Robot 6

‘Frienemies': Tom Brevoort on the Marvel/DC rivalry

I’m starting to think we should make “What’s Tom Twittering Today?” one of our recurring features, like “Straight for the Art” or “Talking Comics with Tim.” Anyway, spurred by a comment from Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort took to his do-not-miss-it Twitter account to comment on the age-old competition between Marvel and DC — which, at least on Marvel’s end, seems to have heated up of late:

JLA/Avengers art by George Pérez

JLA/Avengers art by George Pérez

I am told by @DanSlott that I’m coming across as too mean and petty towards DC. Putting aside why Dan was Twittering rather than scripting[, it] seems like something I should address. First off, my affiliation should be clear, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like DC or it’s people. I know all of those characters just as forwards and backwards, and have edited more DC-related material than any other Marvel editor. And most DC editors have been pleasant. Dan Didio’s been nothing but nice whenever our paths have crossed. But by that same token, DC is the competition. Friendly, but not friends. Frienemies. The sports team rivalry between Marvel and DC is all part of the game, for readers as much as us. Everybody likes to cheer on their faves. It profits nobody for things to get too lovey-dovey with them. That’s dull for everyone. And, particularly when they start pulling plays from our playbook, we pride ourselves at being faster, sharper and smarter in [our] promo as well as in the books themselves. So, long story short, they stink and we’re great! And hey, it keeps us from talking about Dark Horse, Image or IDW …

(I’m pretty sure those last bits were said with tongue in cheek.)

So in short, Brevoort’s take seems to be of the “healthy rivalry” variety, something that’s not just good for the respective companies, but entertaining for their fans. Or, as he put it in response to a fan of both Marvel and DC who said he didn’t like to see the two companies being dicks to each other for no reason: “Never dicks just to be dicks. Always dicks with a point.”

This leaves me wondering a few things:

1) Which plays have DC swiped from Marvel’s playbook, in the eyes of the House of Ideas? ( 1.5) Do Houses have eyes?)

2) Will anyone from DC publicly sound off on the rivalry as well?

3) How does the trash-talk and gamesmanship play with the new corporate stewards of the two companies?

I know where I’ll be looking for the answers …



Regardless of what you think of Marvel’s Siege stunt or how we think DC should respond, it’s doubtful that anyone will, at least not directly with the news or social networking media. It’s been DC’s policy almost from the beginning to ignore jabs coming from Marvel and try to let their product speak for themselves.

There are exceptions, of course. For example, we all know what Paul Levitz felt about Quesada, but he only let that slip once (that I know of) in 10 years or so Quesada’s been EiC.

With frienemies like Marvel, who needs enemends?

Morrison took a jab at Secret Invasion. That lead Bendis to warn us of the upcoming Final Crisis train wreck.

Considering that DC rarely engages in this fratboy “frienemy” sniping, it’s Brevoort and his buddies that look positively dickheaded.

Everything done with Batman and Captain America in the last years looks like copied from one another.The resurection of Sidekicks, the death of the originals, the replacements, the return of the originals.

Sean T. Collins

January 19, 2010 at 9:55 am

Yet as far as I know, that was all planned completely independently. But it’s almost uncanny, isn’t it?

If you look closely at the top of Brevoort’s head, you’ll see the open end of a urethra.

Stealing from their playbook? Say what?

Norman Osborn as head of H.A.M.M.E.R. = Lex Luthor as president

Secret Invasion = Millennium

Bendis’ Avengers = Grant Morrison’s JLA (at least as far as lineup strategy goes)

Spider-Man: Reign = The Dark Knight Returns

I could go on and on, just as I’m sure I could come up with plenty of ways in which DC has copied Marvel. No one’s innocent in this one.

There is nothing wrong with a few friendly barbs back and forth… well… as long as there is a back and forth. It doesn’t quite have the same feel when all of the barbs originate on one side. But regardless of which companies get hurt feelings over what, I do think that type of behavior has an effect on the customers, and not quite the effect they are hoping for. Those types of stunts are really an attempt to further entrench the already-entrenched fans that the company has (it’s kinda like talk radio in that). But having worked in comic retail for years, I have to say that there really aren’t all that many customers that fit that description. Sure, I can think of a few customers that vehemently only read Marvel books, and likewise a few for DC, but the vast majority of customers regularly crossed company lines with their buys.

