The Squadron Supreme is at the heart of the Heroes Reborn comic book event which imagines a world where the Avengers never formed. The Squadron Supreme is more than a replacement for the Avengers. They’re actually an obvious homage to the Justice League Of America from DC Comics, and the team is just one of many comic book homages.
The homage or pastiche is a classic comic book trope, going back to the very beginning of the genre. A number of patriotic heroes followed in the wake of Captain America’s debut in 1941 (and he wasn’t the first himself). Echoes of popular comic characters have been showing up ever since, with some much more obvious than others.
10 The Squadron Supreme
The powerful members of the Squadron Supreme are mostly all analogs for the heroes of the Justice League of America. This was a deliberate choice on the part of writer Roy Thomas and artist Sal Buscema when they created the team (initially introduced as the Squadron Sinister) as villains for the Avengers in 1970.
Hyperion represented Superman; Nighthawk stood in as Batman; Powe Princess was Wonder Woman, and Doctor Spectrum was Green Lantern with his mystical power ring. Other members would join in later Squadron Supreme comic book storylines that were original creations.
9 The Guardians Of The Globe
The Squadron Supreme isn’t the only pastiche of the Justice League of America in the comics. Another major one is the Guardians Of The Globe, the primary superhero team from the Invincible comic books and now Amazon animated series.
Like with the Marvel Comics team, the Guardians are essentially one-to-one direct analogs for the JLA. War Woman is Wonder Woman, Darkwing is Batman, and Omni-Man is Superman, though he was never an official member of the team. He brutally murders the entire team at the outset of the animated series.
8 The Teen Team
The other major team in the Invincible mythos is the Teen Team. This group of teenage superheroes is based loosely on the Teen Titans, the junior superhero squad from DC Comics. This homage is less direct than with the Guardians Of The Globe, though there are some likenesses in the characters.
Dupli-Kate shares some similarities in her powers and appearance with the Wonder Twins. Atom-Eve appears to homage Starfire in her appearance and her powers, though her story in the comics is very different.
7 The First Family
Astro City, the long-running comic book series from writer Kurt Busiek, is in many ways a love letter to comics in general. Numerous characters are obvious homages to classic characters, like The Samaritan who is a version of Superman. One of the best is The First Family, an obvious nod to the Fantastic Four.
The Fursts, including Augustus and Julius, Nick and Natalie, and Rex and Astra, are a family of scientists, superheroes, and space explorers with a lot of textual and visual nods to the Fantastic Four. They also take some cues from Johnny Storm, which also influenced The Venture Bros., a series fans will find many other comic book allusions in.
6 Midnighter & Apollo
Midnighter and Apollo are two significant characters in comic book history, as they’re one of the first openly gay couples in comics. Both characters came out of the Stormwatch and The Authority comics from Image in the late 90s, but are homages to Batman and Superman respectively.
Apollo is powered by the sun, a god-like figure with tremendous power. Midnighter is mostly without superpowers and fights crime by night. The two heroes have since become part of DC Comics themselves, after their original imprint Wildstorm Entertainment was acquired by the company.
Thanos is one of the most fearsome and powerful villains in Marvel Comics and the MCU. He also shares some similarities with one of the biggest bads of DC Comics, Darkseid. This isn’t entirely an accident. Thanos co-creator Jim Starlin has acknowledged that Thanos owes a debt to Darkseid.
That wasn’t always the plan, though. The original intent was to base Thanos on another member of the New Gods, Metron. It’s somewhat ironic that both Thanos and Darkseid would become the primary antagonists of their respective movie universes (and the comics as well).
4 Agent America
Fans met another version of Captain America recently in Falcon And The Winter Soldier: John Walker, the U.S. Agent. In the late 90s, comic book readers were introduced to a very obvious Captain America pastiche in the American Agent.
Artist Rob Liefeld created the character in the late 90s following his stint on the original Heroes Reborn storyline. Just like Steve Rogers, John Flag was a soldier in World War II who volunteered for an experimental process that gave him superpowers. He also carried a shield.
Homages were common from the very start of the superhero genre. One of the most obvious is Aquaman. The legendary DC Comics hero and the prince of Atlantis debuted in 1941. He followed Namor, the Sub-Mariner, by two years. Though the two are different in appearance, they share many surface similarities.
Both fought primarily against Nazi forces in their early adventures (as many heroes of the period did, including Captain America and Superman). Their backstories echoed each other even more when DC revised Arthur Curry’s origin in the Silver Age to make him the son of a human father and Atlantean mother.
The Dakotaverse of Milestone Comics in the early 90s was the first primarily African-American superhero comics universe. Though it was bold and new, it did have some superhero homages. One of the biggest was Icon.
Icon was an alien who came to Earth and developed superpowers. Though the surface details are similar, Milestone turned the trope upside down. The alien landed in the 19th century, and Augustus Freeman would spend much of the next century and a half avoiding getting involved in human affairs.
Rob Liefeld also looked to another major character, Spider-Man, in creating his most famous superhero. Deadpool borrows liberally from Spider-Man in his personality and basic look, as Liefeld has acknowledged.
He also directly references the DC Comics villain Deathstroke. Wade Wilson is an obvious play off of Slade Wilson. The two also share an affinity for swords and guns. Deadpool may have been born out of other iconic characters, but he’s come to be an icon himself in comics and in the movies.
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