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When two genuinely grand publishers bore fruits of imagination side by side in the Golden Age of comics, some similarities were bound to emerge. Marvel and DC, the twin titans of our collective colorful fantasies, often used super-powered individuals and gave them equally indestructible enemies to fight with, in order to reflect humanity’s virtues and vices. But that’s not the only aspect that made the comics fun.

Marvel and DC’s shared vision made for parallels between iconic and not-so-iconic characters. The former was exploding in popularity during the 1940s by creating characters like Namor the Sub-Mariner and Captain America. The seeds of creativity thrived so well that it drew in millions of devoted readers. Obviously, the scale of success did not go unnoticed by DC, which had been dominating the same industry in the preceding decade.

What followed was a series of bizarre and blatant attempts by DC Comics at copying costumes, concepts, and catchphrases from Marvel Comics. In this list, we dig through the past to highlight 15 of DC’s most shameless and surprising rip-offs of Marvel characters. From teenage superheroes to evil villains, some of these characters might just shock you. Or make you chuckle.

15 Bumblebee – Wasp

Another pathetic attempt by DC to rip-off a character from Marvel Comics is Bumblebee. She remained Karen Beecher for three issues starting from Teen Titans #45 in 1976 before taking flight as Bumblebee. Able to shrink to a tiny size while enhancing her strength, proving how great power can come in small packages too.

Meanwhile, Janet Van Dyne shrunk first as the Marvel creation, Wasp, debuting in Tales to Astonish #44 back in 1963. Fans are definitely more familiar with her when it comes to big-like creatures, since she’s met more success in the Marvel movies alongside Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man. The fact that Bumblebee’s powers and popularity simply bear a passing resemblance to the pioneering hero by Janet is proof that Marvel did their character right.

14 Atomic Skull – Ghost Rider

In the DC Universe, Atomic Skull is a villain name used by multiple characters. First seen in Superman #303 in 1978, Albert Michaels gained a living atomic skull after a lab accident. His growing radioactive powers allowed him to fire blasts of nuclear energy as he sped down the streets on his motorcycle.

But Ghost Rider debuted much earlier in the Marvel Comics and became one of the well-known antagonists. After the tragic death of his father, Johnny Blaze made a dark bargain with the Demon Mephisto and transformed into a fiery man with a skull, seeking vengeance at night. With his hellfire-charged bike, he was an impressive villain. But with Ghost Rider, Marvel got there first with their demonic biker, and for DC, Atomic Skull was simply a background character.

13 Red Lion – Black Panther

Few characters in the Marvel Comics/MCU database are as beloved as T’Challa. Red Lion, on the other hand, is nothing but a cheap shot at ripping off Black Panther. As the President-for-life of the African nation of Buredunia, Red Lion had ferocious instincts and slick combat skills; his human heart only longed for order between his nation and the rest of the world.

Hearing his origin and operating story, it’s hard to look at Red Lion as anything but a “Red” Black Panther. The latter was the Head of State of the African nation of Wakanda, and he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966. For him, science and technology and his own privilege were enough to embark on a crusade for justice. And he did. And while Red Lion may roar defiance, he’ll probably never surpass the master.

12 Zatanna – Scarlet Witch

Introduced in November 1964 in Hawkman #4, Zatanna Zatara is a beautiful raven-haired sorceress known for her extraordinary magic skills which, as a powerful half Homo Magi, she inherited from her parents. With her stylish costume and magician’s hat, she appears almost harmless. But her ability to use mystical incantations, manipulate all the energy around her, and tap into people’s psyches leaves us in awe.

The Scarlet Witch debuted only half a year prior to Zatanna in X-Men #4. Wanda Maximoff, who started off as a formidable villain in the Marvel Comics, reformed herself into a hero and even joined The Avengers. Her hypnotic beauty and dramatic flair, and the ability to wield magic, are all traits DC blatantly copied to create Zatanna.

11 Black Lightning – Electro

An inner-city vigilante, Jefferson Pierce first electrified the scene in 1977’s Black Lightning #1. He was a school teacher and principal, but as Black Lightning, he had the power to wield electricity with finesse. In fights, he would emit controlled bolts of lightning from his hands and assert dominance over his opponent. Yet, as an educator, he’s more of a figure of strength and wisdom.

