I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
There's DCs Lady Deadpool who gives me all the feels, but you have to understand: other than the animated stuff, and my Question obsession - because he sounds just like Ratchet in Justice League Unlimited - DC comics can very rarely get me to feel the feels.
So I got me a DC guru here on Booklikes. (Psst, Troy, that's you!) I like to re-image that our conversation went something like this:
Me: DC only has me at half-mast level interest. What am I doing wrong?
Troy: *gives Grimlock many, many, many, many good suggestion in posts* And yes, each many links to a different DC recommendation post. All of which are worth looking at, so go, look. This post will be here while you do.
And even though Troy knew his stuff, I have a long history of doing DC wrong. So I worried that I just wouldn't do it right. It turns out by 'doing it wrong', I guess I mean trying the wrong DC titles. Troy and I disagree about the New 52: I liked much of what happened, and he did not. Would I like his suggestions? I sort of... well, I have to admit, I sort of felt an obligation to like them, because I'd asked. I was going to give DC my best shot this time, dammit!
It turns out I just had to sit back and enjoy - literally when it came to the Under the Red Hood movie. Delicious! Would the graphic novel hold up? I figured it would, because source material. It's odd because some of the plot points are different, and I have to admit I really liked one particular one in the movie. (Which I will not spoil for anyone, although I will answer that question if it comes up in the comments. I just won't spoilt it in the review, so consider this a possible spoiler warning for the comments, which I open up to contrast and compare the movie and book.)
And even while I was enthralled, I have to admit that DC may never be able to win my heart the way Marvel has. Perhaps it's the nostalgia factor that will give Marvel that winning edge, but I don't think so? I never liked Transformers as a kid, and I think I like their comics better because, to be honest, hands down? More Than Meets the Eye has some of the most clever writing I've read, bar none. Valiant won my heart - and other bits - because clever writing, good, solid plots, and so much techno-stuff. Robots, cyborgs, armor with AI. Mmmm.
So I've been sitting here, struggling. This made me feel all the feels, but it didn't have the same magic that Marvel or Valiant did. (I bring up Valiant because I've only come to it in later years. And while I'm not keeping up, mostly because money, and space, and yeah... It had the same magic.)
Now, here's the odd part: that magic? Bam, the animated movie gave it to me. The graphic novel came very close, but didn't. So those jokes about me doing DC wrong? It's kinda a real worry. Am I bringing baggage? Am I one of those insufferable d-bags who can't betray Marvel by loving DC as much? I don't think so. I've always loved DC animated shows and now movies apparently, and Harley Quinn gave me all those feels. That magic was there. I was truly hoping that Suicide Squad would give me the feels and have the magic. I think I have the potential to love DC as much as I love Marvel, and I didn't feel guilty five starring this movie or the Harley Quinn graphic novel. Unless there's a really sharp downward curve in the Harley Quinn/Mad Love collection, it'll be a guilt-free five star. So, I'm not one of those insufferable d-bags... I think. But I'm also a little too close to really be unbiased. So you'll just have to tell me. (Look, seriously, guys, if I'm one of those guys, I want to know, so I can burn it out of me. If you're my friends, you'll tell me so I can change my dirty, dirty, insufferable ways. Comments are open to telling me that I am a Marvel snob, because this honestly just may be the unfortunate truth...)
Look, Under the Red Hood is a piece of art, no doubt. And it does tap into a lot of what I like about Marvel best: the heavy focus on characters, the weaknesses - like Batman's inability to save Jason Todd/Robin, and yet... there was something missing there. Maybe it's because Batman, for all his faults, feels somewhat godlike: he's the best. He's rich enough to buy the toys he needs, he's the best detective ever, and oh, yeah, is rich enough to buy all the information he needs, and he's one of the best fighters. And I get that he worked for it all - except he kinda inherited the rich part, as well as the companies that keep making him money - but it all feels a bit overwhelming. He's larger than life, and I still feel like I can't really relate to him. And this is also why Captain America is one of my least favorite Marvel characters: he's always had an aspect of a symbol, he is one, and he's made to be massive, and pure, and good all around. It's all a little too much for me.
Like I said, this managed to both resonate with me, and hold me at bay. More the former. I think a lot of this has to do with Jason Todd, who is more flawed, and thus not only more interesting, but someone who I have an easier time feeling for when reading. Looking back, it's him that I felt for; I felt because of what happened to him. No matter how many times Batman told me, or Alfred told me, or another character told me, how it was affecting Batman, I just went, 'oh,' and moved on.
But when Todd spoke, I listened. I listened, and I wept, and I felt. The magic that was in this book was because of him. When I didn't feel it? That's when he wasn't on the page.
I definitely can see why DC appeals, even why Batman appeals, but it's simply something that I won't relate to as much. The villains have more leeway, oddly enough. They're crazy, they're homicidal, they're flawed as fuck. If they have other flaws, well, that's expected. I have a feeling I'm going to have an easier time with the DC villains than heroes to be honest.
That isn't to say that I won't like what's being done with the heroes. But in some ways, they'll always be a hair's breadth away from me, and I prefer the protagonists to let me in, so I'm wondering if DC ever did stand a chance. Again, that's not to say I won't love some work, because I clearly loved this.
I'm just not sure it'll manage to do what Marvel does for me. The problem may not be, as I jokingly suggest, that I do DC wrong. The problem certainly isn't that DC is doing anything wrong, not with books like this. The problem may be more that I'm looking for something specific, and DC is doing something else specific. They know their target audience, and they know that some people will be outside of that audience, and they're okay with that. So am I, though.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the beauty of having two companies like old-school Marvel doing very human things, and old-school DC doing characters who were very much archetypes were that they were the two large comic companies, each who had a niche market, and there were two audiences. One wanted the humanistic side, and one wanted the archetypes. Each one had a perfect match in one company or the other.
For all I joke about DC and how I've failed with them, I've always respected that they told solid stories, and did solid characters, even if they don't write for my specific needs. I liked that they were doing something different. I'm especially happy now that I'm reading some of their best. It's a time in my life when I can appreciate it, and I can appreciate how different they are, and I can celebrate those differences. No, it didn't have the same magic it did for me that it did for others. No, it doesn't compare to picking up a Marvel title for me, but you know what? It came a lot closer than I thought it would, and I'm eager to pick up more DC titles for having read this.
PS - thanks, Troy. This was a lot of fun to read. I'm just sorry it's over already :(