Like two giants striding onto the battlefield, DC and Marvel get to duke it out once more. They’re battling on the small screen, but here it’s back to basics with the comics themselves. The prize is the title of the biggest comic book publisher in the world, and the key is to win the hearts and minds of the fans. With both publishers having big events on the horizon, let’s see which one is going to win this old-fashioned fight…
DC’s Divergence #1:
Back in the good old days at Marvel, Stan Lee used to get the fans on his side by talking to them in his usual disarming, self-deprecating fashion. When top brass head honchos Dan DiDio and Jim Lee do an introduction together in this comic to explain what’s going on at DC, dropping buzz-words and mission statements as often as possible, it’s nothing like that. On FCBD it’s the stories that count, and while it’s nice to know what they’ve got some kind of plan it’s also not really necessary.
That being said, here are three original short intro/preview stories featuring Batman, Superman and the Justice League. Sort of. The Batman one is up first, and doesn’t feature him at all. Instead it features Commissioner Gordon with a bad haircut putting on a new GCPD robo-Batsuit so that he can become the new Batman. Uh… okay. If they say so.
The Superman story actually holds some hope because it’s an intriguing concept, as Clark Kent’s identity has been exposed to the world and he can’t enjoy a simple breakfast with Jimmy Olsen. With public opinion on him being divided and his personal life ruined, things are looking grim for the man of steel.
The Justice League tale only features brief glimpses of them, as it builds up the backstory for the Darkseid/Anti-Monitor War. It’s the best-looking of the three stories but it’s similar to some of the other build-ups to big events that we’ve seen, as the fans get to see images of events to come without actually knowing the story. It’s a massive tease, but a decent one which really catches the reader’s attention and does the best job of building up some hype…
Marvel’s Secret Wars #0:
This one jumps straight into its first story right away, and it’s an odd one. Valeria Richards, young as she may be, cuts through all the hullabaloo and gets right down to the heart of the matter: she and her assembled team have four days to build something before the world ends. It’s a ship. More importantly, it’s a life raft and they’ll only be able to save sixty people from our world of seven billion.
It’s a solid piece of narrative, covering the events that have led to this development and seeing the desperate attempts by Marvel’s finest to prevent the destruction of the Earth as the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe collide. With time counting down it’s time for the Secret War to begin.
The backup story is one that shows just how much of a global powerhouse Marvel has become. It’s a crossover between The Avengers and Japan’s megahit manga series Attack On Titan, with an entertaining “what if?” brawl. It’s a fast read and definitely quirky, but also one of the most instantly fun stories that superhero fans will enjoy…
Here are two very different comic books with contrasting viewpoints. Divergence is almost entirely devoid of humour, and while two of the three stories are intriguing none of them feel truly satisfying. Secret Wars is a little more playful, even though it’s building up to a massive event, and the backup story has enough moments to make fans smile even if they’re unfamiliar with the manga series.
Of the two, Secret Wars is the winner just by being more personal and easier to get in to. The stories seem more clearly defined and self-explanatory, and in the end they’re more rewarding. Divergence is a step up for DC, but they really needed a leap.