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  1. #1

    Default The Marvelization of DC, The DCification of Marvel

    A common thing I often see discussed in superhero comic circles is the Marvelization of DC. For example, Roy Thomas DC work is often seen as a Marvelization of Golden Age DC characters. Same for Denny O'Neil's work and Jim Shooter's early Legion work (All 3 have said in interviews that they were huge Marvel fans, despite getting their big breaks at DC comics, and specifically wanted to bring the Marvel style to DC). More examples are Englehart's Batman, Gerry Conway's DC work, Marv Wolfman's Teen Titans, Byrne's Man of Steel and Miller's Batman work.

    I see this discussion come about often. Breevort even revisited this issue recently. But one thing I don't see discussed often is how Marvel over the years is just as guilty of DCificating their books as well.

    John Byrne made a great point that DC used to have its house style and stable of writers and Marvel had its house style and stable of writers (really, just two or three) and for the most part there was little overlap and the house styles were very distinct. Then came into the industry a bunch of fans-turned-pros who grew up reading both companies and also jumped back and forth between each company as pros and eventually the house styles began to blur.

    A big example is dilution of characters. DC was big on diluting characters (Batman, Batgirl, Bat-hound, Bat-mite, Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto, Streaky, Beppo, Comet, Bizarro). Marvel not only didn't like dilution, they openly mocked DC for it, for example in Not Brand Ecch! where they spoofed the Weisinger Superman.

    http://supermanfan.nu/oddities/stuporman_1.htm

    Yet nowadays we have Spider-Man, Spider-Girl, Venom, Antivenom, Carnage. We have Hulk, Red Hulk, She-HUlk, Red She-Hulk, A-bomb, Savage She Hulk, Skaar Son of Hulk and who knows who else. Captain America and US Agent. Iron Man and War Machine and Iron Maiden. Wolverine, Daken and X-23. They dilute their properties just like DC traditionally did.

    Stan Lee hated sidekicks and teen version of adult heroes. That's why he killed Bucky when he brought back Cap. There was only one teen hero, Spider-Man, and he was on equal par with adult heroes. Over the years though we have different versions of Marvel's Teen Titans: New Warriors, Young Avengers (which has teen versions of adult heroes), Runaways...the list goes on.

    Another way Marvel has DCified over the years has been to gradually turn their characters into legacy characters, even if the changes didn't stick. Ben Reilly Spider-Man, various Captain Americas, Thor passing the mantle to Eric Masterson, Rhodey being Iron Man for a while.

    What are other ways each company has become more like the other?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Eumenides's Avatar
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    Hm, I think one of the ways DC has subtly affected Marvel is in the way characters tend to have wider histories (legacies really) than they imagined. For instance Ghost Rider has discovered that there have been other Ghost Riders before Johnny Blaze, not to mention Ghost Riders from other countries; or the black Captain America before Steve Rogers. Although you can say this comes from DC's history of Golden Age heroes passing on the torch to their Silver Age counterparts, I think it really began with Alan Moore's Swamp Thing discovering an 18th century Swamp Thing or whatever. Since then this type of things has become commonplace.

    One way Marvel was influenced DC is evidently in the way DC adopted continuity. It took them a few afters Stan Lee to start using it too. But now it's everywhere in DC's comics.

    Hm, I believe Marvel used to have the 'Marvel script' format and DC had the full script format. In the Marvel format the writer produced an outline of the story, the artists did the art and then the writer came up with the dialogues for the art they had produced. Nowadays Marvel uses the full script format like DC.

  3. #3
    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    Roy Thomas is at least as much of an example of DC-ifying Marvel as of Marvelizing DC. He started out as a huge Jusice Society fan, and he's said many times that he took the Avengers because it was as close as he could get to writing the JSA. The JLA was then written by the JSA's main writer, Gardner Fox, and Fox wasn't going anywhere back then. By the time Denny O'Neil replaced him, Roy was too well established at Marvel to switch over.

    Throughout the 1960s Roy often introduced DC-style elements to Marvel comics like the Avengers and Captain Marvel. In the Avengers, he introduced parallel worlds, including one that existed solely to have its own version of DC's Justice League. He also tried to institute a formula for Avengers Annual stories that would feature both the original and the "second" Avengers rosters (basically the team before and after issue #16) in a since-admitted imitation of DC's annual JLA/JSA team-ups. This never became a tradition mostly because he only got to do it twice before Marvel converted their Annuals into giant-size reprint books for a few years.

