Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Observations From A Convention Floor: DC Vs. Marvel
For the Fan Expo this year, my LCS was cleaning out their warehouse and found a bevy of overstock from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Separating it into two areas, they were selling for a quarter each or a buck each. Much of these were high quality books, like the Batman issues comprising "A Lonely Place of Dying" or the first 20 issues of the Levitz-era prestige format Legion of Super-Heroes, some things that would normally be sold for well over cover being sold for much less because, well, they had so damn many of them.
There were also two-year runs of X-Factor (in the 1991 – 1993 heyday), a hearty run of Spider-Man 2099 (with Peter David signing at the Con, I have to wonder if he was faced with an overwhelming blast from the past as a result), and a whole heap of Avengers. As people caught onto the quality and condition of the books in the bin, it was like a piranha feeding frenzy.
One of the things I found interesting was seeing how people approached these bins: it was DC versus Marvel.
I noticed that the bulk of the feeders were gathering either all DC or all Marvel books. Most people looked to be about my age or slightly younger (25 – 30-ish years old), and I’m sure they were trading on a lot of nostalgia in picking up those books. One guy said “I’m picking up all those books I sold for profit years ago,(including a copy of X-Force #1) this is awesome.”
The same goes for people buying vintage comics, the expensive stuff on the wall. There were DC collectors and Marvel collectors (also Dell collectors and Gold Key collectors), and I’m pretty certain they’re also trading on nostalgia in buying up the old books, remembering what they had lost from their childhood.
I grew up a DC kid. DC Comics Presents was (and remains) one of my favourite titles. Most of the books I read growing up were from DC. I had an odd issue of Uncanny X-Men or ROM here or there, but I cared about Superman and Flash a heck of a lot more than Colossus or Mr. Fantastic. But I don’t know why, really. I wonder what it is about each universe that draws us to them, and divides us as fans? Is it that Marvel fans relish in the tangible while DC fans like the fantasy? Marvel’s always been more “real world” heroes and settings while DC’s opted for opulent fake cities and grand-scale super-beings, but is that what does it? Or is does it come to your first encounter, if Spider-Man gets you first, are you a Marvel fan, and if Superman strikes your fancy, it’s DC for you? Or was it the friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) pullpen fueds between the two publishers that swayed your decision?
It’s a curious thing, and it’s interesting how long it lasts. We invest ourselves in these universes, and as much as I enjoy reading X-Factor, Daredevil, and Runaways, I’ll read Final Crisis and 52 and all the DC epics long before World War Hulk or Secret Invasion. It’s just where my allegiances lie.
Honestly, though, is either publisher better than the other? Is either universe actually superior? They each have their plusses and their faults, and which you prefer is a personal choice. The debate about which is better will rage on in comic shops and on playgrounds (and message boards) for decades to come (until one buys out the other and amalgamates, at which point we’ll finally get more Dark Claw, wicked).
So, let’s have some fun. Nova or Green Lantern? Guardians of the Galaxy or Legion of Super-Heroes? What If…? or Elseworlds? Final Crisis or Secret Invasion? DC or Marvel? Which do you prefer and why?