So, when Brevoort insults the quality of certain books, he is insulting the tastes of the customers that read those books, which are more often than not customers that also read books edited by Mr. Brevoort. And I feel he should be more mindful of that than he obviously is.

With Genius Jones on this one.

I pull books from both companies (leaning a little more towards DC this past year though) so when Marvel insult a book by DC that I like, it lowers the brand for me as a customer. That’s just me though.

This whole, DC stole this and Marvel stole that bores me. An argument like that could be given for almost every story written by both companies!

Long story short, harmless insults are fine but repeated trash talk and no talk back makes me wonder one thing, why do they feel they must do it?

Actually, I think I’d like it better if they were lovey-dovey with each other. If you read both DC and Marvel it’s like watching your parents fight.

Take the high road, DC. Ignore these playground bait tactics.

Do houses have eyes? I’d like to think they do.


It’s not a sport. I don’t pick a side. I’m on the side of well written and well drawn super hero comics. And I can get them from both.

I’ma go read Batwoman in Detective and Incredible Hercules you kids hash this out.

Has it occurred to you, Mr. Collins, that you’re essentially acting as Brevoort’s public relations assistant? What he tweeted about the DC personnel is nothing more than — How many? 30? 40? 50? — employees of both companies have said about their competitors over the years. “Yeah, we know each other. He’s a pretty nice guy — we kid each other.” It’s all about as dramatic and tense as the stars of two action flicks talking about beating each other in the weekly box office totals.

Brevoort used to blog, but he had trouble coming up with subjects substantial enough to blog about. Now he tweets about next to nothing, and you’re making him appear like an Internet celebrity. When one looks at the fans’ overreaction to last Friday’s bit about the alleged “cancellation” of the AVENGERS titles and the claims that Marvel’s selling content, when the promotions and solicits have already told readers what the outcome of SIEGE is going to be — fans appear to be so desperate for something that’s really new and exciting that they”ll react wildly to whatever publicity is put out. Starving dogs shredding bags of dog food.


I post stuff I’m interested in reading about, and I find Brevoort’s behind-the-curtain glimpses really interesting. You could just as accurately describe me as a PR assistant for, I dunno, Fantagraphics or something.

What would be awesome, instead of WWF-type trash talk, would be to take half that energy and put it towards recruiting new readers with a variety of material. That would be awesome. The rest is just re-arranging deck chairs.

I just want to thank WarmOtter for addressing the big question.

Things seem to have actually cooled down in recent years, from out-and-out attacks (remember when Straczynski was airing his dirty laundry about DC in actual panels in Amazing Spider-Man? Or when another Spidey book at the same time had a Superman analogue kill a Lois Lane analogue or something? And let’s not get started on Marville) to what agent_torpor accurately described as frat boy sniping. That being said, I miss the era–what I think of as the Gruenwald era–where DC and Marvel could come together on an annual basis (for only two years, but still) and have a big Amalgam event which was pure goofy fun and demonstrated a spirit of camaraderie that is sorely lacking now. At the time, DC and Marvel had a common foe in the Image juggernaut, but without that rallying point now, they’ve gone to this immature infighting. Or rather, Marvel’s gone to this immature infighting, while DC has largely ignored it.

Marvel has always, it seems to me, tried to portray itself as the hipper company, more in-tune with younger readers. Sadly, they seem to have confused “hipper” with “more immature” far too frequently in recent years.

Am I the only one that doesn’t care about who publishes what or who talks shit on who on the internet?

All I care about are good comics. I think more comic fans would benefit if they’d do the same.

I don’t care about good comics, all I care about is talking shit on the internet.

Brevoort always gets on Slott’s case about deadlines, yet he lets his artists (on books that he edits) completely miss there deadlines with not a peep of calling them out on it. Civil War, Cap Reborn, Mighty Avengers…

Eyes are the windows to the soul. Houses have windows. So, yes.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives