Monday, November 13, 2006

Marvel or DC?

Which were you?

Like Betty or Veronica, Elvis or the Beatles, Wilma Flintstone or Betty Rubble, most comic book fans my age lean towards one or the other.

Me? I was a Marvel guy growing up. No question about it. I'm not sure why, except that maybe the more whimsically colorful and fantasy-based world of Marvel -- with all those radioactive spiders, mutants, and gamma radiation -- better satisfied the unbridled imagination of my youth. By contrast, the whole D.C. pantheon seemed so much more believable, so much more steeped in reality. So much more . . . well . . . boring.

Nowadays, I tend to prefer a good dose of believability in my superheroes. But not back then. No sir.

Maybe it's a matter of identification. I grew up a skinny asthmatic who preferred reading and drawing to playing sports and hanging out. I could always relate better to Marvel's "everymen": reluctant, misunderstood heroes such as the nerdy Peter Parker, or the meek Bruce Banner.

Don't get me wrong -- I read both. In spades. And for whatever reason, I liked the villains from both. Favorite bad guys of mine included Scarecrow, The Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin. I liked The Lizard, too. Lame villains were really plentiful, too. Guys like the Vulture, Scorpion, Rhino and perhaps the weakest villain of all, the mustachioed guy with the lion tights (I think his name was Kraven the Hunter). Never understood why any self-respecting hero would fear that guy.

Maybe Marvel appealed to me because at the time, it was a much younger and hipper company than D.C. Maybe they were more in tune to the interests of my generation. I mean, my wife's dad was a fan of Superman and Captain Marvel, so how on earth could those comic book heroes be cool to me?

I also adored monsters, fantasy, and humor. Marvel just seems a better fit when you're also devouring stuff like EPIC ILLUSTRATED, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, CREEPY, EERIE, SAVAGE SWORD, FANGORIA, MAD MAGAZINE, and FAMOUS FILM MONSTERS. For the record, I was an equal opportunity comic book reader. I read comics that other kids routinely tossed: War comics, horror comics, even ARCHIE and those other humor-based books produced by Harvey and Whitman.

As an adult, I have met very few people who prefer Marvel over D.C. It's been difficult finding other Marvelites because most of my friends these days have discovered new favorites among the indies (that goes for me, too by the way. GROO, THE WANDERER by Sergio Aragones is my current favorite and has been for a very long time). Those few former Marvel aficionados that I have managed to run into seem to have been passionate about a single title or set of characters in particular -- say, SPIDER-MAN or THE FANTASTIC FOUR.

So speak up, comic book fans past and present -- which line did you prefer and (more importantly) why?