While DC Comics and Marvel continue to advance the industry, there are some elements DC has mastered more than their marvelous competition.
DC and Marvel have enjoyed a friendly rivalry that has lasted the almost eight decades the two have been in print. Fans and creators alike have noted the contrasting tones, styles, and universes. The differences between the two publishers are significant enough to attract different fans, depending on their interests.
DC Comics and Marvel's competitive relationship hasn't eased up, especially not as far as the fans are concerned. The publishers have cultivated different expectations from fans, focused on varying types of heroes, and even explored similar ideas from unique angles. Although Marvel has a lot of advantages over DC, there are many areas where DC excels beyond their competition.
Both DC Comics and Marvel have a strong history in horror comics. From the classic horror series like Fear and House of Secrets to modern stories like Marvel Zombies and DCeased, the Big Two have a strong horror presence. However, DC comes out on top of the genre.
DC Comics has dedicated imprints like Vertigo and Black Label, which specialize in genres like horror. As a result, series like Hellblazer and Saga of the Swamp Thing delve deeper into the stuff of nightmares and leave Marvel behind.
Historically, the Big Two have seen a great range of writers and artists come and go. These have included legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gardner Fox, Siegel & Shuster, Kane & Finger and Len Wein. The modern era of comics have been much more favorable to DC Comics writers.
These DC writers have become synonymous with their given comic book runs. These have included Scott Snyder's Batman, Geoff Johns' Green Lantern and JSA books, Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Grant Morrison's JLA and Action Comics. The modern era of writers has largely worked out better for DC overall.
DC Comics places a better emphasis on their own history and tradition, which makes a lot of sense. After all, many of the comic book industry's first steps can be credited to DC. These include the first superhero team, the JSA, and Superman's creation giving birth to the superhero genre itself.
With so many changes behind them, including several reboots and character erasures, it would be easy for DC Comics to lose sight of its history. Despite this, they have managed to stay true to themselves in the long-term and continue to honor some of their oldest and most obscure creations.
Both DC Comics and Marvel have a healthy number of legacy heroes and sidekicks, but DC firmly leads the way. Recent years have seen virtually every major hero embrace their supporting casts of characters and sidekicks, even multiple generations all at once.
The emphasis on legacy characters at DC is often divisive among fans, but the publisher places a greater focus on the concept than Marvel does. There have been some new additions made to the Spider-family, but little comes close to DC's teams of six Flashes or thirteen Bat-family members.
In recent years, both DC Comics and Marvel have pivoted their sales strategies towards events more than ever. Now, fans may face the range of six or more events in a single year, something that' caused some fans to grow tired of crossovers. However, these are often inconsequential for the wider universe.
Having an impact on the greater continuity remains crucial to any comic event's success and longevity. Events like Crisis On Infinite Earths, Flashpoint and Rebirth had a much greater impact on DC than comparable Marvel events. This has largely been due to DC's greater reliance on reboots.
Aside from horror, the DC Comics and Marvel like to tell stories aimed at a more mature audience. Kingdom Come and Watchmen are seminal DC works that have gained relevance beyond the comic book industry and are respected as the peak of the medium.
Series like Sandman and Preacher are legendary even in their ability to penetrate mainstream markets and fans who weren't avid comic readers. Writers like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Garth Ennis have told some deep and powerful stories at DC that just aren't as common with Marvel.
Both Marvel and DC are companies well-known for their expansive multiverses, especially in the modern era. These parallel worlds have explored ideas ranging from heroes and villains trading places to entire continuities being reimagined based on other works of fiction.
The multiverse as an idea has been much better explored within the world of DC. In fact, some of their most famous stories take place in alternate worlds. Not only did DC Comics create the multiverse in its Flash of Two Worlds story, its Elseworlds imprint delivered a much deeper look at these worlds.
Many fans may take more of an interest in magic than the traditional superhero genre. Although Marvel has some excellent magicians like Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange, DC is the king of magic. Even Marvel's premier magician, Doctor Strange, was influenced by the likes of DC's Doctor Fate.
Magic has a strong fan base, so telling supernatural stories through comics is a surefire way to appeal to a wide audience. DC characters like Constantine and Madame Xanadu, stories like Fables andSandman, and teams like Justice League Dark all cement DC's status as the leading universe of mysticism.
Thanks to the likes of Jack Kirby's Fourth World, the history of Krypton, and the Green Lantern Corps, DC has always excelled in cosmic stories. While Marvel also tells cosmic stories, they pale in comparison to DC's talents in the department, despite some strong space bound tales.
The DC universe feels more expansive, from the wars of Rann and Thanagar to the struggles of New Genesis and its conflict. DC never fails to introduce new corners and histories to its world in compelling ways, most recently in the enrichment of Warworld from the pages of Action Comics.
Whether Marvel fans would admit it or not, the comic book industry has often looked to DC Comics for direction. The superhero genre itself owes its existence to DC's Superman, and that debut defined the Golden Age. The Silver and Modern age of comics are each marked by major DC comic books.
Even the Bronze Age's timeline is typically attributed to DC, from Jack Kirby joining the company to the more grounded writings of Denny O'Neil. Regardless of DC's market position at any given time, their role as leaders in the industry can't be denied.
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