Who ripped off who? Part 4
A further look into borrowed ideas in the comic industry.
Welcome back for some more "Who ripped off who?" By now I think the people reading these know the deal. I would highly recommend any newcomers to go back and read parts one through three. I will provide links to them at the bottom of this article. As always, I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to read this and posting your thoughts at the bottom. I enjoy it! Okay, that was a shorter intro so lets get to it!
The Shield (Jan 1940) / Captain America (March 1941)
Captain America is known as one of the earliest superheroes. He was around in the early forties, back when comics were still a new idea. As popular as Captain America has become through the ages, there are still a lot of people that do not know that he was actually predated by another star spangled hero. This hero was called The Shield. The Shield is the general public's first glimpse of a patriotic themed character. Both of these flag-bearers received their powers during WWII. The Shield was created when his father was working on a super strength formula. After his father's death, Joe Higgins continued working on the formula and was able to make it work. After rubbing the formula on certain body parts: Sacrum, Heart, Innervation, Eyes, Lungs, and Derma, and then bombarding it with X-Rays, Joe was granted the powers of invulnerability, agility, and strength. The first letters of the body parts used also help to spell S.H.I.E.L.D.
So, both The Shield and Captain America were given a super soldier serum which was then bombarded by different kinds of light rays (Vita Rays and X-Rays) which granted these to characters with their abillities. Both characters took on the flag as their costume and became their world's first examples of patriotic heroes. (Note: The Shield was originally created by Archie Comics, but has more recently been leased by DC)
Swamp Thing (July 1971) / Man-Thing (May 1971) / The Heap (Dec 1942)
This is a rather special case. It is very plain to see the similarities in Swamp Thing and Man-Thing. They are both "muck monsters" who were created in a swamp, and have taken on the form of various plant life. These are two characters that were created so close together that it really is impossible for them to be rip offs of each other. After doing some digging (and a suggestion by resident m1312020. thanks!) I've found that the original comic book muck monster was actually one called The Heap. The Heap was created nearly thirty years before both Swamp Thing and Man-Thing. The Heap was a german airforce pilot in World War 1. He was shot down over a swamp and forced to cling to the last shreds of life. As his last moments of life were quickly approaching, the nature goddess Ceres mystically granted him with a new life. He became one with the swamp and arose as The Heap.
Swamp Thing and Man-Thing share somewhat similar origins. Swamp Thing was the result of a chemistry lab explosion which somehow fused his body with the swamp in which he was doing tests. Man-Thing is more like an amalgamation of both Swamp Thing and The Heap's origins. Man-Thing was in a swamp trying to replicate Captain America's Super Soldier Serum. While in the process, members of A.I.M. ambushed him in hopes of stealing the serum. After injecting the serum in his arm, he was able to flee the A.I.M. agents. While driving away in his car, he wrecked it in the middle of the swamp. Through both the serum derivative running through his veins and a magical force described only as "the result of all realities gone mad", Sallis was transformed into the Man-Thing. So the Heap was created through magical means, Swamp Thing was created purely through scientific means, and Man-Thing was created through a combination of both. The end results were all the same. Giant muck creatures!
Black Canary (Aug 1947) / Mockingbird (June 1971)
Black Canary and Mockingbird are two birds of the same flock. This seems to be a clear cut case of one character fully capitalizing on the success of another. The big difference here is that Black Canary has the ability to scream at high decibel levels. A sonic scream power. Mockingbird has no powers. This might make one think that they may not be so similar, but lets take a closer look. Aside from the obvious codenames being birds, these characters are known as being some of the best female hand to hand fighters in their respective worlds. They are both heavily involved in relationships with the most well known archers in their worlds. Black Canary is involved with Green Arrow while Mockingbird is with Hawkeye. Not only are they heavily involved, but their relationships are some of the most iconic couples in the history of the comic industry. One could almost do a comparison on the similarities in their romantic involvement with these arrow slinging heroes. Recently, Mockingbird was knocking on death's door and was given a form Captain America's Super Soldier Serum, which has given her enhanced reflexes and agility. This has made her an even bigger threat in hand to hand combat and put her on a more level playing field with Black Canary, as far as fighting abilites are concerned. Both characters are also members of their world's premier super teams, the Justice League and The Avengers.
