Did The Avengers rip off The Avengers?

My wife wasn’t but she is now. <rimshot>

If you’re alluding to the Man-Thing/Swamp Thing controversy, that’s probably a case where Marvel was the victim of a borrowing rather than the borrower. It’s pretty clear Marvel created and published its Man-Thing character before DC created and published its Swamp Thing character. And Len Wein who created Swamp Thing had written a story for Man-Thing, so he was clearly aware of the character. But DC and Wein maintain Swamp Thing was not inspired by Man-Thing.

Eww, TMI!

Yeah, I… wasn’t

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

No, we’re past that; we’re no longer men, we’ve moved beyond men. We are – THE EX-MEN.

You can pit them against the Horde of Awesome Nuclear Desperados.

The LEGs vs. The HANDs!

And the Heap preceded both of them by nearly three decades.

The X-Men debuted less than three months after the Doom Patrol. Given the amount of time it takes to script, pencil, letter, ink, color, print, and distribute a comic book, it’s unlikely that there was any copying going on (unless there was a spy in the office). Besides, the Doom Patrol was more likely a copy of Marvel’s successful Fantastic Four comics: a team of four heroes, three men and a woman; one orange and incredibly strong, one who can stretch, one who flies and radiates energy, and one who is a scientific genius. Granted, they gave the stretching powers to the woman and made the stretcher and the genius two different people, but it’s practically the same template.

And Atlas (later renamed Marvel) Comics attempted a revival of Captain America (along with the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner) in 1953, three years before DC’s Flash revision, but it lasted less than a year.

(Sheesh. I never would have imagined that I, a lifelong DC fan, would be here defending Marvel.)

Even though the British TV show was later than the comic, it’s highly unlikely that it has any connection with the comic for the simple reason that it’s very unlikely any of the creators of the show knew anything about Marvel Comics.

People forget that Marvel was a distant second in circulation to DC in the 60s (and possibly even fifth, after Dell/Gold Key, Harvey, and Charlton). Outside of major cities, you often couldn’t even find their titles (I know as late as 1970, they were not sold anywhere in my town, which was about 80 miles from NYC). When we had trivia contests, I was forbidden to ask any questions about Marvel, since you could stump people by asking “What was Spider-man’s secret identity?” I seriously doubt the comics were widely available in the UK when they couldn’t get wide distribution in the US.

Is this a whoosh? The TV series came out two years before the comic book.


Archie ought to be somewhere up there too.

Yeah, I got a Giant-Sized Man-Thing right here! [Points at the box where most of my older comics are kept.]

Not quite.

Here’s the kicker: Wein and Conway were roommates at the time they were working on the characters, and yet Wein maintains that he knew nothing about Man-Thing. Which is slightly dubious. But they came about simultaneously, and both, especially Man-Thing, are so clearly “inspired” by the Heap that it would be very difficult for Marvel to establish a legal case.

Was there an Amalgam character: Thing-Thing?

Thing-of-Things would been an awesome Amalgam character.

They did Amalgamize Man-Thing, but with DC’s Man-Bat: Enter the Bat-Thing!

But wasn’t shown in the US until after the comic, so Lee probably never saw it before the comic was developed.

In the comic, do they come together to, ya know, avenge anything?

In the movie it’s a bit of avenging that “this one swell SHIELD agent bought the farm” (which is one of the more meh parts of a generally solid movie)

While Conway wrote the first Man-Thing story, Wein was hired to write story for the second issue (which would have been Savage Tales #2 I suppose). But Savage Tales ended up never printing a second issue.

Meanwhile, Wein - who had just written a Man-Thing story based on Conway’s character - went to DC and they had a conversation that went something like this:

“Hey, I’ve got this totally original idea for a story about a totally original character I call Swamp Thing.”
“Isn’t this mildly similar to a character you were working on for Marvel a couple of weeks ago?”
“That’s purely coincidental. I was independently inventing this character at the same time I was working on that other character. If anything, these two characters are both based on an obscure character that hasn’t been published in eighteen years but which somehow inspired the completely unrelated creation of two new characters in the same month.”
“Legally speaking, that’s not unprovable. So okay.”
“And as long as I keep denying I used somebody else’s idea, fans will believe me despite the evidence.”
“That and you’ll be forgotten after we give the character to Alan Moore.”
“Wow, that’ll be just like what will happen to me again with Chris Claremont and the X-Men.”

Remember, though, Tony Stark admitting to Loki that our heroes might not be able to protect the world from that impending invasion – but, hey, on the bright side, you can be damned sure we’ll then avenge them by gunning for you. “There’s no throne. There’s no version of this where you come out on top.”