Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bring on the Villains

In an earlier post on the early days of Marvel. I pointed out how different things were behind the scenes. While this contributed to the end product, that is not what a 10 year old boy was interested in. We wanted fights. That meant having good villains.

Quick - name a good fight in a DC comic published no later than 1965. I don't think that there was one. The heroes were always stronger than the villains. Superman's main opponents were brainy like Luthor and Braniac or worked over Batman villains like Toyman. Half the time there was no villain. Superman was turned into something by Red Kryptonite or something similar.

Batman wasn't much better. Even Robin could beat Joker. Except for a couple of interesting but underused characters like Clayface and Blockbuster, most of Batman's foes were regular guys with a gimmick.

The same thing is true for Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and the rest. As soon as they got their hands on their opponent the fight was over.

Things were different at Marvel. Their heroes were regularly fighting out of their weight class. The Fantastic Four took on giant monsters, an alien invasion then more monsters, all in the first three issues.

Spider-Man started slow (a sneak thief, a run-away space capsule, etc) but his opponents quickly improved. Most of them were stronger than he was one way or another. By the end of the second year fought the Scorpion who was created to be stronger than Spidey. He was beaten to a pulp, twice, before finally winning by out-fighting the Scorpion.

Most issues were like this. You really didn't know who would win. You assumed that the hero would but every now and then he lost. When fighting the Adaptiod, the best Captain America could do as survive. The Absorbing Man decked Thor. The Hulk beat Spider-Man in Spidey's own book. Later he took on the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, beating them all. At various points, the Submariner beat the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Hulk in their own books.

It's easy to act heroic when there's little chance that you will lose. The Marvel heroes didn't have that luxury. In the DC universe, Superman was the stongest there was, period. Over at Marvel, there was a whole class of beings who were more powerful than any hero. This started with the Watcher and escalated with Galactis.

Even Dr. Doom, the closest thing that Marvel has to Lex Luthor, is a lot more interesting. He carries enough weapons in his armor to take on anyone - plus, Luthor turned evil after loosing his hair, Doom turned evil after his face was scared. Which one is lame?

So, you are a 10-year-old and you only have enough money to buy one comic. Spider-Man has been captured and chained up by the Green Goblin who is fighting a masked crimelord for control of New York. Batman is fighting the Joker (again). Which one gets your twelve cents?


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batman fan 100000000000 said...

i would pay for the batman issue just because im a batman fan. But, marvel kicks d.c.'s ass with everything else

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