C/D: Marvel = Better Characters, DC = Better Stories

Discussion in 'Marvel Comics' started by Arach Knight, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Arach Knight Abstraction of Logic

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    My long time comic book philosophy has always been that Marvel features the better characters, while DC features superior stories.

    Marvel is renowned for their relatable heroes that often struggle with real world difficulties. This arguably more humane take on super powered beings makes the characters not only (relatively) believable, but likable in the sense that their struggles, despite their gifts, make them just like the rest of us

    Despite the likability of Marvel's stable of personalities, Marvel is constantly the source of reader consternation that is unique to the House of Ideas. From the Clone Saga, to Civil War to One More Day/Brand New Day, Marvel manages to force frequent retcons, plot holes, events and editorial mandates that have angered fans and seen Marvel lose readership at a steady pace for the last five years.

    On the other side is DC Comics. Without a doubt, DC's super heroes are more than American pop culture. DC superheroes are American (and even international) icons. Born from the Great Depression and World War II, DC heroes have stood the test of time by embodying a sense of morals that we all strive for. Whether it is the farm-boy mid-west values of Superman, the sexual equality espoused by Wonder Woman, or Batman's devotion to protecting everyone from the suffering the kind of pain he experienced when he lost his parents, DC heroes represent a much higher standard than your average person.

    Because of the nature of DC's characters, the stories they are involved in tend to revolve around far more complex themes and ideologies. From a demon that loves Jesus Christ, to the handling of the rape of your good-friend's wife, to the extent to which one is allowed to use their powers for what they perceive to be good. DC has the most memorable, best selling, ethically challenging, morally challenging, socio-political pondering stories ever to grace the medium. Still, the god-like nature of DC heroes makes them an ideal to strive for rather than characters that you relate to, which creates a certain kind of distance between the reader and the characters.

    If only the two worlds were one. What do you all think about the matter?
     
  2. KangConquers Purple Kang, Purple Kang

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    I think honestly, DC at some point (read: 1980s) realized they had an all around weaker product, and kicked things into high gear. DC's heroes were created in a much more naive time frame (read: 1940s vs 60s and 70s) and thus DC has to try harder, where as Marvel sometimes sleep walks through comics because "Oh hai, our guy has claws and a cool hair cut!"
     
  3. Arach Knight Abstraction of Logic

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    That is an interesting expansion of my observation. So many DC heroes fought slum lords, nazis, mobsters and other socially corrupt individuals, that it is clear that DC characters are a reflection of their times. It is hard to make characters so wrapped up in those politics, seem relevant to a modern world.

    That is not to say that Marvel's characters are not similarly born of such historic moments. After all, many parallel Charles Xavier and Erik Lensher to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. Still, Marvel's characters seem to be better able to adapt with the times. Be it the X-Men now representing homosexual resentment more so than racial resentment, or Peter Parker becoming a likable dork in a world where being nerdy is the new cool (e.g. Mark Zuckerberg).
     
  4. BoredGuy Never Did a Popular Thing

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    I don't care how rich he is, or how "in" geeks are. Mark Zuckerberg will never be cool.
     
  5. Quasimod0 Bell-Ringer

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    He is pretty rich though
     
  6. webhead921 Registered

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    I like DC's event books a lot more than I like Marvel's events. Most of Marvel's events are sort of crap. I really enjoyed Blackest Night and Final Crisis. However, outside of events, I find myself enjoying more books from Marvel. My favorite titles of the past decade Ultimate Spider-man, Captain America, the Immortal Iron Fist, Daredevil, Invincible Iron Man, New X-men, Astonishing X-men, Fantastic Four, and Secret Avengers. The only DC stuff that has held my interest long term is Green Lantern and Morrison's Batman books. I really love Superman as a character, but I have had no interest in any Superman book in the past decade or so other than All-Star Superman.
     
  7. webhead921 Registered

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    Honestly, as of right now, the Ultimate Marvel Universe interests me more than both 616 Marvel and the DCNU. I really like Miles Morales, and Ultimate X-men is much more fascinating to me than anything related to AvX
     
  8. Arach Knight Abstraction of Logic

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    I feel like the issue with Marvel events is that they have largely boiled down to heroes fighting other heroes. Civil War, Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, Avengers x X-Men...it's the same story with a different plot device. Just once I'd love to see heroes do something other than battle heroes over a disagreement of some kind. At least do something fresh like DC did with Blackest Night. Fighting reanimated corposes of fallen heroes, far more interesting and thoughtful than "our politics are different...let's punch each other until one of us passes out."
     
