DC vs Marvel: Copycat Characters

In the world of comics there are plenty of publishers, but only so many superpowers.  So there are bound to be similar characters.  So we assembled a team of experts, and Joey, to help sort the ruck out and let you know which is the better character.

Our Panel of ‘Experts’

Dustin League – Lifelong comic reader

Simeon Bruce – 13 years reading and collecting comics & (presumed) Scotsman

Doug Holmes – Lifelong comic reader, amateur artist and movie aficionado.

Josh Henderson – Cinephile whose love of movies has spilled over to comics.  3-4 years reading and collecting comics. Biased toward DC.

Joey Henderson – Is familiar with comics, but has a complete and total bias toward Marvel. Defers to Dustin on all matters comic.

RUTHLESS MERCENARY

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Deathstroke – DC

First appearance: New Teen Titans #2 (December 1980)
Alter ego: Slade Joseph Wilson

Deadpool – Marvel

First appearance: The New Mutants #98 (February 1991)
Alter ego: Wade Winston Wilson

Josh’s take:  Deadpool is an obvious rip-off (like most things Liefield) and while I enjoy Deadpool’s humorous take, Deathstroke is just much more bad-ass, in my opinion.  Plus, he’s a much more grounded and realistic character.  Deathstroke FTW.

Joey’s take: I’m a little disappointed to find out that Deadpool was created after Deathstroke and so closely resembles him in so many ways.  Still, I don’t know anything about Deathstroke so Deadpool.

Dustin’s take:  I think this one is tough because, despite a lot of similarities, the characters are wildly different in personality and storytelling function.  Deadpool is, outside of Liefield’s awful awful hands, a mockery/parody of awful 90s Liefieldisms.  But Deathstroke was great on Arrow.  Tie.

Simeon’s take:  Deathstroke is the much more stable of the two, mentally as well as writers interpretation, this makes him a shoe in. Deadpool can be really good when written well. (see Remender’s X-Force run) but he can also be written like a blithering idiot of what a teenager thinks a crazy person is. I don’t like my psychos going on about tacos and other fried mexican foods. It is a cheap way to write a character that used to be as witty as Spidey.

Deathstroke on the other hand has always been the same cold and calculating antithesis of Batman. On average I think Slade is the better Wilson, but Wade has his moments.

Doug’s take:  This battle comes down to personality.  For me, while I appreciate Deadpool’s skill and bravado, I simply find him far too cartoon-like to enjoy.  I know this is what appeals to a select audience, but to me it’s unnecessarily over-the-top.  And it’s Rob Liefeld’s pride and joy.  Just ask him.
Deathstroke is a no-nonsense professional who would actually strike fear in his enemies.  He doesn’t need an entire arsenal at his disposal to get the job done.  Classic mercenary.  Winner.

KING OF ATLANTIS

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Namor, the Submariner – Marvel

First appearance: Motion Picture Funnies Weekly (April 1939)
Alter ego: Namor McKenzie

Aquaman – DC

First appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
Full name: Arthur Curry

Dustin’s Take:  Namor all the way.  He’s far more interesting.  Aquaman is just another member of the Justice League and, while he is more interesting than most people give him credit for, he doesn’t have a whole lot going on.  Writers like Morrison and Geoff Johns have tried to make him “cool” to varying degress of sucess, but he’s never lived up to Namor.  Namor is a bad-ass anti-hero.  He smacked down Magneto in their first meeting and was the star of one of the first-ever cross-over stories when he met, and battled, the original Human Torch (and the story of that comic being written in bathtubs over a weekend is an epic unto itself).  Namor is a king, a sovereign ruler and he doesn’t let you forget that.  His battle cry is “Imperius Rex” for battle-crying out loud.  Aquaman is just another bring hero that doesn’t match up to the rest of his JL peers; Namor is a wilfull jerk with an outsized ego- and he’s all the more compelling for it.

Joey’s take: Namor, because he’s Marvel and Aquaman sucks.

Josh’s take:  Aquaman is cool.  I don’t care what anyone (especially my co-editors) say.  Aquaman is the much more notable character, DC has taken Aquaman much further than Marvel took Namor.  Most people don’t know anything about Namor and the ones who do only know him from the similarities to Aquaman. But I do have to admit that Aquaman is the obvious copy here.  So, though it goes against everything in my being, I has to give this win to Namor.

Simeon’s take:  Aquaman has some damn good stories under his belt, but his biggest flaw as a character is how often he is forced to job or lose to another character just to make someone else look better. Honestly the best experience I have with Aquaman is from the Brave and the Bold, OUTRAGEOUS!

Namor has always been an interesting character. In recent years his nation has grown to encompass the entirety of the oceans. He always puts himself and his nation before any trivial matters of being a hero and saving lives. Despite his selfishness he makes a great leader and teammate.

