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A Comic Opinion: The Marvel vs. DC Debate

Any comic fan has more than likely at one point in their comic fandom been involved in the debate on which is the better company, Marvel or DC. I’ve participated in this argument on several different occasions myself. But in the most recent instance of this debate that I personally experienced I noticed many of the paradoxes and weak points at the debate’s core. What do I mean by this? Well…

…One must look at what characterizes the debate itself. Typically the primary argument in the debate tends to be the preferences in the superheroes belonging to one particular franchise. It’s interesting to see that the more hard-lined debaters argue which company is better, with an admiration of one company’s heroes and ignoring the other. By this logic, one can be only a Justice League fan, but not an Avengers fan. The same applies with the X-Men and the Teen Titans (as explained by their parallel success in the 1980s). People who take a softer line in this debate can find characters they like in both companies, but tend to give their allegiances to one company over another. The latter of which being closer to a dissolution of the debate. ‘The final stage’ being one who can consciously find enjoyment with material from both companies.

As a comic reader I’ve seen myself go through all three ‘stages’ (in the order I mentioned them), and when I self-reflect about my experience in these varying ideologies I find that the debate isn’t filled that much by a simple preference in characters. Rather, there are two primary factors I believe contribute to the overall debate. The first being how someone is introduced into comic books. For the average comic fan their introduction is typically limited to an exposure to one particular comic company, be it from picking up an issue in the store or watching an animated series (comic adapted movies are adding more to this, especially for older readers just starting to read comics). After that initial exposure most readers tend to stick with that one company that they started with. That company serves as a sort of’ comic nostalgia,’ being responsible in some fashion for piquing the interest in comics. When I reflect upon myself I find this to be true, as I had my first exposure to a particular comic company and their characters, and remained invested in them solely until only the past few years. This primary introduction to comics is important for establishing the bias of most readers. As for those who had a double exposure and read both Marvel and DC, well, good for you.

While the previous point is somewhat of a gimme, my second reason (a hypothesis of mine) is not so much. I consider that most criticisms in the Marvel/DC argument are aimed at the competing company practices and how stories tend to pan out. Most individuals making these criticisms are the hard-liners primarily sticking to their respective company only, or, have that comic nostalgia for a particular company. The biggest irony of this is that both companies essentially struggle with the same issues. They both have convoluted storylines, an overbearing love of a ‘status quo,’ editorial conflicts, and mixed production values. You can find all of these issues in both companies. For those who like to adhere to a single company I feel they’re often too blinded by this dedication to a company to see the same flaws that they accuse the other company for. As someone who is slowly distancing themselves to the single company dedication I can see this more clearly, and while I do love material from both companies, I feel there are overall infrastructure issues that plague all the larger comic companies. This is the point more than anything else that makes me feel like the whole Marvel vs. DC debate is redundant. Both companies produce quality works and have good characters, but they suffer from nearly the same issues (I’ll probably touch on these issues in a later article).

As time goes on I feel like there’s an increasing number of exceptions towards the debate. Mostly I see this as a byproduct of the many quality comic book movies being made from Marvel and DC characters. And while one company has a clear edge in the overall production of their films (not naming names) there is a general interest of fans from both parties on the films of characters for the company. It’s a sign of hope for a dissolution of the Marvel vs. DC debate. However, I feel the ‘What company is better?’ debate will be a matter of contention as long as both companies continue publishing material.

This has been a comic opinion. Until next.

Categories: comics Tags: , , , ,
  1. Kalen K
    September 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Well done. You’ve come so far from being a Marvel Zombie. With me, it’s become less about the company, and more about following the creators you like, and finding interesting new ideas in story telling. I don’t consider myself a fan of one company over another. Sure, I may own more DC than Marvel, but like you said, that’s just because it’s what I’ve started out with.

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