Rival Comic Book Characters Who Are Ridiculously Similar
Marvel Comics and Detective Comics. The two heaviest hitters who have survived the decades to stand as the greatest comic book companies of all time. With names like DC’s Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, and Marvel’s Spider-Man, The Avengers, Wolverine and Captain America, is there any argument to believe otherwise? Despite their friendly bickering, and many crossovers, there still remains a few within each universe that are eerily similar. Lawsuits? Nah. But this makes a case that there certainly could have been.
- Hercules & Hercules
MARVEL Premiere: 1965
DC Premiere: 1941
Though both characters are primarily based in their own Greek and Roman mythologies, and for the most part both look incredibly similar and show the same incredible strength and propensity for yammering off in 'Thee's' and 'Thou's', they really haven't followed too close of paths into each respective comic universe.
In the Marvel Comics timeline, Hercules has been far more involved with the team he has played well with since the '60s, that being The Avengers. He has gotten his own title a few times, but he is primarily a team player.
DC's Hercules, on the other hand, is far more often referred to by his Greek name of Heracles or Herakles. He tends to not work and play well with others and has often been in battles with Superman.
Fortunately for both comic companies, Hercules is a mythological entity who has been around forever, so both have a free rein to use him.
- Songbird & Black Canary
MARVEL Premiere: (As Screaming Mimi) 1979
DC Premiere: 1947 and 1983
The similarity between these two women, as you might imagine, is their ability to scream various decibels of destruction.
As Screaming Mimi, her battles with several members of The Avengers were legendary. With her sonic wails she was able to rain down pain on anyone in her way. But as she cradled her dying lover in her arms, she screamed constantly in sorrow for so long she blew out her vocal chords. But thanks to Baron Zemo and Klaw, she was given augmented powers and the ability to turn sound into solid objects. She took the new name of Songbird when she joined the Thunderbolts.
In DC's universe, there has been only one super-powered screamer, but two women named Black Canary over the years: Dinah Drake, and her oddly similarly named daughter, Dinah Lance. The first Black Canary possessed no abilities at all, aside from extensive Judo training. The second, her daughter, is able to 'Canary Cry'; her ultrasonic vocal ability can render people unconscious as well as destroying structures. Sadly, when her mouth is forced shut, her power is useless.
- Beetle & Blue Beetle
MARVEL Premiere: Abner Jenkins (1964) - Leila Davis (2000)
DC Premiere: Dan Garret (1939) - Ted Kord (1966) - Jamie Rayes (2006)
Though both characters carry the same bug-named connotation, only the DC version has truly adhered to the theme.
Marvel's Beetle generally refers to the armor worn by both who have taken up the mantle. It's typically heavily armored and features a mask with insect-like antennae jutting from the top. It, too, has wings that closely resemble a beetle's and a slightly segmented body structure. All of the wearer's powers stem directly from the armor.
On the other hand, DC's Blue Beetle is a completely different bug all together. The original Blue Beetle was a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, and wore a specific suit that was light, bulletproof, and died blue. Like many other heroes, he would incite his enemies with a scarab whenever he was around. Eventually, however, the Scarab would become the source of the Blue Beetle's powers and has since been written as some kind of alien technology. It currently grants Jamie a full-body armored costume with the ability to generate weapons from it.
- The Lizard & Killer Croc
MARVEL Premiere: 1963
DC Premiere: 1983
It should come as no surprise that the rival comics companies each have a villain based on a mutant human/reptile hybrid and both are focuses of one of the main comic corporations 'Big Heroes'. They being Spider-Man and Batman, respectively.
Poor Dr. Curt Connors. All he wanted to do was to find a suitable replacement for his amputated arm. However, and unfortunately for everyone, his only means for doing so was to create a number of serums that eventually gave him his arm back, but also turned him into the raving lunatic called the Lizard. Though Spider-Man himself, and Peter Parker, have time and again fought, defeated, and saved the Lizard, it seems now that his cells and psyche are so damaged that any minor exposure to similar chemicals and/or a violent episode will trigger the transformation. Being a scientist is dangerous in the comic world.
