Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How DC's Lawyers missed this, I have no idea.

I was going to write about something else, when I stumbled across this again:
If it's a 'story no other mortal has ever heard before,' why is it so familiar?
The Shroud has two things going for him: a cool name, and a better costume that he would get later with the Kali-style logo. He also has two strikes: derivative darkness powers (although, maybe they were cutting edge when he debuted, but I doubt it) and an outright-stolen origin. He's another Marvel Universe Batman-style character, like Moon Knight, the various Nighthawks, Night Thrasher, probably Black Panther and possibly Iron Fist...

Let's think about that for a moment: A Marvel Batman-analog would have martial arts training and (mostly) human-level strength, no super superpowers (the Shroud's darkness and weird vision wouldn't disqualify him, but eye lasers or something would) and usually uses gadgets and weapons, and is either a millionaire and/or had his parents killed at a young age, probably by a criminal.

So, even though he fits a lot of the above criteria, I wouldn't call Daredevil a Batman-analog, since he's not a millionaire, and since the death of his father was when he was a little older. Also, was that death in DD's origin from the start, or was that a later addition? Either way, the book didn't dwell on it overmuch at first, so I don't count Daredevil as a Batman copy here.

There's probably others, but it's interesting to see how Marvel takes different aspects of what DC had used for Batman, and exaggerates them: I've mentioned before a review from the Hurting, where Tim points out the way Moon Knight takes everything cool about Batman and throws it together. Nighthawk (and I've accidentally typed 'Nightwing' three times here already) works the bored millionaire turned crusader angle. Black Panther and the more recent Squadron Supreme Nighthawk are very much avenging sons, as is to a lesser extent Iron Fist. And the Shroud, once you get past everything else stolen from Batman, takes the insane training Batman went through, to an even more-extreme end: the monks he learned from were evil Kali-worshippers, who brand their logo on his face.
Well, that's one way to get your 'brand' out there...oh, god, I'm sorry.
Which brings up monks in the Marvel Universe, who seemed pretty fast and loose with branding: the Shroud, Iron Fist, Doctor Doom...Doom and Fist technically did theirs on their own, but still. Then there's the Ancient One, and I'm pretty sure Baron Mordo had some of his own monk crew or whatever, and no doubt eight or nine different batches from Master of Kung Fu. How many crazy-ass monks are out there? At this point, I figure you get off the plane in Nepal or wherever, and there's neon signs all over advertising kung fu, mystic arts, and scarification. Are any part of the Seven Cities of Heaven, from the current Iron Fist storyline? I don't think so, but that's probably just as well: Chris Claremont would revisit Doom's monks in Fantastic Four, which brought us Crucible, who sucked. Fat Cobra is infinitely preferable.

Two other Shroud appearances that I know of: he has a cameo in the limited series for West Coast Avengers and declines membership, since he's working undercover as a 'crime lord.' I also have somewhere a black-and-white Marvel mag (probably Marvel Premiere featuring Moon Knight, maybe?) with a Shroud back-up drawn by Steve Ditko. Apparently, now he's dating the black costume Spider-Woman, so good for him; especially considering that in this appearance...ah, we'll come back to this one.

Geez, and I was going to talk about Namor today, but we're a ways a field of that now. Especially since I'm positive I read the Namor issues with Iron Fist, but can't remember them at all. Pages from Super-Villain Team-Up #7, "Who is...the Shroud?" Written by Steve Englehart, art by Herb Trimpe, inks by Pablo Marcos, and featuring the villainy of Dr. Doom, the Sub-Mariner, and Henry Kissinger! Wait...we'll come back to this one, we've barely scratched the surface of insanity.


Marc Burkhardt said...

The Shroud ... batman rip-off or BEST BATMAN RIP-OFF EVER?

With apologies to Chris Sims ...

Seriously, The Shroud is one of my favorite Marvel characters - no surprise considering my love of Batman.

Jason F.C. Clarke said...

I've never even heard of the Shroud before...he's very Batman-esque, but his origin also sounds a little like Azrael (or rather, Azrael sounds a little like him).

CalvinPitt said...

I have or had perhaps, another Shroud appearance, from around Cap #330 (before Steve turns in the costume), where the Shroud leads a group called the Night Shift, and pretends to be a crime boss, because it helps him get closer to the bad guys. He and Cap teamed up to go after the Power Broker, it wasn't bad, and it used D-Man to teach us the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.

Stephen said...

daredevil is totally not a batman rip off. he has super-senses and an impairment. to be a batman ripoof you got to be totally human, in my book

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, when the Shroud debuted, Bruce Wayne's trip to Tibet was not a part of his origin. It was not added till the late 1980's, so far as I know. Of course, the Shadow's Oriental scholarship was already long established.

In an article for Comics Scene, David Goyer noted that he wrote a screenplay for Doctor Strange in the 1990's. He noted that he wanted to follow the origin storyline-a selfish, acquisitive man gets redeemed when going to Tibet and studying under a mystic. Then The Shadow came out in 1994 which features a similar origin. So he rewrote his Doctor Strange screenplay to not focus on Tibet. However, Goyer felt no compunctions about including Tibet in Batman Begins. Goyer stated this in Comics Scene #49.

The Will Eisner character Wonder Man had a Tibet related origin.

Tibet and or the Himalyas or Himalayan Mountains have played parts in the history of the Cold People, Lizard Men, Blazing Skull, Vision, Thin Man, Dr. Strange, Dr. Druid, Doctor Doom, the Aged Ghenghis, the Ancient One, and the Undying Ones. Fu Manchu trained in Tatsienlu, Tibet. Minya Konka Mountain saw the site of the Rache Churan, the Monastery of Fear. There he learned martial arts, botany, medicine, and hypnotism. Thugben Sung runs the monastery now.

Hawkeye23 said...

I just noticed something; in Fantastic Four#278, it is established that Doctor Doom was actually largely disfigured when a monk in the Himalayas put a still hot newly forged metal mask on his face, and Doom then rushed out into the snow to cool the mask and his face down. This story was published in the 1980's.

Well, let us take a look at the origin of the Shrould published in the 1970's:
a monk in the Himalayas put a hot brand on his face and he ran out into the snow.

Hawkeye23 said...

As the Shroud debuted as a foe of Doom, this is appropriate.