Superman is one of the most important and groundbreaking fictional characters of all time, as well as the Superhero who created the very concept of comic book superheroes. So, in a way, all superheroes are Superman copies. But come on. When I say Superman duplicates, you know what I mean. A very specific power set. A cape. No mask. A big letter on his chest. There's an archetype. So let's look at that archetype, and more specifically, let’s look at some of the best-ever characters to share that familiar mold.
10. The Sentry
(New Avengers/Mighty Avengers/Dark Avenger, Marvel Comics)
Look, this article is called Top 10 Superman Duplicates not Ten Superman Duplicates Who I Like.
The Sentry is one of Marvel's foremost Super Dupes, a crazed drug addict turned into a deranged superpowered godlike figure. The Sentry did one cool thing, and that was to rip Carnage in half. But getting rid of a terrible character doesn't make you any better yourself. The Sentry went from being That Guy the New Avengers had to Babysit to being That Guy Who Joined The Mighty Avengers Because Why Move to being That Guy Who was on The Dark Avengers Because He was a Huge Jerk.
Sentry always just sides with whoever's in authority. He's like a parody of the Reaganite Superman in Dark Knight Returns. Just a big tool, who punches for whoever is the establishment at the moment.
Or he was, he ripped Ares in half during Siege (real one trick pony there, Bob) and Thor beat him to death.
9. Mr. Majestic
Mr. Majestic is The Wildstorm Universe's resident Superman.
Things in common with Superman: Majestic is an alien with strange powers, stranded on earth. He uses his powers (the standard suite) to fight crime and beat up supervillains.
Where he differs: Majestic, unlike Superman, came to earth from his homeworld as an adult. Also, while Krypton was a science-based planet, Majestic's homeworld, Khera, was militaristic as all hell. Oh, and Majestros himself was a straight-up warlord. So his superheroing has a more aggressive bent. This includes locking up villains without trial, taking the fight to them in the first place, looking for ways to make the world better through force.
In fact, when Majestic eventually gets stuck in the main DC Universe, he and Superman have a full conversation about their contrasting methods and how best to go about saving the world.
Majestic's pretty undervalued, and I wish he'd get just a bit more love.
(Stormwatch/The Authority/Midnighter and Apollo, Wildstorm/DC Comics)
Apollo is fantastic.
Of Wildstorm team The Authority, Apollo and his boyfriend Midnighter are two scary badasses who regularly save the world. If Midnighter is murder-y Batman, Apollo is murder-y Superman. Recently in the DC Comics continuity (where Midnighter and Apollo have now resurfaced), the duo starred in a miniseries (Midnighter and Apollo) featuring the recovery of some very nineties concepts. In the book, Neron the Demon Lord captured Apollo to steal his soul, and Midnighter had to brave all of Hel and the Mawzir to get him back. It was a story of life, love, and dudes getting kicked through a train.
Wonderful mini, well worth checking out. Sadly for Apollo, he does not remember who he was before the augmentations that made him Henry Bendix's top-tier team member, and a heavy talent for Stormwatch. And again, his relationship with his boyfriend Midnighter is adorable and well written.
One of the all-time greatest gay romances in comic book history. Here's to them!
7. The Plutonian
(Irredeemable/Incorruptible, Boom! Studios)
There are a lot of stories that ask the question, What if Superman was evil? Irredeemable is among the best of them.
The Plutonian was a hero with Superman's powers and basic origin, who was raised by people not as pleasant as the Kents. His mother routinely tried to kill him as a child. As such, Plutonian grew up slightly broken, and becoming a superhero only broke him further. After all, imagine what it would do to you if you could hear every single thing anyone on earth ever said about you.
And when the Plutonian broke, he took over the world and became a horrific despot who ruled with an iron fist. In the ruins, his former friends frantically banded together to try to stop him through any means necessary. An all-out war for the world, with the world’s mightiest being as the crushing, overpowering evil force being fought against.
6. Alpha One
(The Mighty, DC Comics)
The Mighty is an excellent, tightly paced and plotted comic series, and one that turns its Superman analog's slow revelation of evil into a slow-burn mystery.
Alpha One is the world's only superhero, a powered and obligatorily good hero who works with a special law enforcement division designed to help him with his goals. When Alpha's chief liaison, Captain Shaw, dies mysteriously, Gabriel Cole is promoted to his position. But Cole slowly finds that there is much more to Alpha One than he first thought, and that he's kinda super creepy.
