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Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle between Marvel and DC Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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"Reed Tucker masterfully dissects the REAL issue dividing us as a nation."
―Seth Meyers, host of NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers
"A smart, blow-by-blow narrative of the sometimes-friendly, often bitter rivalry between corporate comic-book behemoths...A wild haymaker for the masses, perhaps, but a knockout read for capes-and-cowls aficionados."―Kirkus
"This is a book for 'Fans.' I consider myself a 'Fan.' I love this book. I guess you could say I am a 'Fan' of this book. If you are not a 'Fan' of 'Things' then this is not a book for you. It is a book for me. GIVE ME BACK MY BOOK!"
―Bobby Moynihan, comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member
"Slugfest is the ringside commentator for the clash of the comic book titans. A must-read for all comic fans."
―Scott Sigler, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Alive
"If you think comics are squeaky clean, you have no idea how down and dirty things have gotten behind the brightly colored scenes. Slugfest pulls back the curtain on the tireless work, masterful art, smack talk, underhanded tactics, and juicy betrayals that have both blessed and plagued the rivalry of a lifetime. It's meticulously researched and delightfully scandalous, like the lovechild of an encyclopedia and a soap opera. It's an Encyclopera. Which also happens to be my super hero name."
―AJ Mendez, retired WWE superstar and New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Is My Superpower
"Insanely readable...An amazing comic-book story."―Houston Press
"The story of Marvel's David toppling DC's Goliath is a fun one, and Tucker tells it well."―Associated Press
"Tucker uses extensive interviews with major players within the two comics giants to provide a blow-by-blow account of its victories and defeats."―Shelf Awareness for Readers
"A great read for anyone interested in the history of two companies that have had a massive impact on pop culture."―Library Journal
"Tucker delivers a well-written and entertaining look at the decades-long battle between the two titans of the comic book business."―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Reed Tucker is a freelance journalist and writer and has lived in New York since 1999. He writes mostly about pop culture and entertainment, most recently as a staff features writer at the New York Post. He has written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles for everyone from Esquire to USA Today to Oprah.
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This is an easy to read book that discusses the rivalry between the two companies and relates it to and describes their past and present cooperate structure. The author does not dwell on items too long, such as Marvel’s bankruptcy where other books have done that. The book is all text with no illustrations and does not involve itself the actual comic book stories.
For those familiar with the important events he gives behind the scenes information and quotes. For those not familiar with the most important events, he discusses them in chronological order.
Marvel, in the 1960s is, of course, the “winner” in the race. Now, from a distance it is easy to see that the corporate structure of DC, its conservative outlook and it’s inability to change, held them back. Marvel’s innovative approach, led by Stan Lee, allows Marvel to grow and overtake the much bigger rival in comic book sales. The narrative of DC concentrates on Weisinger and Schwartz, a bit on Kanigher and very little on Schiff, although in the 1960s Batman became a big deal. Soon the DC narrative shifts to Carmine Infantino. In the later years, Joe Questa and other Marvel higher up do not come out looking good. And once again, no one has a kind word for Weisinger.
I have written about this recently and it is discussed here. At the beginning of Marvel’s rise to fame, DC books seemed for children, they offered few adventures and lots of silly gimmicky covers. Yet, in the beginning of the 1960s DC thought themselves as literature and Marvel as, well, garbage. Their dialogue was simplistic and had no personality, so at a JLA meeting you could move the balloons around it would not matter who said what. These issues were gone into in detail in this book. And show why Marvel won the 1960s and 1970, creatively as well as on the stands.
Reed discusses at length the events that led Marvel to Secret Wars and that help change it’s corporate structure. He does the same with the Death Of Superman and Crisis at DC, and, once again, shows how special events help circulation, but, later on often hurts it. Apparently, the author feels to DC has overtaken Marvel creatively, at least in the last couple of decades.
A great deal of time is spent discusses the problems setting up the crossover issues, Superman vs. Spider-Man, and how the up and down animosity of the two companies often stand it its way. At the same time, Reed show how economically the two companies are somewhat dependent on each other. The author also discusses why many artist left on company to go to another. Or why an artist or writer would NEVER go to DC or Marvel.
The author also lets us in a bit on the very good salaries and bonuses, sometimes a million dollars that popular creators now get. The book concludes with a look at the movies and the constant rebooting of the companies.
I have no dog in this race but I reached a conclusion a long time ago. Creativity comes from an individual, not a corporation. Marvel in the 1960s and DC in the 1940s (not covered here) were their most creative when privately owned.
He's done a fine job portraying two companies traveling parallel tracks: Marvel, the scrappy upstart publisher of all-too-human superheroes that overtook longtime industry leader DC in the early 1970s and eventually became just as corporate as its main competitor; and DC, the staid corporate publisher with iconic, godlike heroes that's spent five-plus decades trying-sometimes successfully, sometimes not-to capture Marvel's brand of cool by bringing those icons like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman down to earth and making them relevant for modern readers.
Tucker introduces his narrative with a vivid account of a cringe-inducing meeting at DC's bland New York headquarters in which worried executives try to figure out the secret of Marvel's success-and focus on imitating every superficial aspect of Marvel magazines except the storytelling because they refused to stoop to actually reading those books.
At times, the publishers' battle for spandex supremacy is as intense-though not as violent and destructive-as anything depicted in their books. Industry personalities hurl vulgar schoolyard insults at their employer's rival. Those same personalities are the objects of talent wars as the companies poach each other repeatedly. They imitate, they plagiarize-and even engage in espionage that hews closer to "Get Smart" than James Bond. (In 1971, a DC executive left in his outbox a fake memo about publishing 500-page comics. The employee suspected of leaking company secrets to Marvel took the bait-and soon enough, Marvel was discussing publishing 500-page comics.)
Of course, the personality who dominates Tucker's narrative is Stan Lee, who co-created (with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko) conflicted, flawed heroes like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man who were the antithesis of DC's idealized, perfect heroes. Tucker offers readers not the idealized "Stan the Man," but a writer who originally wanted nothing to do with comics and just wanted to make enough money to launch a career in more respectable publishing. In effect, Tucker does for Lee what Lee did for superheroes-he humanizes a seemingly larger-than-life figure.
Tucker also makes clear that comics is primarily a male-dominated industry; the only women's voices heard in his narrative are those of Jenette Kahn, longtime DC president and publisher, and veteran Marvel writer/editor Ann Nocenti.
Along the way, he also shows how the comics themselves evolved from inexpensive, four-color entertainment for children to more complex fare intended for a fanatically devoted, but aging, audience-and now, to valuable intellectual properties for conglomerates like Disney and Warner, respectively.
It's Tucker's love of his topic that makes "Slugfest" such a knockout read.
And "Slugfest" can be enjoyed not just by comic book fans, but also by students of business administration, as Tucker chronicles the lack of business acumen exhibited by editorial regimes at both companies. (Particularly fascinating is the cautionary tale of Carmine Infantino, a renowned artist whom DC woefully miscasts as an executive.)
In the end, Tucker concludes, neither company is the real winner of its ongoing rivalry-it's the kids who read "Batman" and "Daredevil" who grew up to become power players in the film, television and video-game industries that are the latest battlefields for the cape-and-cowl titans.
Most recent customer reviews
The author comes off casual (almost conversational with only direct quotes in the way),...Read more