Karen: Doug and I were having a little email discussion the other day, which (as they often do), took some twists and turns and soon became focused on how some writers and artists in the Bronze Age moved from Marvel to DC or vice-versa, and how they did once they made the move. Some were more successful than others, and we wondered why. Here's a little bit of that conversation:
Doug: I fail to understand how there could have been such a big difference in
quality between Marvel and DC, particularly as creators began to move
back and forth between the companies. It just mystifies me how a guy
like Gerry Conway, or Jim Starlin, could have been so good at his craft
for Marvel and then just seemed to middle about once at DC -- what I mean by that is that their signature works were done at the House of Ideas.
Karen: The Starlin Superman stories (in DC Comics Presents) I believe were co-plotted by him and
scripted by others. Len Wein and perhaps Marty Pasko might have been
involved. They are, as I said, "OK" -not great but not terrible. Now if
the art on them was excellent, I might feel like doing the review. But
it isn't. I looked it up -it was Romeo Tanghal on inks and he just makes
Starlin almost unrecognizable. I don't know that Starlin ever had any
outstanding artwork for DC now that I think about it. Even his work on
Legion got screwed up. I recall he wound up using that "Steve Apollo" by-line. One DC work by Starlin that would be worth reviewing is Cosmic Odyssey, and he didn't even draw it!
to be cruel, but was Len Wein ever anything but a placeholder? I can't
recall any outstanding or notable runs by him. Conway at least had his
run on Spidey, and a pretty good run on FF. I'm not sure about his JLA
run other than that it was lengthy. That's my DC ignorance showing. We've had a little discussion on
Marv Wolfman's merits on
the blog, but at least he had Tomb of Dracula and New Teen Titans. But
Wein? He created Wolverine, and co-created some of the new X-Men. But
what really memorable work did he do? I've just never heard anyone bring up any titles or runs by him.
Doug: "Placeholder" is an apt summation of Wein's work. He shows up, stays,
but really leaves no wake as he leaves. He had a long run on Incredible Hulk, yes? Editorially? I couldn't
really comment on the direction he took any of the books he steered, for better or worse.
So was it easier for an artist to leave a mark
than for a writer, going back and forth? Many will say that Perez's best
work was on the New Teen Titans, and I suppose that some might even say
that Byrne's revamping of Superman is on par with his run on Fantastic
Four (I would guess that most BA fans would place his X-Men on a strata
all its own). Come to think of it, Perez's Wonder Woman was excellent
Karen: Why were some successful and others not? Kirby is an interesting
proposition -short-term, not successful at DC, but long term, they sure
have used his Fourth World concepts alot! Roy Thomas carved out his own
niche at DC and did great -until Crisis came along. Wolfman and Perez
succeeded at both houses and arguments can be made for which was their
Doug: So now it's time for our readers to jump in. We've certainly got this ball rolling, and it's our hope that we've stirred the pot enough that those of you with strong opinions will "yea" or "nay" some of the posits we've set forth. The beautiful thing about a water cooler topic like today's is that we can rehash it all day long, maybe even get a little passionate, and not solve a darn thing. But it's the process that's so much fun, isn't it?
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