Last week I covered just 5 examples of misappropriated characters in comic books, and by the end of it I realized that there are too many to contain in one list. Lo’ and behold, another arbitrary list of no consequence to anything!
But hey, it’s good, harmless fun, right? So let’s dive in like a fat kid belly-flops in the public pool, and find out who’s the original gangsta and who’s the rip-off artist extraordinaire. Today is really exciting, as I have compiled a list even more epic than the last one. From Wolverine to the Avengers, and from the 3 baddest villains ever to one obvious swipe that may be the most shameful in all history… we’re calling out the biggest guns in comics, and you may just be surprised who’s the copycat in these match-ups.
As before, we will be basing these findings on the one true gauge of originality, which is publication date. The newer is the loser, the winner the beginner, so let’s get started.
RIPCLAW vs WOLVERINE
We all know our fan-favorite fuzzy little death machine first appeared back in the ’70’s in Incredible Hulk #181, so this may seem like a pointless entry. It’s not. There’a a valuable lesson to be learned here, one which Logan has been trying to teach us for decades: He’s the best there is at what he does. Period. The reason he is such is because any attempt to add bad-ass blades to a warrior-type dude’s hands will result in a bastardization, plain and simple.
Alas, that is exactly what happened in 1992 when Marc Silvestri and Eric Silvestri created Image Comics’ Cyber Force, which really was just a team of watered-down X-Men(who as we disclosed in the first part was a rip-off itself). But the worst case here is Ripclaw, who has the unfortunate role of being the lame X-Men’s lame Wolverine, stripped of anything that made Wolverine relevant like his past, his loves and relationships, leaving only the “cool” aspect, which really isn’t even that damn cool without the deep character traits of the old Canucklehead.
RIP-OFF ARTIST: IMAGE
CAPTAIN AMERICA vs AGENT AMERICA
Have I mentioned how much Rob Liefeld sucks for making a career out of shameless identity theft of superheroes? It’s quite silly, when you go back and look at his list of creations. Nearly every one can be mirrored with a Marvel hero, or in the case of last week’s rip-off artist, Deadpool, a mimic of DC’s Deathstroke the Terminator.
This guy takes the star-spangled cake. Agent America was one of Liefeld’s ‘original’ properties designed to help launch his Awesome Comics line back in the late 90’s. That was his third or fourth failed publishing attempt. Agent America was lifted by Liefeld to continue what he thought were great Captain America stories he didn’t get to use in the latter’s books. Now, a genuine artist would just move on and create something new and fresh, but Mr. Liefeld is no genuine artist. He’s all about the benjamins, folks. Hence, this abomination and assault on the eyes of anyone who values the beauty of a unique character like Captain America.
RIP-OFF ARTIST: ROB LIEFELD
DARKSEID VS APOCALYPSE VS THANOS
Three of the biggest baddies in all of comics, and they happen to all be massive, egotistical despots, bent on creating a world fit for their grand vision of villany. A bit more complicated, as all share similar traits, but not all share all of the same similar traits. Confused? Well, Darkseid(DC) and Apocalypse(Marvel) certainly look alike, but their shared qualities are more superficial than Darkseid and Thanos(Marvel). While Apocalypse is more about enslaving or destroying all beings he sees as “unfit for survival” on Earth, like some Darwinian Hitler, Darkseid and Thanos are more similar in that they will stop at nothing to either destroy or rule the entire universe.
But which came first, the chicken or the egg, or the…other egg? I don’t think that analogy applies here, because none of these bad guys came out of another bad guy’s ass, but we can still finally put the blame game to bed and reveal the original evil nemesis. Darkseid(1970) is the victor, having appeared three years before Marvel’s equivalent Thanos, and a full sixteen years before Apocalypse arrived in 1986’s X-Factor #5. Interesting fact: Darseid’s homeworld is called Apokolips.
RIP-OFF ARTISTS: MARVEL & MARVEL
THE SENTRY vs SUPERMAN
This one’s a given, but I thought it’d be fun to go over the relevance of such an overt rip-off like the Sentry. Designed as Marvel’s anti-Superman, Sentry was retconned into the Marvel U via clever story tactics by creator Paul Jenkins, and later, Brian Bendis. Possessing the power of thousand exploding suns and a dark and evil hidden personality called The Void, the Sentry has many of the same abilities as his inspiration, but was written as to have flaws the likes of which Superman has never known. Deeply disturbed by his own fractured psyche and agoraphobic, Bob Reynolds often needs to be coerced into leaving his house to save the world.
The last we saw poor old Bob was in Fear Itself(2011), when the Void took control of him and destroyed Asgard. He was subsequently beaten down by a homeless Thor and cast into the sun. Let’s hope this wasn’t the true end of this highly-original rip-off.
RIP-OFF ARTIST: MARVEL
THE AVENGERS vs THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
And here we are, the moment none of you have been waiting for. Who is the original super-team? Some of you may be surprised to know that the Justice League came first in DC’s The Brave and the Bold #28(1960), while everyone’s new favorite movie heroes were three years behind at the House of Ideas. I guess “ideas” doesn’t refer to original concepts as much as just taking what someone else has done and improving on it. But hey, it worked for Elvis, so why not Stan Lee?
There is room in comics for many of the characters who are loosely similar to others. But for the love of all that is sacred, please define those characters in their own way. I think this list, as well as last week’s, proves that just because a hero is based on another(Deadpool, The Sentry, Avengers), doesn’t mean they have no value or cannot be used as a clever way to turn archetypes on their heads. On the flip side of the coin, it’s safe to say that not every character inspired by another is destined to be anywhere nearly as great as the original(Agent America, Bumblebee, Ripclaw).
I hope we all learned something here. I’m off to create my new comic hero myself, “Guy who shoots webs from his hands and sticks to walls but is most definitely nothing like Spider-Man”.