Last week the guys debated whether Stark Interprises or LexCorp is the best comic book corporation, and this week they continue that debate in print for your reading enjoyment.

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Chris: Oh man, I am ever so wiped out. This has been one heck of a long week, and by week I mean three weeks. As you all may have gathered from stuff I’ve said over at Media Sandwich and what Dan has alluded to both mildly and blatantly, I now have a job working for Nintendo of America. Shhh! Don’t say it too loudly! I had to make a deal with my awesome bosses who are awesome in order to continue doing stuff for The Escapist, and the biggest compromise is that I can’t talk about video games anymore.

But! Don’t assume this means that I’m unable to participate in debates, and Dan and Kyle can still talk about video games until their faces turn blue and their eyebrows fall off. I’m driving down from Redmond, Washington to film with the pair in Portland, Oregon this very weekend, and when I say “film,” I mean about two-month’s worth of episodes. Piece of cake!

So then, it appears that they bailed me out for at least a week (hopefully more) as they took to the Internet waves and cranked out a hell of a debate regarding the best comic-based corporation ever. Despite Dan hilariously getting Lexcorp’s name wrong, the two delivered an excellent meat-and-potatoes verbal tussle that resulted in a spit take, just as the good Lord intended it. What an upset!

Since Dan was going to win until Kyle cleverly tossed in a few emus for good measure, I don’t feel too inclined to mention some things he forgot to mention about Lexcorp, such as the fact that it had the contracts to completely rebuild Gotham City after the events of No Man’s Land (Go read those 5 volumes and enjoy the first 1 and a half). Instead, I’d just like to have Kyle explain to me how he seemed to let Stark Industries seem so … uninspired.

Facts are, when you’re looking at Stark Industries right around the events of Avengers Disassembled, things were looking pretty bad. But just like any good war, the Marvel Civil War brought Stark out of the red and put it back on top to an insane degree – as in total global domination level. I wanted Kyle to bring this up and point out how if Tony Stark hadn’t made himself a skeevy dimwit (despite the Extremis powers), Stark Industries would have become sentient outside of comics and be ruling us right now.

Come to think of it, the thing that holds comic book corporations back the most is the fact that they’re always run by one megalomaniacal nutter with a God complex and a bit too much time and money on their hands. Luthor spends the majority of his time trying to beat that gosh-darned Superman while Tony Stark spends his time trying to beat that gosh-darned Superman … I mean all of the other super heroes.

A lot of commenters grappled in with the classic chestnut Wayne Enterprises, mostly because the rule is that Batman and anything related to Batman must therefore win by default every single time. Except I wouldn’t really put Wayne Enterprises on the same level as Stark and Luthor’s babies. Sure, Batman essentially took control of the world when he lost his damn mind and thought everyone was plottin’ on him right around the time of Infinite Crisis, but that doesn’t count for his company, which has gone through the usual ups and downs of any business without really hitting the levels that either Lexcorp or Stark Enterprises hit.

I suppose the only real corporation that has shown any strong dominance in comics is Marvel itself now that it’s joined with Disney. It cannot be stopped! Gozillions of dollars can’t be wrong!

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Kyle: To clarify, we chose to ignore the inclusion of Wayne Enterprises in this lark of an episode because it’s so obviously the right company to own and the wrong company to invest in.

Would you want your stock investment going toward genius inventions for the military that just sit in a giant vault collecting dust … and no profit? Would you like the public face of your company to be a (possibly) drunken buffoon playboy who offers nothing to the company?

Or would you rather just invest in a company where the majority of products and profit serve to keep a dangerous vigilante on the streets and the city in distress?

So, we went with the others. And I maintain that Stark Industries is the better company to invest in because they have so many different tech markets to play in. Stark has his hand in clean energy, armor, robotics, transportation, and some kind of 3D hologram operating system and user interface that blows the shit out of iOS.

Meanwhile, Luthor is interested in the land market, which is going nowhere fast. First off, there’s a limit to the amount of land in the world that is useful. And all the good land is taken. So … unless Luthor happens to be cousins with the Wong family from Futurama, he’s screwed in that department. And even then they would give him the East hemisphere of Mars.

What do you do with that? Build a giant clockwork crystal castle to show your girlfriend? That’s the wrong comic!

