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David Hines [userpic]

Why DC?

January 14th, 2005 (01:20 am)

So a while back I posted a list of my fanfic for 2004, and it led me to realize something about it was worth comment: despite being a hard-core Marvel Zombie for most of my youth, and being a devotee of Spider-Man and others in the Marvel Universe, my fannishness these days is entirely centered around the DCU. It's not that I don't like Marvel comics. I do. But right now Marvel's only putting out one book that I buy consistently. That book? She-Hulk. (My favorite issue so far -- the one before last, a look at Shulkie's longtime foe Titania -- is just a flat-out terrific character piece, and it's especially moving and affecting because of its inclusion in what often is a humor book.) I don't buy any of the big Marvel heroes these days. I don't read 'em. At all. The Ultimates don't do jack for me. I got bored with mutant angst a long time ago. And I'm a big Straczynski fan, but... Spidey's not doing it for me, either. (In part because I have never given a crap about Mary Jane.)

So, why does DC do it for me?

My take: right now, the DCU feels more like a genuine superhero community to me. The Marvel Universe... doesn't. And I'm not sure why.

My best guess is that it's because the interactions among characters in the DCU are more varied and complex -- and there are more of them. I can think of fewer deep friendships in the Marvel Universe, or rivalries, among the heroes -- at least, that aren't rooted in the characters all being in one book or having come from one. It's not just that the big DC icons do it better for me these days -- it's that the *subordinates* are so much more interesting, and their interactions with the big guys and each other are more complex. Marvel couldn't do a series like Identity Crisis, because the community aspect that made IC possible simply isn't there. Which is ironic, when you think about it, because a big part of Marvel's early success was its rampant cross-overing within its own titles. But there's not enough of the heroes really relating as people, and I think that's Marvel's weakness as far as its efforts at separating me from my money go.

Rick Jones is a big exception where Marvel's concerned -- he's one of the few characters that relates to a number of different heroes (including Hulk and Captain America) as a friend. The friendship between Spidey and the Human Torch is another. But DC does it better.


Posted by: rayshell22 (rayshell22)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 07:11 am (UTC)

I'm not a big fan of the big three, but I do so love some of the lesser knowns because they're so interesting and likable. And you have a whole treasure trove of different character interpitations for one single character. It's great for fanfic fodder.

Posted by: Basingstoke (basingstoke)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 07:38 am (UTC)
daredevil is moody

Yeah--now that you mention it, I've read almost the entire run of Daredevil, and while he and Spiderman are supposed to be buds, the only actual interactions I can think of are 1) when Peter wears the Daredevil costume for that one trial and 2) when Spidey visits Matt when Matt is going spoggly in that one anniversary issue with all the crossovers.

...Sorry, massive headache so I'm not all that coherent, but you get my point. Matt is a snarky bitch, but certainly not snarkier than *Batman*, and Batman hangs out with Superman and Green Arrow and has flirtfights with Catwoman and flips the bird to the Justice League and forms his own goddamn pet team (and have you seen that cover? It's a hoot). In Marvel, it seems like they come and *fight* alongside each other, but they don't hang. In Ultimate Spidey, Johnny the Torch invites Peter to a ball game. In the DCU, that would be an entire issue or maybe a mini: "Spiderman and the Human Torch in: Baseballs and Bandits!" In Ultimateverse, it's never mentioned again.

Posted by: a veteran pseudo-fictioneer (skalja)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 12:14 pm (UTC)

To be fair, the baseball invitation in Ultimate is now completely out of continuity. Also, DD and Spidey have met at least once more during Bendis' run in title and a couple more times in minis, and have met more frequently (in previous volumes and in Spidey) when DD wasn't, you know, on the verge of a nervous breakdown and pushing everyone away. Spidey is also more diffident than Superman.

Though my fannishness is more Marvel than DC - or maybe split pretty evenly - I do have to agree with your points here, hradzka. The DC heroes rely on each other, but in the Marvel universe there's a huge amount of mutual mistrust ... interestingly, something that a couple of writers are poking at in order to get characters to interact more - there's the whole situation with the New Avengers, for instance.

Of course, there's also a lot of community and team-ups that you'd be missing because you aren't reading much Marvel. Which is fine, but, you know, the interplay is happening. Just not as much at the moment, because Marvel is still pulling out of the no-continuity era.

