The Marvel Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name
March 22, 2004 11:15 PM   Subscribe

"We know one another, we Marvel boys." Jonathan Lethem, author of DC-referencing "Fortress of Solitude" ponders recent novels inspired by comic books and notes more allusions to the "iconographic" superheroes of DC even though Marvel, with its messy, never-ending, teen angst plots and imperfect schlub heroes, was always somehow cooler. Why? [Thx to Not the Beastmaster]
posted by Slagman (66 comments total)
Lethem:"This resistance may partly a practical matter. What made Marvel's comics compelling is also what makes them awkward to talk about: they combined a weird teenage emotionalism, a sticky, morose intimacy, with a grownup taste for visionary narrative sprawl. Plotlines rarely resolve, and characters drift in and out of different stories (and different realms) against an immense psuedohistorical background impossible to parse quickly. It's tough to recreate this stuff for a reader who's not versed....DC's heroes are instantly comprehensible, more interesting in and of themselves than in the plots where they nominally reside.... It's usually a lot harder to talk about childhood enthusiasms [like Marvel] which mean to capture ambiguous grownup yearnings, but fall short - the pretentious, muddled stuff, in other words - than it is to cop to poppier, kitschier favorites. Easier to admit enthusiasm for The Knack than for King Crimson, say, and hipper to have devoured Heinlein than Hesse. Marvel-love is still a radiant substance contained in some interior lead-lined vault precisely because its best writers were nearly able to offer the tools for critiquing and debunking the superhero impulse. But didn't. Like most noble failure, it's uncomfortable to identify with."

posted by Slagman at 11:21 PM on March 22, 2004

Yeah, reading this makes me realize why "fortress of solitude" was my least favorite of his books. He's easily in my top five (or top two even) list of favorite authors, but when I first read that book I just didn't get it at all. It really, really frustrated me and took me forever to read. Now, a few months later, I keep thinking about it, and I think I like it now, and maybe get it a little more.

Being a female born in the mid-eighties with no connection to comic books sucks. I really wish I got all of the references that are popping up everywhere, and I really wish I could read fortress through the eyes of someone who grew up with marvel and dc. It's one of those situations where you know you're missing something reallly good, but don't know exactly what it is you're missing, and can't really change that.
posted by evilbeck at 11:30 PM on March 22, 2004

Not familiar with this guys work, but I see this as an opportunity to say: "I want more Wild Cards books!"

Great stories.
posted by Trik at 3:49 AM on March 23, 2004

looks like he's trying to do for comics what he did for philip k. dick :D

posted by kliuless at 4:36 AM on March 23, 2004

Nobody knows I'm a Marvel boy.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:45 AM on March 23, 2004

Nobody gets the Girl.
posted by bonehead at 5:53 AM on March 23, 2004

DC has Superman, who can shoot lasers out of his eyes, has x-ray vision, superstrength, superspeed, superhearing, super telescopic vision, is bulletproof, can fly, can blow air that is freezing cold or toxic or normal, and a list of other talents like being unrecognizable when he puts on glasses...
DC was always cooler
posted by banished at 6:07 AM on March 23, 2004

Never been a Comic Book Guy, but when I was reading the post I was fervently hoping one of the "recent novels" links pointed to Michael Chabon. That was a really tremendous book and a good primer on comic books for the uninformed.
posted by vito90 at 6:07 AM on March 23, 2004

There's something really funny to me about the idea that Marvel is cooler than DC. Funny because the last work I associate with comic books of any kind is "cool."

Now, I haven't read a comic book in about 30 years, but when I was a kid, I loved them. I used to hide them in my backpack, because carrying them around or talking loudly about "The Green Lantern" was a good way to get beat up.