And since Luthor happens to be xenophobic, he’s going to have a hard time in any international market. You think his antagonizing Superman is bad, wait until you see what he calls Japanese business executives. And what happens when other aliens come to Earth? Are they going to take kindly to some bald asshole telling them, “Go back where you came from”?

And lastly, when Luthor cons the US into making him president what happens to your investment? The brains of the company just became a public servant and your stock portfolio is now in the hands of his capable replacement … Mr. John … Whozit.

So congrats, you are now a stockholder for a crappier and more evil Halliburton.

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Dan: Don’t let Chris fool you; he still has ballasts full of hot air to release on the subject of comic books, cartoons, movies, books, and many other topics. Excising videogames from his arsenal isn’t going to be something that many people will notice, had he not said anything. Plus, he can still go on about how much he loves anime, however morose that makes me. Not to mention he promised to donate a third of his salary to the “Dan wants a new car” fund. Right, Chris? Ok, maybe not, but we’re all super-excited about his luck.

Speaking of luck, I was totally going to win before Mr. Ostriches pulled a tricky one on me. Let’s dive in to what should have been a glorious victory for Zim … I mean me.

Point one went to Kyle for pulling a Marvel and bringing up continuity. LexCorp (yes, I know I used LuthorCorp from Smallville instead of LexCorp from the comics) may be established, but Stark Industries kicked Nazi butt. Oh, excuse me, Hydra butt. No matter whose butt was being kicked, this is a company that was started quite a while ago and has a historical president for being successful. And it’s fun to say that Iron Man’s dad made Captain America.

Point two went to me for the motivations argument. Lex Luthor wants money and power. The only reason that he hates Superman is that Supes has power which he didn’t work for. Stark has many motivations, many of them boiling down to wanting to be adored. Assuming both men are equally brilliant, and have equal resources at their disposal, I want to invest with the guy who wants money vs. the guy who wants a shoe line named after him.

On a side note, move over Reebok Pumps, I want some Stark Arcs!

I nabbed another point for establishing the cyclical nature of LexCorp’s financials. Not many people in our world would trust Luthor, yet he is repetitively able to get the public to trust him enough to support his latest caper in comics. Maybe he smells really nice, I don’t know. What I do know, is that in a world that can’t tell Superman from Clark Kent, the one thing you can rely on is that Lex will get caught doing bad things eventually. Just sell your stock when he’s caught, then buy again when he gets out, right before everyone forgets his wrongdoings. Stark may get caught with his pants down but it’s never doing anything that will make his stocks drop.

Another point went to me, but this one was about trusting tech, not the CEO. Stark has the arc reactor, unfortunately used to power several of his enemies as well as the building that let Loki’s forces attack NY. Luthor has land holdings among other things, mainly old world tech that can be trusted. From an investor’s point of view, new tech is dangerous and old tech is reliable. I mean, what if you heard about the Mark II reactor, and invested in Palladium, only to find Stark inventing a new element that replaced it? Finally, Stark is always going to run into the wall of not having the Marvel universe be post-fossil fuel lest it be un-relatable. You’re always going to need land, but there’s probably not going to be a Marvel future where modern homes run on arc tech.

Kyle comes back with an excellent argument on who fills out the supporting roles in the respective companies. Stark surrounds himself with very smart people, people who may know more about business than he does, allowing him to be Iron Man while his company chugs on. Lex usually fires and/or kills anyone who doesn’t agree with his agenda, preventing alternate points of view on improving the company. Mercy is more arm candy to protect him rather than a business colleague, and Supergirl was more of a gross power thing related to his hate towards Superman.

I grabbed the last point given, ultimately proven useless with my giggly nature, by the idea that Lex Luthor is just that smart that he doesn’t need anyone helping him. I am reminded of the last episode of Justice League Unlimited, where Lex is told only a 5th level (or whatever, someone correct me if I’m wrong) intellect can get the anti-life equation. His reply is “Then I’m over qualified” which is ballsy, but ultimately proven correct. He then strolls up to Darkseid with the equation and a snappy suit, stopping the villain that no one else could. Just by being smart. So if he wants to run a company in his off time, perhaps we should all just get out of his way.

There were way too many ostriches. Way too many. Oh, and I didn’t pick Wayne Enterprises because its CEO is a massive embezzler.

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.

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