DC vs. Marvel: Post Compilation


I have written many posts about “DC vs. Marvel”.  This is an ongoing compilation of these posts starting from the oldest to the most recent.

DC vs. Marvel Western Heroes

What if DC cowboys and Native American heroes took on the Marvel cowboys and Native American heroes?  First, who are they?  The following is a list of major DC Western heroes: Arak, Ballon Buster, Bat Lash, Big Anvil, Black Bison, Brass Buttons, Captain Fear, Cinnamon, Dan Hunter, Don Caballero, El Castigo, El Diablo, El Papagayo, Firehair, Frenchie, Hawk, Son of Tomahawk, Healer Randolph, Johnny Cloud, Jonah Hex, Kaintuck Jones, Long Rifle, Lord Shilling, Madame 44, Miss Liberty, Nighthawk, Pow-wow Smith, Roving Ranger, Scalphunter, Serifan, Silver Deer, Stovepipe, Strong Bow, Super-Chief, Terra-Man, Tomahawk, Trigger Twins, Vigilante, Whip, Wildcat, Wyoming Kid. 

The Marvel list is a lot shorter and includes American Eagle, Annie Oakley, Apache Kid, Arizona Kid, Ghost Rider, Gunhawk, Kid Colt, Matt Slade, Phantom Rider (Modern West), Outlaw Kid, Rawhide Kid, Red Warrior, Red Wolf, Ringo Kid, Shooting Star, Tex Morgan, Tex Taylor, Texas Kid, Texas Twister, Two-Gun Kid, Western Kid, and Wyatt Earp.  When the two lists are put side by side we notice a couple of interesting differences between these two universes.

DC has some superhero type cowboys and Native Americans.  Super-Chief is basically a superman type Native American.  Terra-Man fights Superman.  Some Marvel Western heroes that are more superheroes than Western heroes and include American Eagle, Texas Twister, Red Wolf and Shooting Star.  The “Western superheroes” would absolutely destory the more traditional Western heroes with their superpowers so they are going to be kept off the contest roll call.

Marvel also has a couple of real life Western heroes in their universe unlike DC, mainly Annie Oakley and Wyatt Earp.  What both companies share is a list of very obscure characters.  Marvel Westerns are described as having a big three that include the Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt.  The three kids were united in the title Mighty Marvel Western that ran from 1968-76 and perhaps this was an attempt at some sort of genre synergy.

So a logical contest would be the big three of Marvel versus the big three of DC.  Number one on the DC list has to be Jonah Hex due to critical acclaim, popularity and longevity. 

Jonah Hex first appeared in the seventies, not the fifties and sixties like most comic book Westerns, and has managed to survive to the present.  This is largely because Jonah Hex is an anti-hero and has had more interesting plot lines and superior artists and writers than other comic book heroes.  I have written about Jonah Hex in a post (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/the-lone-ranger-vs-other-fictional-gun-slingers/).

Number two in the DC pantheon would be Tomahawk due to longevity.  I was born in 1957 and first started reading comic books in 1964 as detailed in my Comic Book Autobiography (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/about/comic-book-autobiography/).  I remember Tomahawk fondly.  As a kid I always saw Tomahawk as a Davey Crockett/Daniel Boone copy because he wore a coon skin hat.  The series was set interestingly in the revolutionary war rather than the Wild West but when I was young I noticed the coon skin hat more than historical details.  I actually owned an imitation Davey Crokett coon skin cap so of course I would read a series with someone with such a hat on the cover!  Daniel Boone, the Disney TV series, was also very popular when I became aware of Tomahawk.  I was surprised to find out while researching this post that the Tomahawk series lasted from 1950 to 1972 for a total of 140 issues!  This may be some sort of record for a Western comic book.  This means Tomahawk came before the Disney movies and TV series, to my surprise.  Tomahawk even appeared the 2008 series The War that Time Forgot

Number three on the DC list is Bat Lash due to critical acclaim but not longevity.  Bat Lash won the Alley Awards in 1968 and 1969 for best Best Western Titles. Bat Lash only lasted eight issues.  I also picked Bat Lash because he actually appeared on an episode of Justice League Unlimited alongside Johan Hex in “The Once and Future Thing”.  This means Bat Lash has not totally joined the ranks of Westerns in comic book limbo.   Bat Lash was inspired in part by spaghetti Westerns of the time and I love spaghetti Westerns and this is my list!  Last but not least I have some vague memories of the issues I read as a kid and the same cannot be said of other Western fare I read when I was young.  Bat Lash is the weak link of my DC selection and I welcome comments.

The DC heroes face off against the kids of Marvel but Jonah Hex is missing.  The Marvel kids outnumber Bat Lash and Tomahawk, brought to the Wild West via a cave that allows time traveling or whatever, and manage to send them running for cover and they are pinned down.  Suddenly a stick of dynamite is tossed from a second story window and lands right in the middle of the Marvel kids and blows them into little pieces.  Jonah Hex is no fool.  He does not fight great gunfighters like the Marvel kids head on.  Bat Lash and Tomahawk are sickened by this dishonorable victory and ride away vowing to never associate with Jonah Hex again!  Jonah Hex could care less.

Another interesting contest would be between two supernatural Western heroes.  DC has El Diablo.  There is more than one reincarnation of Diablo but the Wild West version is host to a minor demon. El Diablo showed up alongside Bat Lash and Jonah Hex in the afore mentioned  Justice League Unlimited episode “The Once and Future Thing”. El Diablo could actually be the third most significant DC Western hero rather than Bat Lash.  The host of the demon is in a coma and the body only moves around when the demon roams the West seeking vengance. 

Marvel’s supernatural Western hero is the Ghost Rider, not the one with the bike, but the one with a horse.  The horsey Ghost Rider was retroactively renamed the Phantom Rider by Marvel but sorry the name on the comic book cover is the correct name no matter what Marvel decides later on.  The Ghost Rider wore a phosphorescent costume and was not a ghost at all.  Even minor demons can defeat fake ghosts so that match goes to El Diablo.  Now try to keep this straight, the story plot device of El Diablo is very similar to the Ghost Rider that rides a bike.  The modern Ghost Rider is also possesed by a demon.  The bike Ghost Rider is about a thousand times more famous and relevant than the horsy one but the horsey one does make an appearance of sorts in the Ghost Rider movie as the caretaker (Sam Elliot) who was a Western version of the Ghost Rider.

DC vs. Marvel War Heroes

This post will look at DC and Marvel heroes from their line of war comics.  The DC heroes include Blackhawk, Boy Commandos, Captain Storm, Creature Commandos, Enemy Ace, G.I. Robot, Gunner & Sarge, Haunted Tank, Hunter’s Hellcats, Johnny Cloud, the Losers, Mademoiselle Marie, Red, White and Blue and Sgt. Rock of Easy Company.  As I did in the DC vs. Marvel Western Heroes post (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/), I will pit the top three of the DC line against the top three of the Marvel line.  The top three in terms of fame are Blackhawk, Enemy Ace and Sgt. Rock of Easy Company. 

Blackhawk is the name of the leader of a free lance fighter pilot squadron and the name of their group.  They wore an aviator type uniform, they first appeared in Military Comics and their missions were decidedly military in nature.  Slowly but surely they became more like superheroes and started to fight more and more enemies with superpowers.  The New Blackhawk era lasted from issues #228-241 and each member got his own superhero costume.  The transition from military heroes to superheroes was abrupt.  Later on the Blackhawk team returned to their military roots.

Enemy Ace is the story of a German flying ace during World War I.  Enemy Ace first appeared in Our Army at War in 1965.  Enemy Ace is, as the title suggests, the enemy but has a sense of chivalry and a sense of the horror of war that is universal.  Enemy Ace is an antihero.  I do see similarities between Enemy Ace and Jonah Hex.  Both are none superhero genre heroes that succeed in large part due to their atypical, for comic books, antihero status which makes them more interesting.  Like Jonah Hex, Enemy Ace was later used by the darker Vertigo imprint. 

Sgt. Rock of Easy Company is probably the number one war hero of the DC line.  Sgt. Rock first appeared in G.I. Combat (January, 1959).  Sgt. Rock appeared in Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion in 2008.  This is quite a run for a war hero in comic books.  Sgt. Rock for most of his run had zero superhero elements.  Sgt. Rock generally carries a 45 calibre Thompson submachine gun and a .45 calibre Colt M1911A1 automatic pistol.  Sgt. Rock always carries a number of hand grenades that he can throw with great accuracy. 

Later Sgt. Rock appeared in Brave and the Bold #84, #96, #108, #117, and #124 in decidedly superhero type adventures with Batman.  This comic book tendency to reinvent war heroes and make them into superheroes is unfortunate.  Alan Moore, In the Twilight of the Superheroes, (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/non-fiction/twilight-of-the-superheroes-by-alan-moore/) points out that the juxtaposition of Sgt. Rock, for example, with the Legion of Superheroes is a bad idea and I agree.  Let the war heroes be war heroes!  Kanigher, the editor of Sgt. Rock, who created the majority of the Sgt. Rock stories, in a letter column in Sgt. Rock #374 stated that Sgt. Rock did not survive past 1945 effectively making the Brave and Bold Sgt. Rock stories null and void.

Marvel has a shorter list of war heroes that include Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos, Captain Savage and his Leathernecks, the characters in the The ‘Nam series, and the Phantom Eagle.  The ‘Nam was an attempt to create a realistic war comic.  The comic book happened in real time.  A monthly issue more or less described what happened in a month in Vietnam.  Nam related lingo was explained at the end of the comic book.  The ‘Nam characters are too real and would not stand against a chance against other comic book war heroes that are slightly superhuman.  The title became a less realistic comic book towards the end of its run with the introduction of Frank Castle who later becomes the Punisher.

The Punisher can be considered a war hero of sorts in that he was a soldier in Vietnam as detailed in The Nam.  The Punisher uses actual military weapons as detailed in The Punisher Armory.  The Punisher also does not have super powers.  On the other hand, the Punisher wears a costume and that is one of the defining characteristics of a superhero.  Most of all the Punisher fights superhero type enemies between conflicts with organized crime.  A high point of this sort of battle was the Punisher versus Doctor Doom story in Punisher #28.  Doctor Doom is the premiere super villain of the Marvel universe who can take on entire super hero teams such as the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the X-Men.  The Punisher should have no chance against Doctor Doom at all yet he manages to blackmail Doctor Doom into leaving him alone.  Only a superhero could do this.  No one would argue that Batman is not a superhero despite his lack of superpowers.  The Punisher can be seen as a very successful combination of superhero and war hero elements with an emphasis on superhero elements.