In the end I give it to Namor. He has consistently been a dynamic character who really shines as that hero you love to hate. IMPERIUS REX!
Doug’s take:  I grew up watching the classic Superfriends cartoons and always enjoyed Aquaman’s addition to the team.  How could you not root for a guy riding a giant seahorse?  The real drawback was that he always had the creatures of the sea do the fighting for him.
Namor on the other hand is an intimidating figure that will fight to defend his kingdom, at times with little thought to truly how outnumbered he is.  He’s distant, easily provoked and an elitist, so he’s quite believable as a king or politician.  He is a man alone, surrounded by beings that fear and loathe him.  And he has wings on his ankles that allow him to fly.  Winner.

THE ARCHER THAT NEVER MISSES

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Green Arrow – DC

First appearance; More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
Alter ego: Oliver J. Queen

Hawkeye – Marvel

First appearance Tales of Suspense #57 (Sept. 1964)
Alter ego: Clinton Francis “Clint” Barton

Josh’s take:  I’ll admit it, Green Arrow is pretty much a rip-off of Batman and Robin Hood put together.  But boy is he an interesting character.  He has no superpowers, he’s just a bad-ass.  And boy is he a fuck-up too.  Tormented by his mistakes, he still overcomes the odds to save the day and can still hang with his super-powered pals in the JLA.  Did I mention that he’s besties with Hal Jordan?  Hawkeye is a two-decades too late pansy in a fruity purple suit. (not that there’s anything wrong with that)  If it wasn’t for the Avengers movie, you wouldn’t even know his name.  GREEN ARROW ALL DAY LONG.

Dustin’s take: Hawkeye in the comics, Green Arrow in live action.  The Fraction/Aja run of Hawkeye is a splendid work of comic book fiction that gave us Pizza Dog and Kate Bishop Hawkeye.  Nothing in the long run of Green Arrow comics has ever come close to it.  It doesn’t help that DC has constantly revamped Green Arrow chasing the current trend, abolishing the Errol Flynn-styled, ultra-liberal Green Arrow that was actually interesting in favor of a Brad Pitt knock-off.  But Arrow has been one of the best superhero live action projects (TV or movie) for quite awhile now and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye has not performed nearly as well.  The animated version of Green Arrow in Justice League Unlimited was also awesome.

Joey’s take: Hawkeye because Marvel.

Simeon’s take:  This one is tough. There aren’t a lot of good stand alone Hawkeye titles, but he is often a great team character. Green arrow on the other hand is often just a second fiddle to batman.

I think if we were to break it up and have classic hawkeye vs. marvel now vs. new 52 GA vs. PC GA I would choose post crisis Green Arrow. He wasn’t a mess of brooding angst but rather a joker who could turn the tables in his favor with nothing more than his wit. ‘

Hawkeye has become a better stand alone character with Fraction’s recent run, but he still falls short with popularity.

My pick is Green Arrow, any version.
Doug’s take:  I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed Hawkeye in the Avengers movies.  I’m a sucker for the tech on his arrows.  Reading classic Avengers comics I absolutely hated that hovering minibike he would ride around on.  No self-respecting hero would be seen riding such a contraption (except Ben Grimm/Thing).
I agree that Green Arrow is an obvious rip-off to Robin Hood and Batman, but he looks cool.  He also has depth to his character that makes him a true hero.  Let’s not forget a boxing glove arrow!  And Black Canary is hotter than Mockingbird.  Winner.

Speedsters

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The Flash – DC Comics

First appearance Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)
Alter ego:  Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen

Quicksilver – Marvel

First appearance The X-Men #4 (March 1964)
Alter ego Pietro Maximoff

Josh’s take:  Two characters with the same power but very different back-stories.  The Flash has had a very storied history with many different men taking up the mantle, which makes for great stories, but also makes the mythos suffer a bit when compared to Quicksilver, which has only been one man so far.   Quicksilver has seen some time on the big screen but The Flash has been in the public eye for much longer.  In all, Quicksilver is another Marvel character 2 decades too late.  Plus, Flash can run THROUGH TIME.  That’s fast.

Dustin’s take:  Definitely Flash.  Faster, more legacy, much better villains.  Even if we’re just focusing on Silver and Modern Age Flash, it is really no contest.  Quicksilver has been cool exactly one time (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and is usually just Magneto’s son to my mind.  The New 52 relaunch of Flash was one the highlights of DC Comics that year and from what I hear the Flash tv show is pretty awesome.

Joey’s take: Uh, I like Quicksilver. Age of Apocalypse. Cartoons.

Simeon’s take:  Quicksilver. No contest. Unlike other speedsters Pietro is actually a balanced character who has a daughter and real limitations. One of which is his own awful personality. Sure he can’t drop into the ‘worst excuse of comic reasoning ever’, but that is what makes him better. Speed Force is for chumps. Plus there was that time he used his wife to steal the terrigen crystals from the inhumans to regain his powers and shoved a bunch of crystal shards into his skin which altered his powers into letting him time hop, but who hasn’t thought about trying that. Also there is that super not creepy Ultimates storyline where him and Wanda go all incest on each other, probably wont ever see Wally or Barry or Bart or Jay do any of that.