Are comics really considered cool today -- as in general-public cool? Or did you just mean cool within the nerd universe?
posted by grumblebee at 6:15 AM on March 23, 2004

What? I always thought DC was cooler than Marvel, which seems driven far too much by the ego of one man. Wasn't it DC Comics that did the Vigilante series? Marvel has Spiderman and the X-Men (though I admit, I used to love the Avengers), but DC has the friggin' Dark Knight. There's no contest.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:24 AM on March 23, 2004

Sorry, Marvel was cooler. I think angst may have had something to do with it, but for me it always boiled down to location.
Spidey was in New York City baby! Peter Parker worked for a very thinly disguised NY Daily News (though I suppose Clark Kent has a similar claim to that). And that "realism" (relative to talking about people in tights with super powers) was far more attractive to me than some fabled "sorta-based-on-a-real-city" city...

(plus the Fantastic 4'll kick all yr' asses!)
posted by jalexei at 6:48 AM on March 23, 2004

however much cooler Marvel was, given enough time and preparation, DC's Batman could kick their whole lineup's ass... well, unless one of them had the Infinity Gauntlet.

and even then, throw in the badass to end all badasses, John Constantine (before Keanu Reeves completely ruins him in the upcoming Hellblazer movie), and you've got a good fight.
posted by lotsofno at 6:58 AM on March 23, 2004

When I was younger, I definitely thought Marvel was cooler. Marvel books are more accessible, in that the characters are human (though they may be mutants) who happen to have powers; they focused on who- who are these people? DC didn't bother itself overmuch with why, their speciality was iconic heroes and the how: how do they use these powers to save Gotham/Metropolis/Earth/Lexon IV yet again?

It's interesting though, because DC has made a real shift in the last ten years, starting with the Jeph Loeb era in Superman, and have become more adept at examining who Clark Kent is, who Bruce Wayne is, and why they become Superman, Batman. I think, for the first time in a long time, DC is a lot cooler than Marvel, because Marvel's allowing their heroes to become iconized, whereas DC is allowing their heroes to become more human. (Check out Mark Waid's "Birthright," and Kurt Busiek's "Secret Identity.") There's more to Clark Kent than Superman's invulnerability now, but there seems to be less of Logan behind Wolverine.
posted by headspace at 6:59 AM on March 23, 2004

Civil_D, in the seventies Marvel was more interesting than DC and I think Letham does a good job of explaining why. There is no "Dark Knight" until the eighties when, as Lethem puts it "Frank Miller... belatedly called Batman on his shit."

Slagman's excerpt above pulls out the core of Lethem's piece. If people are reading the thread and don't plan on going to the article, at least spend time on Slagman's comment.

While I haven't looked at either a comic book or a translated bildungsroman since adolescence, both 70s era Marvel and a raft of Hermann Hesse novels sit in an important but private corner of my psyche. I would not at all be the person I am today if I hadn't spent so much time exploring and identifying with the people, perspectives and ideas I found there, but I never brought those books to school, friends' houses, or parties, and I'd never bring them up at work, school, or parties today.

I think this article is great, and I'd guess that people growing up at a different time would have a different experience with comics (but probably not with Hesse or King Crimson). It explains why nobody knows I'm a Marvel boy. Hell, I didn't even know I was.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:04 AM on March 23, 2004

oh, i grew up with comic books, but i thought the superhero shit was for babies, and i thought betty and veronica had secret depantsing parties behind the malt shop with moose and jughead, and everyone was gettin' some skin action but archie.
posted by quonsar at 7:15 AM on March 23, 2004

Marvel was cooler to those who, wrapped up in their own petty teenaged angst and self-importance, looked for a shallow Freudian mirror in which to admire their greasy locks.

DC always ruled.
posted by rushmc at 7:29 AM on March 23, 2004

There is no "Dark Knight" until the eighties...