The star war hero of Marvel is Sgt. Fury who goes on to become a secret agent of SHIELD and is better known for this role than his war hero role.  Sgt. Fury first appeared in his own title in May of 1963 and is very similar to DC’s Sgt. Rock and probably Sgt. Rock was a model for Sgt. Fury to some extent.  Jack Kirby, who created DC’s Boy Commandos, mentioned in an interview that the Howling Commandos were adult versions of the Boy Commandos.  Sgt. Fury is far more famous than all the other war heroes of both universes put together.  Sgt. Fury was also much lighter fare than DC’s Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace.  Sgt. Fury stories generally avoided the horror of war theme of the DC titles. 

Captain America even shows up in Sgt. Fury #13!  The cover of this issue is at the begining of this post.  Captain America is created by the U.S. government and is described as a super soldier but is more super than soldier and does not even use military armament but instead throws an archaic shield.  Later Nuke emerges from the same super soldier program and does use military hardware and is a Vietnam vet.  Wolverine also comes from the same program providing some continuity to the Marvel universe but these super soldiers are clearly super heroes and not war heroes.

Fury is not some outlier of the Marvel universe but a character that is central to the Marvel universe.  Marvel recently had an event labeled Civil War and Fury as the ex-head of SHIELD plays a pivotal role in this event that involved just about every title in the Marvel universe in 2008.  Sgt. Fury logically fights his DC doppelganger Sgt. Rock.  The other Marvel war heroes are obscure characters but will be drafted in this contest due to a lack of options.

The Phantom Eagle is a World War I ace that fights for the allies and logically is an opponent of the Enemy Ace.  The Phantom Eagle had more super hero elements than the Enemy Ace including a mask that concealed his secret identity.  The Phantom Eagle had worked in a flying circus prior to fighting in World War I and was a expert stunt flyer.  The Phantom Eagle is also a very obscure character in the Marvel universe and someone who can describe this character really knows their Marvel universe history.

There is no equivalent to the Blackhawks in the Marvel universe.  There is a perfect equivalent to Marvel’s Captain Savage and his Leathernecks in the form of DC’s Captain Storm.  Captain Storm was a PT Boat Captain.  Captain Storm lost his leg in combat and had the leg replaced with a wooden leg but stayed in active duty which would not happen in the actual military.  Captain Storm actually had his own title in his very first adventure rather than having his adventures in one of the war anthologies before getting his own title later as was the custom at DC.  Captain Storm appeared as late as 2003 in the Losers Special.  The Losers were a collection of DC’s war heroes including Johnny Cloud and Gunner & Sarge. 

Marvel’s Captain Savage originally was introduced in Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos and the main mission of the Leathernecks was to ferry Sgt. Fury and his commandos around but eventually Captain Savage got his own title.  Pitting a fighter squadron against an infantry squad hardly seems fair but pitting two Captains that are both involved in amphibious operations does make sense.

The first battle is between the two Sergeants.  Sgt. Rock has a penchant for hand grenades that he throws with unerring accuracy.  Sgt. Rock believes Sgt. Fury is a Nazi imposter and throws a grenade at Sgt. Rock and blows him to pieces.  Sgt. Fury has a tendency to lose his shirt and run directly at heavily fortified positions with his submachine gun blazing rather than taking advantage of other weaponry such as grenades.  Sgt. Fury seems to think he is invulnerable like a superhero!  Sgt. Fury does not seem to know what cover is unlike Sgt. Rock.

In World War I, the Phantom Eagle and the Enemy Ace face off and the Phantom Eagle does all sorts of stunts that do not impress the Enemy Ace. The Phantom Eagle is shot down by the Enemy Ace while doing a loop.  The Enemy Ace wonders why this fool of a pilot was wearing a mask and concludes the aviator was probably deranged due to the horrors of war.

Captain Storm and Captain Savage get into a bar fight as to whether the Navy or the Marines are better and Captain Savage punches Captain Storm.  Captain Storm goes down because the wooden leg buckles.  Captain Savage sees his opponent on the ground and notices the wooden leg.  Captain Savage feels absolutely terrible.  Captain Savage pulls up Captain Storm rather than finishing him off and apologizes to Captain Storm. Captain Savage buys Captain Storm a drink and the fight is a draw.

DC has two war titles that are very interesting from a genre point of view.  The Haunted Tank is a tank that is haunted by Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart.  The ghost is a good ghost and helps the leader of the tank crew out with omniscient but cryptic advice.  I think this is the only comic book title that combines the supernatural and war genres.  The Vertigo line resurrected the Haunted Tank years later. 

The Creature Commandos appeared in Weird War Tales #93.  Weird War Tales generally combined the war comic genre with another genre.  The sister publication Weird Western Tales combined the Western genre with other genres.  The idea was to have creatures that generally appear in horror and put them in war situations as commandos. 

The original team consisted of J.A.K.E. and J.A.K.E. 2 that were the first and second GI Robot.  Warren Griffith suffered from clinical lycanthropy i.e. he was a werewolf.  Dr. Myrra Rhodes was effectively a gorgon.  Lt. Matthew Shrieve is the team leader and totally human.  Pvt. Elliot “Lucky” Taylor stepped on a land mine and put back together and looked like Frankenstein.  Sgt. Vincent Velcro was the vampire of the team. 

The modern team included Alten, a mummy like creature.  The Bogman was an amphibian that resembled the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Gunner was a cyborg.  Hunter is 75 and formerly of Hunter’s Hellcats.  Medusa is Myrra Rhodes who has mutated even more. Pvt. Elliot “Lucky” Taylor returns and now called Patchwork. Sgt. Vincent Velcro has become even more vampire like. Warren Griffith, the werewolf, has become more feral and out of control in the modern team.  This cross mixing of non-superhero genres is a hallmark of DC that Marvel never explored to the same extent. 

DC vs. Marvel Working Women

The non-superhero genre looked at in this post is women’s comics. This genre is defined by audience.  Comic books that are designed to appeal to women are considered women’s comic books.  In the US young boys rather than young girls read comic books.  As a comic book addict, growing up in the US, I am all too aware that you do not meet many attractive women in comic book shops and this is a stereotype that is true.  I just got done living in Japan for seven months and the situation in Japan is radically different.  A really big comic book store might be three to six stories high and one floor will be devoted to women’s comic books.  In general, romance comics are considered “women’s comics” in the US.  The vast majority of readers of romance comic books were young girls rather than young boys.  I have to admit that I often enjoyed reading romance comics even as a kid but all in all my interest is in superhero comic books and this is probably due to my gender.  However, for the purposes of this series, romance comics are useless. 

This series of posts pits on-going top characters from non-superhero genres against each other.  Romance comics do not have ongoing characters.  Romance stories after all generally describe first love and an ongoing series about first love is impossible.  There is a type of comic book that appeals to young girls and has ongoing character.  This is a type of women’s comic book that I dub the “working women” subgenre and this subgenre does have ongoing characters.  Working women comic books are about a woman and her job.  The job is generally either glamorous, dangerous or both.  The job is not “super”.  A woman who does super tasks is a super heroine.  Super heroines are often dressed in skimpy, sexy outfits like Wonder Woman and their job is to attract teenage or older males not a female audience.

Marvel has had several titles that center around a female protagonist and her job.  These titles invariably have a romantic angle that is more prominent than in the superhero titles.  Marvels line of working women includes Chili, Della Vision, Linda Carter Student Nurse, Millie the Model, My Friend Irma, Nelly the Nurse, Night Nurse, Patsy Walker, Sherry the Showgirl and Tessie the Typist.  Chili and Millie the Model inhabit the same universe and are rivals.

DC has had three titles with a woman without super powers and a career and these include Miss Beverly Hills of Hollywood, Miss Melody Lane of Broadway, and Lois Lane!  Lois Lane is Superman’s girlfriend and this is the central plot device rather than her adventures as a reporter.  In the Silver Age of comic books, every other story about Lois Lane was about Lois Lane and Lana Lang fighting for Superman’s affections.  Later, Lana Lang becomes Superman’s first love rather than a current romantic interest and in some versions Lana Lang even gets married to someone other than Superman.  I am not sure if the Silver Age love triangle actually got a lot of female readers but this certainly was one of the few DC lines that had affairs of the heart as a central theme but there were three consistent plot twists as well.

One consistent plot twist was that Lois Lane had two goals in her life.  Goal number one was to marry Superman.  Goal number two was to find out his secret identity.  Goal number one was a female goal.  Goal number two was a career goal i.e. the scoop of the century for a reporter.  Goal number one and goal number two seem to be in conflict.  How can Superman let his guard down and trust a woman who wants to expose his secret identity?  However, upon closer examination the two goals may work together.  The rationale of Superman’s secret identity is that he has the secret identity to protect loved ones and be Superman at the same time.  If the secret identity is exposed then he can no longer be Superman.  If Lois can destroy Superman’s career then she can achieve marital bliss with a retired Superman.

The second consistent plot twist was that “inexplicably” Superman wanted Lois Lane to fall in love with his Clark Kent persona.  Or maybe this is not so hard to understand after all.  Superman is a Kryptonian genetically but he was raised by the Kent’s as an Earthling.  One could argue that Clark Kent is the true identity and Superman is the secret identity.  This is certainly the message of the TV series Smallville.  In Smallville, Clark Kent slowly, very slowly, eight seasons and counting slowly, becomes Superman.  Clark Kent wants Lois to fall in love with the person he really is rather than the cape/mask Superman.  I think this is a theme any successful man can understand.  A millionaire wants to be loved for who he is rather than his millions.  Superman wants to be loved for who he is rather than because of his superpowers and fame.  Would Lois Lane still love Superman minus the super and only a man?  The current Lois Lane would, and currently Superman and Lois Lane are married, but I am not so sure of the Silver Age Lois Lane would marry Superman minus his powers although she occasionally did in Silver Age imaginary tales.

The third consistent plot twist was that Clark Kent and Lois Lane both work for the Daily Planet as reporters and they compete career wise.  You would think Superman with all his super powers could easily squash Lois in the reporting game but generally chooses not to due to sentiment and very often out and out loses because Lois, despite being a mere human, is better at the reporting game than Clark.  Lois has a more realistic view of her fellow humans and is actually less naïve and more street wise.  This is similar to the Batman/Superman relationship were Superman’s idealism is a weakness when up against Batman’s realism.  Lois Lane will also use her feminine wiles occasionally and this happens more in the Smallville version of Lois Lane than the comic book version.  The Smallville version is also one heck of a martial artist in a manner similar to the Silver Age version of Lois Lane.

