EDITORIAL: "Make Mine Marvel"? No Thanks. Why DC Is Now The Place To Go For Quality Comics
Why has a lifetime "Marvel Guy" now decided to turn his back on the publisher? Well, it has an awful lot to do with inconsistent creative teams, headline grabbing gimmicks and generally poor storytelling decisions. Here's why I believe DC is now the company to turn to for must read comic books!
Marvel vs. DC. It’s a war which seems to have raged between fanboys for longer than any of us can remember, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Now, I am – or should that be WAS? – a Marvel guy. I grew up watching the Spider-Man animated series, and when I started reading comic books over a decade ago, it was Marvel all the way for me. It didn’t take me too long to read up on every character’s history (God bless Wikipedia) or to collect the biggest and best story arcs of the past in trade paperbacks. DC on the other hand was extremely inaccessible. Despite a few standalone story arcs and relaunched titles like Green Lantern, it was hard to ever really get into their books. However, it wasn’t only the need for an encyclopaedic knowledge of the DC Universe which held me back; the characters just didn’t appeal to me all that much either. For me, it really was a case of “Make Mine Marvel”.
That’s not to say Marvel were by any means perfect. None of the events which followed Civil War managed to live up to the hype in my eyes, while it’s hard to forgive or forget baffling story decisions like “One More Day” or anything even remotely related to The Sentry. However, the past year or two has seen what I believe to be a dramatic decrease in the quality of Marvel’s output. While the likes of Daredevil and Uncanny X-Force are/were undeniably amazing, there definitely doesn’t seem to be a high number of consistently good titles. While it was commonplace for a series to be launched to coincide with a movie or perhaps the conclusion of an event, Venom (now cancelled) is the highest numbered series at #40. Relaunch after relaunch, an erratic publishing schedule which sees titles come out two or three times a month and extremely inconsistent quality in artwork are now commonplace as Marvel also continues to alienate many of their best creators. For example, Greg Rucka’s incredible Punisher run was cut short in order to force the character into a relaunched Thunderbolts series...which came out at the same time as the existing Thunderbolts series...which had at that point been rebranded as Dark Avengers. Confused? Yeah, you should be.
The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made Marvel a more globally recognised brand than ever, so it’s understandable that sales are now more important to them than ever (hence the endless new #1’s and headline grabbing gimmicks in place of quality storytelling). I don’t know if the blame lies with Disney or with Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, but it saddens me to see Marvel in the state it now is. Their sales figures may be impressive, but since when was that synonymous with quality? Just think of the many awful movies which have gone on to find huge box office success! Take for example what is currently being done with Spider-Man. While an endgame may be in place, we currently have a murderer running around as one of their most iconic characters, and while Amazing Spider-Man #700 seemingly promised a redemptive arc for Otto Octavius, he has continued to kill and brutally maim his enemies. Is this really the kind of thing I want to share with my kids one day?
DC have their fair share of issues, but ever since “The New 52” relaunch, it’s hard to deny that they are consistently better than Marvel. The fact that books like Animal Man, Aquaman and Swamp-Thing are all better than the majority of titles featuring big name heroes really does say it all. While Marvel’s events seemingly exist as a way of selling a ridiculous number of tie-in’s and launching countless new series’ (which are almost always cancelled soon after), DC’s recent “Trinity War” was not only a self-contained six issue event that was downright excellent, but also led to the genuinely brilliant “Forever Evil”. Can the same be said of the critically panned Age of Ultron? Artists also seem to now work on a revolving door. The quality of artwork considerably decreases as sales do, while big name creators are brought in for the first arc of a series before suddenly being replaced. I appreciate that this may sound like I'm simply highlighting all of Marvel's bad points, but you have to understand that it's almost necessary to do that in order to highlight DC's good ones. There may be the odd editorial issue (such as the recent Batwoman "controversy" if you wish to call it that), but everything I'm saying here about Marvel doesn't apply to DC. Combine that with the fact that they have a stable of superheroes who have never been more interesting or relevant, and it simply makes them THE place to go for the kind of quality storytelling and character work I've come to expect as a fan.
As of right now, I find myself happier being a DC guy. No, there’s nothing that says you have to be one or the other, but looking at my monthly pull list says it all. As time passes, it consists of less and less Marvel books and an increasing number of DC ones. If you had told me a few years ago that there would come a day when I didn’t read a single Avengers series (not including Uncanny Avengers which reads far more like an X-Men series anyway) or the Fantastic Four, I wouldn’t have believed you. Eight months has also been more than enough for me to decide that it’s time to abandon my favourite character – Spider-Man – too. Marvel’s dominance of the multiplexes may show no signs of slowing down, but Earth’s Mightiest Heroes currently have nothing on the Justice League. While the likes of Mark Waid and Chris Yost will ensure that Marvel always has at least a few must-buy books, there’s now only one place to look for consistent and quality storytelling and artwork. DC. Oh, and Image. Really, who needs Marvel anymore?
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