Let's not forget the swift kick of reality that Denny O'Neil / Neal Adams gave to DC's Green Lantern (and Green Arrow) in 1970. That was the start of the modern comic book, where you could actually consider human frailty and shortcomings (racism, addiction, etc.) within the scope of 28 four-color pages.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:44 AM on March 23, 2004

In the 60's and 70's, Marvel was definitely cooler, though as Lethem points out, "cool" in the way teenage boys think of things as cool. It's a little embarrassing now. DC really started losing market share, so it came out with some more darker stuff like Dark Knight in the 80's, and that stuff was pretty cool, but I had mostly outgrown comics by then. DC always had these neat plots, sunny colors, and it was rare for real world issues to intrude. You usually didn't encounter junkies, child abuse or characters dying with much frequency. There were some exceptions. I still have an old Green Lantern in which his sidekick is a junkie. In retrospect it was quite preachy, but they showed the guy puking and kicking his addiction, and that was kind of interesting and eye opening, as I recall. It actually did keep me off heroin! That and there was no heroin in my town that I could find. I would not be surprised to find out that was Denny O'Neil -- thanks for connecting the dots on that grabbingsand. I enjoyed his work with Will Eisner's Spirit, which of course is the coolest comic of all time.
posted by Slagman at 7:53 AM on March 23, 2004

vito90, you'll probably be interested in hearing that Chabon's licensed a comics adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist. The pulpy quality of the adaptation is fairly specific and might not appeal to modern comics audiences weaned on savvier stories, but it's not a bad read if you're a fan of Kavalier and Klay.

more germane to the topic at hand -- Comics writer and industry curmudgeon, Warren Ellis has made similar arguments regarding how aspects that made superhero comics compelling for their core audience (the awkward plots, the burdensome back story, the fantasy life-surrogate appeal) are restricting current growth and appeal within the industry.

As a parallel point to that, it's also interesting to consider Marvel's new 'Ultimate' line, which restarts the continuity for Spider Man, The X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four, to hook in new readers who might've been attracted by Marvel's latest spate of films and don't want to deal with decades of backstory. It's sort of an example of a wonderfully half-assed job at reform, jettisoning all the baggage that keeps away new readers, but replacing it with an all new set of overwrought angst that will probably deter the next generation. (though admittedly, it's angst that's more cleverly written than what usually passes for superhero content nowadays)
posted by bl1nk at 7:59 AM on March 23, 2004

rushmc, 3 things:
  1. ouch
  2. my asthma medication made my hair look greasy
  3. your mother
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:59 AM on March 23, 2004

jalexel is absolutely right about the whole Gotham b.s.
indeed, I've caught a few episodes of Smallville, and that
show still reeks of the old D.C. in that respect. Its saving grace is that Clark Kent is not yet the fully formed God that is superman. He has emotions and is not the inscrutable and invincible bore he will become.
posted by Slagman at 8:00 AM on March 23, 2004

Marvel was cooler to those who, wrapped up in their own petty teenaged angst and self-importance, looked for a shallow Freudian mirror in which to admire their greasy locks.

Well duh!

I only read comics when I was angst-ridden and self important. If you were still reading them after you kissed a girl, you were a luuuuuusr....
posted by jalexei at 8:00 AM on March 23, 2004

Whoever asked -- yeah, I suppose comics were never cool in the way it was cool to be the quarterback of the football team.
But those guys are probably pumping gas now or maybe sitting in a small town chamber of commerce meeting if they're lucky. Geeks grew up to rule the world. Remember that the next time you need tech support.
posted by Slagman at 8:04 AM on March 23, 2004

Snark aside - great discussion, and thanks to everyone for all the sweet links I'm chasing down while not working...
posted by jalexei at 8:09 AM on March 23, 2004

Arguably, working in tech support != ruling the world.

Unless the tech support job is just the Daily Planet-esque dayjob cover for the scourge of electromagnetic evil, Degausser.
posted by cortex at 8:15 AM on March 23, 2004

Also, and I think this is one of Lethem's points, it may have only seemed cool to like comics, and Marvel in particular, among non-lipreading members of that particular pre-adolescent geek world (I think the non-anachronistic term might have been, shudder, "nerd" or even "brain"). In retrospect, it is slightly embarrassing to speak of as an adult, because it is so hard to explain, especially that intense Marvel love, which really announces, yes, I was an incredible geek. Whereas everybody knows Superman and Batman, those putzes, and probably saw a copy at some point.

