DC vs. Marvel: Transportation


The most important category of objects in the comic book universe of DC and Marvel has to be the weapons.  I look at this topic at:

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/marvel-vs-dc-weapons/

I would argue that the second most important category of objects in the DC and Marvel comic book universe are objects of transportation.  Superheroes fight supervillains and weapons are needed to do this.  Unfortunately for superheroes, supervillains are often a cowardly lot that will flee with the loot rather than fight.  Some warrior supervillains like Doomsday will stand and fight Superman but many supervillains try to flee Superman.  This means the superhero needs a speedy mode of transport to catch the supervillain and the supervillain wants a mode of speedy transportation to escape.  Plus when a crime occurs, the superhero needs to show up at the scene of the crime in the first place.  Last but not least, most superheroes patrol anything from a sector of a galaxy, Green Lanterns, to a section of city, Daredevil and Hell’s Kitchen, and need a way of getting around.

In other science fiction universe there is a “vehicle” category but comic books are more speculative fiction than science fiction and some of the most iconic and important forms of transport only vaguely fit even the most general definition of vehicle.  This post will look at vehicles but also discuss other objects that provide transportation.  Does DC or Marvel have the coolest objects of transportation?

DC Transportation

Below is a list of objects of transportation in the DC universe.

  1. Adam Strange’s Jetpack
  2. Alpha Centurion’s Pax Romana
  3. Ambush Bug’s Teleport Suit
  4. Batboat
  5. Batcycle
  6. Batmobile
  7. Batplane
  8. Birds of Prey – Aerie One
  9. Birds of Prey – Aerie Two
  10. Black Manta’s Sea Saucer
  11. Black Manta’s Walker
  12. Blackhawk Planes
  13. Blue Beetle’s Bug
  14. Blue Tracer
  15. Boom Tube
  16. Booster Mobile
  17. Brains Submarine
  18. Braniac’s Skull Ship
  19. Braniac’s Star Ship
  20. Brontadon (Ship)
  21. Catwoman’s Catmobile
  22. Catwoman’s Catplane
  23. Challenger SST
  24. Clockincopter
  25. Cluster Ship
  26. Cometeer
  27. Craddock Carriage
  28. Di’ib
  29. Doomsday Ship
  30. Eye of Zared
  31. Fiddler’s Fiddle Car
  32. Flash’s Cosmic Threadmill
  33. Flying Fish
  34. Flying Sundial
  35. Fokker Dr. I
  36. Gentleman’s Horse
  37. Gibel Ship
  38. Golden Knight Flying Horse
  39. Gorandian Battle Tripod
  40. Gorandian Submarine
  41. Green Arrow’s Arrowcar
  42. Green Arrow’s Arrowplane
  43. Green Lantern Ring
  44. Grumman XF5F
  45. Gyrosub
  46. Haunted Tank
  47. Hawkman’s Wings
  48. Hourman’s Timeship
  49. Huntress Motorcycle
  50. Javelin-7
  51. Jokermobile
  52. Jonah Hex’s Mechanical Horse
  53. JSA’s Steel Eagle
  54. Justice League Cruiser
  55. Justice League Teleporter
  56. Kal-El’s Rocketship
  57. Kanjar Ro’s Spaceship
  58. Lansarian Morphing Disk
  59. Legion Cruiser
  60. Legion Flight Rings
  61. Legion of Superheroes Flying Rings
  62. Legion of Superheroes Time Bubble
  63. Legion of Superheroes Time Cube
  64. Lobo’s Spacehog
  65. LX-811 Star Cruiser
  66. Mark 494 Star Cruiser
  67. Mitsu-Bishi
  68. Mobius Chair
  69. Multipurpose Intercept/Reconnaissance Vehicle
  70. Mustang Three
  71. Nautilus of Earth ABC
  72. Newsboy Legion’s Whiz Wagon
  73. Omega Men Mothership
  74. Orion’s Astro-Harness
  75. Owlship
  76. P-40 Warhawk
  77. Paco’s Convertible
  78. Panzer-Ship
  79. Peacemaker Hog
  80. Pilgrim One
  81. Quantum Jet
  82. Rip Hunter’s Timesphere
  83. Robin’s Redbird
  84. Royal Flush Gang’s Flying Cards
  85. Sam
  86. Samson’s Chronomobile
  87. Sandals of Hermes
  88. Scanner One
  89. Scarlet Skier’s Cosmic Skis
  90. Scorpion-Ship
  91. Sea Witch
  92. Sheba
  93. Space Cab
  94. Space Shuttle Excalibur
  95. Star-Rocket Racer
  96. Starhunter’s Sunrider
  97. Steel Eagle
  98. Super-Cycle
  99. Superman’s Phantom Zone Projector – It transports you to another dimension!
  100. Supermobile
  101. Swinging through the rooftops – Batman
  102. T-Jet
  103. T-Sub
  104. Teen Titan’s Helicopter
  105. Thangarian Star Cruiser
  106. Time Bubble
  107. Trickster’s Air Shoes
  108. User: Bonesaw 19
  109. Vig-Cycle
  110. Vigilante’s Motocycle
  111. Warehouse X Toys
  112. Warhound
  113. Warlord’s Plane
  114. Whirly-Bat
  115. Whiz Wagon
  116. Wildcat’s Motorcycle
  117. Wingcycle
  118. Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane

Some of the more famous objects of transportation are Adam Strange’s Jetpack, the Batmobile, the Flash’s Cosmic Threadmill, the Haunted Tank, Hawkman’s Wings, Green Lantern’s Ring, Kal-El’s Rocketship, Legion of Superheroes Time Bubble, and Wonder Woman’ Invisible Plane.  The top two of this list, the crème de la crème, are the Batmobile and Kal El’s Rocketship.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Batmobile has been praised again and again.  The Arrowmobile, Catmobile, Jokermobile and to some extent the Spider-Mobile, as parody, are all derived from the Batmobile.  Kal-El’s Rocketship refers to the space ship that delivered Superman to the planet Earth from Krypton.  The Batmobile has been the subject of schematics from the beginning and you can buy toy collections of Batmobiles from the golden age to the present.

Superman’s rocket is a very different affair and the particulars of how the ship looks have varied tremendously from the golden age to the present.  This is a contest between a very visually defined vehicle and an icon.  The historic significance of Superman’s rocket ship is more important than the Batmobile.  The rocket ship is an integral part of the Superman mythos and that mythos in turn largely defined comic books from the beginnings to the present.  On iconic grounds I would say Kal El’s rocketship is the most important object of transportation in the DC universe and the coolest.

Marvel Transportation

Below is a list of objects of transportation in the DC universe.

  1. Asgardian Star Jammer
  2. Avengers Quinjet
  3. Big Wheel
  4. Dr. Doom’s Time Machine
  5. Dr. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation
  6. Fantastic Four’s Fantasti-Car
  7. Fantastic Four’s Pogo Plane
  8. Flying Horses – Valyky, Black Knight
  9. Galactus Ship
  10. Ghost Rider’s Hell Cycle
  11. Green Goblin’s Glider
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy – Freedom’s Lady
  13. Hawkeyes Sky-cycle
  14. Iron Man’s Armor
  15. Kang’s Time-Ship
  16. Moon Knight’s Helicopter
  17. Nextwave’s Shockwave Rider
  18. Quasar’s Quantum Bands
  19. Runaway’s Leapfrog
  20. S.H.I.E.L.D. Flying Car
  21. S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
  22. Silver Surfer’s Board
  23. Spider-Man’s Spider-Mobile
  24. Stiltman’s Stilts
  25. Swinging through the rooftops – Spiderman, Daredevil
  26. Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir
  27. X-Men’s Blackbird

Some of the most important objects of transportation in the Marvel universe include:

the Fantasti-Car, Iron Man’s Armor, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Thor’s hammer and the X-Men’s Blackbird.  I have to mention is the Spider-Mobile that is largely forgotten but was in Spider-Man during the seventies and was hilarious.  The Spider-Mobile was a parody of consumerism.  Spider-Man agreed to ride the Spider-Mobile for an ad agency.  Spider-Man is about always broke.  The problem was the Spider-Mobile was constantly having troubles.  Webhead would have been better of sticking to his webbing and swinging through the roof tops.

My Marvel favorites are the Fantasti-Car and Iron Man’s armor.  Both are marvels of comic book engineering.  Schematics of both were provided early on and you could almost believe these machines could be created.  They represent very different ideas of design.  Iron Man’s armor is a sleek, streamlined, minimalist machine that is a high tech, red and yellow, hot rod of the skies.  If Iron Man’s armor is a hot rod then the Fantasti-Car is a Volkswagen that is not streamlined but very practical.  The Fantasti-Car has a modular design that looks goofy but allows the individual Fantastic Four members to break away from the main ship and fight more effectively as a group.  Iron Man led to any number of armored imitators and again if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Iron Man’s armor wins.  However, does Iron Man’s armor deserve to win in this sort of contest?  Iron Man’s armor is more weapon than transport.  I think because of this the Fantasti-Car is the winner in the Marvel universe.  The modular design of the Fantasti-Car might have real life applications.

The Soviet Union often used tank riders instead of trucks for transportation during WW II.  Men hung onto tanks for dear life.  This was done due to a lack of trucks on the part of the Soviet Union.  However, later many tactical advantages came out of this experience.  The men could quickly jump from the tank and provide support to the tank and vice-versa in a way troops in trucks could not.

I wonder if there is the possibility of some sort of helicopter rider system in which special forces could break away from a helicopter using some sort of individual pod rocket system attached to the outside of the helicopter allowing for greater speed in exiting than the current rappelling system used by special forces.  You enter the external rocket pod using a door on the inside of the helicopter to provide maximum protection until the moment of exit.  The rocket pod also allows quicker dispersal of special forces around an area and the pod also offers some extra protection upon exiting the protection of the helicopter.

