It's the age old question for fans of US comics and I'd like to see what the Realmers think. Most of us probably grew up preferring one companies comics and characters to the others, even though that may be reversed today due to the current output. Still, in the end I suspect we grew up either a DC fanatic or a Marvel Zombie.
I'd like to hear why you prefer one to the other, be it comics, characters or whatnot. It'll be interesting to hear your reasons, though I do suspect a heavy Marvel leaning, and I'll chime in with my own comments later on
Marvel. Marvel, Marvel Marvel. I started reading comics in 1991, when I was 7. My first comic was the conclusion of the Maximum Carnage storyline of Spider-Man. Oh man, did I love that stuff. I stuck with Spider-Man all through the nineties, through all the symbiote story-lines, Scarlet Spider, Kaine, and all the clone sagas. Demogoblin and the reborn Hobgoblin, Parker's "parents" coming back from the dead, and Aunt May dying. I think this is considered the darkest and worst periods of Spider-Man, but I loved it. He was a tortured soul with amazing powers and badass villians. Of course now he's "back to roots" and just swings around making jokes or whatever.
My second case for Marvel: Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. Good god this was an awesome storyline. I liked the Hulk ok in the nineties, when he was, for the most part, integrated - that is, he was always in the Hulk's body with Banner's mind. But that destroyed the tension bewtween the two that made the character so appealing. Planet Hulk gave him a completely new world to test his strength in, while World War Hulk realized the all-too-glorious revenge of the Hulk at being treated like crap by everyone else. I always loved how there was no limit to his strength. You'd think that would be a turn-off, because unbeatable heroes are boring - you never think the battle might go wrong for them. But he's not really a hero, more like a neutral force of nature. And don't get in his way. Hulk is the strongest. Superman had no business beating him in the DC vs. Marvel crossover.
I also really liked X-Men and the thousand spin-off titles. Again, the nineties was time of very dark, convoluted story-lines with lots of time travel, death and rebirth. Age of Apocalypse, Cable and X-Man, Wolverine losing his adamantium and going feral. Just great.
I also really liked Marvel because they seemed to go 'cosmic' more often. Just really weird, out there stuff bending the laws of time and space.
I use the past tense because I no longer follow comics. I only read the more recent Hulk stuff because I worked at a bookstore with people who kept their inner comic nerd alive.
Aside from that, I obsessively collected Spawn and Sonic the Hedgehog comics, but then, neither of those are DC or Marvel.
Oh yeah, speaking of DC, what have they got going for them?
And they killed off Superman with Doomsday. And the Kingdom Come mini-series was awesome.
My situation is maybe a little different. I used to gravitate to one or the other, then eventually realized neither universe is better. They just do different things... as a general rule, DC is the home of more iconic and idealized heroes, while Marvel is about flawed people trying to be heroes. I think both approaches can be interesting. I like heroes that I can respect (such as Superman and Captain America when done well), but I can appreciate heroes making the journey towards the heroic path too.
I started off in my early comic reading into DC, mainly because I was interested in Superman. I probably settled most into the Levitz/Giffen era of the Legion, Green Lantern (still one of my favorites), and All-Star Squadron back in the day. I'm still a fan of those characters to this day, particularly GL, which I always thought had the potential to be a great book. Interesting that Geoff Johns would eventually revitalize those concepts, but that's neither here nor there.
I jumped into Marvel with an early issue of Secret Wars, then discovered the FF, the X-Men and the New Mutants back at their height, which showed me what comics were capable of. Over the years since, I probably tried a good portion of Marvel's line until the 90´s, when I grew dissatisfied with most of the X-books. Then I gradually got back into DC, made my dip into Vertigo with Sandman, discovered good superhero books like Flash, Impulse, and Nightwing... and I became more of a DC fan at that time.
Since then, it's been kind of cyclical... I would jump to one publisher or another depending on who I thought was producing better comics at the time. I don't think either company has better characters or concepts, really... it's all come down to who has the creators that can tell the better stories.
Right now, though... I would say neither of the Big Two is really writing to my tastes as a whole. Both companies are sucked into constant event mode, so the books are stuck in an unending cycle of shock value death and misery until that changes. DC does some things I enjoy (Blackest Night is enjoyable so far, for instance), but there's also been a lot of editorially mandated disasters (such as Countdown and others).
Marvel, though... I could spend an age on that one. Thanks to Joe Quesada, even the appearance of consistent characterization doesn't really exist at Marvel anymore... even the books I like (such as X-Factor) sometimes suffer from this. There are big ideas, but plotting and execution generally tend not to make much sense; Civil War particularly comes to mind here. And that's leaving out the creative fiasco that was One More Day, which was such a wrecking ball of illogical plotting, horrid characterization, and ill-conceived retcons that Spider-Man is completely unreadable to me now.
On the other hand, there are enough comics out there now that I still enjoy. And I recently discovered Irredeemable and The Unknown from Boom, both of which I enjoy so far. So... yeah.
Marvel as it has all the characters it love, and some of the best villains.
I do not care for DC's paragons but I like characters like Iron Man, Doctor Doom, Gambit, Magneto, and others. I can always find characters I like in nearly every book.
DC (not counting Vertigo) only has...Batman and Kyle Rayner (he isn't even GL anymore is he?).
Sure Marvel has nearly killed the X-Men franchise with their focus on the Avengers (which I refuse to read because of Bendis), and M-Day, but hey there's X-Men: Legacy and the Essential X-Men volumes for me if I want a good read. Also I don't care what anybody else says some of the Marvel crossovers are pretty dang entertaining, like Civil War (which I will defend, except for the ending).