DC vs Marvel – Why is it even a debate?

For a while now, I’ve been suggesting people listen to Jimmy Palmiotti’s podcasts from over at Where Monsters Dwell.  The man is not only one of the best comic writers out there, but he’s both interesting and hilarious to listen to.  Plus who doesn’t love listening to a guy with a Brooklyn accent ramble on for an hour at a time?

This week an interesting topic came up.  The topic of people who read comics according to label.  Those who buy only Marvel, or only DC.

The interesting thing, is I know quite a few people who cleave to one publisher.  Don’t get me wrong, I grew up as a Marvel girl.  I read X-Men and the Avengers and I loved them.  I never went near DC and I didn’t want to.  But when Image and Wildstorm came along?  Hoboy, I was so on that bandwagon.  Then later on when I discovered Vertigo?  I was such a fan.  But still, I veered away from DC comics for a long time.  Now I don’t understand why.  Three of my favourite titles are DC titles – Jonah Hex, Birds of Prey, and Secret Six.

There are aspects to the big two debate I understand.  It can be hard to pick up a book with a long history.  It can be very hard to break into a world that is well established.  In fact, I find it’s something that is often a hurdle with new comic readers.  Long, convoluted backstories that developed over decades can make it hard to simply pick something up and break into it.

I’ve been reading comics since I was eight years old.  I started with Marvel and for years I was unaware there was a world outside of that. I read what my brother bought, and that was good enough for me! (See Also: me discovering his porn mags when I was 12, to my mother’s HORROR). Through the years I’ve taken breaks from comic reading.  When I was broke, when I was jacked with whatever storyline was happening.  I think the most significant change in my reading habits, however, happened in my early 20s.

On a break from college, I spent a lot of time around a cafe in downtown St Catharines (Ontario) called the Fine Grind.  The owner loved comics.  It was where I discovered Preacher, Transmetropolitan, Powers, that book with the Aardvark I cannot think of the name of to save my life and am too lazy to google, and Watchmen.  I discovered that comics could be something other than superheroes and I loved it.  I went on a mission to read everything that looked even remotely interesting.  I spent hours reading and then talking about comics with the people at the cafe and my friends.  By the way, if you’re ever in Southern Ontario, stop by.  Rob’s a great guy and he has a great comic collection on display for anyone to read.

I didn’t start reading mainstream label stuff again until Joss Whedon wrote Astonishing X-Men.  After that I picked up Jonah Hex by Palmiotti and Gray, inspired by the westerns I used to watch with my dad as a kid and have always loved.  From there I moved onto Peter David’s X-Factor.  Then I moved to Rucka’s Gotham Central, Vaughan’s Runaways, and Simone’s Birds of Prey.

All of these titles thrilled me.  There were still other books I was picking up (Fables, Y the Last Man, Hack/Slash) but really, I had discovered mainstream publishers again and I loved it.

I think there’s an issue with reading superhero comics your whole life.  Editorial control means the big few will only ever change so much.  But the thing is this: Find the writers you like.  Find the artists you love.  Follow them.  Screw this idea of DC over Marvel, and bend over backwards to support people you love writing mainstream books when they write not-so-mainstream books.

The thing is this.  When you go to a movie (to use Jimmy’s example) do you say to yourself ‘oh, it’s a Fox Studios movie’?  No.  You say it has a certain person writing or acting in it.  It’s of a certain genre.  Those things should be so much more important in comics as well.  Screw labels.  If there are people out there who’s writing I love, then I’ll follow them wherever they go.  I might not like it, but I’ll give it a chance.  Recent evidence is my love of Random Acts of Violence or Welcome to Tranquility.  I took chances and followed writers and I was not disappointed.

For the record, my list:

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Brian K Vaughan, Marjorie Liu, Paul Cornell

Artists: Amanda Conner, Nicola Scott, Darwyn Cooke, JH Williams

Here’s my final analysis: Limit yourself to a label and you limit yourself full stop.  Be open to new things, like what you like and never apologise.

About Dee

Officially a Canastralian. Longtime comic fan, and lover of the graphic medium. Grey up with the X-Men and Avengers, and moved to the world of DC and independents shortly after. Cosplayer, Costumer, and all around crafty person. Loves to travel and works her butt off for a number of conventions here in Oz.
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18 Responses to DC vs Marvel – Why is it even a debate?

  1. Brandan says:

    I’m in no way “afraid” of other companies, but DC has always felt best for me. I find myself thinking about that universe at the most random of times, and I love that. I can’t walk a certain amount of time without thinking “If I was The Flash, I would be there already.” And I love that.

    I follow writers too, just from book to book. I’ll pick up whatever Grant Morrison puts out, and I haven’t even read a lot of his non DC work! Occasionally, I’ll step out of my DCU and read Joe the Barbarian, Morning Glories, Mouse Guard, Seaguy, and Scott Pilgrim, but most of these comics came with either outstanding reviews or Grant Morrison. I don’t hate Marvel or any other company(and being in the comic shop for too long, you’ll eventually know everything that goes on in every book), but I love what I love and thats the DCU and its infinite potential.

    I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with following characters in one universe. If it weren’t for The Flash, I wouldn’t be reading comics at all. I don’t need major life altering changes every month. I’m not watching television. I don’t expect Bruce Wayne to go through the same progression Don Draper would and I don’t expect every character to come full circle as much as Wally West has, because the beauty of superhero comics is reading that growth and watching it happen..bit by bit.

