Inside the Epic Fifty-year Battle Between Marvel and DC

Book - 2017 | First edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The first in-depth, behind-the-scenes book treatment of the rivalry between the two comic book giants.

THEY ARE THE TWO TITANS OF THE COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY--the Coke and Pepsi of superheroes--and for more than 50 years, Marvel and DC have been locked in an epic battle for spandex supremacy. At stake is not just sales, but cultural relevancy and the hearts of millions of fans.

To many partisans, Marvel is now on top. But for much of the early 20th century, it was DC that was the undisputed leader, having launched the American superhero genre with the 1938 publication of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel's Superman strip. DC's titles sold millions of copies every year, and its iconic characters were familiar to nearly everyone in America. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman--DC had them all.

And then in 1961, an upstart company came out of nowhere to smack mighty DC in the chops. With the publication of Fantastic Four #1, Marvel changed the way superheroes stories were done. Writer-editor Stan Lee, artists Jack Kirby, and the talented Marvel bullpen subsequently unleashed a string of dazzling new creations, including the Avengers, Hulk, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Iron Man.

Marvel's rise forever split fandom into two opposing tribes. Suddenly the most telling question you could ask a superhero lover became "Marvel or DC?"

Slugfest , the first book to chronicle the history of this epic rivalry into a single, in-depth narrative, is the story of the greatest corporate rivalry never told. Complete with interviews with the major names in the industry, Slugfest reveals the arsenal of schemes the two companies have employed in their attempts to outmaneuver the competition, whether it be stealing ideas, poaching employees, planting spies, or launching price wars. The feud has never completely disappeared, and it simmers on a low boil to this day. With DC and Marvel characters becoming global icons worth billions, if anything, the stakes are higher now than ever before.
Publisher: New York, NY : Da Capo Press, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780306825460
Branch Call Number: 338.7617415 Tuc
Characteristics: xviii, 286 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

An in depth look not just at DC and not just at Marvel but on how the two titans of comics relate to and are in constant rivalry with each other, right from their respective beginnings.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 07, 2018

1961 was the watershed year Stan Lee introduced Fantastic Four.
Author contends DC's family friendly "must wear tie & suit at work" fiefdom establishment got blindsided Marvel edgier informal counterculture anti-heroes in unified Marvel Universe.
Fantastic four a bickering dysfunctional family metaphor.
Marvel made heroes out of monsters: Spiderman, Incredible Hulk & Iron Man. Cheer for an arms maker in the cold war?
DC had classic generation gap problem to understand the upstarts who used to copy them.
Fifty year war as each side tried to kneecap & poach each other's talents. Marvel more attuned to the teenagers as they were winning battles from 1960s to 1990s. Quoted trash talking from both sides more akin to WWF vs WCW wrestling war & even US vs USSR spy war.
DC copied Marvel. Marvel copied DC.
Comic book prices slowly creep up.
Direct marketing to cut out the middlemen & create the comic shop.
Secret Wars vs Crisis of the Infinite Earths.
Joint frenemy collaboration on Superman vs Spiderman.
Dark Night Returns & Watchman graphic novel with acid free paper & higher price tag was DC to create a better product & go for the long game.
Cold war expanded to exclusive distribution, Television series & movies as readership declined to TV, movies, personal computers & game consoles.
Marvel bought Malibu Comics from DC's noses because why not?
Variant covers & reboots abound.
Killing off Superman was the high point before comic book collection crash & shuttering down thousands of comic shop stores.
Marvel crash & burn thanks to overreaching hubris.
Each could have bought the other in early 80s (DC) & late 90s (Marvel), but nobody loved a drab monopoly or possible lawsuit.
Joint venture unlikely because they have to share profits & each don't want competition have leg up.
Marvel & DC debate somewhat moot because both sides controlled by corporate suits, both looked similar than different, graphic novels opened eyes to general public & combined market share reduced from 90 to 70% by independents. Current biggest selling graphic novel is Diary of a Wimpy Kid series made by traditional publisher.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at VPL

To Top