Posted by: PROBE UNIVERSE (liviapenn)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC)
marvel: daredevil

Well, and the other thing is (as I said to you on AIM) the JLA provides a point of instant crossover between major titles that the only comparable Marvel book, the Avengers, really doesn't, since most of the Avengers don't have their own title (and... still don't, except for Wolverine and Spider-Man?) Aquaman has a coffee with Batman and Wonder Woman every month-- not so for Peter Parker, Charles Xavier and Reed Richards.

Not that the team nature of the JLA doesn't bring up its *own* problems, like the fact that "Batman, member of the JLA" is really pretty incompatible with "Batman, urban legend no one really believes in," but they seem to be doing away with that conceit in the Bat-titles anyway.

Posted by: Mara (marag)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC)
Bruce  broods

By coincidence, mscongeniality and I were just discussing this. I said that in my new DC love, I'd noticed a lot more small crossovers, a lot more teamwork between different characters, etc. She agreed completely and said that the DC characters all live in the same universe and "when they need to ask another character a question, they go down the hall and knock on a door."

I think that's why DC lured me away from Marvel: because I love those small interactions between characters. In several years of reading the X-books, I never really met any other characters in the Marvel universe. In just one year of DC reading, I've been pulled all over the place, and I'm loving it.

Posted by: a veteran pseudo-fictioneer (skalja)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 12:45 pm (UTC)
(kid) flash fracture

As I was just discussing with liviapenn, the Marvel universe is having some cohesiveness problems right now because of the X-men. They don't even seem to fit in the same universe any more! Not sure when that happened - probably late 80's to early 90's, the X-men got so far enmeshed into their own canon that they stopped making much sense as part of the same universe as Spidey, the FF, the Avengers, and so on. And when half a universe doesn't integrate with the other half, you have major, major problems, and even Joss Whedon's valiant efforts are not going to fix this. It's tragic, 'cause the early Marvel universe integrates wonderfully, and the Marvel universe without the X-men has got a fair amount of complexity for what would be a much smaller cast, but the Marvel universe as a whole has this giant continuity blot called the X-men who just don't quite fit. At least, not so far as I'm concerned.

So, yeah. DC definitely has that part of a shared universe down so much better than Marvel.

Posted by: Smitty (smittywing)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 01:46 pm (UTC)

And on a lighter note, we used to play Six Degrees of Black Canary because there's no one in the DCU she can't connect to. (In fact, it doesn't take six degrees and if you use special rules to jump to real people, she can connect to most of Hollywood in six degrees, too.) ;)

Posted by: Eric (escapade52)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
soy un perrido

Step up to Vertigo.

Posted by: Domenika Marzione (miss_porcupine)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 03:58 pm (UTC)

What initially drew me into the DCU was the emphasis and importance of secret identities. Sure, Scott Summers has a secret identity as Cyclops, but we never see him interact with anyone who doesn't know who he is -- the X-Men all live at the Mansion. The FF are celebrities and Spidey and Daredevil (the latter of whom I have deep fondness for) just don't make a quorum. There's no real sense of a larger world in the Marvelverse, at least to my eyes, because our heroes are rarely in it as human beings and not People Everyone Knows and Loves/Hates.

In the DCU, secret identities are put to the test -- both within the superhero team dynamic and without. There are people who are good with the ID business (Clark Kent) and bad (Kyle Rayner), there are times when the ID thing becomes a matter of trust and betrayal -- Batman telling Stephanie that Robin was Tim Drake, the whole 'Tower of Babel/Id' era of JLA, the 'Judas Contract' arc of NTT, etc.

As a result, while in the Marvelverse keeping secrets from people you like is always a bad thing, in the DCU it's an open acknowledgement that some things just can't be discussed. The Titans worked just fine with neither Argent nor Jesse Quick knowing who Nightwing was and Kyle never begrudged Superman for not telling him that he spent his days as Clark Kent.

Posted by: trinfaneb (trinfaneb)
Posted at: January 14th, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC)

I have to agree with the general sentiment here. I've always prefered DC over Marvel in a general sense because I liked the way the DCU worked more than I did the Marvel Verse. But still the DCU is a rambling wreck when compared to the cohesiveness and interplay of the Milestone and Valiant Universes (Rest In Peace).

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