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5 Things DC has on Marvel
DC vs. Marvel
Marvel's recent spate of cinematic ventures have trumped DC's, both critically and - to a lesser extent - commercially. But the rivalry between these two companies has persisted for over half a century and the following will highlight some of the areas where DC outshines its main competitor.
1. DC was first
Hitting newsstands with a publication date of June, 1938, Action Comics #1 was a colorful anomaly among the romance and crime magazines surrounding it. The cover featured a brawny red-and-blue costumed man holding a car over his head and smashing it into a rock while panicked citizens fled in terror around him. It was the birth of Superman, the world's first true super-hero.
While other masked heroes had been around previously (the Lone Ranger debuted in 1933, The Shadow's magazine in 1931 and the French Fantomas in 1911 to name a few), Superman was the first other-worldly hero with true "super" powers: the ability to move "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive [and] able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."
With that single pulp magazine, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster set the stage for nearly a century of tales imparting the oldest story in the world: good vs. evil.
Had Superman never existed, there's a good chance Captain America, the Hulk and Spider-Man (arguably Marvel's "Big Three") never would have either.
2. The Lantern Corps
Originally conceived in 1940 in the wake of Superman's success, the original Green Lantern was named Alan Scott and he fought mundane crime (with the exception of Solomon Grundy) with the aid of a magic ring that was powerless against, of all things, wood.
As the popularity of super-heroes waned post-WWII, the Green Lantern book was cancelled. But the 50s saw a revival of costumed heroes' popularity and GL was re-vamped as Hal Jordan, the first Earthling to be recruited into an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. He became a founding member of the Justice League of America alongside other DC heroes. (With the notable exception of Superman and Batman, whose books were selling well enough that the powers that be felt they weren't needed. That attitude soon changed when the publishers realized that by including these two, they could sell more books.)
Green Lanterns had the ability to create hard light constructs, generate force fields and fly (even in the depths of space) by channeling their will-power through rings created by an immortal race of beings known as the Guardians of the Universe (not to be confused with Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy).
Soon, Yellow Lanterns and Star Sapphires came along with their rings, fueled by fear and love respectively, to provide a foil to the space cops.
Though Jordan was based on Earth, his adventures took him to outer space where the Green Lantern Corps held sway, making Green Lantern the first true cosmic comic in the genre.
Not satisfied with only a small part of the color spectrum, writers created Red (rage), Orange (greed), Blue (hope) and Indigo (compassion) Lanterns. They all had similar abilities, but each color had something that made them unique. For example, Blues are healers and Indigos can teleport over vast cosmic distances.
There really isn't an analog over at Marvel, and aside from a particularly bad movie, Green Lantern has become almost as recognizable a pop culture icon as Superman, aka "Big Blue" himself.
Nathan Fillion, the REAL Hal Jordan
3. The Legion of Super-Heroes
Originally conceived as a one-off story for Superboy's starring run in Adventure Comics, the Legion of Super-Heroes proved to be popular enough to earn a starring run in Adventure, later moving to Superboy's own book, and eventually becoming the titular stars in their own right.
The first all-teen super group, the Legion hailed from a millennium in our future and included a cast of nearly all-alien beings, each with abilities native to the inhabitants of their respective home planets. Chameleon Boy hailed from Durla, a planet of shape-shifters. Cosmic Boy came from Braal, a planet with such a strong magnetic field it's inhabitants gained the ability to manipulate said fields on a localized level. There are over two dozen members, so I'll stop there.
Retconned mercilessly due to DC's penchant for massive re-boots, the Legion has nevertheless endured for over fifty years, providing their own sci-fi/superhero universe within the larger DC milieu.
4. The New Gods
When Jack Kirby left Marvel in the late 60s, he brought a cosmic odyssey far beyond anything seen before. The ultimate allegory for good against evil, the New Gods were a race of beings from two planets outside this universe. Highfather ruled the kind and good gods of New Genesis; Darkseid the malicious and dark beings of Apokolips.
Like the Legion, the New Gods were never meant to be a huge part of the DC Universe, but they proved popular enough to be explored by a host of other writers and artists, most recently starring in the "Godhead" story arc that encompassed all the Lantern books published by the company.
And Darkseid has become the pinnacle of evil and villainy in the DC Universe. But he can't help it; he was just drawn that way.
5. Established super-heroes as a bona-fide cultural phenomenon
I think the sub-title says it all. Super-heroes are everywhere, even inspiring people to dress up and fight crime in real life. Though I won't delve into the mental workings of such people, it's a testament to the enduring human need for larger-than-life figures that can fight the bad things the average Joe can't.
It may be fanciful, but sometimes that's what the world needs. And without Superman, would we have the delightful escapist graphic literature we do today? Possibly, but it just wouldn't be the same.
Bonus Advntage: DC and Marvel's MMOs
Both comic publishers have MMORPGs designed to allow players to become virtual heroes in their own right. But the differences between the two are staggering.
In DC Universe Online, players create characters of their own, interacting with established DC iconic characters. The story-line is solid and flows through different types of settings, from Amazonian wars to Lantern shenanigans.
In Marvel Heroes, players choose an established Marvel character, eventually leveling them up and gaining powers that the actual character would never have (Wolverine shooting lightning out of his claws? Really?) And due to the popularity of some characters over others, the chances of seeing the Human Torch are slim, but running into two dozen Spider-Men or 30 Hulks is a distinct possibility. Plus the graphics are sub-par in comparison to DC's game.
Granted, DCUO is backed by Sony, a company that's been in the video game biz for decades. However, Marvel is owned by Disney. You'd think a game with that kind of money would be much better than it is.