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(Book Review) Slugfest: Inside the Epic 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC

Are you a DC Comics or Marvel Comics fan?

It's like asking someone if they like Coke or Pepsi, the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.  Your response is an immediate declaration of your priorities, and it draws a clear line between you and "them."

Whatever your answer, you'll enjoy Reed Tucker's new book, Slugfest:  Inside the Epic 50-year Battle Between Marvel and DC. (out now)  Reed, a freelance journalist and author, dives into the history of the competition between these two comic book titans.  DC Comics got off to an early lead with the creation of the "holy trinity" of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in the late 1930's/early 1940's. To this day, those are still probably the first three super hero characters a person on the street would name off the top of their head.  DC established the foundation of the genre and adopted a conservative approach (in every way) to maintaining their characters for the next few decades.

Marvel Comics was established in 1939, but they didn't provide much competition to DC until the arrival of the turbulent 1960's.  That's when a longtime writer, who was getting ready to quit the business, came up with a new approach to superheroes. Of course, that writer was Stan Lee.    He and his team made them more reality-bound than the DC legends, and they tapped into the social upheaval of the decade in a way that resonated with young readers.  Marvel took off, DC struggled to replicate their success, and the fight was on.  A fight that continues to this day.

Tucker focuses on the business issues more than the creative stories.  He does a great job of laying out the behind-the-scenes drama that was just as colorful as what readers were buying at the newsstands each month.  Tucker shows how much creative energy is involved in creating all of these titles, including many you may have forgotten or never heard of.  We see how these two powerhouses have talked trash for decades, the corporate shenanigans that each side has engaged in (including what seems like weekly poaching of key figures), and how at the end of the day, the fight comes down to the same essential issue:  DC has characters that are ingrained in American history, and Marvel is exponentially better at presenting their product, even in cases where DC released comics that were created by artists that they hired away from Marvel.

Comic book fans will have fun with this book (and probably argue at length when "their side" isn't presented in a positive light.)  However, you don't need to know your comics to enjoy Slugfest.  If you are a Mad Man fan, a pro wrestling fan (Chapter 12 could have just as easily described the Monday Night Wars), or just a fan of pop culture in general, this story will also hold your attention from start to finish.

 

Slugfest Cover

 

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306825465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306825460

 

 

 

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