Conclusion

The winner of the DC competition is Superman’s rocket ship.  The winner of the Marvel competition is the Fantasti-Car.  I love the sixties campiness of the Fantasti-Car but iconic value beats campiness and Superman’s object wins as the coolest object of transportation!  DC wins!  In the course of this study something else stood out.

What is very interesting when comparing the objects of transportation of DC with Marvel is that there is a giant difference in the number of such objects.  This difference in numbers took me by surprise and is serendipitous result of this study.  DC has 117 objects of transportation.  Marvel has 27 objects of transportation.  I have done my best to be exhaustive in the compilation of both lists but still may have missed an important object of transportation here and there but the difference in numbers is so great that one must come to the conclusion transportation, as reflected in the numbers above, is more important in the DC universe than the Marvel universe.  I have my own after the fact theory about this.

I am old enough to have read comic books from the golden age to the present and let me assure younger readers that comic books have changed tremendously!  The Marvel universe is a relatively new universe compared to DC whose superheroes and story line foundations were largely created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the sixties.  I would argue one basic difference between Marvel and DC, especially in the sixties, was that Marvel focused a lot more on fights than the chase.  For example, Superman spent way more time flying around looking for crooks than Thor.  Thor quickly found his enemy and most of the issue focused on the fight.  Thor fought characters like the Hulk.  The Hulk does not flee from Thor that’s for sure.  I actually bought the first issue in which Thor and the Hulk fought solo and even then I knew this was something different.  For one thing Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created all these fight scene cartoon blurb sounds that had no equivalent in the DC universe.  Jack Kirby used a lot more  lines showing shock waves than anyone else.  The fight looked more real and the key to this was actually using exaggerated action that is less real but interestingly looks more real due to the nature of the medium.  I am into martial arts and have at least fifty books in the area with pictures that show each move of a kata and the pictures look pretty boring compared to a well done Jack Kirby punch or kick.  I came to the conclusion that Marvel had better fight scenes and certainly longer fight scenes than DC.  The difference in the quality and quantity of fight scenes between Marvel and DC has largely lessened over time.

I mentioned Doomsday and Superman in the introduction and their fight as chronicled in the Death of Superman storyline was generally one giant multi-issue series of fight scenes.  I hate to admit it but I enjoyed the series!  Remind me to grow up one of these days.  For the record, Superman didn’t die despite the title of the series and I knew darn well Superman wouldn’t die and was amazed how my friends and family bought the lie hook line and sinker!  And also for the record, Captain America and Batman are not going to stay dead!

The greater emphasis on fight scenes made Marvel more “modern” from their beginnings.  Movies and TV were becoming more violent in the sixties and it made sense for comic books to go this route as well.  Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were more attuned to modern media trends than their counterparts at DC at the time and this is one reason Marvel became such a success at the expense of DC.  As a side note, I do not consider comic books overly violent at all compared to other media.

Comic books have become more violent from the sixties to the present but are still much less violent than other media.  I am especially amazed at some of the cutesy violent video games on Facebook that have tremendous appeal to my nieces and nephews who are in the six to ten year old age group.  I would much rather my nieces and nephews were reading the most violent DC or Marvel comic book out there than playing those horrible video games.  I guess I am getting old because despite the best efforts of my nieces and nephews to explain the games, I had no interest.

The games are kind of Hello Kitty meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  You have these very cute cartoon characters wielding knifes or whatever and doing terrible things to other cute cartoon characters with blood and guts pouring out.  I like my genres purer than that.  I like Hello Kitty and I like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre but I really don’t care for Hello Kitty acting like Leatherface, the bad guy in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The games are very similar to Ren and Stimpy of The Simpsons fame but again are video games rather than a cartoon within a cartoon.  I do think the interactive nature of a violent video game as opposed to a violent cartoon on TV is worrisome.  Back to the topic of this post!

Another example of fight versus chase, many fifties Batman issues were reprinted in 80 page Giants in the sixties that I read when I was young and in many ways I grew up with this version of Batman.  The fifties Batman is all about the chase!  The Batman of the fifties invariably ended up in some sort of scenario with giant objects.  Batman chased and fought crooks in an almost surrealistic landscape.  Batmite was introduced at this time and used his reality warping powers not to fight Batman but to make the chase more interesting.  There is no Marvel counterpart to this sort of chase.

I would argue the greater number of objects of transportation in the DC universe is due to DC having a golden age inheritance in which the chase was more important than the fight.  Marvel does not share this inheritance and presumably would have more weapons than DC.  Counting weapons is much harder than counting objects of transportation.  I spent hours compiling lists of weapons in the DC and Marvel universe for my last post and am still not happy with the result.  Weapons are ubiquitous in comic books.  Objects of transportation are much smaller in number and easier to count definitively.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women

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