The Lois Lane series lasted 137 issues until September, 1974.  Lois Lane of course survived the cancellation of her series and is also the first character of the Superman family and predates Luthor and Jimmy Olsen.  The Lois Lane series was part of the Superman family series of titles that included Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s best friend.  Superman was so popular in the Silver Age that civilians in his universe rated their own titles!  These titles do not age well at all and unless you grew up reading Superman during this period then you will have a hard time reading these comic books.  DC recently reprinted the Jimmy Olsen series under the moniker Superman Family and this is one reprint that did not sell very well. 

Lois Lane is more relevant and more famous, and then some, than all of Marvel’s working women put together.  Many regard the relationship between Lois Lane and Superman to be the most important love story in comic books period.  The most powerful version of Lois Lane is the Silver Age version.  Lois Lane, like Superman, was depowered later on.  Lois Lane was not superhuman but had incredible fighting skills in the Silver Age.  Lois Lane had mastered the Kryptonian martial art of Klurkor.  I propose Lois Lane goes toe to toe with all of the working women of Marvel. 

The Marvel working women have been transported by evil aliens to the DC Universe.  All the Marvel working women instantly fall in love with Superman when they see him on TV at the apartment the aliens have deposited them in.  The group also finds out from the TV show that Superman’s girlfriend is Lois Lane.  As a group they decide that Lois Lane must be “eliminated”.  Millie the Model goes to the Daily Planet and charms the pants off of Jimmy Olsen and finds out that Lois Lane will be at the Glamour beauty parlor that afternoon. 

The Marvel women, ten strong, storm the beauty parlor.  Sherry the Showgirl and Tessie the Typist, the two most obscure members of an already obscure subgenre, guard the doors.  This is what fourth raters do in comic books.  Millie the Model and Chili have had countless cat fights and this actually makes them a pretty good tag team.  Lois is reading a copy of Cosmo in the waiting area.  Chili pulls Lois from the chair by the hair and Millie punches Lois in the stomach.  As Millie punches Lois in the stomach she reflects that she is much prettier than Lois and Lois could never be a model.  Lois head butts Chili and plants a roundhouse kick firmly in the stomach of Millie.  The two models are shocked and run for the hills.  They have never fought a gal that knew how to fight expertly.  Linda Carter Student Nurse has actually been in a real life and death tussle during her career against guys and has learned that when fighting a guy you use weapons of opportunity.  Linda grabs a can of hair spray and sprays Lois in the face.  This move stuns Lois and the other girls attack at once from all sides and Lois is on the floor being kicked left and right into unconsciousness and the final blow is delivered with a hair dryer that Chili has grabbed.  Chilis nose was broken due to the head butt.  Chili wonders if she will ever model again and wants revenge!  The Marvel girls are victorious and now must kill each other in order to decide who will be the mate of Superman but that is another story.

DC vs. Marvel Spacemen

The genre is space opera and the heroes are spacemen.  This genre is a little harder to differentiate from the common super hero.  After all many superheroes have alien origins.  The very first superhero, arguably, Superman is from the planet Krypton but anyone who knows comic books and science fiction would not argue he is a space opera hero.  The main characteristic of space opera is that the action is almost entirely in space.  Superman has had his share of adventures in outer space but most of his adventures happen on Earth.  Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon are some early examples of the space hero in comic books. 

The DC spacemen are Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Knights of the Galaxy, Space Cabby, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, Tommy Tomorrow and Ultra the Multi-alien.  All of these heroes were brought together in a three issue mini-series Twilight in 1990.  Twilight brought all of DC’s space heroes and characters together in a reboot that is dystopian and very different from the optimistic and naïve tone of the Silver Age originals.  Twilight is a precursor of what Vertigo Press will do on a regular basis when this press is formed in 1993. 

These DC space comic books were particularly popular in the Silver Age and I would say this was my favorite non-superhero genre growing up.  Westerns were ok.  I didn’t really get war comics until years later.  Women’s comics in the form of Romance comics were rare and far between.  The space opera titles on the other hand were comics I would keep an eye out for.  Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Space Ranger and Tommy Tomorrow would be the big four of the space men.  The Knights of the Galaxy, Space Cabby and Star Hawkins are much more obscure characters.  An ancestor of Adam Strange and Space Ranger did appear in a comic book together during the Silver Age in Mystery in Space #94.  Mystery in Space was also were most of the Silver Age space men appeared.  Cross-overs at DC in the early Silver Age were few and far between and their common genre identity was probably the cause. 

The most famous of all the space men is Adam Strange.  Adam Strange has a ray gun and a jet back pack but aside from that is a normal Earthman or as normal as any comic book hero can be.  Adam Strange is transported to the planet Rann on a regular basis where he has many adventures.  He also has a pretty hot girl friend on that planet.  Alan Moore did a really good story with Adam Strange titled “Mysteries in Space”, Swamp Thing #57, second series.   The title is obviously a take off on the Mystery in Space title.  The relative alien identity of Adam Strange was highlighted.  Adam Strange was offered membership in the Justice League of America, a first tier DC superhero group while the other space men never ever even met first tier DC superheroes.  Adam Strange was also a major player in the recent DC multi-title event the Rann-Thangar War that attempted to flesh out DC space empires in a way similar to the Marvel Kree-Skrull war had many years earlier.

Years later Captain Comet was rescued from comic book oblivion in a Vertigo title but during his original run was very obscure.  Captain Comet is a variation on Superman.  Captain Comet is a mutant that represents what we will evolve into in the distant future who decides Earth is boring and goes off into space.  Captain Comet is nowhere near as strong and invulnerable as Superman but is a fair telepath and telepathy means you know your opponents weaknesses. 

A contest between them would be kind of like Kyle XY versus Clark Kent of Smallville and be very interesting.  Kyle would know all about Kryptonite and have the super intelligence to use this knowledge for maximum tactical and strategic advantage. Dime a dozen hoods get the jump on Clark with Kryptonite in Smallville so I think Clark is probably toast.

I have not read a Space Cabby story in years but to this day I remember the very interesting premise.  The Space Cabby was a cabby but he had a space ship and he could jaunt around the solar system.  So if you needed a quick ride from Earth to Mars then he was your man.  Space Cabby emphasized humorous adventures and this is in direct contrast to the melodramatic nature of space opera in general. 

Ultra the Multi-Alien is the comic book equivalent of a winner of the Rotten Tomatoes award.  The comic book was so garish and over the top, obscure and just plain bad that you couldn’t help but like the title.  Prez and the Geek would be two other Silver Age titles that merit the same type of award.   An Earthman due to a bizarre ray gun malfunction received the body parts of four other aliens.  Each body part has a different power.  Kind of like the movie The Fly but instead of merging with one insect, the character merges with four insects and of course more is better.  I hereby create my own superhero based on this premise!

Beware of Insectoid the Multi-Insect Man!  He has the claws of a praying mantis, the wings and eyes of a fly, the stinger of a scorpion and the antennae of a ant that gives him some other super senses that insects generally don’t have.  Anyone interested in this character should contact me at foxhugh@yahoo.com.  Only serious requests will be considered!  So I guess that means no requests will considered.

The Marvel list is much smaller and includes Captain Jet Dixon, Captain Marvel, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Speed Carter Spaceman and the Star Jammers.  I would consider myself a bit of a comic book historian and I never read or heard about Captain Jet Dixon or Speed Carter Spaceman until I did some research for this post.  This is unfortunate since based on my research they are pretty classic space men in the Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon mold clearly fit the premise of this entire post.

The Galaxy Rangers and Star Jammers are Bronze Age space men.  They are about a thousand times more relevant and famous than Captain Jet Dixon or Speed Carter Spaceman.  The adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Star Jammers do take place almost entirely in space but are still more superheroes than spacemen.  The tolerance of fans for non-superhero genres during the Bronze Age of comics was a lot lower than during the Silver Age and superhero elements had to be grafted onto heroes from other genres in order for them to survive.  I mention the Punisher as hero that combines war hero and super hero elements in my war hero post and I think this is similar phenomena.

I think the Star Jammers are basically the X-Men set in space and have their origins in the X-Men titles.  The Guardians of the Galaxy started more as space men but then evolved into superheroes.  The premise is that in the future solar system planets have been terraformed and genetic engineering has been used to make humans that can live in these terraformed planets that are still pretty inhospitable.  So you have a crystalline humanoid from Pluto and a super strong soldier from Jupiter, etc.  The first issue that premiered caught my eye and they wore futuristic but non-superhero clothing and I liked the premise.  Years later the costumes changed and they started hanging around the Avengers, got a ton more members and became the Avengers in space. 

Something similar happened to Captain Marvel who was a Kree soldier who wore a very space man kind of costume and used a ray gun but later got one of the coolest superhero costumes ever and lost the ray gun and gained some nega bands and lot of other cool powers to boot.  The Kree is a intergalactic empire consisting of thousands of worlds that often is in conflict with the Skrulls.  These are very much ray gun and space ship aliens.  The Skrulls even use flying saucers.  Heroes like the reborn Captain Marvel even have a category in the Marvel Universe and are considered cosmic superheroes. 

The adventures of cosmic superheroes take place in space but this is a cosmic space far away from anything Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon could handle.  In many ways this cosmic version of space is magical and more importantly mythic.  Characters like Galactus, the Watcher, the Silver Surfer, the Elders of the Universe and Thanos have adventures in the cosmos not space.  They have no need for space ships or ray guns and can often alter reality through a super science that is the power cosmic.  This genre transformation process seems to be a hallmark of Marvel as opposed to DC.  The Skrulls may have thousands of world under their dominion but hide like ants when the Silver Surfer was the herald of Galactus in their original appearance in the Fantastic Four Galactus Trilogy that created Marvel’s cosmic space. 

DC takes non-superhero heroes and lets Vertigo Press do really interesting things with them while maintaining their core genre identity.  All non-superhero heroes in the Marvel universe end up becoming superheroes!  Night Nurse ends up becoming the nurse of superheroes years after her original appearance.  I guess if I have a choice of being transported to the DC or Marvel universe then I should pick the Marvel universe since I am about a hundred times more likely to become a superhero in that universe than the DC universe and that was pretty much my life goal until I was six and “grew up”.  I put the phrase in quotations since someone writing these posts has arguably not grown up!

So hard choices, do I pick the famous hybrid space men/super hero men of Marvel or the pure space men of Marvel no one ever heard of?  I will do a little bit of both.  The Star Jammers and Guardians of the Galaxy are superhero teams that are a hundred times more powerful than guys like Adam Strange and Space Ranger and I like these guys to much due to early childhood sentiment to pit them in such an unfair contest without a little tidbit ahead of time.  So Captain Jet Dixon and Speed Carter Spaceman just got drafted.

