More fool I, the optimist who accused the human race of being able to look at a choice between two separate and opposing forces and not make a conflict out of it.
Apparently, to misquote the legendary and late - ever so late - Sean Bean, one does not simply read both Marvel AND DC comic books. Well, how was I to know - I’d only just finished the New York Times Bestselling Batman story arc “The Court of the Owls” (as published by DC) in time for Christmas, when I am set to stock up on a batch of brand new Deadpool and Punisher volumes to complete my collections in both (of which both are, incidentally, published by Marvel). My comic book collection sits neatly on my shelf, in no particular order outside of the OCD-necessitating numerical order by volume and series. DC characters rub shoulders with Marvel characters; cross-overs of epic proportions like Marvel’s acclaimed “Civil War” and DC’s even-more-acclaimed “Night of the Owls” (Hey, the New52 is great, what can I say) lie side-by-side for want of more space to display them all. I would never have supposed that this laissez-faire attitude to comic book collecting was, in certain circles, considered a breach of natural law usually relegated to Westboro Baptist Church picket-signs and slogans.
It appears, to summarise, that Marvel and DC are mutually exclusive in the keen and judgemental eyes of many comic book fans. How dare people suggest that Marvel is superior to DC, one forumite comments. He had just finished convincing his friend to “switch” over to DC from that Sodom they call Marvel Comics! How dare anyone question his fire-and-brimstone resolve on this issue!
I believe in the merits of healthy brand competition as much as anybody; and more than that, everyone has a preference. Pepsi over Coke, Apple over Microsoft, McDonalds over Burger King…sometimes these preferences translate into financial crucibles. Most families cannot afford more than one videogame console in their home; this makes the ongoing holy war between Xbox and Playstation an all-or-nothing affair, as far as sales figures for both are concerned. These divisions I understand; for foodstuffs there is no accounting for taste, and you are generally not going to go out of your way to spend money on something you do not enjoy unless you absolutely have to. In the realm of videogames, you are also going to make the decision on a console based on what suits you most as a gamer, what you want out of your gaming experience and, bottom line, how that experience will affect your wallet.
These arguments don’t hold water for comic books. A brand-spanking new issue of DC Comics’ latest Harley Quinn series, for instance, cost me €2.95 at my local comic book store. That’s pocket change. I am not ever going to break the bank in a bid to sate my hunger for the next stage in both Batman AND Captain America’s daring adventures.
But, then again, there’s no accounting for taste. Maybe somebody finds the Avengers boring and predictable, or someone can’t take the Flash seriously when all he really does is run around really fast. And that’s fine; but then don’t make forum posts about getting your friend to “switch.” He’s reading comic books, not converting to Mormonism. The first comic book I ever bought with my own money was The PunisherMAX Vol. 1 - In The Beginning. A Marvel character handled by MAX comics, who recently (read: a few years ago) took over several prominent Marvel characters to give them a more gritty, adult revamp and launch new series’ under their names. For all intents and purposes, though, The Punisher was - and is - still comfortably a Marvel comic. That didn’t stop me from getting my hands on DC’s Batman or the Sandman or, this past week, New52 Harley Quinn.
I guess what prompts me to write is the sort of disillusionment I have tonight with my fellow man (because God knows I had nothing but kind things to say about our particular species of Great Ape before this) at the realisation that he cannot take ANY disparity in options and NOT find a way to create conflict from it. Is it really so hard, I’m putting this out there, to simply read Marvel and DC comics and not have to get all elitist and high and mighty about it?
Can’t we all just get along? And read lots of comics in the meantime?