Derivative Characters

In superhero comics, it’s easier to make a variation on the same thing than it is to create something else. It’s probably even harder to make that derivative character actually stand out and even become his/her own person.


But it’s not impossible. Sometime in the late 1980s when Superman was allowed to be the only Kryptonian, Supergirl and Superboy were remade into rather different characters.


Eventually Kryptonian elements went back in style even though that made them really redundant. But supposing this time around it’s much more successful.


Bart Allen, who’s derivative of Barry Allen, loses his speed powers and gains darkness powers instead when he calls himself Phantom Lad. Barry Allen, who’s derivative of Jay Garrick, permanently loses his powers and becomes a fox masked detective.


Supergirl turns out to be an Earthling human all along, becomes a detective and then becomes The Hag. This is a change so drastic that it defines them for years to come. Just take a look at what happened to Dick Grayson.


He’s the only derivative character that I can think of who successfully became his own hero. Whatever attempts to make Supergirl, Barry, Bart and Superboy distinct are temporary and arbitrary not to mention superficial.


But it can be done to save their lives as fiction’s a different entity from clothing and toys. At least when it’s allowed, they become their own characters and be more interesting this way.


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