In the years since Superman first donned his cape and tights, literally thousands of superheroes have come and gone.  Naturally, some would end up treading on familiar sartorial territory…  Welcome to Ten Things!

Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with ‘An Amateur Comics Historian’, and the Winklevoss Twins, Presents:

 

TEN PAIRS OF SUPERS ‘SEPARATED AT BIRTH!’

10) ICEMAN / THE HUMAN ICICLE

Iceman-HumanIcicle

Though his was never one of the highest-profile Marvel books, it must be noted that, when Robby Reed first transformed into the Human Icicle in March of ’68, Bobby Drake had been using his iced-up form in X-Men comics for two dozen issues, making me wonder if the creators of this issue had any idea just how familiar this new dialed-up hero looked.  Of course, given the rivalry between Marvel and DC in those days, Robby’s appearance as a hero-who-becomes-a-villain may have been an intentional shot at the House of Ideas…

 

9) CAPTAIN AMERICA / RUSTY RYAN

CaptainAmerica-Rusty-Ryan

Though he shares a name with Brad Pitt’s character in ‘Ocean’s 11′ and its sequels, young Rusty Ryan wasn’t a roguish con-man, but instead a two-fisted patriot protecting Boyville (inspired by Father Edward Flanagan’s “Boys Town”) from any and all comers.  Appearing in Quality’s “Feature Comics” title, Rusty actually predates the similarly costumed Captain America.  (Of course, given that Cap’s original triangular shield was seemingly cribbed from Archie Comics’ Shield, one wonders if the similarities were unintentional.)

 

8) CODY STARBUCK / THE SCORPION

Scorpion-Cody-Starbukc

Less a coincidence than a matter of personal taste, both of these characters come from the pen of Howard Chaykin, whose choice of a protagonist with curly, dark hair in a cool swashbucklery suit doesn’t stop here.  Cody was created for Star*Reach in 1974, while Moro “The Scorpion” Frost was part of the abortive Atlas line of 1975.  After leaving Atlas Comics, Howard also created Dominic Fortune at Marvel Comics in ’75, who finally stuck the landing with this look in Marvel’s black-and-white line of magazines, eventually making his way into the Marvel Universe.

 

7) THE PUPPETEER / V-MAN

V-Man-Puppeteer

Seemingly another example of an artist liking the look, though one where I can’t seem to find any reference to the artist’s name.  (Given the Golden Age origins and relatively obscurity of the character, I’m not surprised.)  First appearing in Fox Feature publications in 1942, Jerry “V-Man” Hale was murdered by Nazis, the resurrected and given a magical costume to fight evil.  He made a handful of appearances before rolling off the end of the pier.  In 1944, Alan “The Puppeteer” Hale made his bow, wearing nearly the same costume (with blue tights, though) and powers that were tied to his magical bald eagle who was also a raven, somehow?  After another handful of appearances, both heroes were forgotten until V-Man made a return on ‘Project Superpowers’ a couple of years ago…

 

6) FIREFALL / THE HUMAN TORCH


Firefall-Human-Torch

Another example of a creator enjoying a look: John Byrne created Frankie Raye, the second Human Torch, who eventually became a herald of Galactus as Nova.  She has died a couple of times, and was last seen (to my knowledge) in the pages of ‘Fearless Defenders.’  He apparently liked the look so much that, when he was populating the missing years of the 616 universe in ‘Marvel: The Lost Generation’, he created Firefall, who inverted the red/yellow color palette, but was otherwise visually the same…

 

5) HERCULES / KICKIN’ HAWK

Hercules-Kickin'-Hawk

I have to admit: This one just amuses me.  One of Ben Tennyson’s mutations in ‘Ben 10:Omniverse’, Kickin’ Hawk has a great name and a look that seems to be influenced by the late-80s look of Marvel’s Hercules.  After his traditional togs (which included a battle-skirt that probably didn’t play in the Reagan-Era) were destroyed in battle with the Blood Brothers, Hercules commissioned a new look that lasted for some years (disappearing roughly the same time he shaved in the 1990s, if memory served.)

 

4) CITIZEN V / THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

CitizenV-UnknownSoldier

Though the red-white-and-blue Baron Zemo version of Citizen V is probably better known, his back story of “inspired-by-a-Golden-Age-hero” is derived from an actual G.A. Marvel/Atlas character.  John Watkins (seen on the right) few appearances had him operating in occupied France during WWII, while Ace Periodicals’ Unknown Soldier (on the left, natch) had no origin, no known alter-ego, and no revealed back story.  While that’s not uncommon for the time period, this one seemed to be intentional to fit the “unknown” portion of his super-identity.

 

3) THE SANDMAN / THE TARANTULA

Sandman-Tarantula

A rare example of this kind of thing being called out in the actual comics, the resemblance between short-lived Golden Age DC hero The Tarantula and long-lived (albeit better known in his business suit/gas mask costume) Golden Age DC hero The Sandman became a plot point in Roy Thomas’ All-Star Squadron.  (Long story short?  The same woman designed both at different times.)  Tarantula got a better costume, courtesy of Jerry Ordway, and made more appearances in the pages of the Squadron than he did in the Golden Age proper, while Sandman made several noteworthy modern appearances, including a long run at Vertigo with Sandman Mystery Theatre…

 

2) THE ATOM / MENTHOR

Atom-Menthor

Gil Kane is a certifiable comic-book legend, and rightfully so, after iconic runs on dang near every modern hero (including redesigning Wolverine’s cowl for the cover of ‘Giant-Size X-Men #1’, because he was Gil Kane, my boy.)  After co-creating Ray “The Atom” Palmer at DC Comics in 1961, Gil found work at other companies, including Tower Comics where he worked on (and possibly co-created) the character of John Janus, the agent known as Menthor.  With only subtle costuming differences (inverted leg/boot colors, and different icons, albeit both located on the forehead) the two heroes clearly shared a tailor, though they’ve never been allowed to share a continuity so that we can get a cool Tarantula/Sandman-style tale that might explain it…

 

1) IRON MAN / IRON MAN

Iron-Man-Iron-Man

One of the more notable examples of a phenomenon I call “sleeping with the windows open” came in the form of these two eerily similar heroes.  Back in 1939 (!!!), Hugh Hazard was a two-fisted private investigator, who encountered a humanoid robot in the line of duty.  After stopping the creature’s criminal rampage, Hugh confiscates the ‘bot, modifies it, and uses the automaton (whom he affectionately names ‘Bozo’) as a partner/conveyance/suit of armor, depending on the writer.  The parallels to Tony Stark’s later Iron Man suit, especially the iron-gray original version, may be entirely coincidental, but it’s nonetheless fascinating to read the adventures of the early Iron Man, who headlined Quality Comics’ Smash Comics title for forty-some-issues.  If nothing else, it proves that, even in 1963, there were no entirely new ideas, only new takes…

Feel free to follow along (@MightyKingCobra) for more Ten Things madness on Twitter! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, nor are we interested in playing the common Innernets game of claiming someone “ripped off” someone else, just that the world is a strange and sometimes coincidental place…

Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. September 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm — Reply

    I wouldn’t be surprised if #5 was intentional to some degree. Just look at some of the other characters and aliens that are based on another character, such as Way Big and his similarities to Ultraman.

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