I'll be honest, I kind of hate the "Marvel vs DC" battle. I understand it from a branding standpoint, sure, so, fine, that's what creators want to do to stay on point. But the fan involvement is strange to me. I just don't get it. Comics are comics and, frankly, neither company looks particularly good when you dig into their business practices.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a preference.
The first comic books I ever bought with my own money were Web of Spider-man #17 and Uncanny X-Men #207. I bought them off the spinner rack from my local Convenient store (it's fully name, at least now, is Convenient Food Mart, but the I went to when I was 11 is now a Shell gas station). I just now noticed that they came out in different months, so thank you outdated spinner rack.
It's easy to see why I picked these two comics. Aside from the fact that I knew who Spider-man was because of his cartoons, look at this cover:
Sure, it's a little wordy particularly given how exciting the cover is (note: it doesn't need all the words), but at least some of the words work: "Don't Dare Skip to the Last Page!" That was enough for me.
And while I didn't really know who the X-Men were, come on:
That has to be one of the best X-Men covers of all time. It's so harsh and gritty and I don't think Wolverine has ever look more cool.
It's aided and abetted by the classic Marvel floating heads box. Look at those faces! How could you not want to know more about those faces?
There were two DC comics that caught my attention, but that I ultimately passed on:
I would eventually end up going back and getting that Who's Who in the DC Universe #17, but I'll come back to that in a bit.
The beauty of those Marvel comics is that they contained a lot of in house ads or ads for comic book stores that were specifically pushing Marvel books. In other words, I got to see a lot of covers of a lot of other Marvel comics and they all looked really cool.
There were also, at this point, two other X-books (New Mutants and the recently launched X-Factor), so when I took a liking to Marvel's merry mutants, there were other comics for me to jump into right away.
Pretty quickly, I was a Marvel Zombie.
That's not to say I didn't dabble in DC books here and there, most notably the Who's Who series mentioned above. But for as much as I loved reading about the vast history of the DCU, those comics never motivated me to go out and by others. That's particularly strange given that my favorite part of any issue of Who's Who was the inside back cover where it showed covers of other DC books.
I was a complicated kid.
I had no idea that at the time I'd started reading comic books DC had just undergone Crisis on Infinite Earths, overhauling their entire shared universe so someone like me could just jump right into it. Even now I often feel like Crisis must have happened well before my time, which just isn't the case.
I spent a good five years as a Marvel Zombie I read all the X-books (an increasing number). I read Alpha Flight, West Coast Avengers, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and the New Warriors. I dabbled in almost every other title Marvel put out, from Power Pack to the Punisher. I was fully submersed in Marvel's shared universe.
But then something happened in 1990: I got over it. I got over the Marvel vs DC mentality.
I bought my first issue of the Legion of Superheroes.
Legion of Superheroes (v3) #58 actually came out a year earlier, but for some reason it was still in the recent releases section of my local comic book store. I'd long had a fascination with the team, from seeing that issue on the spinner rack years before to those aforementioned covers in the back of Who's Who. Legion characters just seem so foreign, so different from standard superheroes.
I think I picked up this issue because I'd read an article about Keith Giffen's return to the comic in Comics Scene magazine. The art that accompanied that article featured strange characters in strange costumes. This look, in particular, piqued my interest:
Seriously, what the hell is even going on there? Is that some character who shoots things out of his face? And that hood looks awesome. How could I not want to learn more?
Back to the point at hand, I started buying comics from both Marvel and DC (and eventually Image, which is as far as I would go until I decided to quit comics all together not long after going to college, only to be drawn back in but Stray Bullets and Strangers in Paradise, decidedly NOT Marvel and DC). And for many years I never really picked a side. The idea that there even WERE sides seemed silly to me.
But surely I must have a preference, yes?
Yes. And my preference is DC.
But that's another post entirely.