    The first Avengers Annual is about the old roster teaming up with the new one; the second is about the new roster fighting a parallel-world version of the original roster. Strikingly, in the first of these stories Roy even used the JLA formula of splitting the team into smaller squads to fight various small parts of a larger menace. (Roy has said he was imitating the Golden Age JSA more than the Silver Age JLA, though.) He did much the same in the various Squadron Supreme/Sinister plots, and in Avengers #100. When Roy got to script another Avengers story in Steve Englehart's run -- the Legion of the Unliving arc in Avengers #131-2 -- he once again split the team up in the JSA/JLA style.

    Captain Marvel's a bit simpler, as Roy quite deliberately turned Marvel's version into a close counterpart of DC's, having Mar-Vell "bond" with a younger boy -- Rick Jones -- and giving them a flasy transformation sequence. He also had Marv gain extra powers from a scientist named Savannah (i.e., Sivana, Billy Batson's archfoe).

    The Invaders was another DC-ification of Marvel: it was little more than Roy's attempt to give Marvel its own Justice Society. (The All-Winners Squad had managed two very JSA-imitative stories in 1946, but that was about it for the actual Golden Age at Marvel.) Even there, many of the villains were arguably deliberate pastiches of DC characters, especially when they teamed up int he final arc on the title as the Super-Axis. Master Man as Superman, Warrior Woman (even in name) is close to Wonder Woman, the bat-costumed vampire Baron Blood, and U-Man as an Atlantean menace aren't too far from being a quartet of JLA types. Indeed, when Roy created a literal Nazi version of the JLA at DC, Axis Amerika, they resembled his Invaders villains quite a bit, bringing it all full circle. If he Marvelized at DC, he did so using character types and story elements that were already half-DC when he plied them at Marvel in the first place.

  4. #4

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    Good examples Omar. I didn't know about them because I really can't stand Roy Thomas's writing in comparison to Stan Lee's and always skip his runs when reading back issues of titles. I never was sure why, but now that you point out he was trying to do Silver Age DC type stories at Marvel suddenly explains it to me, as I've never really been that crazy about Silver Age DC tropes.

  5. #5
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    The corps that every alot marvel charcters seem to be getting Nova corps, Capt Corps, The hulk corps.Of course GL corps was the first corps.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Corey W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omar Karindu View Post
    Roy Thomas is at least as much of an example of DC-ifying Marvel as of Marvelizing DC. He started out as a huge Jusice Society fan, and he's said many times that he took the Avengers because it was as close as he could get to writing the JSA. The JLA was then written by the JSA's main writer, Gardner Fox, and Fox wasn't going anywhere back then. By the time Denny O'Neil replaced him, Roy was too well established at Marvel to switch over.

    Throughout the 1960s Roy often introduced DC-style elements to Marvel comics like the Avengers and Captain Marvel. In the Avengers, he introduced parallel worlds, including one that existed solely to have its own version of DC's Justice League. He also tried to institute a formula for Avengers Annual stories that would feature both the original and the "second" Avengers rosters (basically the team before and after issue #16) in a since-admitted imitation of DC's annual JLA/JSA team-ups. This never became a tradition mostly because he only got to do it twice before Marvel converted their Annuals into giant-size reprint books for a few years.

    The first Avengers Annual is about the old roster teaming up with the new one; the second is about the new roster fighting a parallel-world version of the original roster. Strikingly, in the first of these stories Roy even used the JLA formula of splitting the team into smaller squads to fight various small parts of a larger menace. (Roy has said he was imitating the Golden Age JSA more than the Silver Age JLA, though.) He did much the same in the various Squadron Supreme/Sinister plots, and in Avengers #100. When Roy got to script another Avengers story in Steve Englehart's run -- the Legion of the Unliving arc in Avengers #131-2 -- he once again split the team up in the JSA/JLA style.

    Captain Marvel's a bit simpler, as Roy quite deliberately turned Marvel's version into a close counterpart of DC's, having Mar-Vell "bond" with a younger boy -- Rick Jones -- and giving them a flasy transformation sequence. He also had Marv gain extra powers from a scientist named Savannah (i.e., Sivana, Billy Batson's archfoe).