Even now, as an adult, one might still be cool and pre-order "The Escapist" because hey there was a novel about it and it's kind of postmodern or ironic to buy the comic. And you can express appreciation for the adult comic stylings of people like Alan Moore (Watchmen, anyone?)
or the death-camp mouse stylings of Art Spiegelman (Maus) or even for
vintage comics.

But it is probably still uncool for a person older than 18 to read current DC or Marvel comics.

To walk into a comics store now as an adult is kind of a furtive porn shop experience. It's mostly grown men. When I was a kid, I bought comics at the drug store. Do they still sell them at drug stores? Of course, cool is besides the point. You reach a certain age, you don't necessarily care too much about being cool. Being cool is itself an adolescent concept. I have a kid now. No matter how hard I might try to be a cool Dad, the very concept of Dad is uncool. My kid will no doubt look at any comics -- excuse me, graphic novels -- in my collection and think, woah. This shit is so uncool. The old man was a geek.

And then I will have to explain, no no, at one time, there was Marvel and it was cool.

And my kid will look it up on the Internet and this thread will show up in Google.
posted by Slagman at 8:28 AM on March 23, 2004

I haven't read FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE yet, but as a lifelong comics geek (I just spent a week going through my collection thinning out stuff I don't want or need anymore to donate to a kids' charity -- you folks who still collect oughtta do the same), I definitely think Lethem NAILED it. Marvel's heroes and comics are really, really compelling, even when the comics are at their worst (and let me tell you, they're at their worst a LOT). DC's got incredibly compelling characters, but something about DC's house style re: plots, the cohesive universe, etc., was always way more cold and distant than Marvel's. Marvel Comics, to me, feel like that Damien Hirst quote -- "I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere,
With Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now." When they're great (see Grant Morrison's just-concluded NEW X-MEN), you can't beat the pure adolescent -- and I mean that in the best way possible -- rush of them.

All this, of course, is utterly divorced from talk about comics as a storytelling medium, their credibility as an art-form, etc. This is about superhero comics, which, as much as I like knocking them, have a charm that's impossible to ignore.

And I think you'd all be surprised to know how many "cool" people and arbiters of cool are all still reading comics, superhero or no.
posted by logovisual at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2004

Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer always made me feel like I was reading Marvel comics.
posted by straight at 8:49 AM on March 23, 2004

I recently got my hands on the entire X-Men run in digital format, and have been slowly working through it.
What surprises me the most is that even in the simplest, most sophmoric and gimicky stories in the first issues, you can already see the foreshadowing of complex plotlines and character issues which would only be fully developed hundreds of issues later.
In the 70s and 80s, DC was fun but sketchy (except for some of the better Titan epochs, and maybe The Outsiders), whereas Marvel was deeper, more complex. Daredevil. Spiderman. Wolverine. These were all subtle, developed characters, whose interest went way beyond what specific powers they had, how many bad guys the beat up per second or the new ways they came up with to save the Earth.
You looked at a DC comic, but read a Marvel.
posted by signal at 9:01 AM on March 23, 2004

I'm needing to donate some of my older comics to a charity or something, but I am afraid I will have an experience like my dad's with the local library. He decided that he needed to donate our old Nat'l Geographics to the library, so he packs them up and takes them downtown. He gets to the library and is ready to unload them when the librarian says:

"Oh, the kids are going to just love cutting these up for projects."

At this point, my ever-polite dad proceeds to put the magazines back in his truck and brings them back home and back to the shelves they've occupied for years.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:02 AM on March 23, 2004

I started reading in 1980 and BOY was DC boring. Boooooring. Superman was boring. Batman was really boring. Ugh.

