. Interesting power, in an uncertain kid, with the professor giving him guidance.

I had a reading blend of Marvel, DC and Independents, so I can't pick one. Swamp Thing for me easily beat Man-Thing. Titans and X-Men were both good. Liked Avengers and JLA.

Wonder Woman was a bore--what would Marvel have done with her? What would they have done with Superman? I want to see the What If where all the characters switch companies! Flash at Marvel would've been interesting.

Ant Man and Atom were both not my cup of tea, but Sword of the Atom rocked. I was curious about the Golden Age Atom---so he's a little guy, with no powers, but...lotsa spunk!

I'd take Conan over Warlord, but Warlord over Kull.

Really, each company has to put up a champion to see who's the winner. Are you Marvel zuvembies really arguing that Team America is better than the Watchmen? Preposterous! DC wins.

; )

humanbelly said...

Here's what's neat for me: I remember. . . DISTINCTLY remember. . . when that lightning-bolt of understanding hit me: "Wait--wow!--these are two different companies! If I divide them up. . . yeah! All of these guys are MARVEL COMICS and all of these guys are DC COMICS!" It was, I think, third grade, and we had a verrrrry long, late winter, and I missed a lot of school that year with the usual round of childhood diseases (stomach flu, chicken pox, mumps. . . ). And that was the oft-mentioned (here) time that my buddy first loaned me all of his older brothers' comic books to pass the miserable time. And it was an enormous mixture of late-silver age masterpieces (who knew?) that included nearly equal amounts of Marvel and DC. Up until that point I was completely clue-free (or foggy, at best) on the concept of there being different companies or continuities or anything. They simply were all COMIC BOOKS, y'know? And I loved all of them-- even the Superman Special w/ the different colors of Kryptonite and the Jimmy Olsen Special with stories of his most macabre transformations and the "new-look" jump-suited Wonder Woman.

But-- it didn't take me long discern a big difference in tone between some books and others. There were books that I enjoyed as a fun read, but didn't leave too much of a lasting impression-- and then there were books that pulled me into the ongoing story, and kept me glued to the page, and made me care personally about what was happening to the characters. And the latter group of books also seemed a lot. . . funnier, in a way-- more amusing. And they seemed to talk directly to me. And it didn't take long to dawn on me that those books also seemed to be all inter-connected with each other. They were part of a much bigger overall story in a way that the first group of books never seemed to quite capture. And I KNOW that there are surely many others here who can recall that specific, honest-to-god tingling sensation that started in the pit of your stomach, and traveled up your spine to ultimately spread across your shoulders when you realized. . . truly realized, all in one rush. . . that THIS WAS THE COOLEST THING YOU'D EVER READ!! And that you'd put these pieces together all by yourself, and man, does anyone else even know how fantastic this all is??

C'mon. I know. . . I KNOW. . . I'm not the only one around here who could have had that transformational experience, right? It sounds corny, sure, maybe even a little cliche'd-- but I remember it all-- the dark mid-evening, the heavy snow outside, the soft yellow light of my bedside reading lamp, the comics spread out on the bedspread and on the floor to my left. . .

Ah, me. And thus I, too, was Zuvembi-fied (heh) before the condition was even known to exist. . .


Anonymous said...

You gotta be kiddin' me guys - in my humble opinion Marvel trumps DC time and again.

Sure, DC has some good characters going for them - Batman is a dark complex personality, Green Lantern is a fearless hero with a cool power ring, and Wonder Woman is an inspiration to young girls the world over.

However, DC pales in comparison to the heroes we find in the Marvel universe, in terms of edginess, compelling characterizations, and sheer fun factor. Stan of course was ground breaking in introducing many new things readers had never seen before - Spidey was the first teenaged superhero complete with all that angst to star in his own comic, the FF bickered like a real family, unlike the sanitized Justice League, Daredevil was a handicapped (blind) superhero, the X-men were the comics proxy of anyone who felt marginalized from mainstream society, the Hulk was a persecuted monster who just wanted to be left alone, and the list goes on and on.

Marvel never attempted to hide the fact that their heroes were not perfect, that they had real flaws but were heroic nevertheless. In contrast, Superman and Batman were the quintessential 'goody two shoes' in tights when they were first introduced. It's only in recent years that DC attempted to develop their characters further - Batman became a darker tortured person (thanks to Frank Miller), while Superman's humanity was explored.

- Mike 'Namor kicks Aquaman's butt any day' from Trinidad & Tobago. Imperius Rex!

Redartz said...

HB, you tell your tale well! You, indeed, are not alone in experiencing that 'transformational' revelation.
When I first started reading comics (beyond the Disney/Harvey milieu), it was the DC books that caught my eye. Superman was my hero of choice; I read almost every title he appeared in. Granted, some of the things I read seemed silly (I recall a story in which Clark Kent swallowed bullets while eating a chinese dinner, pretending they were nuts). Still, the stories were fun, and I really didn't expect more from them.

Then, one summer day, my neighbor introduced me to something cslled "Spider-Man". It was like the changeover from a black-and-white television to color! The story was dramatic, engaging and more 'real'. Peter Parker lived in a real city, and the experiences he had continued and expanded from issue to issue. I was hooked completely.

Over the years I joined the legion of Edo's Marvel Zuvembies. There were some DC's I enjoyed (Rima, Detective, Green Lantern for example), but overall the Marvel stories just seemed more satisfying. Of course, this too changed eventually. As stated above, by the late 80's a good argument can be made that DC had the better books, and was exploring the comics medium in ways Marvel wasn't. Watchmen, Neil Gaiman's work, Giffen and Maguire's wry Justice League were all remarkable. So overall, each company has had it's stronger and weaker eras. But to answer the question of the day, I give the edge to Marvel. When I think of my favorite Bronze Age books, they are almost all Marvels.

