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Posted by G-Man (31627 posts) - - Show Bio
Heroes are defined by their powers, their costumes and their names. I've mentioned some things heroes need to consider when choosing the name of their alter ego. In just about every comic book universe, there is a vast number of costumed characters, both good and evil. Trying to come up with a new name is almost harder than trying to gain superpowers. All of the good ones are usually already taken. 
Besides the fact that the good names are being used, to make things more difficult, some characters change their names from time to time. This almost creates an even bigger shortage of names unless the one they're abandoning is good and applicable to your superhuman powers.

There has been times when completely unrelated characters use the same name. In most cases, heroes have secret identities. That means they have no way to register or copyright the name they use. What can a hero do if someone comes along and tries using their name? == TEASER ==

This is something that has happened before. The first that comes to mind is Spider-Man. Before Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, we didn't really see many spider-based characters in the Marvel Universe. When Jessica Drew came on the costume scene, it made sense she would take the name Spider-Woman. Technically she wasn't taking Spider-Man's name but you could almost look at it as she's trying to ride on his coattails. He had already established himself as a hero (except in the eyes of J. Jonah Jameson and some of the local police). 

It was during Secret Wars where we first saw Julia Carpenter. As a mutant, she too had spider-based powers. We assume she became active before being whisked away by the Beyonder. Why wouldn't she use the name Spider-Woman? Jessica Drew wasn't active. Then came Mattie Franklin. At first she wore a padded suit and dressed as Spider-Man. Then when she got her powers, she started calling herself Spider-Woman. Julia Carpenter changed her name to Arachne. And Jessica Drew quickly put her foot down that she was the only Spider-Woman. Jessica Drew probably could have used her connections to Nick Fury and SHIELD to make a legal claim over her name. But what if Julia or Mattie insisted they could use the name as well.

Sometimes good guys will take a villain's name. Phil Urich came across some of the Green Goblin's gear and became a hero under the same name. You could say this wasn't so bad as he wasn't necessarily using the name with a new identity. He was dressed as the Green Goblin. He just wasn't doing evil things in the identity.

What about the name Captain Marvel? That's another name that's been used a few times. I won't get into the battle in the use between Marvel and DC Comics and will focus instead on the Marvel Universe one. Captain Mar-Vell used the name. Then we had Monica Rambeau. Eventually she changed her name to Photon to avoid confusion and to re-invent herself. When Genis-Vell came on the scene, he was Captain Marvel and then changed his name to Photon. What is Monica going by today?

When Superman died in his first battle against Doomsday, we saw four new SupermenSteel never really claimed to be Superman but Superboy, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator all pretty much did (or at least insinuated as much). Superboy hooked up with Rex Leech who did copyright the name. When Kal-El returned, he allowed Superboy to use the S-emblem and Rex could sell Superman merchandise as long as half the proceeds went to charity.


What should characters like Superman, Spider-Man and Batman do when their names and identities create franchises? We know Batman Incorporated exists. With Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises an official backer of Batman, the name can now be owned and Batman can legally enforce who uses "Bat" in their name. The last thing a hero needs or wants is a villain trying to use their name to create a false sense of security among the unsuspecting civilians.


That leads us to Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers. As the hero of the world after firing the final shot in the Skrulls' Secret Invasion, Norman was put in charge of the Avengers. He gathered villains he could control and gave them new identities. Moonstone became Ms. Marvel, Venom became Spider-Man, Daken became Wolverine and Bullseye became Hawkeye. It's not clear whether Norman had the insight and nerve to have those names copyrighted. The fact that he had his team of villains using the names was a slap in the face of the heroes that bore the names and there wasn't anything they could do about it.

Heroes need to be on their toes. If they have a secret identity to protect, heroes don't have a legal standing when it comes to protecting the use of their name. Their best bet is stay on their toes. They should set up Google Alerts to see if anyone else pops up using their name. If it happens, their options are limited. They could change their name if they're not overly attached to it. They could try to reason with the new hero and explain or remind them that they used the name first. If it's a villain or an unreasonable person, they may have no other choice but resort to using their fists. It comes down to how important is the name. It is part of their identity. They can't just let some new whipper snapper come along and try to use their fame to jump start their own costumed career. Maybe this could be a new career for Matt Murdock or Jennifer Walters. They could set up a new law firm and try to set precedence in the fair use of superhero names.
Staff
#1 Edited by Donovan Montgomery (5428 posts) - - Show Bio

hmm....new carrer for Matt....keep him in the spotlight, lol.




there was never a She-Daredevil was there?
#2 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

All those, unrelated to Spider-man, Spider-women always come to mind first...yeah...they could have used more "original" names such as (for example) The Red Spider, or just the Spider...Arachne from start...etc..
(so it's mostly the fault on the writers/Marvel, trying to connect them implicitly with Spidey)

Someone other than me remembers the good Green Goblin?
Loved that series^^
Pretty fun book!

