Who ripped off who?
The Marvel Vs. DC feud is one that will always be around. As long as these two rival companies are in business, there will always be certain fans that are pointing out the shortcomings of the company that is on the opposite side of their particular favorite. One of the biggest complaints is when one company seems to be "borrowing ideas" from their rival. It is a common misconception by these "one-sided" fans that the company of their disdain is the one that does more "ripping off". The truth of the matter is that both Marvel and DC are known for creating similar stories and characters. Some have been admitted parodies by their creators. Lets take a look, shall we?
Is there a fine line between ripping off and paying homage?
Superman (June 1938) and the JLA (Feb 1960) / Hyperion (Oct 1969) and the Squadron Supreme (Feb 1979)
I find it fitting to start with Superman, as he is considered by many to be the world's first superhero. We all know that Superman is an alien who was sent to earth before his home-world was destroyed. Earth's yellow son gifted Superman with the powers of flight, super strength, heat vision, speed, near invulnerability and freeze breath. When he is not running around as Superman, he goes by the name Clark Kent and works as a reporter for the Daily Planet.
Hyperion is an alien in the Marvel Universe. Due to his alien DNA, Hyperion exhibits the powers of flight, super strength, speed, near invulnerability, and numerous vision powers. One version of Hyperion even had a journalism degree and went by the name of Mr. Kant.
Aside from Superman and Hyperion being very close in almost every possible way, they are also both the leaders of super teams. Superman and his JLA and Hyperion and his Squadron Supreme. Each Squadron Supreme member had very similar back stories and powers to their JLA counterparts.
Squadron Supreme: Doctor Spectrum = Green Lantern, Nighthawk = Batman, Power Princess = Wonder Woman, The Whizzer = The Flash, Blue Eagle = Hawkman, Golden Archer = Green Arrow, Amphibian - Aquaman, Lady Lark = Black Canary, Nuke = Captain Atom, Tom Thumb = The Atom.
Namor (Oct 1939) / Aquaman (Nov 1941)
Namor and Aquaman are both the rulers of their world's version of Atlantis. Both characters have very serious demeanor and are hot tempered. They consider themselves the protectors of their world's oceans. They both share to powers of super strength and durability, can swim at alarming speeds, and are able to breath under water. They do have a few differences, like Namor's flight, and Aquaman's ability to telepathically speak with sea life. These differences do very little to outweigh their similarities, however. It is unknown for sure if the creators of Aquaman purposely stole ideas from Namor for their creation, but the coincidences are impossible to ignore.
The Extremists (June 1990)
The Extremists were created with full of intentions of resembling various villains from Marvel. The coincidences are too many to overlook. They even went so far as to say that these villains came from another alternate universe. You could actually take that to mean that these guys are, in fact, alternate versions of Marvel's villains.
Lord Havok = Dr. Doom (the leader who wears a mechanical suit, much like Doom.)
Doctor Diehard = Magneto (Doc Diehard even has a school of students he calls his Zen Men, which is an obvious reference to the X-Men.)
Dreamslayer = Dormammu (heavily resembles Dormammu, flaming head and all)
Tracer = Sabretooth (heavily resembles Sabretooth and has similar powers to Wolverine)
Gorgon = Doctor Octopus (four mechanical tentacle arms protrude from his body)
Barracuda = Tiger Shark
Doom Patrol (June 1963) / The X-Men (September 1963)
The Doom Patrol was a group younger characters whose gifts made them outcasts. The world came to call them freaks and alienated them from normal society. Doctor Caulder, a man bound to a wheelchair with mental powers, took them in and created the Doom Patrol. As the Doom Patrol they went on various missions to help serve and protect those same people that treated them as outcasts.
The X-Men have a similar story to tell. A little too similar. Being born mutants, the X-Men were viewed as outcasts by the general public. The general public hated and feared mutants for what they were, mostly because they did not understand them. A wheelchair bound man with mental abilities took these mutants in and trained them in the use of their powers in order to serve and protect a world that fears them.
The Death and Return of Captain America (2007-2009) and Batman (2009-2010)
It is uncanny how close together these two events took place. First Marvel killed off Captain America, one of its most iconic characters at the end of the mega event Civil War. Mere months later, DC decided to end the life of one of its most iconic characters in the form of Batman. Captain America had surrendered at the end of the knock-down drag out fight in Civil War. He was being carted up the steps of the courthouse when a sniper's bullet struck him in the shoulder. During all the chaos, a brainwashed Sharon Carter was able to get close and finish him off with her own side-arm. But this was not just any hand gun, and the bullets were far from ordinary. The gun was Doom-Tech and it froze Cap's body in time. Cap became lost in time and forced to relive various moments throughout his life. It was not until his erstwhile friends discovered this that they were able to bring him back.
During Final Crisis, Batman went on a mission to end Darkseid's life. When he came face to face with the New God himself, Batman was shot with Darkseid's Omega Beams. This appeared to have killed The Dark Knight, however, it really sent him on a trip through time. Bruce went through various moments throughout history as The Batman. Eventually, Batman was able to return to present day through clues that he had left himself through time.
While both characters were missing and presumed dead, their predecessors, Bucky and Dick Grayson took over their mantles. When both Cap and Batman returned, they allowed their predecessors to continue on as Cap and Batman for a time.
Kingdom Come (1996) / Earth-X (1999)
Kingdom Come and Earth-X. Two stories that are known as both DC and Marvel's masterpieces. These two stories are set to be the pinnacle of all things DC/Marvel related. Everything that readers have learned about their respective company comes to a head in these two stories. Both stories are set 30 years in the future. The heroes of both stories have all grown old and either given up on heroism, or have passed on.
In Kingdom Come we begin the future. The world's heroes have given up and gone their separate ways. The children of powered beings have risen to power. The entire world is constantly under siege by super powered beings who never knew the importance fighting for what is right. These people fight for the sake of fighting. While city after city continues to be destroyed in this senseless violence, the duty falls on the shoulders of an aged Superman to return the Justice League to its former glory, and show these young guns what it means to truly be a hero. But do the normal humans even want the help of super powered beings anymore?
Similarly, Earth-X takes place in the future. The entire world's population has evolved into mutants. Everyone on the planet has super powers. Chaos rules the streets as the line between the normal and fragile populace and super powered beings no longer exists. Is there still a place in the world for the righteous and true defenders of the world when no one needs protecting anymore?
Again, there are definate differences in these stories, however, one can not overlook the basics. Both are apocalyptic stories set 30 years in the future in a world where the heroes we all knew and loved have either aged or died. These are both stories about the futile looking future of our beloved universes.
These are actually only a few examples of both companies borrowing ideas from each other. Sometimes it really does seem as if they are maliciously stealing ideas in order to make a quick money grab. But maybe its more than that. Maybe some creators truly do admire the work of each other and would like to express it in their own creations. Maybe its bound to happen. After all, how many power sets can really be devised? We have come to a point in this industry where ideas are running slim. Eventually, certain powers had to be reused. As creative as a lot of these writers are, not everyone can simply come up with a new power that has never been seen before. In the case of Kingdom Come and Earth-X, I believe that Marvel truly admired the work and look into the future of the DC Universe, and simply wanted to give that same glimpse of the future to its own readers. The bottom line is that both companies have been guilty of rehashing ideas from themselves and each other. As fans, we need to just take these stories for what they are, whether you are a DC fan or Marvel Zombie. A good story is a good story, and that is all we can really ask for from these fantastic creators who put their hearts and souls into this industry.
Thanks for reading!
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