Follow TV Tropes


Suspiciously Similar Substitute / Comic Books

Go To

  • X-Men
    • Jean Grey, during periods when she has been rendered temporarily dead or otherwise unusable, has been substituted numerous times, most notably by her Alterniverse daughter, Rachel Summers. Now we currently have Hope Summers, the first mutant born after the Decimation events. She looks like a teenaged Jean, wears the same colors as she had, and displays similar Phoenix-like powers.
      • And once Hope's storyline -reason to exist was over, she was taken out of the main books to reunite with her adopted father Cable, and in her place is now the Teenaged, time-lost Jean Grey. She's a 16 year old girl raised in a different time (this time though, the past) who has the traditional Jean Grey look, has a similar personality and tendency to be a brat, has a lot of story focus with a big bulk of the current conflict in the books revolving around her presence, and is slowly learning just how powerful she is. In short, Jean Grey is the Suspiciously Similar Substitute to her own Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
      • Also Madelyne Pryor, who appeared in the story after Jean's first temporary death, as a new love interest for Scott Summers—a new love interest who just happened to be incredibly visually similar to Jean. Apparently the similarity wasn't entirely intentional to start, this was just supposed to be another woman Scott was attracted too. Later on, the suspicious similarity was made a plot point as Madelyne was retconned into a clone of Jean deliberately placed in Scott's path.
    • Advertisement:
    • As a long-running tradition, the team roster always has to include one plucky, Badass Adorable teenage girl who adopts Wolverine as a Big Brother Mentor. When the character grows out of the role, she's always replaced by another one. Kitty Pryde started the tradition, and her replacements have included Rogue, Jubilee, Marrow, Armor, Pixie, X-23 and Oya. Marrow shook up the tradition a bit by having Gambit as her mentor instead, but the writers cut out the middleman with X-23 by making her Wolverine's female clone (the closest thing to an actual little sister Wolvie's ever going to get).
    • The character of Tempus introduced in the 2014 volume of Uncanny X-Men has a strikingly similar time manipulation power set to an earlier character, Kiden Nixon.
      • Tempus is also very similar to Tempo, an obscure X-Men villain from the Rob Liefeld days who had recently been featured (and killed) in the Age of X storyline.
    • Advertisement:
    • Uncanny X-Men (2018) made Revanche (Kwannon) fill a similar role to the one Psylocke (Betsy Braddock) traditionally fills as a sexy femme fatale ninja, with a modified version of the ninja bathing suit. This was done because the "Freaky Friday" Flip that saw Betsy and Kwannon switch bodies was undone after many years just before this title, and Psylocke was heavily desexualized afterwards. The fan reception was about what you'd expect, so they attempted to help please everyone with this. Didn't quite work, but the Dawn of X relaunch took it much further by outright making Kwannon the new Psylocke as Betsy became Captain Britain, and had Psylocke II wear an authentic recreation of the old costume.
  • Age of the Sentry has plenty of Expies of DC characters, as well as Marvel characters substituting for those. However, there is one character who is Substituting another Marvel character: Cranio, The Man With The Tri-Level Mind. The average reader might think because of the setting that he is an Expy of Lex Luthor, or Brainiac, but his gimmick of having superintelligence because of a helmet with extra brains is directly copied from the Fantastic Four villain, the Wizard. However, Cranio's helmet has three brains, while the Wizard's has but one. Clearly we see who is superior!
  • Parodied in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, where we're told the British Government, in assembling the 1950s League, tried to find substitutes of the entire 1890s League. It didn't work.
    • W.E. John's Worrals for Mina; Hotspur's Wolf of Kabul for Alan; Peter Brady (TV's first Invisible Man) for Griffin; Professor Grey (from The Beano strip The Iron Fish) for Nemo; and a giant robot called the Iron Warrior (from Thrill Comics) for Hyde.
    • This went as far as to have Wolf hit on Worrals, when Worrals was openly gay.
  • The Pre-Crisis version of Jason Todd, who took over the role of Batman's sidekick Robin after Dick Grayson became Nightwing, was a carbon copy of Dick Grayson right down to having a similar origin story (his parents were acrobats murdered by Killer Croc). This was averted with the Post-Crisis version, which revised Jason's origin as a street hoodlum who Batman picked up after catching him trying to steal the Batmobile's tires.