#3 Posted by matthuliz (12 posts) - - Show Bio

That's why heroes should not invent their names, its the media who gives them their names.

Just like a serial killer, they get famous, then the media gives them a title or a codename.
#4 Posted by TDK_1997 (14642 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't like when some superhero's use somebody else's name

#5 Posted by War Killer (20102 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the fact that you mention She-Hulk, the fact she's a lawyer is something that I believe makes her character unique in the Marvel Universe since she's one of the very few superheroes who are in that profession. I wish they'd bring out a new She-Hulk series with a writer who understands law and see them write a good comic where Jen deals with superhuman affairs.

#6 Posted by NightFang (9959 posts) - - Show Bio
@TDK_1997 said:
" I don't like when some superhero's use somebody else's name "
#7 Posted by SUPER-MAN 23 (1975 posts) - - Show Bio

it makes it easier for civilians to recognize one another. However, when they where the same costume (or one like it) this makes things confusing.


#8 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2239 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll have to read this tomorrow, but I was thinking about this idea too.  What if a bad guy came along and called himself the same name as another bad guy, or as a hero?  What if a bad guy started calling himself Superman or Batman, or Spider-Man.  Spider-Man couldn't really sue for trademark infringement, he couldn't cash a check at the bank.  Theoretically there could be 20 guys, good and bad, calling themselves Spider-Man.

#9 Posted by Telcalipoca (957 posts) - - Show Bio

when this happens it should be settle highlander style there could only be one after all

#10 Edited by TheMinister707 (103 posts) - - Show Bio

Sometimes it can just be really confusing when a superhero AND super-villain have the same name and powers.

Doctor Light
 Doctor Light
#11 Posted by spider-man 2996 (660 posts) - - Show Bio

They shoulld fight for their name.
#12 Posted by dondasch (926 posts) - - Show Bio

When heroes and villains cannot agree...

Summon the lawyers !

A new show on Fox starring Matt Murdoch and Jennifer Walters

#13 Posted by SupremoMaximo (209 posts) - - Show Bio

I think there was an episode of the Tick that dealt with this.  

#14 Posted by SC (12892 posts) - - Show Bio

I am more concerned with posters with the same username as me. I am sure you understand too G-Man. With that Evil G-Man guy running around... 


CATPANEXE wins big time here too... as do a few other posters... 
Moderator
#15 Edited by Xenozoic Shaman (410 posts) - - Show Bio

If a super hero or villain kills the other person with their name, do they gain their power?  Wait... That was that film "The One."

#16 Posted by JonesDeini (3620 posts) - - Show Bio

Luke Cage found a great way around this...
#17 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio

Makes me wonder if heroes sometimes are too busy to even bother about who might be using their alias.  Plus I would suppose it would depend on how important the namesake is and how sensitive the person was about it.  Seems they all should have a trademark copyright over their name, but realistically I think they often have more fish to fry than worrying of such legal matters.  Maybe this is what Matt and Jenn need to do!

#18 Posted by GothamRed (2563 posts) - - Show Bio

this is why heroes should copyright their names, should that would probably mean they have to reveal their identity to someone, but it's strictly precautionary.

#19 Posted by caesarsghost (559 posts) - - Show Bio


breaking into the Marvel universe lately and this has been a bit of confusion surrounding this exact point, and it is kind of a pain. But maybe that just happens when you read both comic universes and different continuities create different name shortages.

But the article actually cleared up some questions

#20 Posted by Emperormeister734 (808 posts) - - Show Bio

You know what I would like to see spider-man going out with spider-woman. that be something i looked forward too

#21 Posted by Kairan1979 (16722 posts) - - Show Bio

I remember my own problem with the name Prodigy. After all, there were three of them, completely unrelated.
1. Armor-wearing member of Slingers, famous for his drunken attack on Iron Man in the beginning of Civil War.
2. David Alleyne, one of the New Mutants squad in Academy X, lost his powers after M-Day.
3. The third Prodigy was a gamma-powered anti-hero from Gamma Corps.

#22 Posted by PhoenixoftheTides (3508 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually felt bad for Monica Rambeau when she was pressured to give up the Captain Marvel; this was another low point during the Avengers and is often forgotten by new fans. She was a capable leader, extremely powerful and served with distinction, and I feel she earned the name. Just because you are someones' kid doesn't give you automatic ownership of a name. At best, Genis Vell should have been Captain Marvel Jr.

