Originally Written September 28th
Full Disclosure: I realize both these companies have decades long histories and want you to bear in mind that I am specifically speaking of the “modern” era. Specifically the “New 52” vs “Marvel Now” branding.
Fuller Disclosure: I am also not writing this to instigate a fanboy war. I happen to like both for different reasons and enjoy good stories no matter where they come from.
Fullest Disclosure: That said I do admittedly lean towards DC as Batman has always and likely will always be my favorite superhero with my favorite villains of all time.
Half-hearted apology: Sorry sometimes I find something amusing and cannot resist the impulse to entertain myself…I’ll get started on the actual piece now.
With the exception of about ten years in the middle, I have been a comicbook fan my entire life (and even then I was still a fan I just didn’t actively read or follow them). In my youth I lacked the means to regularly buy the monthly and weekly releases which meant, much to my frustration, that I was forced to read whatever happened to be out at the time I happened to be able to pick an issue or to up.
As you can imagine this made it very difficult to follow the stories with any sort of grasp on the continuity as sometimes it would be months between visits to the local comic book store and inevitiably the story arc being told the last time I bought anything would be long over.
I fell in love with the concept of TPB or Trade Paperbacks when I was given a copy of “The Death of Superman” as the concept of the TPB was the answer to all my frustration, er, I mean it was the answer to some of the frustrations I felt but I’ll get to that another time.
It was this love of the TPB that drove me when I decided a few years ago that it was time to get back into one of my earliest loves once again. The biggest question I faced though was simply which collections should I start with. Sure there were iconic crossover events like Infinity Gauntlet, Final Crisis, Knightfall or Civil War but I was also interested in the regular titles.
Assuming you are a comic reader yourself you are no doubt aware that the “big two”, DC and Marvel, currently run their titles respectively as the “New 52” or “Marvel Now”. I figured that out side of certain iconic events that these runs of titles would be a great way to get my feet wet again. Over time I’ve picked up a number of titles in those brandings as well as some classic event pieces and have been lucky in that I have enjoyed if not loved every purchase I have made.
But when I go online to the dark recesses of the web wherein comic book nerds dwell I see heaps and heaps of hatred for the New 52 but very little for Marvel Now. Sure even I can see where some of it comes from as the New 52 does muddle the DC continuity quite a bit.
Hell I nearly gave myself a migraine trying to figure out which iconic events from Batman’s lore happened and at what point since given the Justice League books taking place with the heroes only knowing each other for about five years. Barbara Gordon is Batgirl, having recovered from her spinal injury at the hands of The Joker which means The Killing Joke happened but I’ve also seen allusions to the No Man’s Land arc wherein Babs was wheelchair bound as Oracle and Cassandra Cain was Batgirl but since Cain has yet to be shown as existing it makes me wonder who, if anyone, was Batgirl while Oracle was in the wheelchair…or did those parts simply not happen. Meanwhile in the Green Lantern books it appears as if the post-Flashpoint reboot missed them entirely as the story can be solidly connected starting at Rebirth through Sinestro Corps War on to Blackest Night and to the New 52 arc.
So I do get where some of the disdain comes from, seriously I could write forever about all the various “problems” I’ve come across but none of them diminish my enjoyment or love for the books.
Marvel on the other hand has done a good job of keeping their stories moving forward in a continuous progression. The events of one crossover lead into and other and into the next and as a result the world of the “Now!” brand is easy to tie into the past iterations. But in my opinion Marvel does fail in one way and that is with the overall continuity or feel of their universe.
I find Marvel’s Earth-616 to be less well tied together than the DC Multiverse is on the whole.
When I read the opening pages of Earth-2 volume 1 I see Supergirl and Robin (Helena Wayne) fly through a “boom tube” and out of the book. Immediately I can pick up Worlds’ Finest and there they are in New Earth as Powergirl and Huntress. James Gordon Jr. loses an eye in the pages of Batgirl and later on when he shows up in Suicide Squad there he is missing an eye. In the same Squad book there sits the villain from an earlier Justice League arc and the Watchtower is still severely damaged on the Earth’s surface from the events of Trinity War. Admittedly they are little things and there are many more I’ve come across over the last two years but they help make the books feel like they are all taking place in single world (or multiverse).
Yet in Marvel I find myself reading multiple books that theoretically take place on the same Earth but don’t feel like they do. In one book Captain America and Thor on with other Avengers on Mars fighting aliens. In another they are both on a team composed of Avengers and X-men fighting Red Skull with mind control abilities derived from Xavier’s brain. Meanwhile Iron Man is helping out on Mars while simultaneously palling around with the Guardians of the Galaxy. And not once is there crossover between the damage the Mars based aliens cause, the attacking hordes in the Guardians books cause or the damage and hysteria caused by Red Skull and his S-men (yeah I know what they were going for there but that still looks awkward as hell to me too).
My overall point is that both companies have some serious but not fatal flaws in their structure and that it bothers me in the tiniest of ways that only one of them gets flack for it.
My honest solution to the situation though is just to sit back, enjoy the story that’s being told and try not to obsess about the minutia that could very well bog down what is, at the end of the day, supposed to be all in good fun.