  • Many fans have accused Marvel of doing this with The Inhumans, who saw a complete overhaul in Inhumanity. They now bear a number of resemblances to the mutants from the X-Men franchise. They are ordinary civilians who find out that they are a minority (though not as rare as mutants), have powers thrust upon them, and are a part of a larger conflict, and many are hated for being different and are considered freaks. Even longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont has commented on this, accusing Marvel and Disney of making the Inhumans into mutant Expies to benefit the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which couldn't use mutants due to rights issues). This changed after Disney bought 20th Century Fox (and, by extension, the X-Men's film rights), and the Inhumanity status quo was eventually phased out, with the Inhumans now being distinct from mutants once again.
  • In recent times, Iron Man has arguably become one for Reed Richards in the Marvel Universe for similar reasons as The Inhumans above. 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the Fantastic Four and since then, Marvel's First Family have been Demoted to Extra and their comic was even cancelled, while Tony Stark has become the main genius of the comics continuity taking the place that formerly belonged to Richards. A good sign of this, for the longest time, the super-team and group that Spider-Man was closest to was the Fantastic Four, he and Johnny Storm were Heterosexual Life-Partners and Reed Richard was his role model. In recent times, Peter and his supporting cast have become enveloped in Stark's stories and circle, and Peter has taken Stark as a model, focusing on becoming an inventor-businessman rather than a theoretical physicist who mostly went adventuring with his super-powered family. This has carried over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where in addition to Tony taking over from Reed, the Guardians of the Galaxy serve as the counterpart to the Fantastic Four's we-bicker-and-fight-because-we-love dynamic and serve as the gateway to the more weird and bizarre parts of the MCU.
  • Lampshaded in New Avengers. Daredevil was unable to join the team due to his legal problems at the time, so he suggested to Captain America that Echo join in his place. He pointed out that since she has virtually the same skill set and all his knowledge of the Japanese underworld, it'd be the next best thing to actually having him on the team.
  • A cross between this and The Psycho Rangers happens with Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers; villainous ranged-combat expert Bullseye imitates heroic archer Hawkeye, the new Venom symbiote imitates Spider-Man, Wolverine's psychotic son takes his place, and so on.
  • In the Justice League comics, the original Vibe was a member of the poorly received Detroit League who, like the other newcomers to the team introduced in that run, had a stroke of misfortune or two when the roster needed to be cleared up for a new team. In his case, he died. Later, the Conglomorate, a rival team to the Justice League, is formed, featuring Vibe's identically-powered brother Reverb (as well as Vibe's JL teammate Gypsy). This was written by the same writer who killed off Vibe in the first place; Reverb lacks Vibe's out-there personality and is generally unlikable for the opposite reason.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • During the Golden Age an Amazon named Althea was the royal physician and helped Diana tend to Steve Trevor after his plane crash and was the doctor Diana turned to on Paradise Island. After the Crisis turned Paradise Island into Themyscira the Amazons chief physician was named Epione and the doctor Althea was no where to be seen.
    • John Byrne's run on Wonder Woman (1987) dumped the supporting cast established by the previous creative team, most notably archaeologist Julia Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa, in favor of his own creations, most notably archaeologist Helena Sandsmark and her daughter Cassandra.
    • During Greg Rucka's first run the new character and Amazon physician Carrisa replaced the Amazon's chief physician Epione as Wondy and the Amazon's go to medic, though the two physicians are very different in personality with Carrisa being an abrasive bigoted jerk and Epione being very kind and soothing.
    • Wonder Woman herself was the recipient of this for a while, due to the '87 reinvention having made it impossible for her to show up in "early" stories (like, say, anything to do with the original Justice League lineup). This meant that you tended to see Black Canary (the second most important female Leaguer) crop up a lot in anything meant to invoke the Silver Age, filling Diana's place as a founding member (in the actual Silver Age, she wasn't even in the same universe at the time of the League's founding).
