Although the G.I. Joe action figures have existed since the 60s, it wasn't until 1982 that they gained personalities, an actual story and their very own nemesis; becoming the G.I. Joe we know and love. And we're not talking about the 1996 "extreme" version which we prefer to ignore and hate.
The enemy was of course Cobra, a snake themed terrorist organization with a soft spot in their dark hearts for secret fortresses, giant lasers and parachutes (safety first!).
They are a Rip-Off of:
Oh, and also:
Cobra is what you get when two other snake themed terrorist groups, DC Comics's Kobra and Marvel's Hydra, get drunk one night and have awkward sex in the back of Kobra's dad's Honda Civic. And since both Kobra and Hydra were created by the same person, the legendary Jack Kirby, that's incest and it's wrong! Kirby had a Honda Civic? Yes, don't question us!
Hydra was created in 1965, as an enemy organization of Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. while Kobra was created in 1976, and even were the stars of their own comic. And let it never be said that the comics industry doesn't like to recycle good ideas, or at least snake-themed terrorist organizations.
When HASBRO decided to revive the G.I. Joe action figures, they contacted Marvel to publish a comic about the new version. Marvel then dug through the trash and rescued a rejected pitch for a new comic. It was about a group of elite S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers and Nick Fury's son fighting against Hydra. They just changed "Hydra" to "Cobra" and "Nick Fury Jr." to "Duke" and the rest is 80s icon history. Considering this is the comic version of going to a restaurant and having the chef pull out a burger out of the garbage can, it worked pretty well.
Anything else besides all of them being snake themed ultra high-tech criminal organizations? Oh yes! Hydra and Cobra like to hire dominatrix girls and put them in charge of the troops. That way if the troops don't do their job the commander has to "punish" their naughty asses... Hmmm... maybe that's why these guys never win.
And here is another odd one. Lord Kobra, from DC's Kobra, had a brother, who was one of the good guys. Because they were twins, they could feel what happened to the other, which probably made masturbation creepy beyond belief. Twin brother who could feel what the other was feeling? Doesn't that sound a lot like Cobra's very own Tomax and Xamot?
We have to agree with Kobra here, Twinsy, you are just being an ass.
Wait... Tomax? Xamot?
Have you guys noticed they are the same spelled backwards? WHOAAA! It only took us 20 years.
#2. The Green Lantern
Green Lantern is the only superhero who can make a giant cue the shape of a dong to play pool with planets, and yet get his ass kicked by Sesame Street's Big Bird because he's allergic to the color yellow.
He is a Rip-Off of:
The classic space opera series Lensman started in 1937, and since then, just like Thomas Jefferson before it, fought injustice and left enough bastard children around to populate a small city.
Every sci-fi series with some sort of space police owes something to Lensman, from the Jedi Knights of Star Wars to Buzz Lightyear. If it has space policemen then it's ripping off Lensman or ripping off something that ripped it off first. The apple that fell closest to the tree was the Green Lantern Corps.
The first Green Lantern was created just one year after the first Lensman story was published, but back then Green Lantern was just one guy who found a magic ring and he wasn't weak against yellow but to wood, making the banana tree the only natural predator of all Green Lanterns. Or maybe, also, really racist cartoons of Asian people with baseball bats.
In 1950, the original Green Lantern had been out of print for quite a few years and DC comics thought it was time to bring back the name. Now this time he was part of a group of space policemen, which are like regular policemen but they stop black people in fancy cars in space. Now, unlike the Jedi Knights who were happy to just copy the general idea of space policemen and a few things here and there, the Green Lanterns Corps went overboard.
The Lensmen were created by the most advanced alien race in the universe, the Arisians. The Green Lanterns were created by the Oans. The Lensmen are chosen for being the epitome of bravery and honesty, just like the Green Lanterns (how they even measure that is never explained, probably have them fill out a questionnaire). Finally, both organizations give their member a special, unique weapon that can be used by nobody else but the person to whom it was given. In Lensmen's case a lens that gives them telepathic powers, and in Green Lantern's case the ring that can't protect you from banana peels.
The creators of Green Lantern deny even knowing about Lensman, which is odd coming from sci-fi writers talking about a sci-fi series that was well known in its time. It would be like "Star Wars? Nope, doesn't ring a bell..." coming from your local nerd. As a bit of a nod and wink, a Green Lantern was created as a homage to the Lensman series (Arisia, named after the planet where the Arisians from Lensman come from).
Also, although it doesn't count as a rip-off, according to comic historians the Oans, the blue midget aliens who go around giving out Green Lantern rings, are based on David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. And we are including the picture because we love the side by side comparisons pictures thing.
That's just weird.
Oh, shit. We went there.
He is a Rip-Off of:
El Zorro! Yes, the guy with the sword.
Zorro, created by Johnston McCulley, debuted in 1919 in the pulp magazine All Story Weekly. And while some of the things that make Batman Batman were inspired by other sources (his rogues gallery was inspired by the army of fugly mutants Dick Tracy has been putting in jail since 1931) a big bunch of them were copied from Zorro.
Zorro was first at being a millionaire playboy-slash-dark costumed evil face puncher. Zorro had a secret cave under his mansion where he kept his horse and Zorro stuff, not unlike a certain caped crusader. The big difference being that Zorro didn't call it the Zorrocave or the Zorrohorse.
Zorro was also the first hero with a butler, his trusty servant Bernardo. But Alfred is probably more useful since Bernardo was deaf and mute. With Alfred you just have to yell "Hey, go make me a hotdog." With Bernard you have to mimic putting a sausage in your mouth, rub your tummy and then hope he doesn't think you want him to fellate you.
And last, Zorro also hid his secret costumed persona by pretending to be a complete foppish rich douche long before Bruce Wayne. Although, to be fair, the Scarlet Pimpernel invented this one in 1903, but nobody counts him since he committed the crime of having a superhero name that was lame despite having the word "pimp" in it.
The connections are so obvious DC comics doesn't bother to deny them. In fact, the movie lil' Bruce Wayne goes to see with his parents the night they're shot is The Mark of Zorro.
A clever nod to the original masked vigilante? Maybe. Or maybe in an effort to keep their secret safe, Batman's creators were trying to send a message to children: if you go see anything with Zorro in it, your family will be killed.
To see rip-offs of our rip-offs, check out 9 Foreign Rip-Offs Cooler Than The Hollywood Originals. Or find out about some powers that science is ripping off from comic books, in 5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime.
And check out the sites that "inspire originality" in us every day in our Top Picks Section.