Electro debuted almost 13 years before Black Lightning as a villain in Amazing Spider-Man #9 where he fought Spider-Man with similar shock tactics. His true identity was Maxwell Dillion, and he gained his electric powers through an accident. After becoming Electro, he used his powers for criminal acts that resulted in chaos and mayhem. Even though both characters have a different arc, Black Lightning’s powers are directly derived from Electro.

10 Killer Croc – The Lizard

A high-profile criminal and one of Batman’s most challenging enemies, Killer Croc was a human born with reptilian traits that manifester fully over time in DC Comics. He debuted in Detective Comics #523 and turned into a dangerous creature later. His thick scales, sharp claws and razor-like teeth paired with immense strength made him a formidable foe. He also had animalistic behavioral traits.

Meanwhile, the Lizard debuted as a Spider-Man villain in 1963, two decades before Killer Croc. Introduced first as a scientist named Dr. Curt Conner, his origin story saw him turn into a hulking and ferocious lizard beast after an experiment went wrong. While Killer Croc and Lizard share the same predatory appearance, the former is a more popular addition to Batman’s Rogues Gallery, both in the comics and the live-action movies.

Related: The MCU’s Major Villains, Ranked by Level of Villainy

9 Lobo and Ripclaw – Wolverine

So far, DC has made two attempts at ripping off Wolverine. With Lobo, there was great focus on physical appearance and to Ripclaw, the creators granted razor-sharp claws, anger issues, and an origin story where he was created through a government experiment. The former was a violet-hued, sick-of-life mercenary that was revamped again in the 90s, but Lobo failed to stick with the readers.

Wolverine, also known as James Howlett or Logan in Marvel Comics, first slashed in from the cold in Incredible Hulk #180 back in ‘74. Underneath his gruff exterior, the mutant had a loyal heart of gold and a fury to match. While Wolverine defends humanity, Lobo mocks the very idea. As for Ripclaw, it is obvious DC simply wanted to ride off from the success of Wolverine.

8 Red Hood – Winter Soldier

For a very long time, Bucky Barnes was just simply a friend to Steve Rogers. But in January 2005, Marvel reinvented the character and James Buchanan Barnes re-emerged as Winter Soldier, who was held captive and brainwashed by Hydra into becoming an assassin. A war-torn survivor, it took him a while to grasp at lost memories and use his armored strength for the good.

In the same year, DC made an attempt to match the Marvel character’s piercing emotional story by bringing Jason Todd back from the grave and introducing him as the Red Hood, Batman’s side-kick who fought by his side until his death at the hands of the Joker. Red Hood’s edginess didn’t match Winter Soldier’s propulsion into popularity, but it was a good plot twist in DC Comics.

Related: 10 Movie Villains Who Should Never Get Redemption Arcs

7 Rocket Red – Iron Man

Otherwise known as Dmitri Pushkin, Rocket Red was part of the Rocket Red Brigade who debuted in Green Lantern Corps #208 in 1987 as a class of shield-wearing nationalists willing to protect their country against metahuman threats. While Pushkin was nothing like the billionaire inventor Tony Stark, his armored form was a spitting image of Iron Man and was also powered with rockets and lasers.

Obviously, the Marvel counterpart came much before (24 years) when Stark built the first Iron Man armor in Tales of Suspense #39 while in captivity on a foreign land. By combining science, heroism, and humanity, Stark proved that tech alone could assist mankind instead of destroying it. Red Rocket may match mechanisms with mechanisms, but it was Iron Man who inspired a generation of readers and viewers.

6 Doomsday – Hulk

For DC to rip off its own previously ripped off character is a bold move. Doomsday, or the “abomination that killed” Superman, first appeared in the comics in 1992’s Superman: The Man of Steel #17 as an ancient artificially-created Kryptonian beast that evolved and grew stronger each time it was slayed until reaching a point where nothing could kill it. A hulking mass of gray, it destroyed all living things. Sound familiar?

