DC, without question.
|Posted: 24 June 2018 at 8:50pm | IP Logged | 5
Classic characters, parallel worlds. These guys were the originals, the ones my Dad read as a kid. Krypton. Kandor. Batman. Wonder Woman. The original Captain Marvel. Just amazing.
Marvel books were inevitably "to be continued" whereas DC's often had multiple stories in each issue. Without any guarantee I'd ever be getting that second part to the story, or the part after that, or the part after that, I was more than happy to enjoy a full tale rather than fractions of one.
Fight scenes that raged for pages seemed like padding. If the Thing hadn't been punching Darkoth for twelve pages, the writer might have been able to finish his story in this issue. Ah, but he never intended to, did he? Finish this one, you have to come up with another next month, and another the month after that. We keep stuffing this one with fight scenes, and hey, it can go indefinitely. I've always been too intrinsically cheap to ever get on board with that.
Also, Dad was a police officer, something I took seriously as a kid, and still do today. That is not an easy job, and it is deserving of respect. Spidey was wanted by the police a good deal of the time. So was the Sub-Mariner. Why am I reading about criminals and people who won't stand trial? There were no "good cops" in Marvel books. (Cpt. Stacey was dead before I got to Marvel.) They were all stooges of the Daily Bugle or cannon fodder for the inevitable, five-page fight scene. See also: the Military.
Quite the reverse of many here, for me, Marvels were the ones that looked nothing like real life. Villains had stooge armies filled with nobodies in matching outfits all carrying ray guns, and they never ran out of these guys. A.I.M. and Hydra were sheets of wallpaper featuring matching nobodies in matching outfits.
Speaking of wallpaper, what was up with every wall in every laboratory or villain's base being covered in useless machinery? Nothing in real life looks like that. Who puts a plug for some gizmo way up there? What's with all the conduits and wires? Guys, you could put some of that IN the wall, you know. No? Whatever. I guess it all looks pretty when in blows up into fragments, as it always does...
Marvels were same-old-same-old month in and month out. I didn't bother to familiarize myself with the characters early on because I didn't want half a story featuring a bunch of people in a villain army's HQ, lined with techno-paper, having just escaped, battling an bunch of matching straw men, then a robot, then maybe facing the villain before we... continue it next month! Be here, true believer! Thanks, no.
And then there were the Bullpen Bulletin pages with that sneering, derisive tone towards the competition. I didn't like bullies and smart alecks then. I don't like them now. If you want to run down your competition, even in friendly, wink-wink terms, do it on your dime, not mine. The Squadrons Sinister and Supreme; The Imperial Guard; The Grapplers... Was Marvel thinking no one noticed these bits of creatively barren appropriation, or was it all just in wink-wink, sneer-sneer fun? I'm guessing the latter, and again, too childish and mean-spirited for me even as a kid. Marvel was clearly a place filled with punks.
DC, conversely, had places of limitless imagination and a genuine respect for the work done by its creators years ago. Lyra Lerrol might show up and holy moley! This isn't just someone they made up this month! The character had genuine history behind her. You could go back and read those classic stories. These people Batman was teaming up with in Brave and the Bold had series at one time; supporting casts; themes. Each issue was a window into a comic that used to be.
There were multiple planets and parallel dimensions. There were elders and youngsters and hey, not every single goddamned person had super-powers and latent telekinetic abilities. Yes, unfortunately the need to try to match what Marvel was doing was in play, giving us H.I.V.E. and S.K.U.L.L., but whatever... they were at least drawn by Curt Swan, so not everyone matched exactly. There were actually people in all those matching outfits.
Marvel seemed incredibly generic throughout most of my childhood, and I did visit there now and again out of curiosity or a genuine interest in the Thing or Sub-Mariner. I didn't hate the place, but it didn't offer me anything like the world I knew outside my window, or any convincing human relationships. A house style certainly seemed in effect whereas DC had Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Dick Dillin, Ramona Fradon, and Joe Staton. None of those people's work looks like any of the others, yet the characters were all on-model. Kirby and Ditko were gone, and everyone else looked more or less the same at Marvel.
There was a pivotal moment way back when, early in my comic reading days, when I had a chance to buy a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 off the stands. I remember flipping through it agog, seeing things I'd never seen anywhere before. Had I actually bought that issue (a treasury-sized thing, as I recall) everything might have turned out differently. On the other hand, maybe not. At that age, I was never going to buy Spider-Man, a character repeatedly wanted by the police. Yes, Batman was occasionally wanted as well, I know, but those stories... wait for it... had endings. Even the five-part Bat-Murderer storyline, which I discovered in the Eighties, was compiled into a single volume when I read it.
Eventually, I began buying What If and the X-Men and the memories of those random Spidey Super-Stories I'd been buying to keep a toe in the Marvel pool began to click. (hey, complete stories; Romita covers; team-up book; an origin every issue, not a bad introduction to who these people were) I also bought random Richie Riches and Caspers to see what those were all about. Archies as well. A Disney here or there. When you're sick and your parents get you comics to cheer you up, there is no telling what they're going to come back with. Gold Key was the usual (shakes head sadly) but there were also Ghost Rider comics, Vampirella, Starlog, and issues of Warren Publishings' 1984 (with Frank Thorne's "Ghita"!!.)
It took a while, but I did find a taste for lots of different companies' output, Marvel included. But the laughing-up-their-sleeve tone of their Bulletins pages? Fingernails on a chalkboard. Always has been, always will be.
And yeah, I get how it's supposed to be funny. It just isn't.