Monday, September 28, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who are the "Strangest Heroes" of All?

So it goes like this: In September, 1963 Marvel Comics published X-Men #1 with the byline "The Strangest Super-Heroes of All!". Back in June 1963 DC comics published My Greatest Adventure #8o which debuted a new Super Team, the Doom Patrol with the byline "The World's Strangest Heroes!"

The X-men featured five teenage heroes with unwanted powers who answered to a mysterious leader in a wheelchair. A man named "Professor X". The Doom Patrol were three heroes with unwanted powers who answered to a mysterious leader in a wheelchair. A man named "The Chief".

There has been some controversy over the similarities of these two super-teams for the last 46 years. DC says Marvel, in essence ripped off the Doom Patrol, citing the wheelchair-bound leader and unwanted powers. Also, the DP fight the Brotherhood of Evil and the X-Men fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Marvel says that the Doom Patrol was just a rip-off of Marvel's Fantastic Four.

After all, there are FOUR of them and four members of the Doom Patrol. Negative Man is a little like the Human Torch, Robotman is similar to the Thing, The Chief has Mr. Fantastic's intellect, while Elasti-Girl is like the Invisible Girl but with a power sort of like Mr. Fantastic's...

Of course, if DC ripped off Fantastic Four creating the Doom Patrol, then Marvel certainly ripped off DC's Challengers of the Unknown when creating the Fantastic Four.

The Challengers were four men brought together by fate, united by a common accident (the crash of an experimental plane) who team up to combat, well, the Unknown. They even wear matching purple jumpsuits not unlike the spacesuits worn by the FF in their first appearance. Of course, Challengers was originally drawn by FF artist extraordinaire, Jack Kirby, so no big shock that the two books would look similar.

Another great similarity between the Doom Patrol and the X-Men is that both titles were cancelled due to poor sales. Of course, in the 1970's, the X-Men came back in a HUGE way with the New X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1.

The Doom Patrol also staged a come-back, but with far less success. But, fear not, DC managed to rip off the New X-Men with the New Teen Titans.

The Teen Titans were reinvented as an angstier group of young people, many of whom were not so keen on having super powers. Heck, even Doom Patrol alumnus Beast Boy (No relation to X-Men's Beast) joined the New Titans.

Not to be outdone, the good folks at Marvel brought us The New Mutants a comic about the teenage mutant students who were training to be future X-Men. The New X-Men, after all were no longer teenagers.

The thing is, folks- comics companies, writers and artists have ALWAYS ripped each other off. From Sub-Mariner to Aquaman. From Superman to Captain Marvel. From The Flash to the Whizzer...

Personally, I'm just glad I live in a world where I can read and enjoy reprints of BOTH the Doom Patrol and the X-Men

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