    • In the Silver Age Diana was briefly replaced as Wonder Woman by an abrasive redheaded Amazon named Orana, who was subsequently killed and never seen again. In Wonder Woman (1987) Diana was briefly replaced as Wonder Woman by an abrasive redheaded Amazon named Artemis who was subsequently killed and brought back due to her popularity.
    • Artemis and Philippus didn't exist in Wonder Woman (2011) and were replaced by two very similar, but less pleasant, Amazons named Aleka and Dessa respectively. Aleka and Dessa were proven to be false Amazons when Diana discovered her memories had been tampered with in Wonder Woman (Rebirth) which heralded the return of the fan favorites.
    • In The Legend of Wonder Woman Wonder Woman's lifelong friend Euboea, the most notable Amazon of clear Asain heritage who usually wears some green and a headband does not appear, however an Amazon named Troia who has been Diana's friend since childhood, is the most notable Amazon of clear Asain heritage and usually wears some green and a headband does appear.
  • Lana Lang started her existence blatantly filling the role of Lois Lane when they started telling stories about Superman's childhood as Superboy. Unlike her modern incarnation, she was both the love interest and the nosy inquisitive girl always trying to prove Clark was Superboy.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe - TV Comic:
    • The early 1960s comics had the Trods, who were a suspiciously similar substitute for the Daleks, who were unusable at the time due to the rights to publish Dalek comics being in the hands of a different company. This was lampshaded when the comics company finally did get the rights to use the Daleks, which they celebrated by having the Daleks massacre the Trods in their first comic appearance.
    • The strip in TV Comic Annual 1979 features a companion named Miss Young, who has apparently been travelling with the Doctor for some time, speaks in a stilted manner ("Let us hurry, Doctor. If the evil thing should return...") and attacks the monster with a knife. The impression given is that TVC belatedly realised they no longer had the likeness rights for Leela (whose last appearance in the strip was January 1978) and hastily gave her contemporary clothes and glasses. (Another fan theory is that TVC had decided that Leela was Too Sexy For This Time Slot.)
  • Contrary to popular belief, Jessica Jones was not created by Brian Bendis after Marvel denied him permission to use Spider-Woman in his Alias series. While Drew did heavily influence Jones (hence them sharing a name and profession), she was never meant to be the star.
  • A common trend in team books is that when a character leaves a group, they'll be replaced by a Legacy Character or a character with very similar powers:
    • Black Panther first joined The Avengers as a replacement for the similarly-powered Captain America, while Steve Rogers' eventual successors in the Captain America identity (Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson) also took Steve's spot on the team under later writers, although Bucky wasn't a leader figure and instead filled the role of a lethal weapon-using teammate akin to Black Widow.
    • Hercules was first added to the Avengers because Stan Lee wouldn't let writer Roy Thomas use Thor. Decades later, when Thor was replaced by Eric Masterson and Jane Foster, respectively, those two characters also filled in for him as members of the Avengers.
    • When Tony Stark was unable to fulfill his duties as Iron Man after falling off the wagon, his buddy James Rhodes temporarily became the new Iron Man, and even ended up as a founding member of the West Coast Avengers. This also meant that James was Iron Man during the original Secret Wars crossover, even though some of the other heroes were unaware that the guy under the armor wasn't the same man they'd been fighting alongside for years.
    • The original Big Hero 6 comics featured Sunfire and the Silver Samurai as part of the main cast. When both of those characters were rendered unusable due to developments in other booksnote  they were replaced with two new heroes named Sunpyre (who is a double example of this trope, as she is an extra-dimensional counterpart of Sunfire's deceased younger sister) and the Ebon Samurai, both of whom had costumes and powers similar to those of their predecessors.
    • The various Green Lanterns of Earth (Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jade, Simon Baz Jessica Cruz, ect.) have made a habit of filling in for one another on the JLA whenever one of them has had to take a leave of absence.
    • Superman has had to bow out of the JLA a few times as well, with his role in the group usually taken over by other Flying Bricks like Shazam, Mon-El and Supergirl during these periods.
    • The same goes for Batman, who has been replaced in the League by his various allies like Nightwing and Batwing during times when he's been unavailable.
