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Which Comic Book Superhero Was Sued Over Its Similarity to Batman?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and forty-first installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I'll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

Fox Comics was sued over the similarity of one of their superheroes to Batman

STATUS:

True

I just wrote about some of the underhanded tactics of Victor Fox just recently in another Comic Book Legends Revealed, so let me first refresh everyone's memory about the FIRST major Fox Comics related lawsuits...

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In 1938, Action Comics #1 came out and the comic book world would never be the same. As soon as other publishers realized how much money that there was in comic books, they rushed to put out their own versions of Action Comics' star character, Superman.

One of the earliest comic book companies that launched as a competitor to National Comics (now DC) was Fox Feature Syndicate, led by Victor S. Fox. At the time, a rather new business venture had been launched called the comic book packaging studio. A comic book packaging studio would write and draw an entire comic book for you. You would own the characters, but they would write and draw them and you only had to publish the comics and take in the cash. Of course, you had to pay them beforehand.

The top comic book packaging studio at the time was Eisner-Iger (Will Eisner and Jerry Iger). The company really existed on the back of Will Eisner, one of the most creative people in the history of comic books. Not only was he a phenomenal artist, but he was a brilliant creator of comic book ideas. This was good, since he had to try to launch so many at once to meet the demand.

Fox, though, specifically asked Eisner to rip off Superman as close as he could get and so Fox launched his company with Wonder Comics, starring Wonder Man...

National quickly got an injunction and they eventually went to trial. Fox lost.

This, though, almost certainly emboldened National, as they next had a problem with ANOTHER Fox character, but one who seemed like an EXTREME stretch to suggest that he was an actual rip-off of one of their characters.

Jim Mooney created the superhero The Moth for 1940's Mystery Men Comics #9...

Now, come on, how in the world is that a Batman ripoff? And yet, National sent a cease and desist to Fox over the character.

Again, though, check out the next few issues - HOW IS HE A BATMAN RIFF?!

Finally, though, Fox likely was so irked by the situation that they just went scorched earth and told Mooney (who had not done ALL of the Moth stories to this point, but most of them) to just OUTRIGHT rip off Batman and so Mooney did so in Mystery Men Comics #13, although amusingly, they changed the name of the Moth to the Lynx (you can tell that the original name of the character was much longer than Lynx, so I suspect that he was going to be called something like Mothman, so really twist the knife)...

National then sued Fox and won a $2,000 judgement. The judge hilariously was even all, "Did you seriously not learn anything from the LAST time they sued you?"

Lynx and Blackie were changed (by a new anonymous artist using the same pseudonym as Mooney)...

There's a funny Mooney secondary legend that I'll get to in a bit!

Thanks to Ken Quattro for his spotlight on the various Fox lawsuits in TwoMorrows' Alter Ego #101!

Check out some other legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Did Kiefer Sutherland Add Lines to Episodes of 24 to Mess With Fans Playing 24-Based Drinking Games?

2. Who, Exactly, Was the Song “Windy” About?

3. Did Robert Young Once Produce a Despotic Episode of Father Knows Best to Promote U.S. Savings Bonds?

4. Did Jack Lawrence Write “Linda” About a One-Year-Old Linda McCartney?

Check back soon for part 2 of this installment's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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