Captain Jet Dixon goes up against Adam Strange and Adam Strange easily beat him to the ray gun draw since he has had a hundred more issues to master target practice.  The Knights of the Galaxy go up against the Guardians of the Galaxy because they both have galaxy in their name and the non-super powered knights are easily defeated by the Galaxy Rangers with their numerous superpowers. 

The Knights of the Galaxy were space man types with ray guns and space ships that followed a knightly code.  The knightly code isn’t going to do them much good against a top tier super hero group like the Guardians of the Galaxy.  This mingling of medieval and science fiction is not a first for DC and the Atomic Knights come to mind.  I also mentioned in the prior war hero post that the mingling of two non-superhero genres is a hallmark of DC rather than Marvel. DC has weird westerns, weird wars and even haunted tanks, supernatural plus war comic.  I love it!

Space Ranger goes up against Speed Carter Spacemen and in a low tone of voice informs him that he is the Space Ranger and nobody’s like Carter should flee and Carter does.  The Guardians of the Galaxy then descend on Adam Strange and Space Ranger and give them a space whupping they will never forget. 

Captain Comet fights Captain Marvel since they both have Captain in their name.  This is actually a really tough fight to call.  They both have super strength, invulnerability, and flight.  Captain Marvel has cosmic awareness which is kind of like spider sense on steroids but is not an out and out telepath.  Captain Comet reads Captain Marvel’s mind and realizes if you slam the nega bands on his wrists together then Captain Marvel is banished to the negative zone and proceeds to do just that.  Captain Comet is feeling pleased for about one minute until the Guardians of the Galaxy gang up on him and beat him senseless.  The Marvel, kind of, space men win!

 DC vs. Marvel Funny Animals

What is a funny animal in comic books?  A funny animal is an anthropomorphic animal that is generally in humorous situations.  Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny are both famous examples of funny animals.  Disney and Looney Tunes funny animals are much more famous and relevant than DC and Marvel funny animals and many readers may be surprised that DC and Marvel even have had their own funny animals.  This is a bit of a media mystery.  Superheroes have dominated comic books but not other media such as video.  Funny animals would seem to be a natural genre for comic books and why they are so much more popular and prevalent in video than comic books is an interesting topic that deserves attention.

The funny animals of DC include Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, Dodo and the Frog, Doodles Duck, Flippity & Flop, J. Rufus Lion, Nutsy Squirrel, Peter Panda, Peter Porkchops, Racoon Kids, Tito and his Burrito and the Three Mouseketeers.  Warner Bros had a video series of Krypto the Super Dog.  Warner Bros is the parent company of DC.  Krypto is the dog of Superboy in DC but was rebotted by Warner Bros.  DC also licensed the Fox and the Crow from Columbia and this comic book title ran

Funny Stuff was the title in which many of DC’s funny animals appeared including Dunbar Dodo and Fennimore Frog, J. Rufus Lion, the Three Mouseketeers, Peter Porkchops and the Racoon Kids.  The Funny Stuff title ran from 1947 to 1957.

The funny animals of Marvel include Spider Ham, Super Rabbit and Top Dog.  Spider Ham is a parody of Spider-Man.  Marvel has far fewer funny animals than DC and they are all superhero parodies.  Howard the Duck would be Marvel’s top funny animals.  There was even a live action movie about Howard the Duck.  The problem is that Howard the Duck is more superhero than funny animal.  Howard the Duck exists in the mainstream Marvel Universe and is more a science fiction story than a funny animal story.

The only DC collection of funny animals that is around today is Captain Carrot and the Zoo crew, another superhero parody.  Captain Carrot is more or less a parody of Superman.  The other members of the Zoo Crew include Alley-Kat-Abra, Pig-Iron, Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle, Fastback, Little Cheese, and American Eagle.  The top funny animal of DC is Captain Carrot.  The top funny animal of Marvel is Spider Ham.  The two top funny animals go at it.

Spider Ham is a spider that was turned into an anthropomorphic pig with more or less than same powers as Spider Man.  Captain Carrot, as mentioned, has more or less the same superpowers as Superman but must eat a cosmic irradiated carrot to get the superpowers and they wear off after 24 hours.  Captain Carrot keeps two carrots holstered on his belt for supplies.  Superman can beat Spiderman easily so therefore Captain Carrot easily defeats Spider Ham.

DC vs. Marvel Teenagers

The genre of this post is teenage humor and the heroes are the teenagers of this non superhero genre.  The ultimate comic book archetype of this genre would be Archie published by MLJ/Archie Comics.  The enduring success of Archie has created many imitators over the years. Archie was so successful that characters in his universe became spin off titles.  Some of the Archie characters that had their own titles include Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and even less well known characters such as Principal Weatherby, Dilton Doily, and Big Ethel.   Interestingly, Archie went through a superhero phase.  The Archie superhero stories were written as parodies of regular superheroes.  Archie was Pureheart the Powerful.  Jughead was Captain Hero.

The DC teenagers include Scribbly, Buzzy, Binky, Scooter and Debbie.  Scribbly the boy cartoonist was invented by comic book giant Sheldon Mayer for Dell Comics in 1936.  Scribbly moved to the back pages of DCs All American Comics in 1939.  The last appearance of Scribbly in that title was in 1944.  When Archie became popular, Scribbly returned in his own series for 15 issues between 1948 and 1952.  Binky then appeared in the back pages of DC’s other two teen humor titles, Buzzy and Leave it to Binky.

Buzzy was a hipster, unlike Archie, and one of the few none Archie clones in this genre.  Buzzy was part of a five-piece combo.  Buzzy graduated from the All Funny Comics anthology to his own title that ran from 1944 to 1958.  Buzzy became more and more an Archie clone during the run of the title. 

Binky started in his own title, Leave it to Binky, immediately in 1948 in response to the success of Archie.  Binky was a teenager in high school and his title lasted until 1958.  Binky won the Shazam Award for best inker in 1970 and this is not a genre known for winning awards.

Scooter was the main character in the title Swing with Scooter that was launched in 1966 almost ten years after the demise of Buzzy and Binky. Scooter was named after his scooter that he used for transportation and was a British mod.  A mod can be considered a type of sixties British hippie.  Scooter was transplanted to Laurel City, USA.  Scooter was lucky enough to be born in an era when crossovers became more common and he met the likes of Batman and Superman.  There will be no such teen humor/superhero crossover until Archie meets the Punisher published in 1994. 

Scooter is probably the only DC character of the teen humor genre that I remember.  I was born in 1957 and missed all the other DC teens due to my age but vaguely remember running into Scooter in the newsstands.  My own parents were into the whole hippie, mod, whatever thing in the sixties, and because of this, I found the character a little interesting but even as a youth was smart enough to realize this comic book was being written by people who had no idea what was going on in the sixties counter culture.  The writers were middle aged, the slang was more lame than hip.  When a 12 year old can figure this out about your dialogue then your title is in trouble.  I had been an on and off, tepid fan, of Archie since I was eight years old until I was about 14, so the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like the genre.  The problem wasn’t I didn’t like Scooter.  Scooter lasted 36 issues and for a non superhero genre that is pretty good so maybe the slang worked on other less worldly teens.

Debbi starred in Date with Debbi that ran 18 issues from1969 to 1972.  Debbi was a red head.  Debbi looked like a female version of Archie, right down to the chubby cheeks and this is not a good thing!  I am surprised the series lasted as long as it did.

I have mentioned in other posts, in this series, how the DC imprint Vertigo has consistently rebooted non superhero material from DC’s obscure comic book past.  I challenge Vertigo to do a miniseries about DC’s long lost teens.  How about a look at the teens twenty years later?  The DC teens are all working as office workers at a paper company, no, the paper company has already been done, maybe a computer support company.  They go to a bar and reminiscence about their lost youth and decide to do something crazy as a group.  Look up their lost loves?  This would give an excuse to see all their supporting casts.  Go to Thailand?  Maybe they do something even crazier.  Maybe they take acid together in Amsterdam that was accidentally mixed with alien DNA and they merge into Super Hip.  Maybe a road trip where they see their lost loves, go to Thailand and then go to Amsterdam. 

Super Hip briefly appeared in the Adventures of Bob Hope DC comic book and basically could alter reality as this super power is referred to nowadays.  Mostly Super Hip displayed Superman type powers.  Super Hip’s alter ego, Tad, went to Benedict Arnold High School.  Super Hip is one of those totally obscure DC characters that didn’t even rate a mention in Who’s Who in the DC Universe.  Super Hip was drawn in a cartoony style that was reminiscent of teen humor characters.  I think Super Hip was some sort of misguided attempt to combine a super hero with a teen humor character.

The Marvel teenagers include Millie the Model, Chili and Patsy Walker. Patsy Walker was popular from the 1940s until 1967 and even supported several spin off titles.  Patsy Walker was a red head and her romantic rival was black haired Hedy Wolfe.  Betty and Veronica, of Archie Comics, of course are blonde and black haired respectively and minus super hero costumes perhaps hair color is needed to differentiate comic book characters in situations where a lack of a consistent house style can confuse young readers.  In 1973, Marvel brought back the name but totally rewrote the character, and made Patsy Walker the alter Ego of the super heroine known as Hellcat.  This is similar to what Marvel did with Night Nurse, a romance genre heroine that was remade into the nurse of super heroes.   

There is some overlap between romance comics and teenage humor comics.  For example, Millie the Model went back and forth from being a romance comic to a teen humor comic.  The art on the cover lets the reader know which version of Millie they are dealing with immediately.  The romance comic version of Millie the Model issues were drawn in a more realistic fashion.  The teen humor version is in a cartoony style that imitated the Archie Comics house style. 

Chili was the red headed rival of Millie and in her own series was consistently a teen humor title.  The clothes that Millie and Chili wore are a big part of both series.  Both titles featured paper dolls and outfits in the comic book.  Many of the Millie comics, the romance version, showed off very glamorous fifties type outfits.  Many covers of Millie had her sporting evening gowns and furs.  Not exactly something you would wear to the mall.  I think Marilyn Monroe might have been the inspiration for these covers.  Chili,in her own series, on the other hand, consistently wore very mod clothes with bright colors and even pant suits and wore stylish clothes you might actually see in the mall in the late sixties and seventies.

Despite the difference in art styles between the teen humor and romance genres, there are many similarities in plot lines.  Both genres highlight male/female relationships in general and love triangles in particular, but the story line of a romance comic leads to love or a broken heart while the story line of a teenage humor comic leads to a punch line. 

