Marvel vs DC have spent decades ducking it out for comics buyers’ disposable income. Here’s a look at some of the DC Characters Stolen From Marvel.
Read also: Marvel characters stolen from DC
1. Aquaman vs. Sub-Mariner
In terms of personality, DC’s Aquaman doesn’t have a lot in common with his Marvel counterpart. Whereas the Sub-Mariner is a wife-coveting jerk with enough awesome power to back up his obnoxious personality, poor Aquaman has always been the joke of the Justice League, a weenie whose coolest powers are breathing underwater and talking to fish. Their origins, however, are suspiciously similar: they’re both Atlantean royalty, born out of liaisons between human men and sea-dwelling princesses. Marvel beat DC to the punch with the Sub-Mariner, publishing his first story in 1939—two years before Aquaman made his first appearance.
2. Commander Steel/Guardian vs. Captain America
He’s a World War II soldier whose participation in a top-secret experiment left him with superpowers making him no match for any ordinary man—and he isn’t Captain America. We’re talking instead about DC’s Commander Steel, who first surfaced in the 1978 series Steel, the Indestructible Man and went on to indirectly sire a whole line of Steel characters. The third Steel, grandson of the original, is currently a member of the Justice Society of America.
If Commander Steel was inspired by Captain America’s story, Guardian borrowed Cap’s visual DNA. DC hired Cap’s creators, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, for a new character, and they used leftover sketches from their early work on the First Avenger. When Guardian debuted in the spring of 1942 (a year after Captain America’s first issue), it was fairly obvious who his design was based on—even if Kirby and Simon changed the color of Guardian’s uniform and shield. So you know why Marvel vs DC is happening.
3. Rocket Red vs. Iron Man
DC’s Rocket Red diverges in a number of important ways from Marvel’s Iron Man. Rocket Red is Russian, for one thing, and his rather convoluted backstory includes membership in the Soviet Rocket Red Brigade. Red’s a dude in a technologically advanced suit of battle armor who hangs out with the Justice League. Just to compare the numbers, Iron Man first debuted in 1963, and Rocket Red’s first appearance was in 1987. Needless to say, we don’t expect to see Rocket show up in any Justice League movies, no matter how many sequels they end up making.
4. Black Alice vs. Rogue
As you’ve seen in the X-Men movies, the mutant known as Rogue has the ability to absorb the power of anyone she touches—which makes her a pretty cool asset for the good guys, even if her powers are hard to control and potentially lethal. She’d also been around for about a quarter of a century before DC debuted Black Alice, an Ohio teen who discovers her own “borrowing” ability and embarks on a quest for vengeance after her mom ODs on prescription drugs.
5. Imperiex vs. Galactus
An impossibly powerful space being who goes around destroying worlds—sounds a lot like Marvel’s Galactus, right? Well, it also describes DC’s Imperiex, a character who first surfaced in a 2000 Superman storyline in which he sets out to fix an imperfection in the fabric of the universe by wiping out everything and starting over. There’s a war, naturally, and millions of people die (along with a number of DC heroes)—most of which was eventually forgotten or undone, comics-style, later on. Unlike Galactus (who first debuted in 1966), Imperiex didn’t really resonate with the readership, and he hasn’t been heard from since being vanquished.
6. Bumblebee vs. the Wasp
The Wasp, aka Janet van Dyne, isn’t necessarily a household name, but she’s long been one of Marvel’s most important characters. Heck, in the comics, she was the one who founded the Avengers. You’d think that exalted status, as well as her relatively unique ability to shrink down and deliver bioelectric energy “stings,” would keep other publishers from developing copycat characters, but you’d be wrong. DC’s Bumblebee debuted 13 years after Wasp in a late ’70s Teen Titans arc. Bumblebee remains active today, her ripoff status only partly mitigated by the fact that she was the publisher’s first African-American female hero.
7. Swamp Thing vs. Man-Thing
There are any number of reasons why so many characters share traits between Marvel and DC, but the most important one might be the incestuous nature of the creative community. Over the years, artists and writers have routinely ditched one publisher for the other, and employees of competing companies are often friends or even roommates—as was the case with DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Man-Thing. Man-Thing co-creator Gerry Conway was living with Swamp Thing creator Len Wein when both characters were in development, and they made their first appearances within months of one another—Man-Thing in May of 1971 and Swamp Thing in July. Given all of that, it isn’t surprising that both swampy green guys share similar backstories and abilities.
8. Black Spider vs. Spider-Man
What if everyone’s favorite wall-crawler used his powers for evil instead of good? The answer to that question can be found in DC’s Black Spider—sort of. Unlike Spider-Man (who debuted in 1962), Black Spider wasn’t bitten by a radioactive arachnid. In fact, he has no superhuman abilities at all; instead, he’s sort of a web-slinging cross between the Punisher and Batman. He’s a well-trained, technologically advanced vigilante willing to use any means necessary in order to crush the criminal element. The irony of Black Spider’s quest is that he’s basically a criminal himself, which is why his first appearance was a “socko slugfest” with Batman in a 1976 issue of Detective Comics. He’s since gone on to begrudgingly accept membership in a number of villainous organizations…all while looking a lot like a weird variation on Spider-Man.
(This article appeared on Looper)