Thirty years prior to Doomsday’s introduction to DC, Marvel Comics debuted Bruce Banner, a man cursed to unleash the savage behemoth whenever he’s stressed or angry. Hulk too would evolve with time, and he’d smash all sorts of things in an attempt to bridge the gap between his two nature. But Hulk was ultimately a hero and Doomsday, a villain.

5 Swamp Thing – Man-Thing

An interesting mention would be DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Man-Thing, two characters who were introduced just a month apart. While it’s hard to tell who copied who, if we are to go by the books, it was Marvel’s Man-Thing that debuted first. Originally a scientist, he injected himself with the SO-2 Serum, then crashed his car into a mystical swamp and emerged as a powerful hero-villain hybrid.

Swamp Thing, on the other hand, first stumbled from the soupy marsh in Swamp Thing #1 as a scientist, who was caught in a chemical blast and then dumped into a swamp. He embraced the Green and emerged as a creature made of vegetation. As an elemental protector of his home, he battled foes. Overall, both the characters are fairly successful in their respective realms.

4 Imperiex – Galactus

Imperiex was initially introduced as an adversary to Superman in 2000. As soon as the ancient cosmological conqueror emerged, he declared war on the DC universe in order to create a new Big Bang. Imperiex believed the world to be impure, so he wanted to annihilate all life and start anew. The devourer of galaxies, his limitless powers came from consuming entire star systems.

If the entire narrative arc of Imperiex does not ring a bell, we’re not sure if you’re a real Marvel Comics fan. Debuting a whopping 34 years before Imperiex was Galactus, the most powerful cosmic force of nature, also known as the Devourer of Worlds. In Fantastic Four #48 itself, Galactus’ motives of destroying the universe were revealed as awe-inspiring. But it seems as if DC copied Galactus without understanding what made the latter a true epic villain.

3 Guardian and Commander Steel – Captain America

Much like Wolverine, DC has made repeated attempts at copying another Marvel character – Captain America. We’re looking at two rather popular ones. Introduced just a year after Steve Rogers through 1942’s Star-Spangled Comics #7 was Guardian, a man devoid of superpowers, who grew up as a civilian, then rose to power by using his indestructible shield. Commander Steel, on the other hand, debuted in 1978 as a star-spangled superhero, but was only seen for five issues.

However, none was as glorious as Steve Rogers, who became America’s first super soldier after being experimented on in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, he wielded a shield and was a beacon of patriotism. Guardian tried to derive the spirit and Captain America and Commander Steel had the appearance, but neither of DC’s rip-offs were successful enough.

Related: 10 Most Blatant Marvel Ripoffs of DC Characters

2 Aquaman – Namor the Sub-Mariner

Gaining widespread popularity through Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and getting his very own blockbuster solo movie in 2018, Aquaman established himself as one of DC’s most unique, fantastic, and powerful superheroes. With an ability to swim at tremendous speeds and strength that surpasses all, the King of Atlantis was clearly more successful than the Marvel character that inspired him.

Namor the Sub-Mariner appeared a couple of years prior to Aquaman. In 1939 in Marvel Comics #1, this brooding half-human and half-Atlantean hybrid was introduced as “Marvel’s first mutant” and it wasn’t long until readers witnessed his powers, which were nearly on par to Hulk. While Namor’s passion came from alienation, Aquaman had a more refined narrative. Especially in the live-action movies.

1 Black Spider – Spider-Man

Spider-Man is celebrated as Marvel’s greatest superhero. He has just as many fans outside of the comics as within his own world. So to rip-off such an amazing character only shows DC’s lack of innovation and willingness to generate fresh ideas. Introduced as an enemy of Batman, Black Spider had the same agility, gadgets and combat skills as Spider-Man, only his costume colors switched out.

Goes without saying, it was Stan Lee who initially dreamed up young Peter Parker and blessed the boy with proportional spider powers. Where Parker used his ability to uplift others and fight crime in his neighborhood, Black Spider not only arrived late, but he also never understood what made Spider-Man amazing.

“}]] By ripping off these Marvel Characters, DC took the saying “flattery is the highest form of imitation” to the limit.  Read More