    • When Grant Morrison was writing JLA, he was unable to use Hawkman because the character's Continuity Snarl had become such a problem. Instead, he created a new winged hero named Zauriel as a replacement. He even hung a lampshade on it by having Aquaman briefly mistake Zauriel for Hawkman in his first appearance.
    • Teen Titans
      • Geoff Johns created Miss Martian after plans to add Supergirl to the Teen Titans fell through. Johns had wanted to use Supergirl because the idea of a kind, naive alien superhero appealed to him, but since this was during the period when she was being revamped as a Darker and Edgier Mean Girls-type character, he decided to use someone else. Miss Martian was basically created to be an Expy of the sweet, innocent kid Supergirl had been back in the Silver Age.
      • Part of the reason why Titans fans disliked Bombshell so much is that she was a very transparent replacement for the much more popular Ravager. She joined the team right after Ravager left to star in her own back-up feature, and had the same Dark Action Girl / Headbutting Heroes dynamic Rose had when she was a Titan. When J.T. Krul took over the book, one of the first things he did he did was bring back Ravager and put Bombshell On A Bus.
      • In the Teen Titans anti-drug PSA comics that were released in the 80's, Robin couldn't be used because of licensing issues. He was replaced by "the Protector," who was literally drawn over whited-out illustrations of Robin in the first issue. There's a quick line thrown in that Cyborg "is glad he could help us for a while," but that doesn't explain why he seems to be leading the team.
  • Batwoman had an interesting case of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute who was already an existing character in her own right. After Renee Montoya was Put on a Bus out of Gotham, the writers hooked Batwoman up with Maggie Sawyer, a former Superman supporting character. Like Renee, Maggie was a badass lesbian cop who looked good in a suit, though she didn't initially know Kate's secret. Maggie was ironically Put on a Bus of her own back to Metropolis after Renee finally returned a few years later.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Following Ultimatum, the X-Men were disbanded and replaced by the new comic 'Ultimate X', featuring James Hudson, the son of Wolverine as the team's "enforcer". Subverted to some extent, in that Hudson is a teenaged boy with healing and the ability to consciously grow metal coating to his bones, while his father was...Wolverine.
    • Later, when Peter Parker died fighting Norman Osborn, he was replaced by Miles Morales, a young teen with almost identical powers who became the new Spider-Man. To those who were/are critical of him, one of the biggest critiques is that Miles is too similar to Peter, being a science nerd Nice Guy motivated by guilt from not helping when he could (ironically, being that he could have saved Peter, but didn't). However it's established he isn't nearly as smart as Peter, and thus struggles to decipher his webbing formula, and he's since had Divergent Character Evolution to differentiate him from Peter. Really it's only their origins that are similar.
    • Subverted with Ray Connor, the second Daredevil. He had a virtually identical back-story to Matt Murdock (blinded in a childhood accident and then trained to use his other senses by Stick), but ended up being turned into a vampire and then killed before he could actually become a protagonist.
  • Apparently due to legal issues with former writer Ken Penders, a large cast of characters in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog have suddenly up and vanished without seemingly even being allowed to name-drop them. Rob o' the Hedge, missing king of Mercia and Robin Hood expy, has been replaced by the exceedingly similar Bow Sparrow. Along with Rob's love interest Mari-An also being replaced another new character, Thorn the Lop (whether Bow and Thorn have the same relationship as Rob and Mari-An did has yet to be confirmed). Time will tell if other Penders characters get similar treatment.
    • The first one to be seen post-reboot is Breezie the Hedgehog, a character from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, who has taken up not only the role of Mammoth Mogul (who actually wasn't created by Penders, but was removed by the incident) but also Scourge the Hedgehog, the former Evil Sonic (who Penders "did" create) by turning a one-note character into a cunning casino mongul who's at odds with Sonic.
