Comic book companies have to constantly tread very thin ice. A shame, given that most superheroes/villains within their stories could probably solve this problem (As far as I’m aware, DC has about 6 ice-power themed characters, yay originality!). One of the main reasons for this subsequent “thin-ice treading” however, is the running-risk of creating characters that are essentially copy-cats of those from the rival publisher, (and the other of course being the inevitable “nerd rage” to follow). This tends to spark many a debate amongst comic fans. More often than not, the question being, “Who’d win in a fight?.” Although occasionally, if you spend enough time on the internet (or live there like I do), the question of originality will arise, and the infamous geek clan will pull a character’s powers to shreds to find a minute difference (that’d be a bit hard to do with Wolverine I’d imagine).
I’ve been thinking about two of my favourite comic book characters, and picking up on their similarities, both in terms of their origin, their line of work (because we all think about that don’t you know?) and above all, their powers. Fighting out of DC’s corner we have “The Original Terminator”, Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson. Aaaaand skipping out of Marvel’s corner, we have “The Merc with a Mouth,” Wade “Deadpool” Wilson (I would’ve made some awesome “Bruce Buffer-esque” introduction, but showmanship doesn’t transfer so well to the written word).
Already I can hear people saying “Slade/Wade” hmmm, I sense shenanigans afoot.” Well, there indeed were shenanigans afoot, as upon Deadpool’s creation, writer Fabian Nicieza said to artist Rob Liefield “this guy looks like Deathsroke from Teen Titans.” Subsequently, Nicieza gave Deadpool the name “Wade” as a piss-take. In doing so, Marvel provide the perfect example of the metaphorical minefield that comic book creators have to tread. I’ve barely dug into these characters and already there are obvious similarities.
However, the ripping-off…sorry…”creative differences” don’t stop there! Deathstroke and Deadpool have more in common than a name variation (this is the part where I tell origin stories and you listen diligently like good readers). Deathstroke was subject to a series of military experiments and augmentation, seeking to create a form of “super soldier” (“wow, we’ve never seen that before!” – said no comic book fan ever). Combined with military training, Deathsroke was enhanced to the point where he could use 90% of his brain, as well as amplified physical strength and a mastery of many-a-weapon (well…swords), in theory turning him into the perfect assassin and the central adversary of figures like Batman and the Teen Titans.
Deadpool was drawn into the now infamous (cheers Wolverine) “Weapon X Program.” This gave him a regenerative healing factor making him practically invulnerable. Combined with previous mercenary work and a weapon’s collection that would make look Kim Jong-Un look poor, Deadpool’s healing factor transcends him to the level of an indestructible mercenary, that works both with and against the X-Men…Wait a donkey-boffing minute, haven’t we seen this before?
You don’t need me to say that there’s obvious connections between these two. Both favour swords (I mean who wouldn’t? They may be out-dated but they’re still awesome), both work as hired guns, both were experimented on by the government and both have some kind of mask-fetish. However, once Marvel realised this, they automatically drove Deadpool in a different direction, making him one of the most original comic characters ever created.
Both characters have a physical ailment of some kind, but these are both extremely different. Deathstroke only has one eye, due to his other one being shot out, and his arrogance being so profane that he only put one eye-socket in his mask. Other than that he’s right as rain. Deadpool on the other hand was a cancer patient, with his healing factor causing scarring all over his body where the tumours had healed, as well as driving him crazier than a pool of bat guano.
Deadpool’s difference comes from his portrayal. He’s the only known comic book character to date to directly acknowledge his existence as a fictional entity, breaking the fourth wall and communicating with the audience. This is what differentiates him from Deathstroke, a member of what I like to call “the shoot, shoot, shoot some more and ask qustions later” club. That being said, it’s quite common to feel uncomfortable when a comic book character starts asking what you’d like for lunch.
Hopefully, you can now see why comic book writers walk on eggshells all the time. Similarities between some comic book characters are inevitable really (Mr. Fantastic and Plastic Man, Green Arrow and Hawkeye, Namor and Aquaman etc etc.). They come about out of direct competition (DC even rebooting their entire universe recently). The good thing about Deathstroke / Deadpool is that Marvel realised their subsequent rip-off and altered their character to create one of the most popular comic book characters of recent years (being played by Ryan Reynolds tends to do that). But this doesn’t always happen, and nerds are quite angry people *points at self*. I guess we can take solace in the fact that debate over this sort of thing makes things interesting (and could escalate to a nerd war…hmmm)
Now for the eternal question. Who would win in a fight if it really came down to it? Readyyyyyyy GO!