Why DC and Marvel comics both suck

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.

14 thoughts on “Why DC and Marvel comics both suck

  1. I probably shouldn’t admit this but…I read Archie, Mad and Cracked. Never much of a Super-hero(tm) guy. I guess I was too busy wiping the sand out of my eyes.

  2. I was looking at Ebay at old Amazing Spiderman books. Saw some original Marvel story boards for sale, and then thought to Google “Marvel Comics Suck.” Found this entry and enjoyed the read.

  3. Marvel and DC don’t want anyone else to be as successful as they are, quite simple. Look at what happened to Image, Malibu, Valiant, Drrk Horse and several other Indie Companies. Both these guys cut away their distribution deals with their marketing strategies. A fine example of capitalism gone bad.

  4. The problem is that they’ve forgotten it’s about STORIES. The folks running the companies are all about the pretty pictures (and they DO look nice)…but they’ve forgotten how to tell stories. THAT, and they’ve abandoned the traditional 8-14 yr-old audience in favor of a shrinking middle-aged one.

  5. DC Comics are complete garbage. One minute there is a Multiverse, the next there isn’t; one minute Superman is God, the next he can’t even fight Doomsday without being killed. I hate Superman, if not for that ridiculous costume he sports, then for the simple facts that he doesn’t even have a real backstory… it changes dramatically every 7 years or so (one minute he gets his powers from the sun, the next moment he gets his powers from Krypton’s gravity) and fans still act like it’s cool. There is only one Superman in my book, and that’s the original, created by Shuster and Siegel. Some of Supes’ stories are cool, and the rest are laughably retarded…. especially since the writers just seem to make up whatever power he needs on the spot, a power that will magically be gone next issue. What’s the point of even reading shit like that? Pre-Crisis/1 Million/Prime Superman was SO boring and a chore to read through. If I wanted to read a book about an omnipotent being who is guaranteed to win every battle without being presented a believable challenge despite facing an impossibly strong enemy, I’d read the Bible. If my hero’s powers were dependent on who’s writing his stories, how bad DC is trying to cover up over 60 years of messy, poorly done continuity problems, and who a judge awards the hero’s rights to…. well, I’d probably wanna be getting a new hero.

  6. In short, Superman is like that kid that used to play guns that never got shot, and could shoot behind him (“Nah uh!!! I totally hit you!!)… or the kid that wanted to have every power when you played heroes… even if you do find a way to beat him, the writers will just suddenly decide that his Kryptonian heritage, or exposure to some new found Kryptonite, or any other miscellaneous garbage that they feel like throwing in there, grants him a new amazing power, which happens to be the EXACT one he needs to defeat the bad guy… get real, Superman. You were a lot better when tank shells could still hurt you and you weren’t juggling planets and traversing time and space to fight all powerful Gods.

  7. And finally (sorry to triple post), Superman’s powers are based on REAL physics and laws of the Universe, such as being able to use super speed to travel back in time (something that is impossible to prove that one is capable of doing, no matter what the speed) and drawing in all of this incredible power from the sun. If you actually knew anything about science, you would know that Superman would be absorbing solar energy for EONS before he was able to do half the shit he is able to in those comics. Therefore, DC AGAIN failed to think of this stuff before they made their hero… and the result is a joke. I have actual formulas that prove that Superman, even if he were able to absorb 100% of the suns output energy (What is he, a plant? Can he photosynthesize now too?)would not be able to do any of the stuff that he does in the comics, unless he had an alternate source of energy… or Centuries of charging up all that solar energy, take your pick.

  8. I’m just an occasional new comics buyer with a very limited income. Definitely not a monthly collector, but i just have to say from my browsing the new comics at my local comic shop, that new comics have never been worse…the writing formula that is large panels with talking and no action that fills up the pages of so many comics today is HORRIBLE! Let me say that again…the writing and layout is HORRIBLE!

    Even Guardians of the Galaxy has major problems, and it’s lauded as a must read title! One example being Adam Warlock’s dialogue that has no relation to the character that i can tell. I get no sense that the writer(s) has ever even read a WARLOCK comic before. Lousy dialogue does not make good writing. A good writer knows the characters he’s dealing with and can present those characters in a way that the fans of those characters will be able to relate to at least somewhat. If the dialogue doesn’t match the character, the rapport between character and reader is lost. In my opinion, proper dialogue is essential.

    Today, proper editing is truly a lost art. I remember when editing was a job that actually had some importance and kept the quality in comics. When Jim Shooter was editor in chief, he kept Marvel comics good overall. Nowadays, it seems like the editors are out to lunch and wouldn’t know lousy characterization if came up and hit them on the head. If the buck stops at Joe Quesada, he’s totally failed at his editor in chief job, if you ask me. Whenever i read a Marvel comic with characters i know, i immediately notice the dialogue and editing flaws. Marvel needs writers and editors who know the characters from a historical perspective. For example, Ben Grimm, the Thing, is supposed to say “wotta revoltin’ development” not “what a revolting development” because every FF fan knows that that’s not how the thing talks historically speaking.

    Tonight, my local comic shop was closing and i was really pressed for time. I quickly flipped through a copy of UNCANNY X-MEN #511 and saw a few good panels of what looked like action, so i quickly bought it by default because my other choices were all $3.99 and i refuse to pay more than 2.99 for a comic. Uncanny X-Men #511 has got to be the worst story i’ve EVER read in a comic! It was TERRIBLE! Or HORRIBLE! Or BOTH! Either word applies for sure! It was just AWFUL!

    I’d also like to mention that the art is really suffering in many comics these days. So many comics today, have “art” that reminds me of Dirk McGirk’s scribbles in CRAZY magazine way back in 1981! Let’s face it..today’s comics generally suck more than not. End of rant!

  9. Another problem with comics from DC and Marvel, and most comics overall is that the content of the book does not match its quality or quantity of content. Basically it is a rip off and a waste of money. For example, I was reading Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #001, and the book alone cost me $3.99. However, it took me no more than 2 minutes to read it, it had a lot of ads, and the paper used to print it was close to being the cheapest after the newspaper type. The book was around 22 pgs. and the story did not accomplish much as the original USM#1 had 10 years ago. With DC the stories (and in most comics as well) seem to be a homoerotic blood fest. The same problems with Marvel arise, and the quality of the content is pathetic (no wonder old people say it roots the mind). In DC they expect a new reader to get familiar with the thousands of retconned characters they keep bringing up. Possibly the best example of how comics are a waste of money is in the so “epic” crossover events like Batman RIP (confusing piece of crap that forces you to look into Final Crisis and countless tie-ins!), Ultimatum (with that asshole of Loeb and his senile writing that even a 10 year old could have done better), and the aforementioned “Final” Crisis (my ass) which was only followed by more useless events. What is the point of events? Before it might have been a fun experience, but now it is nothing more than another tactic to make geeks empty their wallets. The last good comic books left have gone into an abyss of oblivion, and the art of the next generation is as disgustingly terrible as David Finch drawing the Wasp getting eaten by Blob in Ultimatum #3. What is the point of even buying comics if the characters you begin to familiarize with get killed and revived every few issues?! Curse the next generation! Bring the readers some decent writers and artists!

  10. Every one in the United States of America who loves comics should band together to teach those greedy leeches a lesson to never forget by NOT BUYING their product for at least six months. The economic crisis is bad enough for readers to waste their money and fall for Marvel, DC, Image, and all of those who plot against us for the sake of the money!

  11. You’re right, Blackie Chan, Superman wouldn’t get his powers even under a yellow sun immediately. It’s even likelier that he wouldn’t get powers at all and could easily pass as a human being.

  12. I grew up reading comics in the 1970’s. I read both Marvel and DC titles, and saw some great stuff in those days. I stopped reading comics in my high school years, and started again in the late 80’s. When my best local comic shop closed up, I stopped again. The owner of that shop returned to selling comics a few years ago, and I started again. I am now ready to stop. Everything is a major “Crisis” or world-changing event in these comics. DC, which have been my preferred titles in recent years, have had more nonsensical crises and events in the past four years than I can stand. Anyone here read Blackest Night? Terrible. I se now that DC has been a total mess pretty much since the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the big reboot of the 80’s. They were supposedly trying to untangle the confusion of the multiverse. What ended up happening was that they made things way more confusing and have had to re-arrange continuity a number of times since. I can’t even keep track of my classic characters anymore. The main Marvel title that was on my list until recently was the Avengers. Another total mess. I am so tired of the big two killing off characters to get attention. As it is now, there are no Avengers in the damn Avengers! One of the upcoming titles, Secret Avengers, looks like the Defenders, but with Captain America, who isn’t even Cap anymore! Yuk! I am done. I am going to switch gears to go back and fill in my collections from my childhood. No more new comics!

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