It begins to escalate when former Captain Taylor Rhines, an old liaison who was driven crazy by his work with Alpha, shows up. And Alpha One has his own plan, a really dark and messed-up plan that takes some real time to build before it pays off.
Such an incredibly solid and wonderful comic, and with a terrifying Superman duplicate, to boot.
(Invincible, Image Comics)
Invincible is one of the most impressive long-running superhero comics of all time.
Mark Grayson's story has stretched on for years, and it’s supposedly coming to an end soon. But its opening arc is absolutely phenomenal. Mark is the son of Omni-Man, a glorious mustachioed Superman analog from the planet Viltrum, who settles down and has a kid.
When Mark's powers kick in, his father begins training him to be a hero. Taking the name Invincible, Mark begins a long and fruitful career as a hero. But all is not as it seems, because Omni-Man kills off all of his teammates in the Guardians of the Globe, and declares his intentions to conquer the earth for the Viltrumite empire. Mark, understandably, freaks out and fights back. And"¦His sobbing father beats the piss out of him, and then disappears into space.
Omni-Man later comes back to Invincible numerous times, eventually redeems himself, and becomes the hero everyone thought he was.
4. The Crusader
(Love and Capes, IDW Entertainment)
Love and Capes is so good. SO, SO, SO good.
This is one of those comics no one is talking about but everyone should be reading.
Thom Zahler's superhero sitcom comic is a romantic comedy in a comic book, a story about two people who love each other and have rushed headlong into a relationship. But one of them is the most famous superhero on earth. Mark and Abby are wonderfully fleshed-out characters, as are all the folks that surround them. Not just the superheroes and villains, but the regular people, as well. Abby's sister is my legit favorite character in the whole book. She's The Best.
Doing a humor comic is hard, but Love and Capes makes it look easy, with a fluid style and a plot progression that strikes a balance between hilarious and engaging. A perfect Valentine’s Day read. Or honestly, any day when you wanna kick back and read some good comics. There's about four trades worth; it’s a good time.
(Astro City, Wildstorm/Vertigo)
Astro City is one of the greatest comic books of all time; there will be no discussion on this. If you haven't read it, take a week and marathon the whole thing. I'll wait.
Samaritan appears numerous times throughout the series, but only headlines a handful of issues. Each one is magical. The first issue covers a day in the life of the world's greatest superhero, but with a powerful and heartbreaking point behind it. The 20th anniversary issue returns to Samaritan's dreams and flight time for a completely new story that really feels like a celebration of everything that came before. Samaritan is a legit fantastic Superman dupe, and one that feels more like a treatise on the original than a cheap copy.
Kurt Busiek wrote Superman a bunch, and it shows. This is another case in which it feels like the writer is writing the version of Superman he always wanted to write.
(Squadron Supreme, Marvel Comics)
The Squadron Supreme version, not the Supreme Power one.
Squadron Supreme is one of the greatest Marvel Comics of all time. The series is an in-depth examination of the Justice League done through pastiche characters. To put it simply, if Watchmen answers the question, What would superheroes look like if they existed in our world?, Squadron Supreme answers the question, What would our world look like with superheroes in it? Hyperion decides to go on the offensive in his world-saving, no longer content to just save the day. He and the Squadron start being proactive and changing the world.
They change prisoner rehabilitation, end wars, and attempt to use their means to cure cancer. It does all the things you aren't supposed to do in comics, and it does them expertly. Hyperion is the Superman analogue, leading the Squadron in their mission against his former best friend, Nighthawk.
If you haven't read that original Squadron Supreme series, you really need to.
(Supreme, Image Comics)
Look, when Alan Moore takes a crack at your character, it's going to make that character pretty darn phenomenal.
Supreme started off as Rob Liefeld's Superman rip-off in Youngblood, and he spent a while as"¦ precisely that character. A bad Superman rip-off no one cared about. But, hey, Alan Moore got hold of him, and turned the book into a loving deconstruction of Superman and what he means in general.
Being free of the shackles of DC comics gives Moore a chance to do everything he could possibly want with Supreme. The comic changes in style and tone, becoming a chameleon of the entire industry and covering decades worth of comics from page to page. Story of the Year and The Return are so good, they’re downright intoxicating. They’re both out of print, though"¦unless you own an iPad, in which case you can buy both for pretty good prices.
And there you go, ten of the most notable Superman duplicates in all of comicdom. Some good, some evil, but all pretty interesting to compare. Of course, none are as awesome as the Big Blue Boy Scout himself, but some get close.