Not boring:

The Secret Wars
Dark Phoenix
Spider Man
Alpha Flight (silly, but not boring.)

The New Universe, failed project that it was was really great also. In my book Marvel ruled over DC. I bought 12 Marvel books a month for years and never bought more than an issue or two of non-Frank Miller DC except for the excellent Watchmen series.
posted by n9 at 9:12 AM on March 23, 2004

I'd echo what n9 said. I could never get into DC's "But in another universe, something totally different happened"* so I was less than enthused about Marvel's Ultimates. They're really good though. Either way, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis and Mike Baron are fun for kids of all ages. Except those under 18. You might wanna vet the material before they read it.

*Let's all pretend Marvel's team of Peeping Toms never came up with the "What If?" idea.
posted by yerfatma at 9:35 AM on March 23, 2004

Further examples of depth in DC Comics:

Crisis on Infinite Earths - a mid-80s mini-series that might've been too deep for most.
The Flash - the trial of The Flash (#340 to #350) delves into paradox, genderless romance, guilt, leads into his heroic death in the Crisis series.
Swamp Thing - Alan Moore's authorship starts with #21.
V for Vendetta - another Moore work, perhaps even more subversive than the better known Watchmen. (Could be discounted because it was originally printed in Warrior magazine in the UK.)
Teen Titans Spotlight - ran from 1986-1988, written by Marv Wolfman, the first two issues tackled apartheid.
Doom Patrol, Hellblazer, The Sandman - and so many others that would eventually become the Vertigo line. Included in this group are the comics that starred or guested some of the more "occult" characters like Dr Fate, The Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, Deadman, The Demon and so on.

Yeah. I'm a comics geek. Proud of it too. Is DC better than Marvel? No, but neither one has cornered the market on thought-provoking storytelling.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:39 AM on March 23, 2004

All I can say is that I'm 32, VP at a corporation, and read comics everyday. I have a nasty habit (not as bad as some) and fork out a good chunk of my paycheck on them. And I talk endlessly about them with coworkers.

Cool or not, they are still read. And considering the value for which my Origin #1 has increased in the past year, not a bad monetary investment.

I'd stay stop worrying if it's cool to read them, and start worrying about doing what you like. You wont look back on your deathbed and wish you were cooler.
posted by Dantien at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2004

Oh, and let's not forget how much bank Spiderman, X2, and the like are making/have made at the box office. Talk about comic geeks ruling the world.
posted by Dantien at 9:49 AM on March 23, 2004

I didn't start reading comics until i was almost 30, had a friend working for wildstorm. Now days I have boxes and boxes of wildstorm and vertigo books...Global Frequency, Authority--warren ellis books.

Adult content, crazy story lines, and they kill the bad guys. Even when they are begged not to. Great stuff. I do freelance color flatting for a freelance colorist and flatter...lots of authority, JLA, green lantern, Global Frequency, City of Heros....and i've been really impressed with the art, stories, etc...

anyone read the Possessed books? crazy stuff.

most of the time. There are lots of great crazy comics out that aren't the stereotyped comics that I HATED when i was a kid--i preferred jules verne.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:53 AM on March 23, 2004

I think there were cycles of alternating coolness between Marvel and DC, initally following Jack Kirby as he switched back and forth, creating the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and Thor and that stuff with Stan Lee at Marvel in the '60s, then moving to DC in the early '70s to create the New Gods and The Demon and OMAC which were certainly the cool shit when I was 10 or 12 - but by the late '70s the cool was back at Marvel as DC refocused on their Silver Age superheroes.

And Lethem does a paragraph on Alan Moore without pointing out that it's DC that published his "Swamp Thing" and "V for Vendetta" in the '80s, and those and the books under their Vertigo imprint certainly made DC the cool publisher for teen nerds in the post-superhero age. (On preview: grabbingsand is on it.)

