And May the Source Be With You. Wait, “Force.” I Meant “Force.”

starwars-banner 23 Similarities Between the Star Wars Universe and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Saga

Now, before anyone at Disney starts calling up their lawyers, let me say I am emphatically not suggesting George Lucas ripped off Jack Kirby in any way, shape or form. Lucas clearly drew inspiration from a lot of source materials when he was writing his scripts and designing his characters, from old Flash Gordon serials to Westerns like The Searchers to the films of Akira Kurosawa  to Tolkien novels to Nazi iconography to Joseph Campbell’s books to you name it.

But when you’re a comics fan and you’ve seen the first Star Wars trilogy a couple (hundred) times, you start to see a few… let’s call them interesting coincidences between Star Wars and Kirby’s Fourth World books, which came out about six years before the first Star Wars film hit theatres.

For instance, have you ever noticed…

kirby-darkseid   starwars-darthvader

In the Fourth World… there’s a stone-faced villain named Darkseid with a son who was raised by someone else.
In Star Wars there’s a rather rigid-faced guy named Darth Vader who uses the “dark side” of the force and has a son and daughter who were both raised by someone else.

In the Fourth World there’s a mysterious energy in the universe called “the Source” that binds all living things together and is the source of all that exists.
In Star Wars there’s a mysterious energy in the universe called “the Force” that is, in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “an energy field created by all living things” and “binds the galaxy together.”

In the Fourth Worldthere’s a young, dashing fellow named Mark Moonrider who is the leader of a ragtag group of rebellious types on a mission to oppose Darkseid’s plans on Earth.
In Star Wars… there’s a young, dashing fellow named Luke Skywalker who is the leader of a ragtag group of rebellious types on a mission to oppose Darth Vader’s plans in a galaxy far, far away.

kirby-apokolips   starwars-deathstar

In the Fourth Worldyou have Apokolips, an ecumenopolis (that’s a planet with nothing but urban spaces covering its surface) with giant circular burning firepits.
In Star Wars… there’s a planet-sized battle station known as the Death Star with a prominent circular feature that emits “fire” (as in firepower strong enough to blow up a planet).

In the Fourth Worldyou have Supertown, a floating city that hovers high above New Genesis.
In Star Warsyou have Cloud City, a floating city that hovers high above Bespin.

In the Fourth Worldyou have “Bugs,” sentient life forms that live on an idyllic, forested planet and are often victims of prejudice by New Gods who underestimate their abilities because of how they look.
In Star Warsyou have “Ewoks,” sentient life forms that live on an idyllic, forested planet and are victims of prejudice by Imperial troops who underestimate their abilities because of how they look.

kirby-parademons

In the Fourth Worldyou have Parademons, foot soldiers who are identical in every way, are loyal to an evil master and whose true strength lies in their overwhelming numbers.
In Star Warsyou have Stormtroopers, foot soldiers who are identical in every way, are loyal to an evil master and whose true strength lies in their overwhelming numbers.

In the Fourth Worldyou have Mother Box, a sentient, portable super-computer that communicates in “pings” that are understood by its owner and equipped with pretty much any tool needed to do any given job.
In Star Warsyou have R2-D2, a sentient, somewhat compact super-computer that communicates in “bleeps” and “bloops” that are understood by its owner and equipped with pretty much any tool needed to do any given job.

In the Fourth Worldyou have the son of an estranged, warmongering father who finds wisdom and guidance in a bearded, elderly mentor who shares a combative past with his father.
In Star Wars you have the son of an estranged, warmongering father who finds wisdom and guidance in a bearded, elderly mentor who shares a combative past with his father.

kirby-boomtube     starwars-hyperspace

In the Fourth Worldyou have Boom Tubes, extra-dimensional portals that allow users to cover great distances in space in a heartbeat.
In Star Wars you have hyperdrive, a form of faster-than-light travel used by spaceships to cover great distances in space in a heartbeat; the visual effect of stars turning into lines of light makes it seem as if the user is travelling through a tube in space.

In the Fourth Worldyou have opening dialogue that explains how our story begins after “the old gods died” and the destruction of their home gave rise to a new reality with two warring factions vying for control.
In Star Wars you have an opening screen with scrolling text that explains how it is “a period of civil war” between two opposing factions: the “evil Galactic Empire” and the rebels who “won their first major victory” shortly before the events of the first film.

