Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Great Minds Think Alike," Part Two ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

This is the second chapter in an informal series of "Comical Wednesday" posts which began, believe it or not, with a first part posted in December of 2014! Good things these so-called "parts" are all stand-alone articles, innit?

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Okay, fellow babies, it's mind-reading time!

I'm closing my eyes (no, not really) and thinking of a comic book team of superheroes. This group consists of a group of “misfits,” mistrusted by most of the so-called “normal” people – like us – that they are sworn to protect. The characters debuted in 1963 (in “real world time” as opposed to “comic book time”) but are still around today. Their leader is a rather serious gentleman who is confined to a wheelchair.

Can you name the team?

“That's easy,” some of you may be saying, “and I don't even read comic books! It's Marvel Comics' X-Men!”

Good guess. But incorrect.

I was thinking of DC Comics' Doom Patrol. Now, if your knowledge of comic books is spotty at best, you may very well be saying “And who the hell are the Doom Patrol?”

The original Doom Patrol first appeared in DC/National Comics' My Greatest Adventure #80, cover-dated June, 1963. The book's title was changed to The Doom Patrol with #86.

The original members of the group, shown above, left to right, were "The Chief" (Niles Caulder, the man in the wheelchair), Negative Man (Larry Trainor), Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr), and Robotman (Cliff Steele).

Now for the X-Men. They first appeared in The X-Men #1, from Marvel Comics, cover-dated September, 1963.

Their original line-up, shown below, left to right, consisted of Iceman (Bobby Drake), Beast (Henry "Hank" McCoy), Angel (Warren Worthington III), Professor X (Charles Xavier, also in a wheelchair), Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), and Cyclops (Scott Summers). Iceman actually looked more like a snowman in the earliest issues, but changed his look to an icier one in issue #8.

"Splash" page of X-Men #5 -- the first one I ever read -- showing Iceman sporting his original design.

From X-Men #11, after Iceman had adopted his new look. Note Marvel Girl, saying
"Magneto gone! At last! At long last!" (Yeah, right.) This panel appeared in 1965,
back in those innocent times when readers actually believed a character had died
(or that we'd otherwise seen the last of him or her) when the writer told us we had!

Aw, hell, since I'm having so much fun with this Iceman thing, let me show you two more panels from Bobby Drake's early days!

 From X-Men #1. Nice that a carrot and two buttons -- not to mention a
bowling ball -- just happened to be lying around in their training area!

From X-Men #8.

Okay, back to business!

So, there you have it. The Doom Patrol's debut was cover-dated June, 1963, and the X-Men premiered in September of the same year. In other words, the creators of the X-Men (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) ripped off the Doom Patrol, right?


It's not that simple.

Back then, it usually took about six months to go from idea, to script & art, and then to actual printing and release. So a gap of only three months between the publication of one title and another pretty much tells us that the two similar concepts were being developed simultaneously.

There were other coincidences, too. For one example, DC's Doom Patrol had a group of enemies called "The Brotherhood of Evil." Over at Marvel, most of the X-Men's early issues featured battles with "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants," led by Magneto.

How about another example? The two titles had similar slogans!

Want more? Both teams fell out of favor with readers as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s. The Doom Patrol was cancelled (and its members apparently killed off) in 1968, and The-X-Men became an all-reprint title in 1970, and even suspended publication entirely for eight months in 1975.

And both groups were revamped and revived in the mid-to-late 1970s.

The new Doom Patrol showed up in Showcase #94, in 1977. Showcase was a DC tryout title.

The New Doom Patrol lasted three issues, and didn't show up again for years!

The X-Men had already come back by then -- two years earlier, to be exact -- in brand-new stories that had also introduced a new team.

As you and the rest of the world are probably aware, their new membership did quite a bit better, sales-wise.

And the rest is history, except...

It has been suggested that it's the Doom Patrol that is the rip-off, not of the X-Men, but of... The Fantastic Four?!? Go here if you'd like to read the (not-so-convincing) theory concerning that one!

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Now, before I sign off here, here's a message aimed only at comic book fans. I want to call your attention to two new blogs listed on my blogroll.

The first is Panelocity, which compares similar illustrations from years of comics. No matter what you think they are, whether they're tributes, swipes, coincidences, whatever... These examples are mind-blowing! (This blog -- by Shar -- features a lot of drawings by the late Rich Buckler, who made quite a career imitating drawings by Jack Kirby!)

The second blog is called Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues! What this blog does is show the covers of non-existent comic books featuring "the greatest team-ups that never happened... but should have!" You'll see team-ups of -- or battles between -- characters (and not all from comic books) like Han Solo and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s Napoleon Solo, Galactus versus Godzilla, Wonder Woman and Captain America, Green Lantern and Hellboy, Doctor Who and Judge Dredd, The Vision versus the Terminator, and so much more. Blog author Ross Pearsall posts one of these beauties every single day! (Super-Team Family, by the way, was a real DC title published in the 1970s.)

So check 'em out, willya?

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Okay, now I'll let you go!

Thanks for your time.


  1. Funny how the coincidences keep on piling up for some of them. Maybe they had comic spies and would rip off each other, getting both out at the same time. Some clearly rip off the other. Pixar is a huge one that "coincidentally" has ripped off another studio with nearly every movie. Gotta love how they get away with it.

    1. Who knows, they might employ spies now, but many, many years ago comics weren't really considered to be potential money-makers like they are today. But I think it comes down to who does a concept best rather who might come up with an original idea first.

      My vote for biggest successful ripoff? Disney's The Lion King, which was stolen from the 1960s Japanese anime Jungle Emperor, known as Kimba the White Lion in the USA. The creators of The Lion King deny it, of course.

    2. true, everything can be related to something in a way. So who makes it best gets the win.

  2. I don't think I've ever heard of The Doom Patrol before, but it's only in recent years that I became aware of The X Men.

    Janie, a failure at comic book trivia

    1. Well, I don't expect all of my readers to know about comics.


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