Oh, and a blurb: if you love the old Marvel characters and plotlines, or if like evilbeck up top you missed the backstories, you should read Kurt Busiek's Marvels which is a terrific recontextualizaion of the FF/X-Men/Spiderman stories from the point of view of an ordinary New Yorker.
posted by nicwolff at 9:53 AM on March 23, 2004

[offtopic, somewhat] If you could have any one superpower, what would it be?

I would have to say the ability to curve space according to my will. That's one of those abilities that entails a whole host of other cool abilites (time travel, flight, teleportation, telekinesis, etc).

Perhaps more fun, specualtions on what superpowers certain members of MeFi should have? Migs, for example, should have the amazing ability to summarize...long winded FPP's....into a single...... nevermind.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:57 AM on March 23, 2004

th3ph17, will you marry me?

Or more directly, can I get access to those alleged boxes???

(Authority fan)
posted by Dantien at 10:06 AM on March 23, 2004

You usually didn't encounter junkies, child abuse or characters dying with much frequency.

And thank goodness for that.
posted by rushmc at 10:21 AM on March 23, 2004

heh. just think...i'm 4-5 steps away from the source, and i get them all free....the colorists and those closer have EVERYTHING.

do you have the oversized compilation books? the standard comic size doesn't do the artwork justice...i tell you...i work zoomed in to the pixel level on 11x17in pages. Amazing stuff. Some of the Authority stuff is hard to figure out...the authority-lobo x-mas book had some wild textures and lots of blood, slime and bone to identify.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:21 AM on March 23, 2004

What's interesting, is that while I managed to destroy or lose most of my comic collection as a teenager, I did manage to hold onto a few books of quality -- the one where the Green Goblin kills Gwen, the aforementioned Green Lantern heroin issue, and the one where the new X men were unveiled. I actuallly loved the OLD x-men, and didn't think much of these new guys, but for whatever reason, it was kid lore that origin issues would one day be worth millions, so I held on. I think that one is only worth $400 mint, but it's not about the money, is it. It's about lost youth. If I had a superpower, I wish I could simply travel back and inhabit myself in the past at will. I'd skip much of it, but there were a few afternoons when some friends and I rode downtown on our bikes, got the latest issues of whatever, then rode back to read them under a tree on a hot day, while a mom made lemonade. I cherish those times the way some people probably remember that winning touchdown or playing sandlot ball.

I wish I could still get that feeling from comics, but I don't. I do sometimes get it from a good novel, if I can find time to set aside work concerns or family obligations. Which brings me round back to the beginning. Ice Storm -- pretty good book, OK movie. Kavalier and Clay - awesome book. Fortress of Solitude -- I've read everything by Lethem, the same way I used to grab any comic by Jack Kirby or any issue with Spiderman, even a minor guest appearance. Except Fortress,
which is the next book on my list. That's a heck of a Web site he's got there.
posted by Slagman at 10:23 AM on March 23, 2004

Though I was a comic book geek as a kid, I rarely read the superhero stuff. I was more into "Howard the Duck" and "Swampthing" (who I guess is kind of a superhero).

Because of this, I guess, I never really understood the whole Marvel Universe and DC Universe phenomenon. This seems pretty unique to the comic book industry. I mean, you'd never hear Random House books or Universal Pictures claiming that all of the characters in all of their stories exist in the same universe.

When did this happen in the history of comics? Were Superman and Batman originally conceived as existing in the same universe? Or did this gradualy evolve.

Do ALL Marvel (or DC) comics have to co-exist? Or are there some titles that are totally separate? When a Marvel writer creates some new X-men comic, does he have to consult some huge bible of events and rules of the Marvel universe to make sure he doesn't insert any contradictions or anachronisms? Is there a Marvel universe timeline? Can we tell exactly where Spiderman, the X-men and the Fantastic Four were in 1983 in their universe?
posted by grumblebee at 10:24 AM on March 23, 2004

I was a huge X-Men and F4 geek (and anything touched by the godlike hand of Jack Kirby) - I remember the day Dark Phoenix 'died' probably more clearly than any other event in my teenagerhood. I did enjoy DC's Kamandi, Haywire, Vigilante, Moore's Swamp Thing and the Dark Knight series, but later I bailed on both DC and Marvel for titles from smaller publishers like Grendel, Love & Rockets, American Flagg & The Elementals.

