Slugfest: Inside the Epic 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC

Superhero battles that cross over brand lines are common throughout comic book history. None of those plotlines, however, match the bitter and unyielding 50-year rivalry between their parent companies, DC and Marvel Comics. Reed Tucker (The Osbournes Unf***ingauthorized) has captured the players and stories responsible for the feud in Slugfest, pitting classic superheroes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman against the hipper X-Men, Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tucker uses extensive interviews with major players within the two comics giants to provide a blow-by-blow account of its victories and defeats. Marvel had a meteoric rise in the 1960s under its dynamic editor-artist duo, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Meanwhile, DC fought back, opting to maintain its classic, tried-and-true staples: Superman and Batman do-gooder narratives that at times tested storytellers and artists trying to match Marvel's fresher and crazier vibe. There are price wars and litigious battles of words. While Marvel set the tone for engaging plotlines and overall sales, DC launched comics fandom's transition from juvenilia to adult entertainment. Tucker recognizes and alternates his loyalties between the two companies, citing the good and bad in their seesawing contest of one-ups-manship. He contrasts the glow of Marvel's cinematic success with its mutant superhero franchises against DC's influential--and industry game-changing--releases of Watchmen, Swamp Thing and The Dark Knight Returns. These three titles proved that the genre could succeed beyond its adolescent appeal and attract adult audiences hungry for a taste of comic book fandom.

As for how this hurricane of showmanship might ultimately turn out, that is yet to be seen. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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