    The Invaders was another DC-ification of Marvel: it was little more than Roy's attempt to give Marvel its own Justice Society. (The All-Winners Squad had managed two very JSA-imitative stories in 1946, but that was about it for the actual Golden Age at Marvel.) Even there, many of the villains were arguably deliberate pastiches of DC characters, especially when they teamed up int he final arc on the title as the Super-Axis. Master Man as Superman, Warrior Woman (even in name) is close to Wonder Woman, the bat-costumed vampire Baron Blood, and U-Man as an Atlantean menace aren't too far from being a quartet of JLA types. Indeed, when Roy created a literal Nazi version of the JLA at DC, Axis Amerika, they resembled his Invaders villains quite a bit, bringing it all full circle. If he Marvelized at DC, he did so using character types and story elements that were already half-DC when he plied them at Marvel in the first place.
    Wow, that was a really good history lesson. Thanks. I had never thought about the Super-Axis that way, but it is obviously right.

  7. #7

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    The New Avengers. Since Bendis revamped the team, they've had a membership with a core of high-profile "big guns" characters, including characters who wouldn't normally be team-players. They guest star in almost every book as the lynchpin of the superhero community, the team every other team aspires to be. And when the team is in disarray, the absence is felt.

    The Avengers has had the best reputation of the various Marvel super-teams, but it's only recently that this has been reflected in the way the book is published and promoted. Before the book was a collection of second-string characters and a few of the lower-tier first-stringers who came together to form a larger sum from some small parts, as opposed to including big parts in the first place.

  8. #8
    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    The idea of adding all the most popular heroes to the same team is very much what DC traditionally does with the JLA, but the stories and tone are by and large distinctly Marvel. The heroes are bedeviled less by particular villains or by vast cosmic threats than by social and -- this is Bendis's pet theme throughout his work -- institutional structures.

    Marvel in general uses the social theme: Spider-Man and the X-Men are hated by the public, Iron Man has spent a lot of time facing down corporate and military culture and Congressional inquiries since Senator Byrd was introduced way back under Stan Lee, and Captain America tends to end up trying to find America rather often.

    The current run of Marvel writers, led by Bendis, tend to focus on the idea that institutional concentrations of power are inherently problematic, a critique that's drawn in the heroes. The last big Avengers story was about Norman Osborn using the institutions that concentrate power in the Avengers' hands, for example; but it was Tony Stark who created the power concentrationt hat made it all possible, and Stark arguably participated in milder abuses himself. Tellingly, most Marvel writers' responses to Civil War followed the pattern. The current big crossovers are about the X-Men splitting over Cyclops's own institutional abuses of power, this after Xavier was shown to be a fallible and corrupt man by years' of shock revelations. The other is about how the noblest heroic legacy at Marvel, that of Thor, conceals dark and deep rot from its very roots, and meanwhile the mortal world is a cesspool of paranoid fears and institutionally ineffectual responses to the Serpent's threat. And then there's everything Jonathan Hickman's ever written....

    People trusted with large amounts of institutional or positional power tend to be corrupted and to screw up, even when they're originally noble. It didn't matter who was occupying the Kingpin position in Bendis's Daredevil -- the position itself was part and parcel of a corrupt set of institutions, and evil people like Wilson Fisk were merely more efficient in gaining things from that inherent institutional rot than the likes of Matt Murdock. Doctor Strange fails mostly because being the Sorcerer Supreme makes you complacent and erodes your judgement. Bendis likes to argue that positional power makes people corrupt.

    The Justice League, on the other hand, is itself a noble institution with little to no history of internal corruption, complacency or rot. Their villains are virtually always individual beings of personal moral turpitude: Darkseid, Starbreaker, Lex Luthor and his various Injustice Gangs, and so on. When the Big Guns needed a rotten world to oppose, they didn't get realistic corruption: they got the Crime Syndicate's world, where destiny itself said that evil always triumphed. Evil in the DC Universe is typically represented by individual and often willful immorality, not by the complacent amorality encouraged by innately bad systems.

    Stories that try to make the JLA into a fable of the dangers of poiwer and complacency in themselves, like Cry for Justice, tend to stink out loud in part because the way DC' universe works mitigates against the idea. The villains they face reflect this. On eof the best examples of the difference is the President Lex arc: te problem wasn't the presidency as a position, it was that Luthor was a horrible person. Once that was solved, the rest was as well. The DC books that play up institutional corruption and social problems -- Suicide Squad, Doom Patrol, Green Arrow -- tend to sit well away from "Big Guns" and top characters.

