Marvel vs. DC

Its the age old argument many a child -and adult!- fan has engaged in at one time or another:  Which is the better comic book company, Marvel or DC?

Read on, read on…

Big admission:  I’ve always been a DC fan.  When I was growing up in the early 1970’s, my first major comic book experiences almost all related to DC books.  At the time, I was absolutely wowed by the sinister, shadowy artwork of Berni Wrightson and great storytelling of Len Wein in the first ten issues of Swamp Thing.  I was also impressed with the Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson Manhunter stories.  Not long afterwards I was equally blown away by the various Neal Adams drawn works, primary of which were his Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow series, at that time appearing in various reprint forms.

Don’t get me wrong, I was aware of the Marvel books and many of the creators involved in them.  I loved the works of Jack Kirby (who doesn’t…at least now?) and was floored by his Fantastic Four work…but, again, his DC work, which was more current at that time, simply had my attention.  I loved, loved, loved Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth and found The New Gods, and in particular the at times savage Orion, absolutely fascinating.

Lest I sound like a total DC fanatic, let me conclude with this:  The initial 38 issues of Spider-Man, the original issues created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, easily remain my all time favorite Marvel works.  This is no slight on the many contributions to Marvel Comics of Jack Kirby.  As I mentioned before, I loved his Fantastic Four run.  It is a very, very close second to the Spider-Man issues for best Marvel work ever.  In my humble opinion, of course.

Ok…think I got all that geekiness out of my system now.  Back to work! 😉

2 thoughts on “Marvel vs. DC”

  1. In the UK we had a bizarre distribution system which meant that throughout the seventies the second rate remainders of DC were readily, if randomly, available in small newsagents throughout the country, most often in towns and villages which were holiday destinations. American marvel comics were rarely seen, but there was a series of UK published black and white comics matching the homegrown comic format where the first few years of Marvel were endlessly recycled. Thus a typical weekends reading for me would be DC Freedom Fighters, Secret Society of Super Villians, Shazam, Superman Family etc and a classic mid sixties UK reprined black and whiteFantastic 4 or Avengers chopped into 8 page parts and printed on newspaper.

    An exception to this rule was Guardians of the Galaxy, I have no idea how this one Marvel title made it into the racks, but it fits in with all the crazy group titles we were fed. Later there was a wider distributio of Marvel but it was still the stranger titles, Ms Marvel for example. I don’t think I saw an issue of Spider Man or Avengers till well into the seventies.

    As a consequence, however sophisticated Marvel was, however brilliant many of the Bronze age titles were, the lunacy of sonmething like SSOSV has always stayed with me. Grant Morrison lived about fifty miles from me and is the same age, and when I read his work I can clearly see these same B grade comic infuences permiating his work.

    1. Goes to show: The preferences you develop for certain things depend on the time and place when you experience them and, subsequently, come to be a fan of them. I have little doubt I would have written this blog entry as a strong Marvel fan instead of a DC fan had I been born a few years earlier and experienced first hand the then new Marvel works of Kirby or Ditko (especially when compared to what DC was doing, superhero-wise, at the same time).

      Thus, your statement regarding what was readily available to you hits a cord. I was living in Canada at the time I became a DC fan, and, unlike you, I did have a decent amount of product available from both companies. What really put DC over the top, other than the fact that I was attracted to their particular stories more, was the 100 Page Spectaculars. DC apparently didn’t do too well with those 100 page books, financially, but for me they opened a window to very old, somewhat old, and new material all at once. Within each of those particular issues you read stories from deep within DC’s “golden age”, stories from their more recent “silver age”, and, of course, whatever “new” works were included. The original Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter stories, which I noted were among my most cherished early comic book experiences, were almost all presented in the Detective Comics 100 page spectaculars.

      DC was also in a “mystery/horror” phase at the time, releasing the as mentioned before Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing as well as a gaggle of horror anthologies such as House of Mystery/Secrets, Ghosts, The Unexpected, etc. Their other main (non superhero) works involved their war books, which were at the time quite good (loved the excellent Joe Kubert covers!).

      In sum, DC seemed to be successfully exploring a variety of comic book genres, from Superhero works to horror/mystery to war. While Marvel did have success with some alternate fare (Howard the Duck, Dracula, and Conan the Barbarian being among the most successful), I always felt they were more comfortable within the confines of their (admittedly successful) superhero material.

      Regardless, there is a wealth of material from both companies worth pursuing and one of the nicer things about the age of instant access to so much is that we have a wealth of trade paperbacks or, if you were lucky enough to get them when they came out, CDs reprinting entire runs of material. I have the entire run of Mad magazine on two CD sets as well as CD sets of most of Marvel’s bigger titles (Spider Man, Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer, Hulk). I have more TPBs than I care to admit featuring a host of other works, including the first few years of Judge Dredd issues.

      Truly it is a good time to be a comic fan…so long as you have a decent amount of change in your pocket! 😉

      Jeeze…you got me to geek out for a second time here!

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