In the Fourth Worldour main villain has a unique method of dispensing death to incompetent or insolent subordinates (Omega beams), a method that allows him to strike from a distance without the need to get his hands dirty.
In Star Wars our main villain has a unique method of dispensing death to incompetent or insolent subordinates (the long-distance, Force-fueled choke hold), a method that allows him to strike from a distance without the need to get his hands dirty.

kirby-creature     starwars-dianoga

In the Fourth Worldthe bad guys make use of all manners of bizarre creatures to do certain tasks, like this one-eyed “organic detector” mutated from sea life to “detect and send direction signals.”
In Star Wars the Imperial forces make use of all manners of bizarre creatures to  do certain tasks, like this one-eyed dianoga that appears in the first film’s trash compactor scene and drags Luke underwater.

In the Fourth World… Orion, a hero who wages war against his evil father, has something in common with his father (a coarse, brutish countenance) that he hides from others by resorting to technological means.
In Star Wars Luke, a hero who wages war against his evil father, has something in common with his father (a less-than-complete set of limbs) that he hides from others by resorting to technological means (and a snazzy glove).

In the Fourth Worldancient and medieval weapons are given a futuristic flourish and names like “electro-axe” and “fahren-knives” (blades that can burn a victim from the inside out).
In Star Wars we have the lightsaber, an ancient weapon given a futuristic flourish (with a “blade” that can burn hot enough to cauterize a wound while it slices through someone’s arm).

kirby-mokkari     starwars-darthmaul

In the Fourth World… you have Mokkari, a lackey of Darkseid with interesting facial patterns who specializes in genetic manipulation.
In Star Wars you have Darth Maul, a lackey of Darth Sidious with similar interesting facial patterns who specializes in kick-ass lightsaber duels.

In the Fourth WorldDarkseid makes use of trained bounty hunters, like Devilance the Pursuer, to track down and destroy those who defy his rule, like the Forever People.
In Star Wars Darth Vader makes use of trained bounty hunters, like Boba Fett, to track down and capture those who defy Vader, like the rebels on the Millennium Falcon.

In the Fourth World there was a secret facility called Project Cadmus that pumped out clones by the bucketload, including clones of the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, and used them to further various evil guys’ eeeeee-vil plans.
In Star Wars there was a little something called the Clone Wars, in which clones were mass-produced in a secret facility and used to further one particularly evil guy’s eeeeee-vil plans.

kirby-scottfree     starwars-empirestrikesback

In the Fourth WorldDarkseid reaches out his hand to his adoptive son (Scott Free) as he implores him to stand by his side; his “son” responds by flinging himself through a portal that leads to Earth.
In Star Wars Darth Vader reaches out his hand to his son as he implores him to stand by his side; his son responds by flinging himself down an air shaft.

In the Fourth WorldDarkseid has a lackey named DeSaad, a withered, hooded sadist who prefers behind-the-scenes manipulation to direct confrontation and enjoys torturing his victims before they die.
In Star Wars Darth Vader has a boss named Emperor Palpatine, a withered, hooded sadist who prefers behind-the-scenes manipulation to direct confrontation and enjoys torturing his victims before they die.

In the Fourth Worldyou have characters with colorful names that suggest their one defining character trait, like Scott Free, the young man who only wants to be free.
In Star Wars you have characters with colorful names that suggest their one defining character trait, like Han Solo, the young man who fancies himself to be a bit of a loner (certain Wookiees excepted).

kirby-bigbear   starwars-chewbacca

In the Fourth Worldyou have the large, hairy pilot of the Forever People’s space vehicle trapped inside a “resonance room” with “vibro-waves” used on him as a means of torture.
In Star Wars you have the large, hairy pilot of the Millennium Falcon trapped inside a Cloud City prison with high-pitched sounds used on him as a means of torture.

In the Fourth WorldOrion is taught to control his rage and anger as part of his training to become a great warrior, because his mentor can see he has inherited a dark and violent nature from his biological father that will consume his humanity if he gives in to it.
In Star Wars I think you know where I’m going with this.

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2 responses to “And May the Source Be With You. Wait, “Force.” I Meant “Force.”

  1. There’s also at least a couple of parallels between Darth Vader and Doctor Doom as he was depicted in the original Stan Lee & Jack Kirby issues of Fantastic Four.

  2. crazy how much famous films, characters, shows, and so on are slight variations of something before them…as a quote wisely claims: plagiarism is the key to originality

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