5. Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 (The Straczynski one with Morlun)
If you asked me what my top 5 books from the Big Two are, that would be my list (Watchmen isn't included because, I don't care what the label says, that's a Vertigo book through and through). Besides my penchant for Jeph Loeb's mid-career work, you'd probably notice a pattern indicating my preference for DC books above Marvel. The strange thing is: you'd be completely wrong. If you asked me on the street, I'd say that I prefer Marvel over DC, and it's been that way since I began reading comics.
Even though that's just my personal preference, it's still a strange phenomenon that happens within The Big Two: DC has more "classic" stories, but Marvel tends to have better books overall. What is it about the two biggest competitors in the industry that lends itself to this kind of division? It goes as deep as their characters and as far as their histories, but is one company superior to the other?== TEASER ==
The two companies' overall philosophies haven't changed substantially since their inceptions in the early-to-mid twentieth century. Detective Comics Comics (don't blame me, that's what they're really called) has characters that tend to be vastly more archetypal. Superman IS the Nietzschean Übermensch, Batman is a wealthy ladies' man and the greatest martial artist/detective in the world, Green Lantern is a fictionalized version of real-life test pilot Chuck Yeager gifted with superpowers, Flash IS the Fastest Man Alive (TM), and that's the exact problem: most of DC's most prominent characters are, very simply, the greatest beings in their field or even their world before the DCU became a coherent universe.
They're mythical, even within the book itself, like Achilles or Beowulf and more often than not they're born into their abilities. Even more relatable characters like Green Arrow are immensely wealthy and don't really have "real-life" problems. This was one of the largest problems with the Green Lantern movie: it was essentially a good-looking, well-liked jock fighting against an outcast, unattractive nerd. For the core demographic of comic books, myself included, that's not exactly compelling stuff.
Now look at characters from Marvel's stable: Spider-Man: a nerd whose first act as a superhero is to make a massive mistake that defines his entire career. The X-Men: people who are loathed by the world straight out of puberty, yet they feel compelled to fight for the people who want them dead. Even Captain America, Marvel's super-soldier paragon, started out as a scrawny kid who wanted so desperately to fight the Nazis that he'd submit to a procedure that had killed almost everyone who'd previously tried it.
When Marvel began getting into the comic business in a substantial way, their mission statement was to make characters that the average reader could relate to and for the most part they succeed. The problem arises, somewhat ironically, decades later when characters who WERE relatable because they faced real-world problems become somewhat stale when they're STILL facing those exact same problems. It's difficult to take a character like Scorpion or Arnim Zola seriously when they return for the umpteenth time to menace a hero who's already proven they're more than capable of defeating the villain, particularly when that character is supposed to be just another schlub who happens to have superpowers.
This opens another pattern in my list: the four DC stories that are my favorites (and this applies to every story in the Alan Moore book, amazingly) are all about the characters in them facing problems that actually give them pause. They prove that the gods of the DCU (and I'm not talking about those gods) are fallible. They make mistakes, and when they do there are almost always catastrophic consequences, which gives them their drive to be the greatest. Because if they're not, nobody's going to catch them when they fall. But if pressed, I'd still rather read a story about a character I can relate to in some way, so my answer remains the same. But I don't believe Marvel is intrinsically superior to DC, they simply write the kinds of stories I prefer to read.
And I suppose that's my point at the end of the day: the rivalry between the two companies isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but there's really no reason for the fans of both companies not to get along, besides the human tendency to form a community and reject those outside it. It is, of course, a matter of opinion at the end of the day, but for me personally I read different books for their different mentalities. Together the two companies put out an incredible amount of content that could appeal to nearly anyone. So rather than asking DC or Marvel, I declare DC and Marvel!