Another interesting difference between the plot lines is that teenage humor generally portrays a young man such as Archie being pursued by two gals such as Betty and Veronica.  In romance comics, a woman is pursued by two men.  One of the men would be the wild one and one the stable one.  In teenage humor the main difference between the two gals would be the color of their hair.  Although upon further examination Betty represents the nice girl next door while Veronica is more of a vamp but the main difference between them is definitely their hair color.  A Mad Magazine parody of Archie named Starchie highlights this lack of difference between Betty and Veronica.  Starchie tells that parody version of Jughead that Betty and Veronica are drawn totally differently despite the fact they have had identical poses and are drawn exactly alike, except for their hair, throughout the parody.

Teens in this genre do not fight but instead compete romantically and generally win or lose via practical jokes.  The three Marvel female teens, Millie the Model, Patsy Walker and Chili go out on a group date with the DC teens, Scribbly, Buzzy, Binky, Scooter and Debbi.  There are four women and four men so someone is going to go home alone.  Millie the Model is a model!  In teen humor comics looks are everything so all the guys go after Millie, leaving Patsy and Debbie to sulk in the soda shop and reflect how unfair life is.

Patsy, Debbi and Chili decide to play a trick on the guys.  After all fellow red heads have to stick together when dealing with gorgeous blondes!  Patsy and Debbie slip some pepper and salt into the sodas of the guys while the boys all stare at Chili and Millie walking to the restroom together.  Chili is deliberately doing her sexiest walk, in her tight, oh so sixties, short, short little dress.  Did I mention that I have very fond memories of sixties styles?  The boys all choke on their foul tasting sodas and Patsy, Debbie and Chili laugh their heads off.  The boys agree this is a very funny joke and that they deserved their treatment because of how they ignored the red heads.  Scooter is a mod, with a sixties, as opposed to fifties view of sexuality and has actually been with a woman. Scooter starts to reflect that Chili is pretty mod and that the competition for Millie is just too intense.  Later Scooter and Chili will marry and then divorce.  The Marvel red heads hurt the DC men, even if they had help from a DC gal, so Marvel wins!

DC vs. Marvel Horror Hosts

This post looks at the horror genre. I had problems separating the horror genre from the superhero genre. This would not have been a problem when I was reading comic books in the sixties and seventies when I was younger. However, since at least the eighties, DC and Marvel heroes that belong to the horror genre have been incorporated into their mainstream comic book universes to the point that they are often just another type of superhero.

For example, Blade, who fights vampires, has done so many crossovers with mainstream Marvel characters that he is no longer a hero of the horror genre but a hero with horror roots who inhabits the Marvel superhero universe. The mystery that is essential in horror is lost when the characters of horror are overused in a flashy superhero universe that in many ways is the antithesis of horror. Superheroes wear bright colors and fly off into the sunset versus inhabiting a world beneath the moon, moss and worms. When you juxtapose a creature of horror with a superhero the creature of horror is lessened. The suspension of disbelief is just too much. I can temporarily believe in a world of horror. I can temporarily believe in a world of superheroes. I can only believe in a world with both superheroes and horror with difficulty.

The entire Vertigo line, a DC imprint, can be seen as an excellent attempt to bring the sense of horror back to DC by creating boundaries between creatures of horror and superheroes for the purposes of better story telling. So who represents pure horror in the DC and Marvel universes? I would argue the horror hosts do! Most horror comic books are anthologies with one-shot characters that often die a horrible death at the end and are never seen again. You have the same problem with romance comics. Both genre focus on single shot stories and finding ongoing characters in both genres is hard do. So what sort of character survives in a horror comic book? The host of the stories is who!

A horror host is the host of a horror comic book anthology. The most famous horror host does not belong to either the DC or Marvel line but to EC Comics. The host for the EC comic book Tales of the Crypt was the Crypt Keeper and perhaps the only horror host to make the transition to TV where the same character hosted the very popular and long running TV show of the same name and also two movies and even a Saturday morning cartoon named Secrets of the Cryptkeepers Haunted House. The Crypt Keeper was one of the GhouLunatics and that included fellow EC horror hosts the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch.

The DC horror hosts include Abel, Cain, Charity, Destiny, Eve, Mad Mod Witch, Madame Xanadu, and Macbeth’s witches (Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia). Abel was the host of the House of Secrets. Cain was the host of the House of Mystery. They are the Cain and Abel of Biblical fame and an ongoing gag is that Cain kills Abel over and over again whenever there is a crossover between the two brothers. The two houses sit next to each other so a little neighborly interaction is only to be expected. Charity was the host of Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion and probably wins the title of most obscure and forgotten DC horror host. Destiny hosted Weird Mystery Tales. Eve hosted Secrets of Sinister House from issues # 6-16. Eve later generally replaced Destiny as the host of Weird Mystery Tales. Abel and Cain are officially cousins of Eve. The Mad Mod Witch was the, on again of again, host of Unexpected from issue #108 onwards and with the alias Fashion Thing was rebooted by Neil Gaiman in the Sandman. Madame Xanadu was the host of Doorway to Mystery. Madame Xanadu returned in the first direct sales only comic book in Madame Xanadu. The series is a one-shot. The witches Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia hosted the Witching Hour. Lucian was the host of the short lived Tales of Ghost Castle.  Neil Gaiman made use of all the DC horror hosts, except Charity, in his Sandman series. Heck, even Lucian, perhaps the most obscure of the horror hosts became a librarian of the Sandman.  All the horror hosts have gone onto new fame and prominence in the Vertigo line that probably exceeds the fame and prominence they had during their original title runs in the sixties and seventies.

In the Sandman title, Destiny and is one of the Endless who in turn are mightier than gods. Destiny has been able to resist the influence of Zeus. Zeus is in turn much mightier than for example Superman. Zeus can create a female version of Superman, Wonder Woman. Destiny is one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe but is also considered the most boring story teller by Abel, Cain and Eve.

Despite a slew of horror tiles by Marvel/Atlas including Beware, Chamber of Chills, Chamber of Darkness. Creatures on the Loose, Crypt of Shadows, Dead of Night, Fear, Giant Size Chillers, Journey into Mystery (2nd series), Tomb of Darkness, Tower of Shadows, Uncanny Tales (2nd series), Vault of Evil, Weird Wonder Tales, Where Creatures Roam and Where Monsters Dwell only one of these titles had a horror host! Digger and Headstone P. Gravely hosted Tower of Shadows that was designed to go head on against DCs House of Mystery and House of Secrets. I do remember Tower of Shadows and I even remember the story of the first issue and I was like 14 years old at the time! I don’t remember the horror hosts at all. Two unknown hosts versus an interconnected family of DC hosts that are major part of the current DC/Vertigo universe? This contest doesn’t seem fair at all and I am going to change the rules! I am going to bring in a Marvels number one comic book host! The Watcher!

The Watcher acted as a host to futuristic stories in Tales of Suspense starting in issue #39 in the sixties. The Watcher acted as second story to the main Iron Man story. The stories were titled Tales of the Watcher. I actually often preferred the Watcher stories to the Iron Man stories and am totally aghast that Marvel has not made an Essential version of Tales of the Watcher. I mean Werewolf by Night and Spiderwoman get an Essential volume but not those great stories by the Watcher? The tradition was carried on in the first volume of the Silver Surfer. Later still the Watcher became the host of What If stories that were 100% superhero stories but the original Tales of the Watcher were mainstream science fiction complete with a Twilight Zone sort of lesson about the universe and/or humanity told by the Watcher at the end.

Despite their genre difference the Watcher and Destiny actually have an awful lot in common. The Watcher is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a lot more powerful but like the Watcher mostly tells stories, and despite being blind, “observes” and doesn’t really do much. The Watcher is bald and for all we know Destiny might be bald as well. Destiny always wears a cowl and this is probably to hide his baldness. I would see Destiny as being somewhere in the power class of the Living Tribunal over at Marvel. Destiny and the Living Tribunal both wear cowls by the way. The Watcher is at least two hierarchical levels below the Living Tribunal.

The Living Tribunal is even more powerful than Eternity or Death that only represent the totality of one universe. Both Destiny and the Living Tribunal are multiverse type beings that more or less bring balance to the multiverse. There isn’t a different Destiny or Living Tribunal in each universe but one for the whole dang multiverse. A being that performs a balancing multiverse function has to be more powerful than any being limited to one universe no matter how powerful they are in that one universe. Destiny could squash the Watcher but this won’t happen.
Destiny and the Watcher are hyper rational, Mr. Spock is emotional compared to those two, and I do mean the old Mr. Spock, not that new guy French kissing Uhura, and would never engage in aggressive behavior except in self defense and neither would attack the other first since that would be illogical, uncivilized and just bad manners. Destiny and the Watcher both exchange the very best stories from their mutual universes and agree I am not a very good story teller and perhaps should find another hobby. This “DC versus Marvel” story ends in a draw.

DC vs. Marvel Kids

I am inventing a comic book genre name for this series. Women’s comics are defined as comic books that appeal to women. I would like to propose there is a genre of comic books that appeals to very young children as opposed to children in general and I would like to name this genre kids comic’s. The ultimate example of this genre would be the children’s Harvey Comics line that included such characters as Baby Huey, Casper, Hot Stuff, Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Spooky, Richie Rich and Wendy the Good Little Witch. Harvey Comics also published comics with superheroes but is best remembered for its kid’s comics. I see similarities between Harvey Comics and Archie Comics.

Faced with hopeless competition with DC and Marvel in the superhero arena, these two comic book companies found success in non superhero genres, an example of niche marketing in the comic book marketplace. Archie Comics has dominated teenage humor for decades, right up until the present and squashed attempts by DC and Marvel to make titles that compete in this genre. Harvey Comics was also able to survive in a similar manner with kids comic books. Interestingly, both Archie Comics and Harvey Comics tried superheroes but eventually gave up these titles probably because of competition from DC and Marvel. Both Archie Comics and Harvey Comics had to learn hard lessons about their core business which turned out to be genres other than the superhero one.

There is tremendous overlap between the funny animal genre, dealt with in the post about funny animals and kid’s comics and many comics fit both genres. Still, characters such as Casper are obviously not funny animals. I would propose that funny animals are a subgenre of kid’s comics logically but the funny animal subgenre is so big it must be treated as a genre. In a similar manner, logically superheroes are a subgenre of science fiction but are such a dominant subgenre in terms of the comic book marketplace that superheroes are best dealt with as a separate genre. This post will only deal with kid comics that are not funny animals.

This genre is characterized by a simplified cartoon style, very G rated material, even by comic code approved standards, and very simple plots. The defining characteristic is that the comic book is aimed at a very young readership. I would say the comic books should be able to appeal to preschoolers and they should be able to handle the material without the aid of an adult. Older readers may like the simplicity of the comic books in the same way that even adults can appreciate a children’s book but the reverse is not true. A relatively G-rated comic book like Superman, especially a more recent Superman comic book, will not be appreciated by preschoolers unless their literacy is especially high.

DC kids include the Brat Finks, Stanley and his Monster, as well as, Sugar and Spike. Stanley and his Monster replaced the Fox and Crow in issue #109 but the retitled comic book only lasted until issue #112. Stanley is a six year old with a lisp that mistakes a monster for a dog and lets him secretly live with him. The monster is covered with pink hair, has enormous fangs and is gigantic, maybe nine feet? The parents never catch onto the existence of the monster. In the innocent comic book logic of that era, hiding a nine foot monster in a typical suburban house is considered totally possible. The comic book was printed in the sixties. In the nineties, DC decided to add some back story to the series and include Stanley and his Monster in some DC crossovers. I still prefer the more innocent less sophisticated Stanley and his Monster of the sixties.

Sugar and Spike was created by comic book legend Sheldon Mayer and is one of the best comic books lines ever! Somehow DC forgot to reprint this comic book in their current reprint Showcase series. This is extremely unfortunate and I urge DC to add Sugar and Spike to the Showcase reprint line. Sugar and Spike are two preschoolers that talk to each other in baby talk that adults can’t understand.

Sugar and Spike are constantly trying to figure out adult logic and the adult world and come up with outlandish explanations that nevertheless are totally logical. Mayer was able to capture kid’s logic in a way few cartoonists ever have. The closest any cartoonist has ever come is Calvin and Hobbes but I actually think Mayer does a better job and he is dealing with much younger children that are harder for adults to understand. Sugar is a blonde haired kid. Spike is a red haired kid. Other characters came and went in the strip such as Little Arthur, Uncle Charley and Bernie the Brain and even the secondary characters of this great strip were better than the primary characters of most cartoons. The strip lasted 98 issues, from the seventies into the nineties, and I am sure would have gone on even longer except for his death in 1992.

Marvel Kids, pre-Star imprint, is a much shorter list and I want to mention Homer the Happy Ghost who was brought to my attention by a reader of this post (see comments).  Homer the Happy Ghost was an obvious imitation of Casper that lasted 22 issues, between March, 1955- November 1958, which for a none superheroe is not bad!  Supporting characters included Melvin the Mixed-Up Ghost, Invisible Irwin, Dugan the Dead End Ghost, and Zelda the Zany Witch.  Homer was reprinted for five issues between from November 1969 to May 1970 and I vaguely remember seeing this version of the title.  Anway, thanks for the info Mark!

Marvel Kids include all the characters of their Star imprint that lasted from 1984-88. The characters of the Star imprint included Air Raiders, ALF, Animax, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Care Bears, Chuck Norris and his Karate Kommandos, Defenders of the Earth, The Flinstone Kids, Foofur, Fraggle Rock, The Get-Along Gang, Heathcliff, Heathcliffs Funhouse, Hugga Bunch, Inhumanoids, Madballs, Masters of the Universe, Masters of the Universe Motion Picture, Misty, Muppet Babies, The Muppets take Manhattan, Peter Porker The Spectacular Spider Ham, Planet Terry, Popples, Royal Roy, Silverhawks, Star Wars Digest, Star Wars Droids, Star Wars Ewoks, Strawberry Shortcake, ThunderCats, Top Dog, and Wally the Wizard. Marvel did publish a couple of Casper comic books in 1997.

Most of the Star comic books are not Marvel properties and will not be looked at given the topic of this post. Spider Ham, Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Top Dog and Wally the Wizard are the only true Marvel properties of the Star comic’s line. Spider Ham was already dealt with in the funny animals post so we are down to Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Top Dog and Wally the Wizard.

Planet Terry, Royal Roy and Top Dog were all written by Lennie Herman. Planet Terry was a space saga. Planet Terry was looking for his parents in space with his sidekicks a robot named Robota and a green-scaled muscular alien named Omnus. I swear that Planet Terry’s facial features are very similar to those of Casper. He flew around in a jet pack and many of his flying poses seem directly lifted from Casper comic books. Top Dog is a talking dog and therefore a funny animal and the subject of another post. Royal Roy is Marvels version of Richie Rich of Harvey Comics. Prince Roy lives in Cashelot (Camelot plus Cash) and only
lasted six issues. Wally the Wizard was an apprentice wizard to Marlin the Wizard, Merlin the Wizards older brother.  Wally the Wizard was created by Bob Bolling who had also created Little Archie.

Sugar and Spike team up with Stanley and his monster for a day at the sandbox and run into these two weird kids in weird costumes. One is dressed like a prince, one is dressed like a spaceman and one is dressed like a wizard. Sugar and Spike know all about Halloween and love that day and know darn well this day isn’t that day. They start laughing at the costumed kids and soon a fight ensues. Stanley’s Monster sits on the Marvel kids until they agree to behave. DC wins this round.

DC vs. Marvel: Battle of the Super Pets

Recently, Lockjaw and various super pets of the Marvel universe had a cosmic adventure in Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers.  I am old enough to remember the Legion of Super Pets of the silver age of DC comic books fondly and couldn’t help but notice many similarities.  Because of these memories and the recent Marvel title, I was inspired to write this post. Heroic pets have existed in other media.  In particular, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin existed in film and television but the invention of comic book super heroes led to the very particular super pet.  A super pet is the animal sidekick to a super hero.

Probably the most famous super pet is Krypto, Superman’s super dog from Krypton.  Krypto has had many solo adventures in DC comic books and even his own animated series on the Cartoon Network that started in 2005.    The series is regular who’s who of evil super pets.  Some of the evil super pets include the Joker’s hyenas Bud and Lou, Catwoman’s cat Isis, The Penguins trained birds (Artie the Puffin, Griff the Vulture, Waddles the Puffin), and Lex Luthor’s pet iguana Ignatius.

Krypto inspired a whole list of super pets that now appear dated.  I think one explanation of why super pets where so popular in that period but not now is that quite simply the median age of comic book readers during the silver age was much lower than now.  Younger readers like stories about animals and pets more than older readers.  A lot more children’s books are about animals and pets than adult books.  The success of Krypto apparently inspired many more DC super pets. 

Beppo the Super Monkey from Krypto showed up later.  Krypto had super intelligence for a dog which meant he had human intelligence on Earth.  This in turn means Beppo should be pretty smart, a lot smarter than Krypto, that’s for sure, but we never see any evidence of this difference in intelligence in the Super family stories of the time.  The way these two animals show up at Superboy’s doorstep is hilarious. 

Jor El, Superman’s father, presumably a great and compassionate man, rockets his sons pet dog into space to test his rocket to Earth!  Beppo is also rocketed into the void by Jor El.  I think if my dad used my dog for a dangerous experiment that led to the dog’s seeming demise, then I might be a little angry about this.  Superboy never shows any ill feelings about his father’s actions whatsoever.  I can accept Beppo being hurled into the void since he is a monkey and we assume specifically purchased to test the rocket. Krypto is another matter.  Can’t Jor El find some stray dog at the dog pound on Krypton?  Jor El has to use his son’s pet dog? Given that Krypto and Beppo have human intelligence you would also assume they would hate Jor El but this point is never brought up either.

Dogs are supposed to have a sense of smell 1,000 times more powerful than a human being.  Both Superboy and Krypto have super smell but presumably Krypto’s super smell would be a 1,000 times more powerful than that of Superboy.  Superboy fought some pretty sorry villains, mostly petty crooks, compared to Superman, and many times the Super Boy bad guys gave him the slip since he had super powers and they didn’t.  Superboy never ever used his own sense of smell to track a crook. 

The use of super smell is pretty much ignored during the silver age by both DC and Marvel.  A current poll at the Comic Vine puts Superman at the top of the super smell list

(http://www.comicvine.com/super-smell/41-19/) 

One could argue this is a recent development and Superboy did not have super smell but his dog could still be used to track bad guys.  Later Wolverine, a Marvel superheroe, will use super smell to pursue bad guys and figure out the true identity of a shape shifter.  Mystique, is an enemy of the X-Men, and can change her appearance and thus fool the other X-Men but not Wolverine as demonstrated dramatically in the first X-Men movie.  Superboy never used Krypto to track a bad guy down using scent.  Instead Super Boy relies one hundred percent on flying around and using his super vision and if the crooks are smart enough to hide in a lead shielded place then they get away. 

Supergirl later acquired a super cat called Streaky.  Streaky was a normal Earth cat that was exposed to X-kryptonite and acquired super powers.  Streaky was not poisoned to death but instead became a super cat.  Super girl also managed to acquire a super horse called Comet.  Comet was not from Krypton but was a centaur turned into a super horse by Circe, the sorceress, and this meant that Comet was invulnerable to Kryptonite. Comet had the power of telepathy unlike the other super pets.  Just as a horse is more powerful physically than a man, Comet was presumably more powerful physically than Superman physically.  This meant Comet was the most powerful character of the Superman family.  Comet as a character is worth analyzing more closely.

Comet was in love with Supergirl!  Comet even had an affair with Supergirl when he was temporarily a man.  Supergirl also rides Comet into battle.  Interestingly, Superman never rides Comet.  I don’t think most men would like to literally ridden by the object of their affections but maybe I am wrong about this. I suppose, sooner or later, the DC Imprint, Vertigo, will do a reboot of Comet or even all the super pets, with more mature themes explored.

The Superman family inspired the creation of a Batman family.  Superman is a family guy.  Batman is at his best when he is a loner and does not need a Batman family.  Batman associates perhaps but not a family.  Oh well, they had Batman fighting aliens in the same time period. If Superman has a dog then so must Batman.  Batman adopted a dog called Bat-Hound.  Bat-Hound was a normal German Sheppard that wore a mask.  Actually, Bat-Hound was not the stupidest member of the silver age Batman family by any means.  Police use police dogs and Batman is kind of a super policeman and the ability of a dog to act as a hound and follow a scent could be useful to Batman in a pursuit situation.  Batman did use Bat-Hound to track criminals using the dog’s sense of smell! Very recently, Batman used the current incarnation of Krypto, who has normal canine intelligence, to track down a crook with his sense of smell. Further proof, if needed, that Batman is smarter than Superman or at least Superboy.  Bat-Hound and Streaky did appear on Krypto’s animated series. 