Waylon Jones was sadly born with a form of atavism, a skin malformation that made him look not dissimilar to a reptile. And as you can imagine, issues like that in the comics world instantly make you want to be a criminal. Croc has faced off against Batman almost exclusively, and has managed to somehow worsen in his appearance becoming more and more animal-like. This fact had at one time garnered him a welcome by Swamp Thing to live in his swamp and give in fully to his crocodilian nature.
- Black Cat & Cat Woman
MARVEL Premiere: 1979
DC Premiere: 1940
As similarities go, these two ladies could be sisters... or at least really close cousins. Both wear skin-tight black outfits, both practice thievery in the form of cat burglary, and both have the hots for the hero they torment.
Felicia Hardy has it bad for ol' Web-Head. And even though she was intended as a permanent foil to Spider-Woman, she eventually made her way to the Spider-Man books and began an on-and-off affair with him. It's been said that this is one of the closest connections between her and Cat Woman, but this particular loopy lust actually predates Batman's by about ten years. Oh, and she also was eventually given a superpower where she can affect people's luck.
Selina Kyle's history is rich and diverse, but never really deviates from the path of a thief. And much like Black Cat, her morals and motives tend to be ambiguous at best, never really giving over to anything very evil, just not doing especially smart things and always purring her way out of altercations with Batman. Though Cat Woman tends to lean more toward a dominatrix-type persona, it might just be this fact that makes her Batman's 'One true love'.
- Mr. Fantastic & Plastic Man
MARVEL Premiere: 1961
DC Premiere: 1941
Both of these classic heroes have powers based on the ability to stretch and squash themselves into countless shapes, forms, and, in some cases, even sizes. But their backgrounds and lives as superheroes couldn't be more different.
Mr. Fantastic (also known as Reed Richards) and his girlfriend (at the time) Sue Storm, along with Sue's brother, Johnny, and pilot Ben Grimm, were aboard a Richards-invented space craft when they were suddenly bombarded with cosmic radiation. This effectively granted each with their own specific set of powers, including Johnny Storm as a flaming Human Torch; Sue becoming Invisible Girl at will; Grimm turning into a nigh-invulnerable rock Thing; and Richards himself turning into Mr. Fantastic. His intellect is barely rivaled by anyone in the Marvel Universe, and it has been proven that there are virtually no limits to his powers.
Like many characters in the DC Universe, Patrick O'Brian was directly impacted by an act of Batman. This particular story was revealed on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and is only hinted at similarly in the comics: O'Brian was a criminal and on the run, when he stumbled into a chemical plant and was spooked by Batman, knocking him into a vat of some type of acid. The acid worked its way into his bloodstream and granted him the ability to become plastic, actually more rubber than anything, but what're ya gonna do. He reformed and began working with many of the Justice League heroes. Unlike Mr. Fantastic, Plastic Man seems unable to age and is, at present, somewhere around 3000 years old. Somehow. His powers seem to be unlimited as well, but it is known that when ultrasonic frequencies are triggered, he does ripple.
- Hawkeye & Green Arrow
MARVEL Premiere: 1964
DC Premiere: 1941
Robin Hood was a kick-ass 'fictional' character, of that there is no doubt. But when two rival comics companies create arrow-slinging fellas as heroes just 23 years apart, you really have to question why.
Hawkeye's real name is Clint Barton, and, if you'd seen The Avengers movie, well, you'd know that. You'd also know that this cat is a dead shot with his arrows, many of them trick in nature, as represented by his super awesome quiver where any number of heads can be automatically attached to any one of dozens of available shafts. This film version isn't too far from the comic continuity, only to say that Hawkeye's bow has a pull strength so taut that many others unaccustomed or of equal strength find it nearly impossible to pull.
Now when it comes to Green Arrow, he's the guy you want if you're invited to a Robin Hood costume party. His alter ego is Oliver Queen who, not unlike Bruce Wayne, is something of a billionaire philanthropist. However, when it comes to his prowess with a bow and his various arrows, this is where Green Arrow is almost exactly like Hawkeye, or should I say the other way around. He also employs a variety of trick-shot arrows and is much the marksman as his Marvel counterpart.
