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Did Marvel Just Lift A Character From Another Comic Book Company?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and thirty-third 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 weekly three legends.

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COMIC LEGEND:

Marvel just lifted a character wholesale from a defunct comic book company

STATUS:

True

Superman is famous for being the first major comic book superhero, but he was also an example of a comic book company fiercely defending its intellectual property. While that was the case with National Comics (now known as DC), it is interesting to note that the other comic book companies of the era were not quite as protective of their intellectual property rights as National was. This wasn't to say that companies did not stand up for their IP rights, but they did so at a much lesser degree than what National did (National was in a more solid financial position than most other companies). So MLJ, for instance, had the wherewithal to tell Timely Comics to give Captain America a different shaped shield because they felt that Cap's initial triangular shield was too close to their patriotic superhero, The SHield.

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However, companies tended not to actually officially register their trademarks back then (National was a notable exception) and thus, when comic book companies went under, there was a real open question as to whether their characters were now open to the public domain or not.

Marvel Comics (which was once Timely) was quick to jump on names that were "open for grabs," but in 1967, they went a step further and just took an entire CHARACTER from a defunct comic book company!

Magazine Enterprises launched Ghost Rider in 1950 from artist Dick Ayers...

Beautifully drawn by Ayers...

The book was more horror than western...

And sure enough, when the comic book industry was cracked down on in the mid-1950s, the area that got hit hardest was horror comics...

So Magazine Enterprises went under.

14 years later, with the company out of business for over a decade, Martin Goodman decided that Marvel Comics should adopt the character and so Marvel, who was by this time employing Dick Ayers as a regular artist at the company, launched their OWN Ghost Rider series by Dick Ayers!

The book did not last very long...

But it lasted long enough for Marvel to believe that it acquired the rights to the name, and soon after, Marvel launched a NEW version of Ghost Rider (buoyed by the then-relaxed Comics Code standards)...

So Marvel just flat out took a character from another comic book company!

Check out some other entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Were Dr. McCoy’s Medical Instruments Really Just Fancy Salt Shakers?

2. Did Kirstie Alley Once Have a Publicist Provide Mother’s Milk for a Pet Opossum?

3. Was Rodin’s First Major Sculpture Really Just a Plaster Cast of a Model?

4. Did Leonard Nimoy Request For Spock to Be Killed Off in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?

Check back later for part 2 of this week'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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