  • Lucky Luke: In their first appearance , the Daltons were competent villains who ended up shot dead by Lucky Luke (and their first names were those of the historical Daltons). Since the characters proved to be very popular, the writer, Goscinny, found a way to bring them back: in The Dalton Cousins, he introduced the reader to the cousin of the earlier Daltons, who are also a group of four identical brothers except for their heights. At first, they are hilarious harmless Big Bad Wannabes, who are desperate to live up to their “famous cousins' reputation”. By the end of the book, they had grown into effective desperados (although they're still stupid and comedic). They turned out to be even more popular than the original Daltons and eventually became recurring villains in the series. Amusingly, they're so much more famous than the first version of the characters nowadays that a lot of people in France don't know about the first Daltons, and believe that 'Joe, Jack, William and Averell' were really the first names of the historical Daltons.
  • The New 52:
    • In the second wave, GI Combat replaced Men of War as the military book, though the substitution ends at genre since the books are very different. Men of War is a fairly realistic modern war story, whereas GI Combat splits time between super-commando counter-terrorism (the "Unknown Soldier" segments) and soldiers who get sent back in time and battle dinosaurs.
    • When the Batgirl mantle was returned to Barbara Gordon from Stephanie Brown following Flashpoint, Barbara's personality appeared to shift to be closer to Lighter and Softer Stephanie's, so she was a similar replacement to her replacement's replacement; this was quickly undone by then making Batgirl full of angst, which helps differentiate it from Steph's book. Stephanie was later slated to appear in the Smallville comic, but editorial ordered her to be replaced last-minute. Now we have a Barbara Gordon in that universe who also acts more like Stephanie would.
      • This has became worse now that the book is getting a new Creative Team, focusing on Lighter and Softer, complete with a fun redesign and new attitude. While generally accepted, a lot of people have noted that the new take doesn't really fit Barbara Gordon, at least not after what she's been through recently, and actually fits Steph a whole lot better. Pretty much everything, from the costume to the tone of the art revealed to Barbara's entire outlook resembles what one would expect of Stephanie Brown, and thanks to the art style making Barbara look younger, almost turns Barbara into an expy of Steph. Cameron Stewart has stated this is unintentional, as he's neither read Steph's series nor is he overly familiar with her character, and is just basing Barbara's character off of how he sees what Batgirl is supposed to be like.
    • There were cases of new characters who were originally solicited as (and intended to be) revamped versions of existing characters before plans changed. Supergirl villain Reign from Last Daughter of Krypton was supposed to be a revamped version of Maxima, while Niko from Grifter was supposed to be Cheshire.
    • Harper Row/Bluebird was created by Scott Snyder after he was denied permission to use Cassandra Cain/Blackbat in his Batman run. Divergent Character Evolution has taken place since then, so now the only real similarity between Harper and Cassandra is that they're both teenage heroines and members of the Batman Family.
  • The Flash has gone through a situation similar to Batgirl: Barry Allen was brought Back from the Dead and, though officially he and his successor Wally West shared the "Flash" name, he was the one DC Comics presented as the "main" Flash (headlining the title, for example). The thing is, his personality was largely changed to make him more like Wally. To many fans, this sends the message that DC will only accept Barry as the "true Flash" even as they tacitly admit that Wally is more interesting.
  • Dynamite's miniseries Chaos is intended as a revival and reboot of Chaos! Comics from the '90s, reintroducing the flagship characters of that company in a single story that lays out a new continuity. The problem is, Chaos! Comics' most popular character Lady Death isn't available due to the character belonging to another company. Enter Lady Hel.
  • Medieval Spawn and his angelic opponent Angela were co-created by Neil Gaiman and it was ruled in court that he co-owned the characters with Todd MacFarlane. MacFarlane subsequently created Dark Ages Spawn and the angels Domina and Tiffany. This did not go down well.
  • In the first issue of the 2015 volume of Invincible Iron Man, Tony goes on a date with a South Asian scientist who has developed a cure for the Mutant X-Gene. Kavita Rao? Nope! Meet Amara Perera, everybody!
  • In Jonathan Hickman's The Avengers, he introduces a new lineup for Omega Flight, the "black ops" counterpart to Alpha Flight, three of whom are substitutes for Alpha Flighters: Validator for Vindicator, Wendigo for Sasquatch, and Boxx for Box. They're all killed or altered by the Origin Bomb, explaining why Hickman didn't want to use the established characters.