Cable (March 1990) / Magog (may 1996)
Here is another rare case where the creator of a character fully admits that they were copying another creation. While their origins are very different, it is impossible to overlook the similarities. Magog's first appearance was in the apocalyptic tale Kingdom Come. In that story he was known as "The New Man of Tomorrow". He was set to take Superman's place as the new heavy hitting hero. Magog was a hero for a new time. He was willing to kill, and far more violent, which is what the people of this new age seemed to want. Magog was designed according to the trends at the time. When asked to create the character Mark Waid looked to the character Cable for inspiration. Alex Ross had this to say about Magog's creation:
"That's a character that Mark Waid invented that was really just put to me like come up with the most God awful, Rob Liefeld sort of design that you can. What I was stealing from was - really only two key designs of Rob's - the design of Cable. I hated it. I felt like it looked like they just threw up everything on the character - the scars, the thing going on with his eye, the arm, and what's with all the guns? But the thing is, when I put those elements together with the helmet of Shatterstar -- I think that was his name -- well, the ram horns and the gold, suddenly it held together as one of the designs that I felt happiest with in the entire series."
Aside from being an anti-hero based off of Cable's run and gun tactics of the time, Magog was also given a cybernetic eye and left arm, much like Cable.
Green Arrow (Nov 1941) / Hawkeye (Sept 1964)
This is almost a no-brainer. Green Arrow and Hawkeye are so alike that I almost feel like this whole comparison goes without saying. Both characters are best known for their skill with a bow. In more hokier times in comics, both characters were also well known for using a vast array of trick arrows. These arrows just seemed to get crazier and crazier. Boxing glove arrows, net arrows, suction cup arrows, arrows with a cup of coffee on the end (I kid you not), handcuff arrows...it goes on and on. The hokiness of these guys back in comics' hay-day is probably unmatched. In today's more realistic version of comics, both characters' trick arrows, for the most part, have been relegated to explosive tip arrows, and sometimes arrows with ropes to use as grapples. Mostly they only fire regular arrows now, which is a blessing for us all! Neither character has any powers, they are just in peak physical condition and are expert marksmen. They are both well known for their smart mouths and challenging the leadership of their teams. Green Arrow has questioned Superman's leadership of the Justice League on numerous occasions, and Hawkeye has questioned Captain America's leadership of the Avengers. The things these guys have in common is truly uncanny.
In comics, something that has been used quite a few times in the past is a character hiding their identity under the guise of different identity. The most recent case of this would be Ronin. During Avengers Disassembled, Hawkeye was killed when the Scarlet Witch altered reality. After being missing for quite some time, and mysterious new member joined the New Avengers. This character was Ronin. A character in a black, ninja-like suit who used many different ninja related weapons. It was later revealed that Ronin was in fact Clint Barton, seemingly returned from the dead. This would not be the first time a mantle was used to hide the identity of someone. The Ronin mantle was also used by Echo for a time.
We can go back to the Winter Soldier storyline in 2005. Captain America was plagued by an assassin who seemed to have his number. After doing battle with the mysterious WInter Soldier a few times, it was revealed to Cap that he was actually his long thought deceased sidekick from World War 2, Bucky Barnes. Turns out that Bucky was captured, brainwashed, and trained by Russians for black ops missions.
Slightly earlier than that, the same story would seem to emerge from DC comics in the form of the Red Hood. After a new, deadly threat descends on Gotham City, Batman is forced to intervene. The Red Hood had been attacking criminals in Gotham and doing so in a very anti-hero type fashion. After several confrontations, Batman began to question how The Red Hood was able to counter so many of his methods. It was later revealed to Batman that The Red Hood was in fact formerly deceased partner, Jason Todd...the second Robin that died at the hands of the Joker. The Red Hood mantle was originally used by the Joker before he fell into the vat of chemicals that made him the psychotic clown he is today. The Red Hood mantle has been used to hide other characters' identities as well.
Going even further back, we can take a look at the X-Men character Eric the Red. Originally the Eric the Red persona was used by Cyclops to infiltrate a group of ciminals led my Mesmero. Mesmero's group had captured the X-Men and Cyclops used this identity to pretend to be a villain. The costume included gloves and a helmet that redirected his optic blasts to fire from his hands. Cyclops was not the only character to use the Eric the Red persona. A Shi'ar agent named Davan Shakari, and Erik Magnus Lensherr, Magneto himself, have also hidden their identities in this costume.
Part 1: http://comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Corndogburglar/news/?a=45016
Part 2: http://comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Corndogburglar/news/?a=45086
Part 3: http://comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Corndogburglar/news/?a=45160
As always, thank you for reading!
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