#23 Posted by SC (12892 posts) - - Show Bio
@JonesDeini said:
" Luke Cage found a great way around this... "

Till Nick Cage tried to be a hero... no wonder the New Avengers arrested him. 
Moderator
#24 Posted by doordoor123 (3721 posts) - - Show Bio
@SUPER-MAN 23 said:
" it makes it easier for civilians to recognize one another. However, when they where the same costume (or one like it) this makes things confusing.


"
I agree.

#25 Posted by CrimsonInuTears (465 posts) - - Show Bio


Atoms~ ^_^
#26 Posted by Scarlet_Rogue (152 posts) - - Show Bio

John Steele can't be right you mean John Henry Irons right?

#27 Posted by Comicjew (164 posts) - - Show Bio

There have been 4 Flashes, 5 Green Lanterns  and 12 Crimson Dynamos    
#28 Edited by Mutant God (3020 posts) - - Show Bio
#29 Posted by CellphoneGirl (18847 posts) - - Show Bio
@War Killer said:
" I like the fact that you mention She-Hulk, the fact she's a lawyer is something that I believe makes her character unique in the Marvel Universe since she's one of the very few superheroes who are in that profession. I wish they'd bring out a new She-Hulk series with a writer who understands law and see them write a good comic where Jen deals with superhuman affairs. "
Agreed.
#30 Posted by jordama (4225 posts) - - Show Bio

I know duplicate names have really pissed off one of the best users on the site and that the sites policies on the matter need to be re-examined or atleast someone is going to have to give about a character no longer using a name.
#31 Edited by Jordanstine (907 posts) - - Show Bio


   

 

Where is this beautiful Spider-Woman / Spider-Man cover from?

I love it! 

It's got me fancy tickled!

 

Off my mind: Is Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) part of the "Spider-Family"?

I don't think so... in fact she is a totally different superhero.

The only relation between them is the name "Spider". Just like Marvel Girl and Captain Marvel are not part of the same family, but have similar names.

#32 Posted by chalkshark (1187 posts) - - Show Bio

DC Comics seems to be the worst offender when it comes to recycling names. There have been three Atoms, four heroes called "The Flash", five Green Lanterns ( not counting the thousands of alien versions),  three Sandmen, eight... or is it nine, now...  Starmen, at least two separate Hawkmen, at least three characters called "Vigilante", three Hourmen, three Spectre's, three Robins, four Batgirls, two Invisible Kids, three Blue Beetles, two Robotmen... & on & on & on.  Those are all, at the very least, separate individuals using the same names. At various points in DC's history though, there were multiple Supermen, Batmen, Robins, Green Arrows, Speedys, & Wonder Women who were all the same character, just from parallel worlds.

I know DC has been publishing for upwards of 80 years, but are they really that creatively bankrupt that they can't come up with new names for  brand new characters, as opposed to just creating new versions of long established characters? In fact, when was the last time DC created a completely new character who had no connections to any previously existing source material? I suspect it was in a team book of some kind. 
#33 Posted by Mbecks14 (2068 posts) - - Show Bio

Should've thrown the Flashes in there

#34 Posted by Silver Knight75 (1145 posts) - - Show Bio
@TheMinister707: 

Doctor Light: Hi 
citizen: I GOT A PEPPER SPRAY AND A WHISTLE!
Doctor Light: Oh No I'm the good one!
Citizen: oh sorry
#35 Posted by Jordanstine (907 posts) - - Show Bio


@Emperormeister734:

Spider-Man and Spider-Woman sitting in a tree...?

Cue eff tee man!  Cue eff tee!

(QFT)

#36 Posted by Bestostero (5618 posts) - - Show Bio

I hate when characters share the same name...

#37 Posted by WadeWilson (22 posts) - - Show Bio

what about the deadpools? no pickles?

#38 Posted by Xenozoic Shaman (410 posts) - - Show Bio
@xhavoc86 said:
" I hate when characters share the same name... "
Agreed.  It's slightly confusing at times, but mostly just annoying.
#39 Edited by LittleSocrates (42 posts) - - Show Bio
@G-Man: Sorry, " Jessica Drew probably could have used her connections to Nick Fury and SHIELD to make a legal claim over her name?" We are still talking about vigilante superheroes, right? The kind of people who can't exactly file trademarks on their secret identities without...you know, compromising said secret identities? There are fake Batmen in Gotham pretty regularly, and they're not arrested for identity theft or breaking trademarks.

If we were talking about a situation where people pretended to be, say, Iron Man, a hero who is already open about his public identity and uses that as a business strategy, it would hold water in court. But otherwise, we're talking about something roughly equivalent to the fact that people from the Anon boards wear Guy Fawkes masks; if the first guy who wore a Guy Fawkes mask and referred to himself as "Anon" tried to file a trademark on the action, he'd be thrown out of the room!

