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Saturday, April 12, 2014 

The mistakes non-comic readers make about the medium

What Culture listed 10 mistakes made by people outside the comics sphere about what goes on within. Along the way, they also note an interesting fact about modern DC output:
DC, as a general rule, print darker comics than Marvel and, although that isn’t a completely universal truth, it’s something that fans can spot from a mile away.
As anyone familiar with their output from the past two decades knows, yes, there are quite a few comics DC's published in their flagship lines with darker visions, the result of a misperception they have about Marvel fans, who they assume only care about bleak storytelling angles. Speaking as a Marvel fan, I find that insulting, because it actually enforces stereotypes about comic readers that their tastes are very narrow.

They also bring up a cast member of Legion of Super-Heroes with the skills to take on Batman:
[...] People know Batman is a great martial artist, but he’s not as good as it gets. Karate Kid, for example (the DC character, not Daniel San) would easily beat the caped crusader in a martial arts battle. How many non-comic book fans would think that Batman would beat this relatively little-known character?
More to the point, how many even know about Karate Kid and the futuristic series he's appeared in? That's the problem with DC - and Marvel - they don't care to promote a lot of their third-tiers, and so, how many people outside comicdom would know squat about the Legion of Super-Heroes?

On the page where they make a point about comics not being for kids anymore, they have a minor flaw:
[...] Basically, comic books are now not just for kids at all.
Most often, mainstream superhero series aren't even suitable for kids at all. Even before One More Day, Spider-Man was already deteriorating into a mess, like with the story where Morlun showed up again in 2006 and ate a part of Peter Parker I'd rather not mention here. There was even a repellent miniseries published at the time called "Reign". The Green Lantern story where Alexandra deWitt got stuffed into the fridge in 1994 wasn't suitable for children, and the GL series became even less so after Geoff Johns took over. That's something they don't bother to make clear, and worse, they're not being terribly objective about it.

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DC did publish a Karate Kid solo series in the mid-1970's. They were obviously trying to exploit the fad for martial arts movies (Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury, Five Fingers of Death, et. al.), but, by 1976, that fad had already passed.

Today, if you mention the "Karate Kid," non-comics fans will think of Ralph Macchio or Jaden Smith. They've never even heard of the Legion of Super-Heroes.




Actually, many of the "misconceptions" cited by the article may not be that far off.

Not all comic books are about costumed superheroes, but that genre does dominate the medium, especially when you are talking about ongoing series. The exceptions (e.g., Sin City, 300) tend to be mini-series or one-shots.

And DC and Marvel are two separate companies, but their house styles are so similar that there is really no reason to prefer one over the other. If DC is darker now, it may be because they are trying to outdo Marvel.

And, as you point out, it's an understatement to say that comics are not "just for" kids. Most of them are not fit for kids at all.

DC's Flash may have eclipsed Flash Gordon by now, if only because of references on "The Big Bang Theory." Both characters are relatively unfamiliar to non-comics fans, though. In the 1960's and earlier, Flash Gordon was far more famous; a lot of adults remembered the newspaper comic strip and movie serials.

The success of the 2012 movie may have made Marvel's superhero team more famous than their namesakes, the British secret agents. In fact, a 1998 movie, based on the British TV series, bombed.

Marvel sometimes had some fun with the confusion. In Avengers #83 (1970), Roy and Jean Thomas attend the annual Halloween party/comics convention in Rutland, Vermont. When Goliath, Quicksilver, the Black Panther, and the Vision show up, someone refers to them as the Avengers, and Jean asks, "Which one is Mrs. Peel?"

I don't deny modern DC is quite dark, but I almost prefer it to modern Marvel, only in that DC doesn't often traffic in political cynicism, while Marvel in post Bendis' "influence", it's their only shtick, now (with major deconstruction). From bad to worse, it seems.

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