Favoratism for one, Abandonment of the other

Is Marvel a sacred cow, and DC a sacrificial lamb, for some comic book fans?

March 1, 2005

By Avi Green

Iíd been thinking about this already for some time, that the legitimization of Identity Crisis by some would-be fans of comics was because of a pro-Marvel bias, while DC on the other hand is considered expendable, and anything bad that happens to that universe is throughly acceptable for anyone who thinks Marvel is a better company and universe.

Well, itís true that, if you know where to look, youíll find some think-tanks with those very exact positions on both companies and their respective characters and universes. And that, I fear, is whatís ultimately allowing for the DCU to be abused as it was this past year by not just the company, but also some of the fans themselves.

On Comic Book Resources once, one poster said that, ďMost comic readers are bigger fans of Marvel than they are DC. It's harder to be critical of something you like, so fans are more willing to be critical of DC than of Marvel.Ē While this is certainly true, it also goes the opposite direction, and that some Marvel fans are willing to tolerate whenever something like the rape scene in Identity Crisis takes place within the DC Universe than they are if it does in the Marvel Universe.

On Hero Realm, which Iíve long since left for the most part, as I recall, a lot, perhaps even too many, people were Marvelites than they were DC fanatics. They seemed quite capable of criticizing something like J. Michael Strazcynskiís hack work on Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man, in a story titled ďSins PastĒ (more like "Sins Present," if you ask me), yet they seemed quite tolerant of what was done with Sue Dibny in IC. Which, if so, makes them a perfect example of the favoratist position taken by Marvel fans towards the House that Stan Built, and weirdly thus in favor of anything done to the House that Julie Built.

It can even be the other way around, to be sure, wherein DC fans could object to whatís done with the DCU, but are in full favor of whateverís done with the MCU. But either way, one thing is clear: itís not just a foolish path to take, itís also taking the risk of endangering either universe by allowing damage to be done to the one youíre less a fan of. Or, in other words, let your less favorite be abused, and you can be running the risk of allowing/encouraging that is your favorite to be damaged as well.

And to say the least, the misuse of Dr. Light in Identity Crisis may have very easily been what led to the misuse of both Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man, and an interview which Joe Quesada gave to Newsarama certainly suggested that.

There were also claims that a lot of the audience that read Identity Crisis were also migrants from Marvel, supposedly because readers from that end were interested in the ďhumanityĒ that took place in IC. But while itís certainly possible that some readers were Marvel migrants, even that may have been a bit exaggerated in a manner of speaking. Either way, I do have to question what anyone thought was humanity, meaty personalities, or a human aspect in IC, given that the women all came off very badly, so much in fact, that itís hard to say that they were in any ways depicted in a believable Ė or even a human Ė way. And when you see that the rape of Sue Dibny was trivialized and the miniís overall viewpoint one-sided and almost exclusively masculine, you know that even that whole claim was otherwise false.

It was on Hero Realm, to say the least, that I saw some of the arguments that would suggest that it were the ďhumanityĒ that led some Marvelites to read IC. But then if that particular miniseries really had something like that, well then, donít any of the other DC books have humanity in them as well?

In fairness, itís all according to oneís own perception. But either way, letís be clear: DC has had some form of deeper personality ever since the Bronze Age, when Denny OíNeil for one took to dealing with such characters as Green Arrow. And when the post-Crisis era began, Superman and Wonder Woman, in their incarnations since then, have certainly had some kind of a personality, if thatís what the question is. And certainly more in depth storytelling to boot. And the teen protagonists, well, they most certainly had personality when developed, thatís for sure.

Unfortunately, whatever be the situation with DC, not everyone sees it that way, and, from my experience with what I read on HRís own forums, because they donít want to see it that way! Itís almost like the reverse of what an anti-Americanist, or an anti-Israelist, wants to think or believe, even though thatís more in relation to what goes on in the real world, not in literature.

In any case though, this is why I would like to point out that I for one do not read even Marvel comics simply because the characters there have personalities and personal problems to deal with every now and then. Nope, I donít worry solely about those things. Rather, I read both DC and Marvel, if anywhere, for the themes that they were known for in their time: action, adventure, and suspense. (Mystery too, in fact.) If thereís anything I do appreciate in such comic books, itís that the characters be likable in what character traits they do have, and I certainly wouldnít appreciate it if they were written as nasty and treat the innocent societies theyíre in the business of protecting like dirt. Itís that precise latter description there thatís one of the reasons why I canít dig Batman nowadays, ever since virtually every Bat-writer started trying to imitate Frank Millerís Dark Knight Returns when the mid-1990ís came around.

But to say the least, from what I picked up in the attitudes being shown on Hero Realm since 2003, thatís why I realize that a couple of the posters there who claimed that Identity Crisis was better than any of the other DCU because the characters had more personality than in the other DC books (and the handful I speak of, interestingly enough, werenít exactly what Iíd think of as very moral people), were not reading books like Identity Crisis for the humanity, or any DC books for that matter, but ratherÖbecause theyíre more mature in tone. (At least, that's my perception.)

Thatís not what even every single Marvelite reads even the House of Ideasí books for. Most certainly not the ones who have more sense.

Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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