It's simply a hero's responsibility to make sure her/has namesake isn't being tarnished. Hell, isn't that what the Battle for the Cowl and, subsequently, Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin Vol. 1 is roughly about?
#40 Posted by Samimista (20647 posts) - - Show Bio

I hate how almost all popular male superheroes have a female version with the same name as them so uncreative and useless.

#41 Posted by Shieldbearer (84 posts) - - Show Bio

Now that Spider-man mentions it, he does look like Anti-Venom.

BTW, has anyone read issue two of Venom yet? It is great!

New Jack-O-Lantern FTW!
#42 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2055 posts) - - Show Bio

Hey! All the good names were taken!
#43 Posted by Mr.Q (1050 posts) - - Show Bio
publishers need to find a way to regulate this stuff. they either seem to have two or more characters on either side of the law enforcement fence at the same time or they just kill them off to bring in a new one. it's like they just can't make up their minds. one writer wants Batman as he has been for years, another wants him to be french fashion designer and another always  thought he would be perfect as a Portuguese transvestite who runs a pawn shop and so on, so they make five or six different characters with the same name and gimmick. just try and adapt the new ideas to the established history. thats the challenge. the 'I'm going to make my own" attitude is just fine but it can't really be applied to everything. maybe all they really need is for someone to have in their job description the obligation to keep tabs on who is alive, who isn't what their names are and what they're doing. I'm not asking for much just for the right hand to pay attention to what the left hand is doing. either way enough ranting. back to your discussion and I'll go back to my corner.
#44 Posted by Jordanstine (907 posts) - - Show Bio


Was there already an "Off My Mind: Characters with MUTLIPLE Names"?

I.e. Hank Pym

I could've sworn there already was one, but...?

#45 Posted by The Mighty Monarch (2226 posts) - - Show Bio

Don't forget the 2 completely unrelated Nightwing's in DC. Of course with Dick Grayson being Batman that's no longer relevant.

#46 Posted by DMC (1551 posts) - - Show Bio

Lyra definitely needs a new name.......among other things

#47 Posted by Scorvos (5 posts) - - Show Bio

issues with Superhero names should be solved fist fight as established in the Story, the Tick Vs. the Tick.  


Winner gets the name - Loser is called Barry
#48 Posted by RobertG (46 posts) - - Show Bio

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, both of them Batman.   How lame.  Just sayin'.

#49 Posted by Enyalios (142 posts) - - Show Bio

The only reason Marvel created Spider Woman was to keep DC or another rival company from coming out with it after Spiderman became successful.  It was so they could have the copyright to the name.  When Marvel created Wonder Man DC threw a fit (one of the reasons they killed off the character).  Then DC made Power Girl.  Shortly after, Spider Woman popped up, simply to keep the name from being used.
#50 Posted by DoctorTrips (127 posts) - - Show Bio

This is one of those things in comics that I've always hated, because it has two root problems and this is just a side-effect. In a comic book universe, time doesn't exist. Without time, there is no age. Without age, characters who are (supposed to be) human would eventually retire or die. Necessitating their sidekicks to take up the mantle.

But that doesn't happen; look at the JSA, been around since 1940 and still going strong and growing older. Now don't get me wrong, I love the originals more than the later versions but they are so out of place in a modern setting. The Justice Society should have stayed retired or died; Alan, Jay are both pushing into their 80s. So DC comes up with this reason in order to bring them into the present day and use them. It's wrong and unnecessary.

Trying to update characters, without finding a solid solution for the previous incarnations is the problem. When DC revamped Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, and the Atom in the late fifties and early sixties, they hadn't been in print for years so there was no need to have any real connection to the originals. That's when you get massive problems and illogical coincidences that writers today have to make crap excuses for (such as the original Green Lantern and particularly, Hawkman). Because they all have to exist in one Earth or 52 or whatever crap they're going to change in five years time.

Which is another thing, there are no consequences in comics that won't be overturned at some point. So it almost negates there even being any kind of plot in a comic book. Like, Spider-Man revealing his secret identity. A stupid decision but one Marvel should have owned up too instead of back-peddling. Or the death of Oliver Queen, who came back. An despite G.A. being my favorite superhero I would have been fine if he stayed dead.

But then you have death which also doesn't exist in comics, not really. That should be an 'Off My Mind' why do comics avoid keeping people in the ground? Which has an answer; because all the characters make bank for the company. Dead characters don't sell; newly resurrected characters do. That's why they'll bring back Jason Todd and Bucky and Barry. It's a medium that's struggling for the next big thing because the idea well is dripping dry for mainstream comics that aren't an Elseworld or alternate universe story.

I'm sorry if this really doesn't answer anything but I needed to vent because I hate how this happens in comics so much.