Other superheroes of that time period also had super pets but they were extremely minor characters.  The Atom had a bird that he rode to battle called Ms. Mina.  Aquaman has a regular aquarium of finny friends but I would put the giant seahorses Aquaman and Aqualad rode at the top of his super pet list.  This lack of Justice League super pets meant that a Justice League of Super Pets was not possible but the creation of a super pet club was possible using another angle. 

Superboy and Supergirl belonged to something called the Legion of Superheroes in the 30th century.  There were over 20 something legionnaires but only one super pet in the bunch.  Chameleon Boy had a super pet called Proty II.  Proty II was a big yellow blob that could shape shift.  Not much of a super power I supposed but adding him to the Legion of Super Pets meant that club wasn’t exclusively a Superman family club.  Proty also had the power of telepathy like Comet.  Poor Proty, surrounded by super pets with at least a half dozen super powers and all he can do is shape shift.  The situation was probably difficult for Proty to say the least.  Supergirl meets a descendant of Streaky, called Whizzy, in her first adventure with the Legion of Superheroes and the descendant can talk unlike Streaky.  This character is never seen again but logically a talking super cat would be a welcome addition to the Legion of Super Pets. 

I would like to discuss the cover of Adventure #322.  Comet and Proty are the only two members that have telepathy as a superpower and very appropriately are the only two talking to each other via thought balloons, the comic book version of telepathy.  The plaques at the table conference table give Krypto and Streaky names but Comet and Beppo are simply referred to as super-horse and super-monkey and their names are not used.  I guess only some pets rate an actual name on their plaque.

Lockjaw is the leader of the Pet Avengers.  Lockjaw can teleport, has super strength, and is a giant.  The Avengers consist of Lockheed, Redwing, Ms. Lion, Zabu, Niels the Cat, and Throg.  The biggest difference between Lockjaws team and the Legion is that Lockjaw’s team has pets that do not have super powers.  The members that have powers are Lockheed, Zabu and Throg.  Zabu is a sabretooth lion.  Lockheed is a miniature dragon about the size of a cat that can fly, has very tough hide and can exhale fire.  Throg is a frog version of Thor and probably has about one tenth the power of Thor or maybe even a lot less.  The other super pets are normal animals.  Niels the Cat aka Hairball, generates a kinetic energy field, like his owner Speedball, and this means he can bounce around and is super slippery.  Cats are pretty slippery anyway so I think catching Niels would not be easy.

Redwing is a hawk that works with the Falcon and at least has super hero experience.  Ms. Lion is a rather silly dog that belongs to Aunt May, the Aunt of Spiderman, and would probably get destroyed in a fight with even a normal street mutt. Ms. Lion has ribbons in her hair!  However, Ms. Lion did sacrifice her life to save Hairball and was only revived later by the power of the infinity gems.  So how would a battle between the Legion of Super Pets and Lockjaw’s Super Pet Avengers turn out?  The two super pet teams have both claimed a particular park in the New York as their territory.  Krypto and Streaky have clearly marked the park as their territory!  The Marvel Avengers try to argue that the park should be open to everyone but Krypto promptly responds human concepts such as sharing territory have nothing to do with animals that live by a different code. 

Comet knows what is going to happen next and wants nothing to do with the events that will follow.  Comet has known Krypto for years and years and knows that he is ruthless when it comes to defending his territory.  Comet, as mentioned, is a centaur in animal guise and has had it hanging around a bunch of animals.  Comet is also thousands of years old and is sick of baby sitting the other super pets especially Beppo who he suspects was driven insane by his years alone in space.  Beppo is not the only member of the super pets that might have psychological problems.  Comet is sick of Krypto’s obsession with dinosaur bones that are obviously rock and not bone.  Comet is sick of Streaky getting high on catnip all the time. Comet is sick of being ridden by Supergirl, actually he doesn’t mind that part so much but still. Most of all Comet is sick of how all of them refuse to learn how to use a toilet.  The Legion headquarters stinks to high heaven.  Comet flies off to a far off planet governed by intelligent horse creatures that have achieved space travel and are more advanced technologically than the humans on Earth.  Comet misses Super Girl but when elected king of the planet, due to his many super deeds, gets over it.

The Legion of Super Pets looks at the sorry underpowered Avengers team that is giving them a hard time.  All the other animals on Earth have enough sense to treat them like the top dog, top cat or whatever and decide and example needs to be made once and for all. Streaky goes after Zabu the sabretooth and Zabu puts up a valiant struggle but Streaky is about a million times stronger than Zabu and invulnerable to boot.  Streaky grabs the back of Zabu’s neck with her teeth and rattles him like a rag dog until Zabu’s neck is broken.  Streaky feels a little sorry since Zabu was kind of hot. 

Krypto chases Niels all over town and despite superspeed and superflight and super smell has a hard time even touching Niels much less fighting him.  Krypto loses interest in the chase and Niels gets away to fight another day.  Krypto returns to the park and bites Ms. Lions throat and she promptly dies.  Throg zaps Krypto with lightning and the lighting actually hurts due to its magical origin and the vulnerability of Krptonians to magic that may even be higher than that of normal humans.  Krypto decides to not take any chances and uses his ultimate weapon, heat vision.  Krypto zaps Throg with his heat vision.  Even Thor would be in trouble but a frog is especially vulnerable to heat vision.  The amphibian quickly dehydrates and dies. Streaky flies after Redwing, the hawk, and swats him out of the sky with fatal results to Redwing. 

Lockheed flies towards Streaky and breathes fire all over Streaky.  Streaky is grateful since the flames remove a lot of dirt she had accumulated during the battle.  Superman uses a super flamethrower at his Fortress of Solitude to clean his uniform and Streaky always thought this was a pretty good idea.  Streaky has never told Krypto that she finds his body smell to be too much and wishes he would learn to clean himself with his tongue like she does.  Streaky slashes Lockheed throat with her claws and Lockheed bleeds to death.

Proty turns into a bush and avoids the battle.  The Avengers don’t have a chance!  Krypto tells the rest of his team to hold off on attacking, the leader, Lockjaw since he wants to save that pooch for last.  Krypto is going to teach Lockjaw who is top dog once and for all. The Legion surrounds Lockjaw.  Lockjaw looks at the mutilated bodies of his friends and vows revenge.  Lockjaw teleports the Legion and himself to a Kryptonian style planet and all the super pets lose their powers except Proty.  “If only Comet hadn’t abandoned them”, thinks Krypto just before he loses his super intelligence and the ability to formulate full sentences.

Lockjaw has super canine strength in his jaw and at one time locked down on the Thing’s arm and the Thing could not get away.  I would estimate Lockjaw is eight feet from nose to tail and probably weighs in excess of six hundred pounds.  Basically Lockjaw is a giant bulldog.  Lockjaw chomps all the Kryptonian super pets to death.  Proty turns into a local shrub in order to hide from the wrath of Lockjaw but Lockjaw as a dog easily sniffs him out and chomps his head off or rather the upper part of his body since Proty doesn’t really have a head.  Lockjaw promptly spits Proty out of his mouth since Antareans taste like plastic mixed with detergent.  Lockjaw doesn’t mind eating the odd robot now and then but Proty just doesn’t taste good.

The Marvel team wins but a terrible cost!

DC vs. Marvel: Fourth Wall Heroes

I want to welcome Animal Man from DC comics and the She-Hulk from Marvel comics to my humble blog.  What many comic book readers may not be aware of is that both characters share a very unique super power.  Animal Man and the She-Hulk possess metafictional awareness.  They are aware of the fact that they are comic book heroes and that they inhabit a comic book reality and from time to time have broken the fourth wall that separates reader from fiction.

Hugh Fox: Let me start with the She-Hulk.  What’s it like knowing you are a comic book character?

She Hulk: First of all I didn’t always know I am a comic book character.  I first possessed metafictional awareness during the run of the Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne.  That was a blast.  I got into arguments with John.  I could tear up the page.  I could walk through advertisements.  I could even make appeals to John’s Editor, Renee Wittstaetter. She even bound and gagged John and locked him in a storage closet in the issue #50 which unfortunately was also the last issue.  I did not have metafictional awareness prior to this series.  When I acquired metafictional awareness I read my earliest title run the Savage She-Hulk and can’t help but think what a dope I was back then and for the record I am not drawn very well and the plots aren’t very good either. The creators of the Savage She-Hulk also neglected my potential sexiness.  Come on I can be really hot. John was great and I thank him for making me a sexier character and a more aware character than I had been previously. There are some good points about the Savage She-Hulk.  I am proud to point out that I was the last Marvel creation of Stan Lee perhaps the greatest comic book creator ever.  Stan Lee was assisted in my creation by John Buscema.

Hugh Fox: You have had metafictional awareness in recent years as well as I recall.

She Hulk: This happened years after the cancellation of John’s run.  In 2004 the series titled simply She-Hulk was launched and I kept my metafictional awareness in that series which I am sad to say came to an end in 2009.  I would like to make a plug for the graphic novels that collect my adventures of that run.  The first volume is titled Single Green Female, the second volume is Superhuman Law, and the third volume is titled Time Trials.  I especially liked how I could go to the long boxes in that series and get answers to problems. 

Hugh Fox: I am not sure I know what you are referring to. 

She Hulk: The law firm I worked for had long boxes of every Marvel comic book ever published and the boxes basically acted as a database I could use. 

Hugh Fox: Knowledge is power!

She Hulk: You better believe it.  I could also use other long boxes due to my metafictional awareness.  Let me give you one example. I visited NYC Comics and found the key to defeating Titania who had potentially infinite super strength at the time.  Titania was wearing a really hot dominatrix type outfit at the time that really showed of her legs which I have to admit are pretty good.  Great cat fight by the way.  I even had my Jupiter suit torn to shreds by Titania in that fight.  Fortunately, I was wearing a sexy white and purple Lycra gym suit underneath.  I am amazed that series got cancelled since you would assume guys who buy comic books would love a good cat fight.  I mean sex sells doesn’t it?

Hugh Fox: Are you saying you don’t mind being a comic book sex object?

She Hulk: I like being alive and if some sex is needed to keep me alive then so be it but I am so much more than just a sex object.  My overt sexuality is just one side of my character.  I see myself as kind of a Sex in the City character in the Marvel Comics New York.  My career as a lawyer for super humans was a major plot line in my last series and I had very complex soap opera type relationships.  I mean my poor cousin the Hulk just runs around smashing stuff and has dialogue like “Me Hulk, me smash puny humans”.  Ninety percent of the time he is running around in the same torn purple pants.  I mean who ever heard of purple pants for a man?  I mean it’s a great color for a woman but a man?  They gave a similar torn type wardrobe in the cover of issue one of the Savage Hulk series which did nothing for my figure but in the later series I got to wear all sorts of great corporate but sexy outfits as a lawyer.  My superhero outfits were great as well.  I especially liked my form fitting lycra Fantastic Four uniform.  I didn’t care for the Jupiter Suit that I mentioned which was more a space suit than anything else even though I did get to change the color from yellow and green to white and purple, my trademark colors but of course the Jupiter suit only existed to be torn away later in my fight with Titania.