DC definitely gained some ground on Marvel, but for me those memories are set, y'know?
posted by black8 at 10:30 AM on March 23, 2004

I purchased and read comics as a kid, but my obsession with the characters in the DC universe started in high school. I borrowed a guys copy of "Batman: A Death in the Family" on a bus trip and something clicked. (That was when the readers of Batman voted to kill off the second Robin.) I was fascinated by the Bats reaction to the death of his adopted son. His interaction with the Joker and with Supes in that series was haunting.

Wanting anything and everything Bat-family related I started buying Teen Titans, Batman, Detective, then later Shadow of the Bat and Legends of the Dark Knight, Catwoman, Robin, Azreal, Nightwing, Huntress and any cross-over that featured Batman or his allies.

Denny O'Neil and Marv Wolfman have written some of my favorite all time characters. (Batman, Huntress, Robin, Catwoman, Nightwing et al.) And they were all human. No mutations, no aliens, just humans who worked hard to become bigger, smarter and better. It made me think I could be the Batman if I only applied myself.

There's nothing the Marvel Universe ever offered me that DC didn't do better and more consistently.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 10:53 AM on March 23, 2004

Timelines? Several.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:12 AM on March 23, 2004

I'm just getting into comics, having followed the characters in films and TV, and I'm reading Crisis on Infinite Earths, and getting a bit bored. Marvel's "Origin" (as in Wolverine) on the other hand got read cover to cover in under an hour. Marvel are clearly better than DC, all that DC have going for them is Batman, and sometimes Superman when he's not being a complete do-gooder. Marvel on the other hand, we have Spiderman, Wolverine (and a bunch of other X Men), Daredevil, the Punisher, Fantastic Four..the list goes on...

For god's sake, the Green Lantern's weakness is YELLOW! What more evidence do you need?
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:47 PM on March 23, 2004

One thing Marvel instilled in me was a deep fear and yet a strange attraction to radiation. On the one hand, it could give you superpowers. But maybe not the powers you want. DC heroes tended to predate the Bomb, so they didn't have the funky mutant thing going on.

Robin was Batman's adopted son? Yeah, right. They were so gay.
posted by Slagman at 12:51 PM on March 23, 2004

Or more directly, can I get access to those alleged boxes???

Dantien, I've er . . . acquired a full set of Stormwatch, Authority and Planetary through bittorrents from places like Suprnova (though it currently looks busted up). They have a Comics section at the bottom. As much as anything, it's good for finding where they got the torrents from.
posted by yerfatma at 1:12 PM on March 23, 2004

Or more directly, can I get access to those alleged boxes???

ebay is a good place to look for whole sets.... i can't sell, unfortunately, have a bit of a gentlemans agreement to refrain from that...they are for "reference."
posted by th3ph17 at 1:28 PM on March 23, 2004

Come on, you can't just compare a single decade if you're going to decide who's cooler, For All Time. I'd put Detective Comics pre '54 (i.e., before the comics code) against any of your mamby-pamby Marvel from the 80's. Back when Batman had a gun. And like I mentioned, Vigilante was from the 80's, and was the first comic book I ever bought that had a warning on it. There was one storyline where Vig was tracking a pedophilic white slavery operation out of the U.S. that blew my mind.

What did Marvel have? The Silver Surfer? X-Force? G.I. Joe? Marvel is SO West Coast compared to DC. Spider-Man and the X-Men -- that's what Marvel will be remembered for (and rightly so.)

