Advertisement

10 Most Hilarious Legal Battles In Comics History

10. Superman Sues Other Heroes For Copyright Infringement

It seems hard to believe now, but seventy years ago, the character then known as Captain Marvel and later as Shazam was a serious sales rival to Superman. Fawcett Publications was also better at spinning off the Captain Marvel property than DC Comics was: there was a Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel well before there was a Superboy or Supergirl. Unable to beat the Captain in a fair fight, DC cheated, taking Fawcett to court on charges of being a mere copy of Superman. They had used the law well against other characters, like 1939's Wonder Man, commissioned by Victor Fox and written and drawn by Will Eisner, and Fawcett's own 1940 Master Man. Were Wonder Man, Master Man or Captain Marvel aliens? No. Were any of them newspapermen? No. Did any of them have a "Lois Lane" type foil? Of course not. Did they imitate Superman's earliest super-powers of strength, speed and sometimes super-jumping or flight? Yes... and so did dozens of other characters, many of them published by DC Comics. Only the Wonder Man case was actually resolved. Master Man never went to trial and the Captain Marvel case was settled out of court in 1953, but legal fees and threats had still gotten DC what it wanted. Today, other companies use far more blatant Superman ripoffs like Supreme, Hyperion and the Plutonian and nobody blinks.
Contributor
Contributor

T Campbell has written quite a few online comics series and selected work for Marvel, Archie and Tokyopop. His longest-running works are Fans, Penny and Aggie-- and his current project with co-writer Phil Kahn, Guilded Age.