By RazzaTazz 14 Comments
I don’t think I really need to make the claim that there are two major comic book companies, but as I so often do, I am always up for a comparison of the two. The way I was thinking about recently is how successful Marvel and DC have been in grabbing characters from myth and literary fiction to fill out their own ranks. Really in comparison of the two it is necessary to separate myth from fiction, though the two concepts are fairly closely related at most times. Also it should be noted that except in rare examples when a character is borrowed from fiction by one company the other company generally keeps their hands off of them. Thus while for instance Marvel has Thor, DC has used the character only eight times in terms of their publication history. In terms of myth therefore it is easy to see that Marvel got the better group here, which in addition to their myths also has to include how they have been written into the comic book continuity. DC does have its own group which it holds on to – the Greek gods primarily in the pages of Wonder Woman – but in actuality Marvel has taken the rest and even uses Hercules and Ares much more effectively than DC ever has.
When it comes to literary characters though it is not as clear who has the advantage. First of all as should say that in my opinion grabbing literary characters is kind of a cop-out, sort of as a last resort to creativity or originality to grab another character already created and in the public domain. Far from the use of these characters in a new an interesting manner (such as in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) the characters are often used as more stock like characters, as caricatures of themselves of their own worst aspects while losing what made them unique to begin with. Thus in this sense while one of the companies might have a firmer hold on certain characters it is not necessarily to their benefit. Dracula is fairly well entrenched at Marvel but his portrayal in the X-Men has always seemed kind of out of place to me as it sort of distorts what made the concept of mutants so interesting in the first place. DC on the other hand generally tends to go more off on its own in terms of characters it takes from myth, be it with vampires in I ... Vampire or Frankenstein in the Creature Commandos. Thus while Marvel has integrated more, it is likely DC that has done it better. Thus overall I guess Marvel has poached more characters from myth and literature, but it really only helps them in the case of myth.