DC and Marvel Comics have enjoyed a fun rivalry over the past 80 years. It’s no secret that in that time the two companies have borrowed plenty of ideas and power sets from one another. In particular, DC has been quick at times to capitalize on a trend or idea laid out by Marvel and duplicate it for their own universe. While fans are aware of these copies, they’re usually happy to see where it goes.
Although these ideas sometimes fall flat or don’t receive recognition beyond a single story, plenty of these concepts actually land better at DC. Whether it’s as simple as adapting a formula established by Marvel or going so far as to parody a Marvel hero, some of DC’s best works were far from original. The big two rivalry is unlikely to let up any time soon, and fans have two richer universes because of it.
10/10 Jonah Hex Easily Became The Best Western Comic
Western comics are as old as superhero stories, and were told by both big two. However, Marvel were the first to gain a foothold in big name heroes, like the original Ghost Rider and Rawhide Kid. Then, in 1972, DC showed fans a new breed of western hero.
In All-Star Western, DC debuted Jonah Hex, a scarred lone gunslinger and bounty hunter of the Old West. Since then, Hex has become the single most popular western comic book character at the big two, and has had numerous modern titles and a solo movie.
9/10 DC’s Crisis Comics Often Outdo Marvel’s Secret Events
The 1980s set the precedent at both publishers to do large scale events. With Secret Wars (1984) and Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985), the publishers’ events are dubbed “secret” and “crisis” respectively. As great as Marvel’s events are, nothing sells an event like DC’s “Crisis” sagas.
With Marvel, the publisher has fewer events that have really remained seminal works, with most of their stronger stories being arcs and sagas. However, DC has consistently told much better events in their crises than Marvel have with their secret stories, whose best entries are firmly in the past.
8/10 DC Performed Much Better In The Excess Of The 90s Than Marvel
The 1990s remains a divisive era for comic book fans, largely due to the edgy and excessive tone that was adopted by publishers. Marvel and its key talent–namely those who soon moved to Image–were leaders of this era and set the tone for comics of the decade.
While Marvel were making Wolverine, Punisher, Spider-Man and the Avengers grittier for a new generation, DC handled the era slightly better. DC told many of their edgier stories through Elseworlds and crossovers, and their “younger generation” books like Starman have aged as classics.
7/10 DCeased Is A Far Better Undead Comic Than Marvel Zombies
One of Marvel’s better known horror series, Marvel Zombies used to be the undisputed king of big two superhero zombie comic books. However, in 2019, Tom Taylor’s DCeased hit shelves and became an instant hit. It saw the Anti-Life Equation infect the people of Earth through screens, turning them into zombies.
The series was so instantly popular that it landed four sequel series, combining to give fans an epic apocalypse saga of superheroes. What Marvel Zombies did well, DCeased did better thanks to its wide scope and focus on legacy and lesser known heroes, while holding true to the superhero genre.
6/10 The Terrifics Was A Better Fantastic Four Comic
In 2018, DC debuted its “New Age of Heroes” line of new comics. Many of these series sought to duplicate the template of popular Marvel books. The Terrifics, the line’s longest-running book, took its inspiration from Marvel’s Fantastic Four series.
While The Terrifics was running, it proved a much better use of The Fantastic Four’s template than the original book itself at that time. While Marvel were putting out a somewhat divisive run on the team, DC were publishing a team book beloved by the majority of its readers.
5/10 Kamandi Created A World Better Than Planet Of The Apes
In the early 1970s, the comic rights for The Planet of the Apes were up for grabs. When DC lost it to Marvel, they hired Jack Kirby to create something similar to the idea. The infamous comic book creator went a step further and created something better in Kamandi.
Marvel’s run on Planet of the Apes at the time was solid, but the impact made by Kamandi was much greater. Where the license for Planet of the Apes would soon depart Marvel, Kamandi remained a property of DC, a world they would revisit many times.
4/10 Aquaman’s World Became More Popular Than Namor
Though the debate over whether Namor or Aquaman is the better character (especially since changes to the latter from the Silver Age) rages on, one thing is sure. Aquaman has achieved much better mainstream recognition than his Sub-Mariner counterpart.
Namor is one of the oldest characters in Marvel Comics, debuting at the beginning of the Golden Age. Aquaman came along much later, but achieved a recognition both in DC and the mainstream that Namor never did. This is largely due to his status as one of the JLA’s founding seven.
3/10 The Elseworlds Imprint Was Much More Entertaining Than What If…?
Both Marvel and DC enjoy exploring their rich multiverses. Both have had hundreds of comics dedicated to exploring the events of alternate worlds and versions of their heroes. While DC invented the multiverse, Marvel made the decision to first have a series dedicated to exploring it.
What If…? was an entertaining comic but often lacked the impact of Elseworlds comics. It was in Elseworlds stories like The Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come and Watchmen that DC was both forever changed and given timeless stories that still matter today.
2/10 Swamp Thing Easily Became The Fan-Favorite Swamp Monster
In 1972, Marvel Comics brought fans Man-Thing, a swamp monster of a superhero. Just a few months later, DC followed that with their own mossy hero in Swamp Thing. The resemblances and timing were uncanny, and it seemed like Marvel had the advantage.
At first, the two heroes were on par, with Man-Thing receiving a cult classic run under Steve Gerber. However, Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing would change that for decades to come. Now, the “Saga of the Swamp Thing” is held up as the single greatest monster superhero comic ever made.
1/10 The Warworld Saga Was Much Better Than Planet Hulk
Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s “Warworld Saga” has been one of DC’s greatest stories of recent years. It saw Superman travel to Warworld with the Authority to face its tyrannical ruler, Mongul. Much like Planet Hulk, Superman was forced into the gladiator arena and had to fight for freedom.
While there are key differences in the paths taken by Superman and Hulk, the parallels of two titanic superheroes becoming gladiators on another planet are clear. What was a good story for Marvel became an epic saga for DC Comics and is one of Superman’s greatest stories in modern comics.
NEXT: 10 Ways DC Infinite Frontier Already Aged Poorly