During the 80's I was all about Marvel, but grew pretty tired of their silly stunts to increase profits ("Oooh, do you have issue #0 with the hologram cover, or is it the one without the UPC on the bottom?") I hated how Marvel turned comics into a commodity for collectors. If it wasn't for Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, the industry would probably never recovered. Alan Moore, I might remind you, from DC Comics.

By the way, please take all of this with a grain of salt. I figure arguing over comics is more fun than arguing over politics.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:44 PM on March 23, 2004


All comics died in the 80's, everyone my age knows that.
You can't leave out the Hulk, the Avengers (Ironman!) or
the Fantastic Four. The wedding of Seed and Rue nearly destroyed New York. It was all about New York. West Coast my eye. I probably live in New York City now because of Marvel.
posted by Slagman at 2:27 PM on March 23, 2004

Fuck Superman. Fuck Spiderman.

Little Lotta kicks all their asses.
posted by Dirjy at 3:01 PM on March 23, 2004

Alan Moore, I might remind you, from DC Comics.

Alan Moore, from 2000AD bizatch! You can keep your spandex soap operas. Gimme a bit of the old UK ultraviolence any day of the week.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:07 PM on March 23, 2004

I probably live in New York City now because of Marvel.

You know, that's true for me too.

As a company and a creative force, DC has it all over Marvel -- they generally take more risks, support their strong material more vigorously, and publish top-notch creator-owned stuff. But in a battle of one superhero universe vs. another (and I mean an ideological battle, not who'd kick who's ass), Marvel takes it, IMHO.
posted by logovisual at 3:37 PM on March 23, 2004

You can't leave out the Hulk, the Avengers (Ironman!) or the Fantastic Four.

As a matter of fact, I recently found a very nice copy of Avengers #16 to add to my (complete) collection. It was the first time I've stepped into a comic shop in years. I can't believe the sheer variety of stuff that's out nowadays. And how many spin-off titles can a character survive without becoming too watered-down? I don't know how the writers keep all the different storylines straight.

Fuck Superman. Fuck Spiderman. Little Lotta kicks all their asses.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:03 PM on March 23, 2004

The Hulk sucks almost as bad as the movie did.
posted by Orange Goblin at 4:13 PM on March 23, 2004

straight: Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer always made me feel like I was reading Marvel comics.

Well, then it should come as no surprise that Joss Whedon is writing a new X-Men series for Marvel.
posted by cathodeheart at 5:14 PM on March 23, 2004

Y'know, we geeks need someone to look down on, and I have it for you, phrased in a question: who the fuck is buying those Archie Comix Double Digests in the line at the supermarket?
posted by yerfatma at 7:01 PM on March 23, 2004

Y'know, we geeks need someone to look down on, and I have it for you, phrased in a question: who the fuck is buying those Archie Comix Double Digests in the line at the supermarket?
when i was 7 or 8, along with the marvels, i bought 'em -- they were fun. : >
posted by amberglow at 7:20 PM on March 23, 2004

But, in my defense: never in a supermarket--always a candy store, on saturday, when my brothers and I had just gotten our allowances. (also--the GIANTs were big, so they lasted longer than regular comic books)
posted by amberglow at 7:23 PM on March 23, 2004

Umm, I've heard you can find a shitload of comics to download here.
posted by signal at 7:31 PM on March 23, 2004

i'm sorry--there's no Archie (or even Pep) on that list there ; >
posted by amberglow at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2004

who the fuck is buying those Archie Comix Double Digests in the line at the supermarket?

Your mom.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:42 PM on March 23, 2004

Even Archie has a Web site.
posted by Slagman at 9:09 PM on March 23, 2004

Why did no one like Metal Men from DC? I lost all interest in comics when Metal Men became the "New! Hunted Metal Men" and then folded. I could not have been older than 11.

The Marvel comics never interested me much 'till the animated versions appeared on Saturday mornings. Funny, the animated DC guys never interested me, even though DC had been my favorites.
posted by Goofyy at 3:35 AM on March 24, 2004

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