But we all know the truth. We are all, still and forever, on one side or the other:
Quisp or Quake.
For those of you too young to have experienced it, the Quisp/Quake conflict was the defining advertising event of my entire micro-generation. Quisp and Quake were two popular breakfast cereals for kids, similar to Capt'n Crunch, produced by the same company. But no one ate both. you either ate Quisp (named after its strange space creature mascot) or you ate Quake (named after a burly earthling miner).
That's because the commercials, masterfully produced by Jay Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, with Quisp and Quake voiced respectively by his buddies Daws Butler and William Conrad, depicted the two as archrivals. Quisp and Quake hated each other.
Note the use of the voice cast from Dudley Doo-Right, another Jay Ward property.
They appeared in joint commercials and even when they had solo commercials, the rival would often intrude himself, just for spite.
Brilliant as this hook was, it gets better: except for shape, Quisp and Quaker were... the same cereal. Same formula.
Now there are some cynics who say that Quake was never supposed to be a real cereal, that Quake was just a gimmick to drum up sales for the real deal, Quisp. Yeah, then why did Quake get a makeover from being a miner to a cowboy, huh? How do you explain the Orange Horror, huh? Nutcases; these are the same people who think there wasn't a moon landing.
The companies genius didn't end at producing one cereal as if it were two, then marketing them against each other, brilliant though that was. Once the rivalry was solidly established, war was declared. There would be an election among cereal-eaters, and the loser's cereal would be discontinued. The election ran for two years. Naturally, the loser was Quake. Because Quake SUCKED, and Quisp RULED!!!!! Ahem. Although I believe we put it differently in those days.
Quisp and Quake are the dichotomy that symbolizes all other dichotomies. Sky and earth. Speed and strength. Alien and native. Brains and brawn. Gay and straight. The future and the past. Humor and seriousness. Consistency and variability.
The world of comics has its own dichotomy: the "Big Two", as they are called. There are some who'll tell you that there is no difference between them, that the same formula is used to make both. But, they are wrong, because, as we know from Quisp and Quake, tone and form and style are what count; they are remembered, when content is forgotten.
I remember in the 1990s when Marvel was teetering toward bankruptcy. I remember exulting. "Quake" was finally going to lose. The cheery '90s would be no place for Marvel's dark cynicism!
But eventually, I reversed my thinking. Would DC start changing its tone or adding Marvel-ish characters to pick up wandering ex-zombies? Would DC's existing Marvel-style characters start to crowd out its native sons and daughters like Wolverinish weeds? Even worse, would DC buy Marvel's characters and incorporate them into the DCU, like so much trailer-trash left homeless by a financial twister, bringing with them their tawdry domestic disturbances, their raucus in-fighting, their soap operas, their gun-toting yahoos, their cigar-chomping, g-droppin', dullards, and their screeching drag-queen-faced dime-store divas and teenaged tarts? Shudder!
I realized that to keep that from happening DC needed Marvel; I needed Marvel as a gathering place for ... those kinds of characters. Fortunately, Marvel did not go bankrupt because they gave themselves over to crass commercialism; I mean, more crass. As in Hollywood.
Funny thing. Quisp and Quake feuded from 1965-1972. But after the election, Quisp's popularity steadily declined until it was removed from regular grocery shelves in the late '70s. Nowadays, they still make it, but it's available only on the internet as a nostalgia item; it doesn't really live as a current brand, and no children have ever heard of it. Turns out that maybe Quisp needed Quake more than he realized.
Long live Marvel.