Marvel VS DC Part 6: Creative Teams

Dan Didio posted a list on facebook of the ten comics from his tenure at DC that he thinks were most consequential. It shows a departure for the norm for the company. He begins with an explanation of why the Batman arc Hush was such a game-changer.

BATMAN 608 HUSH. Work on this incredible run by Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb was started before I joined DC Comics but came out my first year there. The success of this series, putting a superstar team on the ongoing title instead of a miniseries (thanks Jim), showed that the periodical series still mattered, now more than ever. On the personal side, it was important to me because this run on was so successful that it allowed us to experiment (both good and bad) on the rest of the line while we began chartering the course for the DC Universe. The cover stated “It Begins Here”, and in my opinion, it really does.

I noted earlier that DC’s self-contained prestige projects (either one-shots or mini-series) were usually their most acclaimed storylines. But Didio’s list shows an emphasis on the periodical side of things, and he intentionally excludes the work that fit the “Old DC” approach better.

Filling in the last three spots was more difficult than I thought it would be. Not because there was nothing to choose from, instead, it was quite the opposite. There were several more than worthy series that deserved to be on this list. New Frontier (Darwyn Cooke’s brilliant take on the early days of the DCU), Seven Soldiers of Victory (Grant Morrison’s epic re-imagining of the team), All Star Superman (one of the finest complete stories featuring The Man of Steel) All Star Batman and Robin (audacious yet incomplete) and Wednesday Comics (Mark Chiarello’s love letter to a soon-to-be forgotten format), to name a few. And while they all stood out from the rest, they didn’t exactly fit the criteria I had for the top ten.

There have been plenty of long-running creative teams on DC comics. Curt Swan was the
Superman artist for an entire era, while Cary Bates wrote the character for decades. But the impression I’ve always had was that there was more of an emphasis on creative teams for Marvel’s ongoing projects than for DC’s. Typically, the best DC creative teams were put on side projects. “Hush” served as a bridge between the two, as it could still be enjoyed as a self-contained arc. In 1999, DC turned down Grant Morrison and Mark Waid’s pitch for a Superman relaunch because they didn’t want the creative team to overshadow the characters.

But Marvel has always been willing to capitalize on A-list creative teams. They made a new Spider-Man book for Todd Mcfarlane, as well as new X-Men titles for Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee. They later made a deal with Wildstorm to get Liefeld, Lee and fellow Image founder Whilce Portacio to draw the Heroes Reborn titles for an year. When that didn’t work out, Marvel still sought impressive creative teams for the books: Kurt Busiek and George Perez on Avengers, Mark Waid and Ron Garney on Captain America, Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis on the Fantastic Four, Kurt Busiek on Iron Man, Dan Jurgens and John Romita Jr on Thor.

I can’t see anyone at Marvel ever turning down a creative team, afraid that the new writer and artist would overshadow the character. One reason may just be that Marvel has always shone the spotlight on the writers and artists since the Silver Age, when all-time greats were on the titles: the likes of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, Roy Thomas and John Buscema.

DC’s new approach with creative teams is a lot like Marvel’s usual approach with creative teams. Another aspect of how Marvel handles creative teams is that they allow writers and artists to stick around for a long time: See Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men, Peter David on the Incredible Hulk, Bendis on the Avengers/ Ultimate Spider-Man. So it’ll be interesting to see if DC does the same, with their increased focus on getting impressive writers and artists. Geoff Johns has written a lot of Green Lantern stories, and Morrison’s run on Batman/ Batman and Robin/ Batman Inc. is taking up a fairly wide section of my bookshelf.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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