  • Ginger from Archie Comics was created to replace Cheryl Blossom, who was deemed too sexual for the series. Reprints even went out of their way to replace Cheryl with Ginger. Eventually Ginger became her own character and Cheryl was brought back.
  • Bob Hoskins only licensed his likeness for the first few issues of Disney's Roger Rabbit comic book. Later stories replaced Eddie Valiant with a similar, original detective character, Rick Flint.
  • A few years after the Phyla-Vell version of Quasar was killed off during The Thanos Imperative, Marvel introduced a new Quasar named Avril Kincaid. While the two women aren't too similar, many fans have cited this trope in regard to Phyla and Avril both being lesbians.
  • Neil Gaiman's Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame was originally intended as the Series Finale of Action Comics' incarnation as a weekly anthology featuring Supes, GL, Catwoman, Deadman, The Phantom Stranger, Blackhawk and Etrigan. Gaiman therefore wrote a story which managed to give all these characters at the very least cameos. However, he was then told continuity issues meant he couldn't use Etrigan, so he replaced him with another demon named Gintear. Then other continuity issues (Hal and Clark being retconned as no longer knowing each other's secret identities) made the whole story untenable and it was shelved. Oddly, when it was finally drawn and published, Gintear was retained, even though at this point it was entirely outside continuity.
  • The Crisis on Infinite Earths Continuity Reboot led to several examples of this:
    • All-Star Squadron was set on Earth-2, an alternate world where Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow were all active in the 1940s, and all of them were fairly important characters. Then Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, and the Squadron's history got transplanted into the main DCU, where Superman and company were now meant to have debuted within the last decade—meaning a lot of the Squadron's continuity no longer worked. Roy Thomas tried to solve this by introducing the Young All-Stars, a new 1940s team consisting of characters who each paralleled one of the now-removed Golden Age A-listers. The group's membership included Hugo Danner-inspired strongman Iron Munroe (Superman), bat-themed caped crusader Flying Fox (Batman), former Kid Sidekick Dan the Dyna-Mite (Robin), super-strong Greek myth-based heroine Fury (Wonder Woman), aquatic heroes Neptune Perkins and Tsunami (Aquaman), and archer Tigress (Green Arrow). Fury even took Wonder Woman's place as the mother of Fury (now retroactively the second girl to use that name) from the Infinity, Inc. series.
    • Likewise, the original Seven Soldiers of Victory counted Green Arrow and Speedy as members. After Crisis removed the two of them from the Golden Age, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. revealed that the obscure Golden Age hero the Spider had been a member of the group, replacing Green Arrow as the team's archer. Speedy's role, meanwhile, was taken by Vigilante's own Kid Sidekick, the Chinatown Kid.
    • Crisis changed the Superman franchise in a major way. In addition to removing Clark Kent's time as Superboy, the reboot also established Clark as Krypton's Sole Survivor, meaning Supergirl could no longer exist. This provided a major problem for the Legion of Super-Heroes, as the team's history had heavily featured both Superboy and Supergirl, with the former having inspired the team's creation in the first place. For a time, Superboy's role was filled by an alternate version of the character from a Pocket Dimension, but the timeline was eventually altered further to have Valor (a renamed version of Mon-El, a Daxamite hero Superboy had befriended in the past) be the Legion's inspiration. Supergirl, meanwhile, was replaced in the Legion's history by a new character named Laurel Gand (a.k.a. Andromeda), another blonde Flying Brick. The writers even Ship Teased Laurel with Brainiac 5, who had traditionally been Supergirl's love interest prior to the Crisis.
  • Leaned on in Strikeforce: Morituri with Greg Mattingly, who plays Vyking in the holo-show based on the Morituri team. After Vyking dies, it is revealed that Greg has similar energy-reflecting powers, so he joins the team as Backhand.
  • Following the New 52 reboot, DC began marketing The Joker's former girlfriend and partner in crime Harley Quinn as a solo Anti-Hero in her own right, with the character becoming popular enough that she eventually got her own cartoon and movie. Because of this, in 2020 DC introduced a similar character called Punchline as the Joker's new lover and sidekick.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: