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Marvel or DC? Who makes better comics?

Comic books have been made for years. Marvel, created by Stan Lee, was the first company to begin making comics mainstream with characters such as Captain America, the ultimate Boy Scout who does everything for the greater justice of America and has superhuman strength and Spider-Man, a high school science nerd who was bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him spider-like abilities and reflexes. They were followed shortly thereafter by The Incredible Hulk, a scientist who came in contact with Gamma radiation and when he gets angry, turns green and becomes a powerhouse of muscle, and Iron Man, a brilliant inventor who created an iron suit that can fly, has weapons, and operates via his thoughts. Throughout Marvel’s rise to fame, however, another company began making comic books with stories about superheroes and their adventures. National Allied Publications sprang up in 1934 and became DC, short for Detective Comics, within a few years. Their characters were heroes with the ultimate powers and the greatest advantages. Superman, the Man of Steel, an un-killable hero with unfathomable powers of every sort, who’s one and only weakness is a glowing green rock from a far off planet he calls home, and very few people have. The Green Lantern, a man with a power based entirely off of imagination. The Flash, a man so fast he can run through solid objects by rearranging his particles, making him unstoppable. The most popular was Batman, a wealthy man who decides to put a stop to crime and is prepared for everything. Marvel’s characters were humans with powers, whereas DC had heroes who were almost unstoppable.

                Stan Lee created his characters to be the greatest superheroes but still be human. His characters face not only villains and their evil plots, but day to day obstacles that a regular human would face. Tony Stark, the human in the Iron Man suit, is an alcoholic who must also conquer his addiction to alcohol and how it takes over his abilities to pilot the suit. His best friend, Randy Rhodes, must instead pilot the Iron Man suit under a different persona while Stark is in recovery from his addiction, thus creating another character: War Machine. Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man, is a high school senior who has t face the day to day conflicts of being in high school; love, rejection, grades, and bullies, while also balancing his role as Spider-Man. His superhuman life even begins to take precedence over his regular life and his relationships suffer. The Hulk is viewed as a menace to society due to his uncontrollable rage when he transforms when he really just wants to help humanity, but instead is pursued as a monster and rejected from society. Captain America must face every decision from not only a superheroes aspect, but as a regular man. He has to decide whether something is not only just and for the good of the country, but moral and right. Marvel has created characters that have flaws and must face a dual life as a human and a hero. DC lacks in the ‘regular Joe’ department with their characters.

                In the DC universe, characters have their flaws and face life in general, but in such mundane ways it feels forced. Superman becomes detached from his alter ego of Clark Kent when he tries to blend in with humanity, but eventually gives up and tosses aside his human persona. Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor, is one of the few people in the world who possesses Kryptonite, the only weakness of Superman, and that small rock is literally the Man of Steel’s only weakness. The Flash is unstoppable, and when they show Jay Gerrick, the original Flash, as a regular man, it is temporary and as a young adult in college. Gerrick later leaves his human persona behind as well and becomes only the superhero. Once Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern received his all-powerful ring, he became a world-wide ‘policeman’ of sorts as the Green Lantern, and, once again in DC fashion, discarded his human life to be a hero. DC has a habit of making their characters only heroes, not humans, which leaves readers feeling disconnected from their favorite heroes, and propels Marvel’s character’s further into the ‘lime light.’

                Marvel bases their superheroes with the concept of a human who becomes a hero, but faces the reality of the fact that they are still human. Their characters work together in groups to overcome various foes, forming alliances such as the X-Men and the Avengers. But each group also faces human obstacles such as differing viewpoints and ideologies. DC created the Justice League, a group of their most famous and powerful characters who all seem to have the same mindset and methods. They rarely argue about how an obstacle should be approached or handled, whereas the Avengers have heroes come and go from the group on a regular basis due to human differences. In the Marvel Universe, the greatest minds and smartest heroes grouped together as a temporary league called the Illuminati in order to solve Earths greatest predicaments, but disband regularly due to the fact that they simply don’t agree with one another on how things should be done, and they don’t have a set ‘leader’ of the group. The Justice League, however, is run by Superman, and he holds supreme rule over the decisions made. This leads to things being solved, rather than characters disagreeing in a human sense. Marvel has a way of making their characters seem human and react as humans, rather than aliens or ‘higher beings.’

                The biggest issue in the Marvel Universe is the character changes. Clark Kent has always been Superman and Bruce Wayne has always been Batman, but the personas of the Flash and Green Lantern, among others, have always changed and interweaved. At one point, Batman gained the powers of the Green Lantern for a short time. This caused an outrage in the DC fan base, as they gave a man who is prepared for everything and thinks of a response to any crisis and is ready to tackle any situation a power based after one’s imagination. This made Batman extremely over-powered in the minds of millions of fans, causing a loss in fan base. DC slowly went downhill in their stories and characters, which led to writers creating the “Final Crisis” story arc, which re-wrote the DC Universe and its history. Marvel did this as well, with their “House of M” story arc, but not to right their wrongs. Marvel altered its universe for the purpose of making their characters better and stronger as human beings, rather than heroes. When the “House of M” story was finished, Spider-Man and Iron Man, among the other heroes, had a stronger sense of reality and the effect they were having on the world as a whole. This led to some of the greatest story arcs Marvel has ever seen, such as the Civil War of Heroes and Secret Invasion, whereas DC’s Final Crisis changed everything, rather than just the characters.

                Overall, Marvel seems to have the upper hand in the character aspect. As a Marvel fan myself, I must say that DC has created some amazing characters and great ideas for the conflicts they face, but as a whole, Marvel holds my interest in a more powerful way: I feel connected to the characters and the world that the stories take place in, because the characters feel human and are powerfully developed. DC can’t keep my interests in this way. I like Batman and the Green Lantern, but Marvel reigns supreme in my mind and I will always be a die-hard Marvel fanboy.

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