Friday, September 14, 2012

Homage or Plagiarism?

Or... Can a writer be homaged?

Here's the origin of Deathstroke the Terminator from Tales of the Teen Titans 44, published July, 1984. Words by Marv Wolfman, art by George Perez.

Now read this page from Deathstroke 0 published September, 2012, art and words by Rob Liefeld.

Notice any similarities?

I did. Actually, it was the image of Addie Wilson firing guns in front and behind her at pop up targets from Deathstroke 0, that made me remember the same image from Tales of the Teen Titans 44. I recognized the similar character poses in that panel and thought Liefeld was paying homage to George Perez. Paying homage to an artist involves the new artist recreating a scene or panel, or in most cases, a cover that looks the same as one the artist being homaged has done.

Here, for example purposes, are a few covers that pay homage to George Perez's New Teen Titans 1. First, the original.

Here's George homaging himself.

Joe Bennett homages George Perez.

So, you can see each artist duplicated the cover of New Teen Titans 1 in his own style using the same or similar characters. That's an homage.

I'm not a Liefeld fan, his art has never appealed to me. But I'm also not one of the Liefeld haters who decries him with every chance he gets.

It wasn't until I went back and re-read Tales of the Teen Titans 44, that I realized he also used Marv Wolfman's exact phrasing in a couple of instances. He didn't vary the scene much from the original, as you can plainly see. He even uses the same pop-up target dummies for Addie to blast that Marv did. As I said, the similar character poses could be construed as an homage.

It's possible that in preparation for Deathstroke 0, Rob went back and re-read the original origin and perhaps some of that came out unconsciously when he put it on the page, but lifting dialogue word-for-word smacks of plagiarism to me. I think Marv Wolfman deserves a check for his work on the issue.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons Rob was having problems with editorial, prompting him to quit DC.
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