- Quicksilver & Flash
MARVEL Premiere: 1964
DC Premiere: Jay Garrick (1940) - Barry Allen (1956) - Wally West (1986) -
Bart Allen (2006)
You'd think one of the most basic everyone-wants-it superpowers, super-speed, would be far more prominent in either of the top comics storylines. But oddly, it just comes down to two big names: Quicksilver and the Flash.
"Bad guy turns good" isn't a new concept in the comics biz, but Pietro Maximoff has proven that it can be done well, especially when it turns out that your father is one of the most sinister evil characters of all time: Magneto. Along with his sister, The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver eventually joins The Avengers proving his worth time and again. Though once only able to move at speeds reaching the sound barrier, he has since been augmented and now can easily attain Mach 5 with no ill effects stemming from friction or lack of oxygen. In other words, quick.
In the far more complicated DC Universe, there are any number of Flash incarnations, most of which feature members of the Allen bloodline. But one thing remains constant, and that is Flash's ability to control speed, borrow speed, share speed, (this all sounds vaguely drug related), and even vibrate his molecules at such a high rate that they can pass through solid objects. He, too, is impervious to the effects of friction and oxygen deprivation, but unlike Quicksilver, the Flash has frequently run through time itself. He's the Doctor Who of speedsters.
- Namor The Sub-Mariner & Aquaman
MARVEL Premiere: 1939
DC Premiere: 1941
There are seemingly very few differences between Marvel and DC's water-breathing heroes, but the real story is, their lives follow quite distinctly separate paths.
The Sub-Mariner is largely considered to be one of the very first superheroes ever, and first graced the pages of Timely Comics in October of 1939. Timely was the precursor to Marvel, and thus Namor became not only its first publicly debuted superhero, but he just skated in only a year after Superman's first appearance. Namor has become a huge impact on many of Marvel's most popular teams including The Avengers, The X-Men, and The Fantastic Four. His powers completely stem from the fact that he is of both human and Atlantean heritage. He was created as "an ultra-man of the deep [who] lives on land and in the sea, flies in the air, [and] has the strength of a thousand [surface] men". Handsome, too, dontcha think?
Though Arthur Curry is billed as being of an Atlantean lineage as well, he was born into royalty because his father himself was also a water breather. The main difference between the two heroes is that Aquaman can actively communicate with any and all underwater creatures via telepathy, no matter how far away he is, and control them. At some point, his past was revealed a bit differently, having Curry being born in Ohio but a rightful heir to an Atlantean throne. Eventually, he becomes more of a crazy hermit, losing his hand and gaining a harpoon, which, too, has been changed. His is a long and varied story, indeed.
(Once again, a mythology plays out in both Marvel and DC comics in the form of Atlantis, and because of this, it can legally be used by both without any repercussions.)
- Man-Thing & Swamp Thing
MARVEL Premiere: 1971
DC Premiere: 1971
For probably the one and only time, the two rival comics companies unveiled their swamp monsters at nearly the exact same time.
As for Man-Thing, even the Marvel writers and artists agreed that his original backstory was just too similar to DC's Swamp Thing. So, he was altered quite a bit to become more of an 'Un-Man' and a mystical guardian of not only his own swamp, but what would eventually become the 'Nexus Between Worlds'. And his one-time tagline, "Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing's touch" spelled out his powers pretty readily, as his plant-matter body turned sulfuric acid into a weapon. He is unable to speak as the monster, but can communicate through telepathy with other heroes like Dr. Strange. He is all swamp, all the time.
Allec Holland was a scientist who had a special chemical created that could turn barren wastelands into thriving, vegetation-rich, forests. To bad for him a rival scientist decided to blow up the lab, splashing Holland with his own creation, and forcing him to flee, falling into a nearby swamp. And as you'd imagine, he became a shambling monstrosity. His goal now is to protect the environment with his newly discovered powers, but to do it as benevolently as possible. Yes, this history does sound similar to Marvel, but nothing ever came of since both took liberties with an already existing character from another smaller company called The Heap. Swamp Thing can talk, and I'd bet his breath is pretty horrific.
After I completed this article, it was pointed out that someone at Topless Robot is as astute as I am, coming up with similar articles (with mostly different examples). Check out Topless Robot’s version,10 Bizarre DC/Marvel Parallels and 10 More Bizarre Marvel/DC Parallels.