DC Comics created the modern conception of the superhero with characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, created the superteam formula everyone uses with the Justice Society, and forged a path to other media like movie serials before anyone else, all in the Golden Age of comics. While DC is no longer the number one comic company saleswise, they’re extremely important to the superhero comic book industry. DC has put out, and continues to publish, many of the best superhero books of all time.
Most comic fans read books from multiple companies, but DC has built up a loyal fanbase. There’s a good reason for this. DC does things with its comics that Marvel misses, giving readers stories and characters that, for some fans, Marvel just can’t compete with.
10 DC Still Has Long-Running Titles
DC has published comics for over eighty years. In that time, the comic industry has changed a lot. Back in the newsstand/spinner rack days, comics that had high numbers were ordered more often because longevity was a sign of success. The shift to the direct market model has changed that, though. New number ones get a sales boost, so relaunches of popular books like Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman have become increasingly common.
However, DC has stayed with or gone back to legacy numbering with a number of titles. Action Comics, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and The Flash are all using the numbering they’d have if they’d run continuously, with the former two over a thousand issues and the latter having reached eight hundred in 2023. Then there’s Batman, which is up to almost two hundred issues without a relaunch, something Marvel has not done as of late. Marvel primarily uses 1000th issues to garner attention for long canceled titles, such as Marvel Comics, Amazing Fantasy, and Marvel Age, but has not published one of their titles in one consistent run for quite some time.
DC has many best of all time comics – Watchmen, All-Star Superman, The Sandman, Dark Knight Returns, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, V For Vendetta, and plenty more. Each of these books is quite different from the others, and they’ve all helped redefine characters and the industry as a whole. They also have another thing in common – they’re all fairly easy to get. Even if a store doesn’t have them, they can be easily ordered online.
DC keeps its classics in print almost constantly, which isn’t something Marvel does. Sure, there are a few classic Marvel books around, but they are much harder to find. Additionally, DC puts out more omnibuses and Absolute editions, which include things like concept art, writer pitches, and scripts, giving them a clear edge in this department.
8 DC Understands How To Use Outside Media Synergy
Marvel and DC are both much bigger than just comics, with each company trying to take advantage of this by appealing to a new demographic of fans. However, Marvel’s method involves changing the comics in the hopes that MCU fans will gravitate to the comics. This often infuriates long time readers. DC, on the other hand, uses several strategies, each of which makes their fans happier.
For one thing, DC keeps classic comics most likely to get adapted in print, and will reprint books in order to take advantage of the adaptations. This was on display when James Gunn announced the new DC film slate and the publisher reissued books like The Authority. DC has also produced comics based on outside media. A fine example of this is the Injustice series, which is based on a hit video game. This strategy has proven effective for fans both old and new.
7 DC’s Legacy Heroes Are More Important
DC’s legacy heroes changed superhero comics, and that’s not hyperbole. The best example of this are Barry Allen and Hal Jordan. These two characters came along at a time when superhero comics were pretty much just Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, stepping into the mantles of the Flash and Green Lantern. These extremely sci-fi heroes blazed a new, shining path, and because of them the Silver Age was born.
DC’s legacy heroes even outshone their predecessors at times. Marvel has legacy heroes, but beyond Miles Morales, they rarely get the respect of the ones who came before them. Meanwhile, characters like Nightwing, Wally West, Barbara Gordon, Supergirl, Superboy, and so many more have gotten amazing stories and long-running series, playing an integral role in the DC Multiverse in a way that Marvel’s legacy heroes don’t.
6 DC Sidekicks Are Better
DC’s sidekicks are the best, and it’s really no contest. DC invented the sidekick with the premier of Robin, and soon everyone was copying them. Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Aqualad, Supergirl, and many, many more became popular enough to get their own comics, with some getting solo books and others joining teams like Teen Titans and Young Justice.
Marvel had sidekicks in the Golden Age, like Bucky and Toro, and Captain America would often have partners that were referred to as sidekicks, like Falcon and Sharon Carter, but they rarely felt integral to the character they were supporting. On the other hand, sidekicks became an important part of DC’s superhero community in a way Marvel has never emulated.
5 DC Respects Its Lower Level Villains More
Marvel and DC both have thousands of lower level villains who were created years ago and haven’t attained the popularity of more well-known figures. Not every story needed to be a six issue, status quo changing story for the majority of the history of American comics. Characters like Batman and Spider-Man needed lower level villains to rob a bank or commit a murder, so not every story had or needed A-list villains.
This has mostly fallen to the wayside, particularly with Marvel, whose C and D-list villains have basically disappeared. That’s not the case with DC, whose many underrated villains still show up in a variety of places and serve an important role in their comic book universe.
4 DC Does More Prestige Comics Than Marvel
Back in the 1980s, as the direct market opened up, Marvel and DC both did prestige comics. These were books by the best creators in the industry, with high quality cover stock and paper. These books were only available in comic stores and were of a higher all-around quality. However, as Marvel’s main line started making massive strides in sales, their prestige comics disappeared. DC, on the other hand, started Vertigo to give the format their own home.
Vertigo is gone, with the Black Label imprint having taken its place. DC never stopped doing prestige comics, and these books have played a big role in DC’s success in recent years. Marvel rarely if ever publishes prestige comics anymore, with the Miracleman books being one of the few exceptions.
3 DC’s Black Label Gives Readers Mature Comics
The prestige comics of the 1980s were not only of a higher quality when it came to presentation. They also were made for mature readers, with language, violence, nudity, and other situations that were considered mature. Marvel had the Epic line back then, which served this part of the industry, but that unfortunately did not last. DC’s Vertigo line became the home of mature comics from the Big Two, and DC’s Black Label has since taken its place.
Marvel has had mature readers lines twice in the 21st century (Marvel Max and Icon), but neither of those lines are still being published. Max consisted of bloodier, more profane comics with little to no soul, and Icon seemed like it was made to give Bendis and Millar a place to do creator owned work. Marvel doesn’t currently have any options for mature readers, while DC has plenty.
DC brought the concept of the multiverse to comics and ran wild with it. The DC Multiverse became a huge part of the Silver Age C and was a defining aspect of the publisher. Even when Crisis On Infinite Earths did away with it, DC’s Elseworlds comics told brilliant multiversal stories. 52 brought DC’s multiverse back in 2007, and since then it’s been continuously going strong.
Marvel has a multiverse, but it feels more like a way to tell dystopian stories of destroyed worlds and broken heroes. DC’s multiverse gives readers a multitude of worlds and stories, while Marvel’s seems to exist mainly as a means to present darker takes on its heroes and villains.
1 DC Has The Best Horror Stories
Horror comics were all the rage in the 1950s, with their popularity almost destroying superhero comics. Marvel, DC, and other superhero publishers created the Comics Code Authority to destroy EC Comics, home of the best horror books on the market. However, the 1970s would change that, as the two companies started publishing their own horror anthologies.
Most Marvel horror was still superhero oriented, while DC told stories that were more akin to the horror books of EC. This became a hallmark of both companies’ horror books, with most agreeing that DC has the best horror comics. The main reason for this is that DC actually tells horror stories, while Marvel tells superhero stories that include horror.
Although the MCU has arguably dominated the DCU in the box office, DC Comics still does several things better than Marvel. Read More