    And while there’s no reason for me to believe that same progression doesn’t happen at another publisher, I just feel that DC Comics puts out enough content that make me want to spend my money on them over others. DC Comics is a One Stop Shop for every genre out there, with the added bonus of being surrounded by superheroes.

    Hi, my name is Brandan and I’m a DC Comics fiend. And I’m okay with that.

    • pseudicide says:

      Thanks for your response.

      Your response isn’t that unusual, and it’s one I understand. I’ve heard from a few friends who read Marvel primarily that they enjoy that universe and how it’s set up. It appeals to them, and I get that.

      What I think is key here, is that you have said that you do read things outside of the DC label, and that you do follow Grant Morrison, and read what he likes. That whilst you have loyalty to characters, you have loyalty to writers as well. That’s more important in my mind.

      • Tammy says:

        I will admit to being a DC girl. Which put me in conflict with my mother, who grew up with Marvel growing up ;) I’ll read any story that’s good, so I’ve subscribed to various Marvel/IDW/other titles over the years, but for the most part, I like the DCU especially Batman, better. But I agree–I don’t entirely understand not being willing to try new things, at least. That said, there are certain things I avoid from long experience and disappointment–certain types of events/crossovers/team books. My widdle heart has been broken too many times :) Like when spidy came out of the superhero closet… I was like… well, f— they’re going to reboot this universe soon, aren’t they? Lo and behold…

        That said… I’d have been quite happy to have the Bat-books continue to be Bruce Wayne free for a while longer. I was quite enjoying Team Dick and Damian.

        • pseudicide says:

          I have to admit the big crossovers turn me off as well, no matter what the label. I think the last one I liked was Age of Apocalypse.

          I’d also like to see Dick as Batman for longer.

          • Perplexio says:

            I’ve tried Marvel– Checked out Captain American and The Punisher in particular and I picked up a few Avengers comics but I just couldn’t get into them like the heroes in DC.

            I started collecting comics when the first Michael Keaton Batman movie came out. But I found I didn’t care for him. Too dark and brooding. I couldn’t relate. I could however relate to Dick Grayson and started collecting The New Titans. As such I too would prefer Dick remain as Batman for a bit longer. I’m in no rush to see Bruce Wayne return.

            I started collecting The Flash when the CBS TV show came out in the early 90s. Initially I was bummed that the comic featured Wally West not Barry Allen like the TV show… But Mark Waid changed all that for good with “The Return of Barry Allen” storyline.

  2. Tariq Hassan says:

    I don’t follow companies anymore.. I follow creators.

    I think traditionally I’m a Marvel guy( cuz I was big into a lot of marvel books when I was a kid.. I know the universe very well)

    I’m not as versed in the DC universe, but when their main titles have great artists, writers and stories- I buy them.

    Last year, I was a huge fan of the Darkest Night. And I haven’t been interested in any Marvel events for years..

    But I definitely tend to buy more mavel books at the end of the day..

    You’re right- why is this even a debate anymore?

  3. Douglas says:

    That porn? I have no idea who put that there. I suspect our other sibling.

    Back in the eighties I was a Marvel guy. However the fact is I was dedicated to Marvel because of the writing. Marvel seemed to transcend the dreary sameness of static characters facing “super villain of the week” — yet at the same time, that’s exactly what they were doing. They were just doing it better.

    These days my comic spending is much diminished. I tend to stick to TPs, and I tend to be off-brand for the most part. Walking Dead, Powers, 100 Bullets … when I get around to picking them up.

    However when it comes to capes, over the past decade I’ve moved from Marvel to DC — things like the Identity Crisis/Infinity Crisis/52 arc really worked for me, for the most part while Marvel’s Civil War just failed to appeal. (That being said, I disliked Blackest Night).

    D.

    • pseudicide says:

      Uhuh. It was so Deanna. Really. I’m telling her you said that!

      I really loved the Marvel books I grew up with, I still do. I loved Claremont’s writing, and later Jim Lee’s art. But writers change, they move labels, and it’s sometimes crazy that as readers people cling to one label or another.

      100 Bullets. I really need to read more of that. I loved what I’ve read of it.

  4. john says:

    Thanks for sharing. I will bookmark your website.

  5. Henry says:

    Hm, yes listening to a guy with a Brooklyn accent ramble on is indeed fun. =) Well, I’ve always been a Marvel fanboy since I was as young as I can remember although I loved the iconic DC heroes (via television and movies and such). I was really really really into J.M. Demattias’s Spider-Man .. McFarlane back issues, Bagley so yes, I was deep into Marvel. I would say Grant Morrison reinvigorated not just the X-Men but first DC with JLA which I loved even then, and again recently with All-Star Superman. Then you have, of course, titles like Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and the obligatory Watchmen which I never read…. At the end of the day, yes, DC is on top of the indie stuff altho Marvel was (no longer) doing some interesting stuff with the Ultimate line. Hm. I think an aside should also be made for webcomics and the proliferation of comics not by the big-two, especially nowadays. Also, I feel Marvel until a few years ago, had a more cohesive history.

  6. Pingback: Speed Reading: Boomerang, Barry & Iris, Bart, Sonic & More « Speed Force

  7. touchofgrey37 says:

    Hey, your entry here got me thinking along the same lines. Follow the creator, not the company. Anyway, I linked back to you on my blog, thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Pingback: Surprise post! The Creator List « The Blog of ToG

  9. Perplexio says:

    For artists I’d add: Scott Kolins & Francis Manapul

    For writers I’d add: Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, & Judd Winnick

    • pseudicide says:

      Good list. Not always writers I’m a big fan of, but one of hte things that makes the comic world go round is the diversity in its fans who appreciate different things.

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