It’s DC Week here at the RROY Report. Five days of Detective Comics-related fun all leading up to the main event: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a Marvel nerd through and through. But it wasn’t always that way. The first comics I read were Archie comics, but I quickly gave up on them because of the way they treated Reggie.
From there I moved on to DC comics. It was an easy choice because they had all the big names: Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman. The “Super Friends” were on TV every Saturday morning, the Adam West “Batman” show was on at night. DC was where it was at.
The main titles I collected in those days were “Justice League of America,” “Batman -or – Detective Comics” (depending on which one was on the rack – they both starred The Bat), and “The Brave and The Bold” (a Batman team-up book). I was also fond of “The Teen Titans” and “The Doom Patrol,” but those books were harder to find.
The great thing about DC comics is they were usually one-issue stories with the occasional two-parter and the rare three-issue epic. This was important because in the old days you never knew when or if the next issue would show up on the rack at Wood’s Supermarket. It didn’t matter if you missed an issue if every issue was self-contained.
I also liked how all the DC superheroes were friends — well, except for Green Arrow and Hawkman. I never understood what their problem was.
But then I grew older and adolescence hit and I became attracted to those sexy, somewhat slutty comics that were also on the rack — “The Avengers.” “Spider-Man.” “The X-Men.” Marvel Comics.
I knew I should stay away. Marvel Comics were always continued, there was always a cliff-hanger. Even if the main story ended on page 20, there was always a surprise twist on page 21 forcing you to come back next month. I didn’t want to get involved.
Everything changed with “Justice League of America” No. 110. “100 Super Spectacular Pages for Only 50 Cents” it read on the cover. FIFTY CENTS?! For a comic book? Pa would never go for that. It’s outrageous! Not only that, but it was a total rip-off. Sure it was 100 pages of content, but only the first 20 pages consisted of new material. The rest of it was golden age reprints and old ’60s stories that I had no interest in.
When the next issue came out they had hiked the price up to 60 cents. SIXTY CENTS. I was lucky to get the first issue. There was no way I could keep this up. And so I started reading “The Avengers.” And “Marvel Team-Up (starring Spider-Man).” And “The X-Men.” It didn’t take DC long to realize their mistake and go back to the old pricing and structure. But it was too late.
I had now become a Marvel Zombie, and while I was enjoying this new world I always kept one eye on what was going on in DC land, just in case I wanted to dive back in. When word came out that Avengers artist George Perez was taking on the Justice League, I had to check it out. Perez was one of my favorite artists and seeing him draw my childhood heroes was something I couldn’t miss.
Funny thing was, even though I’d been gone a few years, nothing significant had changed. There was a new guy called Firestorm but everyone else was exactly as I remembered them. One of the first comics I bought on coming back even made reference to a comic I had read back before I left DC. It was like I’d never left.
Sadly, Perez didn’t stay on JLA very long and I left when he did. Perez left the book to work on a revamp of “Teen Titans,” so I went along. “Teen Titans” was DC’s most successful book of the ’80s. Perez and writer Marv Wolfman stuck with it for a long run and I was right there the whole time. I really wish I had taken better care of my Teen Titans poster.
From then to now my relationship with DC Comics has been largely artist driven. There have been about a dozen relaunches of the Justice League over the years and I often hop on board for the first story arc but don’t stick around for very long. I did stay for the comedy JL years – largely due to artists Kevin Maguire, Adam Hughes and Bart Sears. I didn’t expect to enjoy the bwah-hah-hah days but it grew on me.
I didn’t care for the Grant Morrison run, mainly due to the art, and dropped it quick. I enjoyed the Dwayne McDuffie-Ed Benes run, but mainly for the art. When I heard Jim Lee would finally be drawing Justice League I just waited for the trades because I knew he’d bow out after a year, maybe two. He did.
I’ve also kept up with Batman — mainly just the outside-the-monthlies special projects like Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” books (even the crappy later ones), “The Killing Joke” and the “Batman: Black and White” series. I also really enjoyed the “Batman Adventures” comics that were coming out during the time of “Batman: The Animated Series” – especially the books drawn by the late, great Mike Parobeck.
DC also published a really good “Doom Patrol” comic recently but it was canceled because really good comics starring really obscure characters have a hard time surviving in today’s market.
A couple of years back DC revamped all its books with a new continuity called “The New 52.” I don’t appreciate these history erasing reboots so I didn’t join in, other than checking out the Justice League in trade for the sweet Jim Lee art. Story-wise I was not impressed.
And now DC is finally trying to catch up to Marvel in the movie world. It will be nice seeing all my childhood Super Friends together on the big screen at last. Let’s hope they don’t blow it.