They are the arguments that have no ending, because they seem to have had no beginning.
Mac vs. PC.
Biggie vs. Tupac.
Utes vs. Cougars.
It’s the same in the world of comic books.
“If you’re a DC guy, Marvel sucks. And if you’re a Marvel guy, DC sucks,” says Greg Gage, owner of Black Cat Comics in Salt Lake City.
“It’s like the Hatfields and McCoys,” says Kerry Jackson, co-host of X96’s “Radio From Hell” and troop leader of the clubhouse that is “Geek Show Podcast.” “It is like a rivalry. Why it’s a rivalry, we don’t know.”
A little history is in order, for the novices. The folks, that is, who are the target of Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day in which comic-book stores give out free editions, and host various events.
DC Comics came first in the 1930s, introducing Superman in 1938 (in Action Comics No. 1) and Batman in 1939 (in Detective Comics No. 27). DC’s stable of superheroes includes Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman.
Marvel’s predecessors started in 1939, but the company came to prominence in 1961 with the debut of The Fantastic Four. Marvel’s characters include Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the superheroes who share the screen in “The Avengers” (opening in theaters nationwide Friday, May 4): Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and Captain America.
“DC has all these invincible heroes, and it was kind of hard to relate to them,” Jackson says. Marvel’s flawed heroes, on the other hand, are “just more relateable. I can’t relate to an invulnerable guy.”
Peter Parker, the kid who becomes Spider-Man, has to deal with paying the rent, graduating from college, taking care of his frail Aunt May, and a host of other problems encountered by human beings, Jackson notes. What weaknesses does Superman have? Just one: Kryptonite.
It’s that difference that has Jeremiah Lupo, who works at Dr. Volts Comic Connection in Salt Lake City, leaning toward DC.
“Marvel is grounded more in the real world, while a lot of the DC characters, like Superman and Wonder Woman, tend to be more godlike,” Lupo said. “I kind of like the escapism of powerful people.”
Gage says it all comes down to what you grew up with.
“They’ll say, ‘I was a DC kid’ or ‘I was a Marvel kid,’” says Gage, who reads both but tends to read more Marvel.
Gage and Lupo both read both brands, and are a bit bewildered about the intensity of the fanboys (and girls) who choose up sides.
“I don’t get the great divide., because I like both companies,” Lupo says.
“There’s this crazy viewpoint that you can’t be both,” Gage says. “Some of it is just because comic-book people love to fight.”
Gage credits, or blames, the Internet for fanning the flames of the rivalry. “People get into nasty arguments, and they don’t have to look at anybody,” Gage says.
The fight has played out on the world’s movie screens, and it’s been a lopsided war in the last decade. Marvel’s titles have triumphed, with three “Spider-Man” movies, a thriving “X-Men” franchise, and the members of The Avengers all getting hits with their individual movies. Meanwhile, DC’s heroes have been underwhelming in movies, with the Superman franchise getting rebooted twice (“Superman Returns” in 2006, and “The Man of Steel” slated for a 2013 rerelease) and last year’s tepid response to “Green Lantern” making the dreams of a “Justice League of America” movie — which would do for DC’s heroes what “The Avengers” is doing for Marvel — less likely to come true.
“That rubbed salt in the wound with the DC fans,” Gage says. “All they really have is Batman.”
Indeed, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are DC’s bright spot. The third chapter in the trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises” (opening July 20) may be the one movie that matches “The Avengers” at the box office this summer.
“I think ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ will be amazing, but not in the same way that ‘The Avengers’ was amazing,” Lupo says.
Lupo says the sniping between DC fans and Marvel fans is strongest among those who don’t read the comic books that much, and he offers this advice in bringing peace to both sides: “Read the books before you have an opinion.”
Sean P. Means writes The Cricket in daily blog form at www.sltrib.com/blogs/moviecricket. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/themoviecricket.
Free Comic Book Day
P Comic-book stores in the Salt Lake City area will be marking Free Comic Book Day on Saturday with giveaways and special events. Here is what some participants have planned:
Black Cat Comics
Where • 2261 Highland Drive, Salt Lake City
Hours • 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday
Events • Comic-book artists Ryan Ottley (“Invincible”) and Derek Hunter (“Pirate Club,” “Adventure Time”) will sign autographs.
Dr. Volts Comic Connection
Where • 2043 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City
Hours • 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday
Events • Author Bryan Young and artist Kat Martin will be there, as will the Mandalorian Mercs (a “Star Wars” costume group); the “Geek Show Podcast” will be recording (starting at noon); and there’s a storewide 20 percent off sale.
Hastur Games and Comics
Where • 6831 S. State St., Murray
Hours • 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Events • Members of the Justice League will visit; the all-female geek “Hello, Sweetie!” podcast will be recording; and a large back-issue sale is planned.
Night Flight Comics
Where • Library Square, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City
Hours • 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday
Events • A signing, in conjunction with The Leonardo, with artists Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett (co-creators of Boilerplate).
Night Flight Comics
Where • 6222 S. State St., Murray
Hours • 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday
Events • Appearances by Carter Reid (creator of the web comic “Zombie Nation”) and the Jazz Bear.