If you’d asked the average reader or cinemagoer a couple of decades ago who the big hitters were for the two major comics companies Marvel and DC, you would have been met with a blank expression – even though the names of the superheroes from both houses would have been familiar to them. But now it’s not just people like myself who know that Marvel’s top earners are Spider-Man, The Avengers and The X-Men, while DC’s Holy Trinity are the characters who started it all, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. As the superhero movie continues to dominate the box office, there may well be interest – and not just from comics fans such as myself — in reading Reed Tucker’s highly diverting (and scrupulously researched) study Slugfest, which makes the battle for supremacy between these two commercial giants as compelling as one of the superhero battles that are now routinely showcased in such films as Batman v. Superman and Captain America: Civil War. Subtitled ‘Inside the Epic Battle Between Marvel and DC’, Tucker fascinatingly details how the companies try to outmanoeuvre each other, purloining ideas (Marvel’s Fantastic Four was a rip-off of DC’s Justice League of America) and poaching creative talent (the great illustrator Jack Kirby was a bargaining chip). These days, the actual comics themselves have become something of an adjunct to the blockbusting movies, but there was fascinating period of creativity in the late 1950s and early 1960s; Tucker’s anatomising of the period will appeal to anyone interested in creative conflict, not just fans of The Flash and Thor.
Slugfest by Reed Tucker is published by Sphere