I recently finished Reed Tucker’s Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle between Marvel and DC (affiliate link). While it should prove a worthwhile read for many, it didn’t cover enough new ground to be a valuable resource to me.
Tucker’s book covers the rise of DC and Marvel and the ensuing rivalry between the two companies. It starts with the rise of DC Comics through its flagship titles featuring Superman and Batman, and then covers the emergence and rise of Marvel as a powerhouse in the 1960s. It features anecdotes about the stories each company published, how each company viewed the other, and the ensuing tit-for-tat as each company tried to best the other. The first half of the book primarily covers the rivalry as it relates directly to comic books, but the second half covers the transition into film and television.
For me, the book is at its best when it’s covering the business of comics. I found the discussions about sales figures and finances interesting, the quirky personnel stories intriguing, and the cross-over negotiations fascinating. While a few potential legal disputes were discussed, the book was light on legal topics—primarily because the two companies have never sued each other. However, the book covers a lot of near-miss disputes that I found interesting.
The book is written in an easy-to-read, journalistic style. Tucker zips along covering highlights of interactions between the two companies, and provides an excellent overview of the history between the two companies. Some of his attempts at humor felt forced and didn’t connect with me. Even so, it shouldn’t detract from most people’s enjoyment of the book.
However, if you’ve followed comic book industry magazines or blogs for a while, then most of this will be old news to you. Many of the stories told in Slugfest were also recently covered in Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (affiliate link), which is a longer, more detailed book giving a detailed look at Marvel Comics.
Overall, the book is a worthwhile read. It’s just better suited to people new to the comic book world, or those who don’t know much about the companies behind the books.