  9. KangConquers Purple Kang, Purple Kang

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    Outside of the Annihilation books, the Marvel cross-overs have been incredibly lame for the last 10 years.
     
  10. JewishHobbit Registered

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    I agree with this thread to be honest. I LOVE Marvel's characters but I tend to enjoy DC's stories a lot better (so far... though I'm a newer DC fan). I think that's why I get so frustrated at Marvel because their sandbox is so vast and astounding and yet they just sorta dig the same holes, fill them back up, and dig them out again. It gets boring and old and the only way they can "change" is to throw some shock in there and then fix that too.

    DC did some crazy things with Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis. Blackest Night was fantastic and really everything Green Lantern from Johns has been fantastic. Morrison's run has been a trip and Snyder's bat stuff has been amazing. DC does more stuff with their fringe books and characters. Flashpoint (from what I read) was good. It was ballsy to do the New 52 relaunch but I've been a fan of it so far. Overall I just find them more inspiring and enjoyable. For the first time in my 21 years of comic reading I find myself rooting for them.

    I will say this though... I think Marvel's topped DC's events with two of their more minor ones: Annihilation and War of Kings. DC's main events are far superior to Marvel's but those two cosmic stories top all the rest from both companies. Thanks Giffen and DnA :up:
     
    #10 JewishHobbit, Oct 15, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  11. THANOSRULES Registered

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    You make some good points...Marvel's characters are "newer" and Lee himself said he had identifiing with people as one of his big motivators in character creation.

    I think it really shows in FF and Spidey....but i think in 2012 it's a bit overrated.

    So i think your thoughts are generally true when speaking about Spidey vs "everyone else". Spiderman is really the best superhero of all time on so many levels. I think Marvel, from a very early date was interested in creating adult/teenage interest in their books and creating an "fraternity" mentality amoung readers.

    FF doesnt really come off the same way they did as in 1965. Many people have lost touch with the Harold and maude nuclear family..it's somewhat lost it's relatability.

    But on the whole i don't really agree with you. Marvel's stories have struggled in the last 15 years due to poor editorial control...IE a lack of control..not on overbearing editors.

    What we got is "enclaves" of continuity where things became too segregated. (X-men, Cosmic, Ultimate, Max, Avengers, Etc) This has had a negative effect on marvel stories, although one could argue it's helped some. It get's frustrating when the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

    We also got Marvel editors giving far to much leeway (in many forms) to "rock star" writers and artists. This has effected character growth, cohesion of stories, and simple matters of deadlines and delays that end up having a major impact on reader morale. I can think of many different examples of this over the years.
     
    #11 THANOSRULES, Oct 15, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  12. Arach Knight Abstraction of Logic

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    I am impressed by your argument. The Avengers film certainly supports your claim when Captain America remarks in a rather tongue-in-cheek fashion that his uniform (really, his values and what he represents) may no longer apply to modern times. Captain America is not as relateable a figure as he once was. The nuclear family of the Fantastic Four is also something that does not reflect modern statistics on divorce or single parenting. So some of the relateable nature has been lost as times have changed.

    What I am more interested in is your argument about the lack of editorial supervision. Joe Q himself once stated that he woudl rather a writer tell a good story and worry about continuity later. This has led a lot of free reign and a poorly managed universe with far too many holes. I never bothered to consider that part of the reason why DC story telling has been more successful is because of how effectively they manage their continuity. They aren't afraid to do line wide reboots if things start to get a bit gnarly. Marvel on the other hand will let people do as they please and make really poor efforts to repair the damage done, usually by way of an even less desirable retcon (Xorn, Secret Invasion, OMD etc).
     
  13. BoredGuy Never Did a Popular Thing

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    Wait, DC manages their continuity? News to me...
    Then why all the confusion and hand-wringing over the continuity of the New52?
     
  14. Arach Knight Abstraction of Logic

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    People still hate retcons and continuity wipes. No one wants to feel as though all of those comics they read for years are suddenly null and void...even though the stories are still in the book and the enjoyment is still the same, the simple fact that they are not considered canon is enough to unsettle your average comic book enthusiast (see: reactions to Marvel's One More Day).

    Also, I feel that DC manages their continuity better, because they are always keeping tabs on what is working and what isn't. Also, their EIC never said that continuity takes a back seat to good storytelling. DC writers certainly do create mistakes, but DC is also proactive about trying to avoid them. And if they feel that they have made too many, they man-up and make things manageable. At least that is my impression when compared to Marvel, whose grand solution to Spider-Man's out of character identity reveal was to further jack up and already jacked up continuity. At least DC attempts to be slick by integrating their fixes into the plot (e.g. 52 universes).
     
    #14 Arach Knight, Oct 16, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  15. THANOSRULES Registered

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    I didnt try to make that point by any means. I do know that DC has not been strong in continuity either..but in different ways. Pre-crisis and multiverse aside...

    The big problem these days at Marvel is direct contradictions within books in short periods of time..So it's not like were talking about in 1982 canon not being observed in 2012. It's happening on a much tighter timeline...

    I don't think writers should be slaves to continuity...but they at least need to make more effort to bridge the gaps...especially when your talking in drastic changes to the personality of characters.

    Take for example Baron Zemo in Brubaker's run..he had been a quasi-hero and motivated by specific things during t-bolts..10 years and multiple writers efforts went in to this...but Ed Brubaker needs a villain for his Cap story and suddenly he's back to a fairly simple villain archetype...out of the blue with no lead up to the change.

    This is unacceptable..especially when you consider the reader and fan investment in the T-bolts character. We deserve better.

    Now essentially, DC did this to their whole universe...and readers probably feel even worse, but at least it is explained why and you get some logic to it.

    Nothing worse to a reader to feel that there memories and commitment to past storylines/characters..IE "emotional investment" in characters..was too meaningless to even acknowledge a change.

    I don't know about the extent marvel writers need to go to change this..but frankly it can be so simple and easily consist of an extra dialogue bubble to appease the readers. Have Bug say "jeez peter quill it's good to have you back but I can't stand the new hair color"..fans would be satisfied that at least there is some plan to explain the change at some point..but we don't because Bendis does not have this track record in his books.
     
    #15 THANOSRULES, Oct 16, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  16. Arach Knight Abstraction of Logic

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    My apologies if my understanding of your post caused me to misrepresent your words.

    With that said, I believe you raise yet another good point about Marvel's handling of continuity. A prime example is the aftermath of World War Hulk. We had a brilliant, calculating and warrior like Hulk at the end of that story. When we see Hulk again under Loeb, suddenly he is back to "Hulk Smash Puny Man!" After such an investment in creating this more complex Hulk, he is taken down to his oldest and most simple form in a single issue.

    This isn't to say that DC doesn't have their share of having people change behavior on the drop of a dime (Zero Hour)...
     
  17. CConn Fountainhead of culture.

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    I don't think there's any general rule you can follow in differentiating DC from Marvel. It's all dependent on the creators and the editors - and considering they all flipflop back and forth between companies, the relative quality and creative approach changes and flipflops just as often.

    Personally speaking, since I've gotten into comics (2004), I've more enjoyed DC's universe and their own editorial and creative approach to that universe. On the other side, Marvel was just a publisher that had some good creative teams turning out some really good, but rather isolated, runs on books. Like, Brubaker's Cap was great. But it was because of Bru. It didnt really reflect anything positive about the Marvel Universe or its overall editorial leadership.

    Now, however, I'm starting to see a definite shift in the two publishers. As DC's truly great comics become more and more isolated among a bunch of questionable creative decisions (IMO), Marvel is beginning to unify in a very positive creative and editorial direction(s). Granted, it's highly dependent on how Marvel Now turns out, but I may very soon start preferring Marvel's creative and editorial practices.

    But again, that's probably just because they have creators (Mark Waid, Ed Brubaker, Jason Aaron, etc.) and editors (like Steve Wacker) who were at DC/Vertigo during the time that I preferred DC over Marvel.
     

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