Follow The Leader: Comic Books

  • Superman is the Trope Maker for the genre of modern superhero comic books. While there were super-powered characters before him, none of them included all of what are now seen as the "classic" Comic Book Tropes the way Superman did. Every superhero ever written since follows in his footsteps.
  • Robin might as well be the Trope Namer for the Kid Sidekick, and his popularity in the Golden Age lead to a string of similar kid partners. Captain America and Bucky, Green Arrow and Speedy, Blue Beetle and Sparky, Black Terror and Kid Terror, Mr. Scarlet and Pinky, Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr.... the list goes on an on.
  • In the Silver Age, all comics followed trends, to the point where it was an in-joke among comic writers and fans, for example an EC story about hiring Jack Kamen includes the line, "Jack, you old son! I haven't seen you for two trends!" EC followed trends religiously for a while, then started their own, Horror Comics! This in turn led in part to The Comics Code (boo! hiss!).
  • Marvel's Fantastic Four series was created in direct response to the massive success of DC's Justice League of America. Specifically, editor Martin Goodman told Stan Lee to come up with a team book to cash in on the trend DC had started.
  • Marvel Comics' success, particularly with Spider-Man, the first teen superhero, had many publishers trying for a more teenager-friendly product; sadly, these often faded into Totally Radical.
    • On the subject of Spider-Man, his comics were also one of the first to illustrate the "normal" side of the hero, along with Fantastic Four. Rather than filling the issue with one action sequence after another, part of the issue would illustrate Peter taking on everyday tasks such as getting to work on time, experiencing relationships, dealing with school bullies, and so on. Even nowadays, polls and streets interviews indicate that the main reason people like Spidey so much is because "he's a regular guy like the rest of us." It has since become standard for comics to portray the everyday side of the superhero, with the character, like Peter, being portrayed as someone the target audience can relate to. Unfortunately, under worse authors, this often results in myriad forms of This Loser Is You.
  • Social issues were rarely dealt with before Green Lantern / Green Arrow. Now it seems like a staple in many comics to feature issues that are a Very Special Episode.
  • After Captain America was retitled Captain America and The Falcon, there began a trend of giving superheroes a Black Best Friend or partner. Among the most notable ones would be James "Rhodey" Rhodes and John Stewart.
  • Before All-New, All-Different X-Men, most superheroes were WASPs. X-Men pioneered the concept of diversity (at least the token kind) in superhero comics.
    • And it's even Older Than They Think; the first international multiracial hero team was Cyborg 009, though it didn't achieve the success in the West that the X-Men did.
    • The X-Men, along with the New Teen Titans, set the gold standard for angst and melodrama in superhero comics, as well as telling more personal, character-driven stories. The widely-reviled Justice League Detroit was DC's attempt at ReTooling the JLA into an X-Men clone.
    • In the 90's, a lot of team books tried to cash in on the massive popularity of the X-Men. The Justice League Task Force adopted uniforms for all of its members, while The Avengers ditched most of the A-listers and started doing more character-driven stories. Oh, and everyone on the team started wearing bomber jackets with "A" logos for some reason.
  • Marvel's Marvel Mangaverse imprint was a rather blatant attempt to cash in on the success American networks had found with shows like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Gundam, and Pokémon.
  • Some fans claimed Marvel did this with Spider-Woman by giving her a more practical, female-friendly redesign after DC hired Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr, and Cameron Stewart to implement a similar redesign and revamp for Batgirl. However, Kris Anka claims he designed the costume a few months before DC debuted the new Batgirl, and the fact that the new Spider-Woman design was unveiled shortly after the positive reception Batgirl received is a complete coincidence.
  • Nobody who's written Batman in the past 20 years has been able to escape the influence of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. This case is particularly hilarious because the single greatest influence on Batman's character wasn't even canon. Even Batman's entry in the All-Star series, which was supposed to throw out all the complicated backstory and let the DC heroes have more Silver-Age-style adventures, was written by The Goddamn Frank Miller himself, and Batman was even more cranky and psychotic than ever.
  • In the early 80's, mainstream American comic books lagged behind some of their British counterparts which featured more sophisticated and literary dialogue and story concepts. Then, after Alan Moore reinvigorated DC's poorly selling Swamp Thing, DC editors quickly signed up other emerging British writers such as Jamie Delano (Hellblazer), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) and Grant Morrison (Animal Man). This proved so successful that the "British invasion" of DC continues to this day.
    • This was parodied in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates, which reveals Bernice Summerfield to be the author of a bizarre Vertigo-style comic called The 45 Second Piglet; said comic having been commissioned simply because she was in a big building in New York with a British accent.
      • Bernice was created by Paul Cornell, a British writer. Guess who he writes comics for now?
  • Isaac Baranoff's Horndog inspired a number of knock-offs. Baranoff even got in on the act himself by introducing Here, Wolf, which was not substantially different from Horndog, except for having human characters (it since differentiated itself though).
  • The old Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers comic book parodied this in the form of having the Rangers encounter a few other rescue groups made up of small animals (one of whom was revealed to be working for Fat Cat).
  • A large portion of The Dark Age of Comic Books was in some ways an extended attempt at following the leader by creating comics in the vein of The Dark Knight Returns and its contemporary, Watchmen, in an attempt to reflect the complexity and depth of these works. However, many critics — including, amongst others, Alan Moore, writer of Watchmen — accused them of only copying the superficial details, mainly represented by the Nineties Anti-Hero, rather than the storytelling complexity and experiments with medium that these works pioneered, with the result that most comics of this period were no more deep or original than the earlier works they were moving away from — they were just nastier.
  • Batman: Year One was the UR Example of origin stories in the more recent eras. Now both Marvel and DC produce Year One stories, with varying degrees of success, although none of them could match Batman's.
  • This article suggests that most of the nostalgic turn of recent superhero comic books can be tied to the popularity of Kurt Busiek's Marvels.
  • The design of Death's Head II is clearly "inspired" by the works of Rob Liefeld.
  • At the height of the popularity of Spawn, Marvel tried to cash-in rather shamelessly with Nightwatch.
  • Avengers Arena has not been shy about the fact it is inspired by other death match/grim series with child protagonists such The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Battle Royale.
  • Tintin: Especially in Europe and in the Belgian Comics and Franco-Belgian Comics industry his style has been copied immensely to the point that it received a distinctive name: "The Clear Line".
  • The success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 1980s spawned a massive boom of independently-published, black-and-white comics. And just like TMNT, many of them also featured martial artists, Funny Animals, or both.
  • After the success of Diabolik, Italian comic books were invaded by series starring an obviously evil murderous thief, gifted with great intelligence and whose name included the letter 'K'. While most of them have disappeared, Diabolik is still going on, and so two of the followers: Cattivik (a very funny and nonsensical Shallow Parody, with a protagonist that is not intelligent but Too Dumb Too Live) and, from Disney, Paperinik (an alter ego of Donald Duck who started out as avenger of himself, later turned to Unscrupolous Hero and then to full hero, if a bit sadistic. Best known internationally for Paperinik New Adventures).
  • In-Universe in Kick-Ass, Marty becomes Battle Guy after being inspired by Kick-Ass, before finding out that his best friend Dave is Kick-Ass; they later bring Todd in on the action and he keeps coming up with names derivative of "Kick-Ass", which Dave and Mart call him out on.
  • The success of Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77 (comic book continuations of the old live-action Batman and Wonder Woman shows) convinced Marvel to do X-Men '92, a similar revival of the X-Men cartoon.
  • Marvel launched a comic adaptation of the Marvel Contest of Champions video game after the success of DC's Injustice: Gods Among Us adaptation.