Doug’s take:  Quicksilver has never been that compelling a character to me.  In my opinion he adds nothing other than speed.  He could never be a stand alone character.
Flash is the classic speedster that I grew up with.  Barry Allen has a life outside of the superhero realm and uses his intelligence as well as his speed to fight crime.  His Rogue’s Gallery has some of the greatest villains of all time.  Winner.

Stretchy Dudes

Elongated Man – DC

First appearance The Flash vol. 1, #112 (May 12, 1960).
Alter ego Randolph William “Ralph” Dibny

Plastic Man – DC

First appearance Police Comics #1 (August 1941)
Alter ego: Patrick “Eel” O’Brian

Mr. Fantastic -Marvel

First appearance The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
Alter ego: Reed Richards

Josh’s take:  Let’s all be honest with ourselves, being stretchy isn’t a very great, or cool, superpower.  While it’s better than nothing, it’s still actually pretty lame.  While Mr. Fantastic is definitely more well known, to me it seems that Elongated Man is the original.  The winner?  Stretch Dude.

Dustin’s take: Does anyone care?  Answer: No.  Mr. Fantastic can be a great character in the hands of someone like Jonathan Hickman, where Reed’s genius gets taken to the logical conclusion of lobotomizing Dr. Dooms throughout the multiverse, but generally he’s dull.  Elongated Man… well he had a much more stable marriage at least and he used to do detective work with his wife.  He’s a stretchy Sherlock and I actually grew very fond of him in DC’s weekly series “52”.  Still, the correct answer here is that nobody cares about either character.

Joey’s take: Mr. Fantastic because I’ve heard of him.

Simeon’s take:  Reed Richards power isn’t stretching, his power is being(debatably) the smartest character ever written. Ultimate Reed is a sociopath/borderline psychopath, and marvels Reed has saved the universe countless times, plus he’s got a much better team, and his kid can rewrite the laws of physics. As far as stretching goes I still think Reed is better than Ralph, but Plastic Man has them both beat on that front.

Doug’s take:  Elongated Man is a character that would be hard pressed to find a very large fan base.  Other that a handful of die hard DC fanboys, I doubt if many could pick him out of a stretchy character line up.
Mr. Fantastic has the benefit of leading a highly recognizable team of heroes.  His rivalry with Dr. Doom and his incredible intellect makes him better than Elongated Man.  Winner.

Shrinky Guys

Atom – DC

First appearance Showcase #34 (Oct. 1961)
Alter ego Raymond “Ray” Palmer

Ant-Man – Marvel

First appearance Tales to Astonish #35 (January 1962)
Alter ego: Hank Pym, Scott Lang, Eric O’Grady

Dustin’s take: The Atom.  Even if he is old and gets tired.  Especially because of that.

Joey’s take: Ant-Man. I have no justification for any of these.

Josh’s take:  I know nothing about either character outside of the Ant-Man trailer, Brandon Routh’s portrayal in the Arrow universe and some wikipedia reading.  So I really have to bow out of this one.

Simeon’s take:  Depending on which AntMan we are going with I would still give this to AntMan. Pym made Ultron, Pym Particles, and carries a tiny lab around with himself. He also built a robot to look like his wife when she tiny-sploded and everyone thought she was dead for a few years. Scott Lang is just a pleasure to read about, he has Spidey-like luck and some of the oddest villains to ever grace a c-list hero. O’Grady is just a crazy dude who sometimes decides to shrink down, enter someones body, and then expand, exploding them everywhere.

As far as The Atom goes, Pratt didn’t shrink, so he doesn’t really count. Palmers alright, but he is too clean cut for my taste. Too heroic and selfless and he always put his science before being a hero or being adventurous or anything really.

Doug’s takes:  This one is a close one for me.  I don’t have a history of reading about the Atom, but I am familiar with the character.  He will always be a “B” list hero with me, but never the lead.  I feel that the CW TV version missed out by not establishing Atom’s shrinking ability prior to the release of Marvel’s Ant-Man movie this summer.
Ant-Man (Hank Pym) has always been an interesting character to me.  More of a reluctant hero, who relied on his scientific curiosity than crime fighting skills.  The controlling ants thing is unique, although rather useless really.  But he created Ultron (in the comics) so that offsets the ants.  And the movie this summer will make him a household name.  Winner.
There you have it.  Everything you would ever want to know about copycat characters and a whole bunch more you probably never cared about!  What did we miss?  What did we get wrong?  Complain in the comments below.
When not causing fanboy arguments for The Spew, Josh writes for his travelogue.  
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