Fred W. Hill said...

By the time I turned 8 in 1970, I was very much in the Marvel camp as I just found their stories more exciting and liked the personalities of their characters, while those of DC struck me as interchangeable and cardboardlike. I stuck with Marvel through the early '80s when I began to sample some DC titles again. By the late '80s, I had almost entirely dropped Marvel and the few titles I still got regularly were DC/Vertigo. From the '90s on I've gotten more into getting collections of titles I like, and with few exceptions they've been Vertigo titles.

Anonymous said...

Hi HB – I experienced that moment you’re talking about twice. When I was very little, I only read actual ‘comics’ (what Americans would call the funnies). I had a couple of Marvel comics and they just seemed absurd to me. It was like cartoons trying to be grown up and serious. Though I didn’t know the word pretentious at the time, that’s exactly how they seemed. If you needed to talk about grown up things, you didn’t do it in a cartoon, I knew that for sure, but then on top of that, these super hero comics had monsters and goblins and men in tights and yet were all still written as if it was all dead serious. I thought it was silly and went back to Biffo the Bear and Dennis the Menace. Mighty World of Marvel #138 ( yes, I still remember the exact comic) lay untouched for months until I pulled it out of a trunk one bored afternoon and my world changed forever.

The second time was shortly thereafter. I was collecting a comic called The Super Heroes which reprinted the Surfer and the Xmen. I loved the Surfer, which was surprising as I was only about nine, and I hated the Xmen, who I thought were a weird freak show. After many weeks, because I had read everything else a hundred times, I gave the Xmen another go. To say I changed my mind would be something of an understatement and I had about 20 back issues right there, right then. What a moment! While I still understand why I hated super hero comics from the ages of 5 to 8, I can’t imagine how I later loved super hero comics, but didn’t get the Xmen. I guess they just took some growing into.


david_b said...

Richard, no worries on Xmen.. I still think of them as a freakshow.

I've got a couple of Silver issues (even pulled out the Barry Smith Blastaar one yesterday..), but never got into 'em much. I liked Cyclops and typically prefer the Silver team over the revised team if I was to choose, but that's about it.

Totally subject to change ~ I never thought a lot of Ditko and Doc Strange until last year, then I dove headfirst into collecting the early Strange Tales issues.

david_b said...

One more thought.., from perhaps the 'Broken Record' Department of how Marvel succeeded in getting the jump on DC with a ultimate mix of heroics and soap opera., I was browsing the nice Comic Coverage site this morning..:

"Game, Set and Match, True Believers".

('nuff said)

Garett said...

On a related note, I'm tempted to pick up the new Adventures of Superman compilation with art by Gil Kane, but will the stories be worth reading?

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, that Gil Kane Superman collection includes the two Superman specials he did, and DC Comics Presents Annual #3 (featuring the Shazam family), all of which are pretty enjoyable stories. It also has a bunch of those stories he drew for Action Comics, written by Marv Wolfman, which are also pretty good as I recall. So if you like Kane's art, it's probably worth picking up.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Garett, I have most of those Gil Kane Superman issues and they actually illustrate the broader Marvel v. DC debate very well.

On the one hand, the art is spectacular. This is Gil Kane's absolute best period, in my humble opinion. I read were he started using a felt tip pen(!) instead of a pencil around this time and it gave the art a really striking quality.

The stories are pretty good for the most part, but Superman remains the kind of bland good guy he was in the 50s.

Most of the stories are by Marv Wolfman but they only shake up the status quo a bit. I am guessing DC suits were looking over his shoulder and saying, "No, you can't do that with our best merchandising property." So he put most of the effort into the villains and the plotting.

Garett said...

Ok, thanks for the reviews, guys!

humanbelly said...

Boy, this thread really had some legs, didn't it?

Aside to David_b: I believe I even know the specific moment from Hulk #114 that clinched it for you. It's that sequence late in the issue where the hulk is shackled by a power beam that (somehow. . .) feeds off of his own strength. Betty is also there and imperiled by Sandy & Mandy (heh). Trimpe has a nice series of small panels that show him struggling in agony as he tries to counter-act his own strength. Mandy is astonished, and wonders why he would continue on so. And Sandy comments (from off-panel) "Maybe. . . it's because. . . he loves her. . ." (or something very similar). And of course at that moment, Hulk prevails and breaks free.

It's one of those "Wow" moments that may be easy to overlook-- but to me as a third-grader ('cause yep, that very issue was included in the horde I mentioned earlier) it was transcendent. I may have not been able to find the words for it then, but this was a wholly different kind of comic book "love" than you'd find in Superman or Jimmy Olsen. This was raw, and huge, and unexplainable, and came with a cost, and clearly wasn't going to be wrapped up with a chaste peck on the cheek by issue's end. It was heart-breaking even as it was triumphant.

Am I in the ball-park, DB?

(I do realize that it's very, very likely that anyone else reading the issue could just as easily say "he got all that from this?!?". But that's okay-- I unabashedly acknowledge that it worked for me completely. I figure it doesn't need me to defend it beyond that.)

Oh, afterwards, Mandy shoves Sandy into a blast furnace and takes a powder. . . and Sandy gets turned to glass (which is the first in a long, long chain of events that ultimately leads to the creation of Doc Samson, among other things).

Boy, did I love this run of this book (#109 to #123).


david_b said...

Spot on HB..! It's just one of many points I made above, but whaaaat a great story that was. Between that and all the other casual references I made, I saw a HUGE difference between Marvel and DC.

Nice synopsis as well, HB. Hoping that ish gets a column soon.

Joseph said...

I like DC, but I LOVE Marvel. 'nuff said.

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