Before the Red Sox and even before Ernie Banks, my first true religious devotion was Marvel Comics. My buddies and I felt about the difference between Marvel (Spiderman, Thor, The Avengers, et al) and DC (Superman, Batman, etc.) the way people today feel about Apple/Windows, but at least we were arguing over something important. I worshipped at the alter of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, John Buscema and countless others. I highly recommend Lee’s Orgins of Marvel Comics, it’s a fun read (but you can’t have my copy, it’s autographed. My mom got his autograph for me while attending some academic conference, nyah nyah.) If you admitted to liking DC you were beyond the pale (suffice to say many of us strayed in the privacy of our own collections, but that’s another story). And when Kirby went over to DC? Serious theological issues…
Over the years I have become more ecumenical in tastes. Books like Kingdom Come (in which Superman very seriously has doubts about his legacy) and others have shown me that DC could indeed be good. (One big distinction between the two brands when I was young: All of the dialogue in DC comics ended in EXCLAMATION MARKS! Marvel, it seems, had discovered the period.)
But know I say, a pox on both their corporately owned houses. They have teamed up to form a Dastardly Duo of idiocy by jointly filing a trademark on the word “super-hero.” They are using it to harass indie comics. And worse, quoth BoingBoing: The latest trick in its move to steal the word is using the ™ symbol in the bumpf for its California science centre show — they’ve recruited a science museum to help them steal “super-hero.” Y’know, I was actually looking forward to that show until I read this. This is just loathsome, stupid corporate tactics. It’s a waste of company resources and an insult to the people who buy your product.
Now that’s super villainy. C’mon True Believers, it’s CLOBBERIN’ TIME!™
FYI, too prove I am still the geek I always was…my list of comic books you really should read.
- Astro City: Superb story telling and a great vision of what it might be like if Super-heroes™ existed in the “real world.” The book that re-ignited my interest in comics after about a decade away from the breed. Sadly it now seems to be on a “whenever we get around to it” production schedule, so check out the collections.
- Top Ten (written by Alan Moore): Super-heroes™ meet Hill Street Blues.
- Marvels: The problem with having Super-heroes™ around, from the point of view of the rest of us.
- Powers: Super-heroes™ as film noir.
- Sandman by Neil Gaiman: What great post-modern myth-making is all about. Pretty much impossible to over-rate. Also the Bible of The Goth Movement. The only thing better in the graphic novel category is Spiegelman’s Maus, which just exists on a whole different level of art.
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (written by Alan Moore): Victorian-era Super-heroes™ Quartermain, Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and Capt. Nemo confront Wells’ invaders from Mars in an odd parable of morality and mortality.
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: The ultimate fascist Super-hero™ vs. the ultimate fascist state. Fine political satire from the 1980s that has aged very well.
- The Watchmen (written by Alan Moore): The first great re-imagining of Super-heroes™. Definitive.
- Cerebus – the first two volumes are essential and hillarious, after that creator Dave Sim wanders far, far off the reservation. Still it’s an interesting, if unnecessary, trip.
- Uncle Sam: Strange and interesting political satire. Uncle Sam as a Super-hero™ vs Uncle Sam as icon (no tm as of yet).
- Marvel 1602: After many failed attempts to re-imagine its characters in a new setting, Marvel gets it right. To no surprise, that’s because it was written by Neil Gaiman.