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 Supermen. Steel 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
" 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.