Hugh Fox: You are pretty quiet Animal Man.  What are your thoughts about having metafictional awareness. 

Animal Man: I am glad someone enjoyed having metafictional awareness!  My own experience has been very different that of the She-Hulk and quite terrible.  Like the She-Hulk, I did not have metafictional awareness during my early years.  I first appeared in Strange Adventures in 1965!  That makes me a lot older than the She-Hulk and for the first twenty years of my existence I was a third tier super hero with no metafictional awareness whatsoever and wandered in and out of comic book limbo.

Hugh Fox: Comic book limbo?

Animal Man: I don’t know how it works in the Marvel universe but in the DC universe when your series is cancelled, and you don’t make any guest appearances in other titles then you end up in comic book limbo.  Kind of where the forgotten super heroes go.  At least that is the way the place was explained to me by Merry Man of the Inferior Five who was an inhabitant of comic book limbo when I visited the place.  Now this brings up a paradox.  If he is in a comic book explaining comic book limbo then he is an active super hero and should not be in comic book limbo.

Hugh Fox: I get what you are saying.  The Inferior Five were very much inactive superheroes that were totally wiped out during the crisis of infinite Earths but yeah their appearance in a current comic book means they are once more part of the DC continuity.  But if you take this logic to its extreme you can’t portray comic book limbo at all and this would destroy what I felt was a very good comic book and plot necessity trumps a paradox in fiction.

Animal Man: Spoken like a creator.  Well anyway, in the eighties, Grant Morrison, a Brit was brought on board to DC along other with other Brits like Alan Moore and the Brits where given the task of revamping old and out of date characters like myself.  Alan Moore reinvented the Swamp Thing.  Grant Morrison decided to reinvent me!  If only Alan Moore had picked me instead.  The Swamp Thing didn’t have an easy life by any means under the reign of Alan Moore but he got a better deal than me.  Grant Morrison was a sadistic and horrible creator!

Hugh Fox: How was he sadistic?

Animal Man: I didn’t receive metafictional awareness all at once but little by little via a torturous plot line that ran around two years.  My family got killed.  My reality slowly melted around me.  I spent time in comic book limbo as I mentioned before, and this was not pleasant let me tell you.  The reader was more or less aware of what was going on at least a year before so basically I am not having fun with the readers like the She-Hulk but being manipulated for effect. 

Hugh Fox: What do you mean?

Animal Man: I met a character in the Coyote Gospel called Crafty that was a thinly veiled Wile E. Coyote of the Road Runner cartoon series. Crafty made a deal with God, creator like you.  God would end the endless cartoon violence of Crafty’s universe if he agreed to enter the DC universe.  Grant tortured Crafty over and over again in this sick story.  In the end Crafty dies in my arms horribly but is totally unable to communicate why he was in the DC Universe because he is a cartoon character.  The reader knows what is going on but I am made a fool of.  Was Grant Morrison punished for this evil comic book in the universe of the Creators?  No, Grant Morrison got an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue of 1989!  There are civil rights organizations, animal rights organizations, and women’s rights organizations.  I think there is a real need for an organization to defend the right of comic book characters in order to prevent this sort of injustice!

Hugh Fox: You aren’t real.  Crafty isn’t real.  You aren’t really feeling pain.

Animal Man: Maybe you aren’t real!  Maybe you are just some character in a comic book or movie or whatever.  Have you ever thought of that?

Hugh Fox: Actually I have thought about this and deal with this issue to some extent at:

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/non-fiction/numerology-and-virtual-reality/

Animal Man: Anyway, at the end of this torturous metafictional story line I got to meet my creator, Grant Morrison and he dismissed all my pain and suffering very callously and told me some baloney about the death of his cat.  I had my family brutally killed and he is comparing that with the death of his stupid cat!  Creators have no perspective whatsoever.

Hugh Fox: I guess if you are going to be a metafictional character you are much better of being in the Marvel Universe than the DC Universe.

She Hulk: Based on what Animal Man has said, I don’t think it’s a universe thing but a creator thing.  You get someone like John as a creator and you have a great ride.  I have never met Animal Man before this post but if you get someone like Grant Morrison then your metafictional existence is extremely painful.  Too bad you can’t pick your creator.  I also think being female is a plus since most creators are guys and guys treat female characters better than male characters.

Hugh Fox: You think so?  In the DC universe you have had the following terrible things happen to female characters.  Stephanie Brown (Spoiler, Robin IV, Batgirl III) was brutally tortured by the Black Mask with a power drill and shot to “death”.  In Green Lantern #54 showed Kyle Radner coming home to his apartment and finding his dead girlfriend stuck in the refrigerator. 

She Hulk: That’s horrible I hope none of those creators ever get a hold of me.

Hugh Fox: Actually one of your creators, John Byrne was mentioned in a section on the list but this section has since been removed.  Yeah there is a whole debate about how female characters are killed and/or tortured in horrific ways in order to generate more sales among the largely teenage male audience.  The name for this controversy is called Women in Refrigerators Syndrome.  There is an infamous list of examples of women who have been killed or tortured horrifically in comic books.  This list was created online by comic book fans in 1999.  The list is a work in progress as new comic books come out.

She Hulk: Despite my metafictional awareness, this awareness is strictly limited to the Marvel universe and I had no knowledge of the events you have mentioned.  The DC universe sounds like a horrible place for women.

Hugh Fox: Ok you two this a DC vs. Marvel post which is in turn part of a series of such posts on my blog and it’s time for less talking and good old slug fest.

Animal Man: Are you kidding just look at her.  She is a female version of the Hulk.  Based on the events of War Hulk I would say the Hulk is the strongest being of the Marvel universe.  Unlike the She-Hulk I have some knowledge of the Marvel universe.  My terrible experiences have made me aware that ignorance is not bliss but a path to suffering and I have expanded my metafictional awareness as much as possible.  Besides there are no animals in this post from I can mimic powers from and I do not sense any animal kingdom on this post.  That’s my super power readers.  For example, if I am around a bird I can fly.  I don’t grow wings or anything, I just can fly.  I once mimicked the strength of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and that’s about as strong as I have ever been and this is nowhere near She-Hulk levels.  And I already know that my super power is totally implausible, even by comic book standards, which is saying a lot, and maybe that’s one of the reasons Grant Morrison decided to pick on me.

Hugh Fox: You want animals?  I’ll give you animals.  I hereby create the entire animal kingdom on this post.  Hey, I have an idea why don’t I get a Kryptonian animal on board?  That way you would have powers that equal or surpass that of Superman.  Hulk vs. Superman fights are very popular online and this would be a variant of that sort of fight.  You absorbed the ability to fire lightning from your face from an alien creature so your ability to mimic alien animal powers is already established.

She Hulk: I don’t know much about this Superman character but if he is strong enough to take on the Hulk then I am not interested.  I am not my cousin the Hulk.  My cousin took me out with a single blow in the War Hulk series, well he didn’t take me out totally, but I had enough sense to stay down.  Look having metafictional awareness means you aren’t as dopey as the superheroes that do not possess such awareness.  You get some perspective and with metafictional awareness and are a lot less likely to engage in simplistic heroics or at least that’s the case with me.

Hugh Fox: I am the creator and ruler of this post and I order you two to start fighting.  I hereby cause Beppo, the Kryptonian super monkey. to appear so Animal Man can be almost as powerful as Superman just as the She-Hulk is almost as powerful as the Hulk.  You won’t have the strength of Superman but you will have the greater agility a monkey has relative to a human.  The contest should be interesting.

Animal Man: I evoke “plot plausibility” which even governs creators.  Why would two super heroes that have no grudge whatsoever just start fighting?

Hugh Fox: Happens all the time in comic books!

Animal Man: Come on you are a better creator than that!

Hugh Fox: Yeah I suppose you are right but how do we decide which universe wins if there is no slug fest?

Animal Man: Before my family was killed brutally I was a pretty good parent and one way I settled conflicts between my son and daughter was through a paper, scissors, stone contest.

Hugh Fox: Ok I can live with that.  It’s got a kind of metafictional dry humor to it that fits this post.

Animal Man and the She-Hulk go ahead and do paper, scissors and stone with their hands and She-Hulk counters Animal Man’s scissors with stone.  So DC beats Marvel in this post.

She Hulk: Hey, why did you let me win?

Hugh Fox: First of all I just want to say I love both your titles.  I am into metafiction.  My novel Half Square is metafiction.  I love comic books so of course I am going to love a metafictional comic book but I prefer your metafictional comic books to those of Animal Man partly partly because of the art if you know what I mean, heh, heh. 

She Hulk: So you let me win because I’m hot?  Well I can live with that. 

Hugh Fox: No, not totally, you are a super smart lawyer and let’s face it Animal Man isn’t too bright and a blue collar guy if I recall correctly.  Smarter people do better in games of strategy than dumber people or one would assume.  Last but not least you would have some of that female intuition which I think is largely a greater awareness of body language at a subconscious level and that’s important in a game like paper, scissors, stone.  I think all things being equal women are more likely to win paper, scissors, stone than men although I have no empirical basis for this belief but think it might be an interesting and funny study.

She Hulk: Well whatever your reasons, thanks.  No hard feelings Animal Man.  If DC and Marvel ever decide to do another crossover then make sure to look me up.  I would love to have a long talk with someone else with metafictional awareness and have to admit I am kind of curious about the DC Universe.

Animal Man: I will definitely look you up.  The Avengers/Justice League crossover made a ton of money for both DC and Marvel so I think another crossover is inevitable.  I don’t mind losing at all and just glad we ran into a creator that was smart enough to avoid yet another senseless comic book slug fest.

Hugh Fox: Well readers, that’s the end of this post.   I think a comic book featuring Animal Man and the She-Hulk having some metafictional adventures as a team could be interesting.

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6 responses to “DC vs. Marvel: Post Compilation

  1. This is an excellent compilation of all the merry madness and wonderful weirdness that have inspired (and sometimes embarrassed) comic book superhero fiction as a singular subgenre unlike any other!

    • Thanks for your kind words. I have done some DC vs Marvel posts since then and plan to do some in the future. Eventually I will clean them up and make a free ebook on the topic.

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