    Batman's Gotham seems like an exception, and sometimes is one, but even there the top policeman is the incorruptible Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne is himself to top of the financial and social world of the city. The rot there is in the middle and at the bottom, not top-down. In Gotham Central, the commissioner and the Major Crimes Unit are the good cops: it's the beat patrolmen and the functionaries who are bribe-taking, suspect-framing, mob-abetting crooks. That's quite the opposite of the way Marvel usually handles it.

    Really, you need both ideas. Sometimes evil is individual monstrosity, and sometimes it's institutional rot. Both universes employ elements of both, but stay true to their basic leanings.
    Last edited by Omar Karindu; 07-29-2011 at 09:15 AM.

  9. #9
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    Alternate realities and worlds have been pretty huge story mines for both companies it seems over the last few years. That used to be more of a DC thing, other than the Squadron Supreme which of course was a DC nod. Days of Future Past seemed to kind of change that for Marvel and became a huge part for better or worse down the line on the X-men stories.

    Intended or not there are a whole lot of thematic and plot parallels in Captain America Reborn/The Return of Bruce Wayne and Final Crisis/Fear Itself.

  10. #10
    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    It's worth noting that DC likes to do parallel Earths with diffeent "rules" or entirely different people behind familiar masks, while Marvel likes to do alternate futures and parallel timelines where the familiar characters are the same people as altered by diverging events.

  11. #11

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    Actually, I'd argue that DC has headed further towards a Marvel-style contempt for authority and organizations. Identity Crisis put a black mark on the entire Silver Age, casting the whitebread OG Justice League as shadowy manipulators who lobotomized their foes. Recent Batman stories have dealt heavily in the secret history of Gotham City and the Wayne family, and the rot that extends deeply into the city's roots (well beyond Gordon's ability to control, as evidenced by Simon Hurt's deranged Bat-Cops). The recent Green Lantern comics have shown an exceedingly negative portrayal of the Guardians, who are incompetently inflexible lawmakers at best. It's not just universally despised stories that have "Marvellized" the way the heroes interact with the rest of the world.

  12. #12
    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    The companies are the same and have been for decades. They've had 80% of their writers bounce back and forth between them. You can prefer Superman to Spider-Man or Daredevil to Flash, but "universe" wise the only differences are the trappings and details. None of the differences people give have really been true since the 70s.
    Pull List; seems to be too long to fit in my sig...

  13. #13
    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitz the Bloody View Post
    Actually, I'd argue that DC has headed further towards a Marvel-style contempt for authority and organizations. Identity Crisis put a black mark on the entire Silver Age, casting the whitebread OG Justice League as shadowy manipulators who lobotomized their foes. Recent Batman stories have dealt heavily in the secret history of Gotham City and the Wayne family, and the rot that extends deeply into the city's roots (well beyond Gordon's ability to control, as evidenced by Simon Hurt's deranged Bat-Cops). The recent Green Lantern comics have shown an exceedingly negative portrayal of the Guardians, who are incompetently inflexible lawmakers at best. It's not just universally despised stories that have "Marvellized" the way the heroes interact with the rest of the world.
    Maybe, but there's still a difference in that the tarnished icons -- with the exception of the Guardians, who've been getting tarnished since the 1970s -- tend to recover and move on at DC, even to the point of having their mistakes actually undone. The long game of Identity Crisis is that Zatanna apologized and is back as a pseudo-Silver Age hero. The Wayne family, with
    the exception of one crazy colonial ancestor, are invariably revealed as noble wonderful people to a one. The Silver Age JLA repented and Superman and Batman were conveniently not involved and, anyway, nobody brings the whole thing up to Barry or Hal now that they're back from the dead. At DC, most of the flaws and darkness are quietly whitewashed again after the big story has run its course.

    Compare Marvel, where Daredevil, Tony Stark, and Bucky don't ever get a real pass for what they did years or even decades ago in story or publishing time. Marvel is where every death Spider-Man was tied to floats back up in Peter Parker's ongoing guilt crisis. Compare how often Gwen Stacy comes up 40 years after the fact to how quickly Kyle Rayner stopped even mentioning Alex Dewitt just 5 years into his career.

    That's the lingering difference.

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