When you ask people why they root for a certain team, the answer is usually either:
- I’m from that town
- My dad was a big fan
- I’m an awful person; that team is winning right now and I only align myself with winners
I used to think I had the same allegiance with comic books. My dad loved Marvel, so he got me into Marvel. DC was for pinkos. As I got a little older I started to see that DC was actually inferior. They had worse characters, worse stories, and less talented people. As I got into the history of comics, I started to see that DC often stole Marvel’s ideas. It wasn’t outright thievery (as Starlin did with Thanos / Darkseid or Liefeld did with Deadpool / Deathstroke), it was more along the lines of “can I borrow a feeling”.
The X-Men got big while Claremont was writing so DC tried a dozen different superhero teams. Dudes with guns dominated Marvel at one point so DC tried it out. Brown trench coats and lots of pockets were big at Marvel in 1989, so DC did it five years later. Pseudo-mullets were big in the mid-nineties at Marvel, so DC did it after The Death of Superman. DC has never been an innovator (as much as one can innovate mostly-naked dudes wrestling each other over possession of something that probably glows). They only copy.
Check out their recent three attempt-at-a-franchise movies: Green Lantern (the plot is Ryan Reynolds has to be “not scared”), Man of Steel (it’s dark and gritty) and Batman v Superman (it’s darker and grittier and tells you the plot in the title). Each one is just trying to be more Marvel than Marvel: “You like realistic movies about superheroes? We’ll give you a movie so realistic you won’t believe it!”
After 1940, the only thing DC ever did that was original was Crisis on Infinite Earths. If you don’t know, it was DC’s way of trying to put some coherent continuity in an otherwise incongruous fictional universe. They had 50 years of Superman flying and not flying and shooting laser beams and being psychic and being racist and being magic and duplicating himself and being a dandy and time traveling and killing people and hypnotizing people … they figured they had to put it all together somehow so DC said that many of these things happened on different Earths. This way, anything that doesn’t fit with current trends – like if hippy-killing comes back in style – they can just say, “Oh, that happened on another, more sexist Earth where men are judged solely on cock-girth.”
It was a good idea if they just left it alone. No one cares that The Simpsons don’t age. No one cares that Bugs Bunny was racist during WWII, but now is just a lovable scamp who tricks ducks into shooting themselves in the face. If they would’ve left Crisis as it was, DC could’ve beat Marvel. They could’ve used their exclusive contracts with industry giants to create some really interesting, really imaginative, really memorable stories. Instead they just rehashed old stories and had at least three more reboots.
And now Marvel is trying it.
Although I never read much of The Ultimates, it was a terrific idea: “Let’s create another universe where we can retell the best stories of the last 75 years and create some of our own without mucking up the current characters.” This way you can have SpiderMan and Amazing SpiderMan and Spectacular SpiderMan and Web of Spiderman and Sensational SpiderMan and Superior SpiderMan and Jaw-Dropping Spiderman and the less popular Mean/Median/Mode Spiderman and The Hyphenated Spider-Man and then an alternate universe version of each one. With that many monthly titles, something has to hit. The Wife and I used the same strategy when we were trying to conceive.
But now Marvel is pulling a Crisis. They’re collapsing all continuities into one. They’re copying DC. And not just in the comics.
They’re trying to turn Agents of Shield into The Flash. They’re trying to turn an already good show about regular people trying to fight super-powered bad guys and evil organizations into a “who can shoot bright shit out of our hands the hardest while showing our distractingly white teeth”.
It never worked for DC. I don’t know why Marvel is trying it.
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