Thursday, July 28, 2011

Martian Knock-Offs: Drax the Destroyer

A lot of the knock-off factor with Drax comes from just looking at him. It's like how everyone points to Thanos as a Darkseid knock-off, but he was actually modeled after Metron. The Mad God Titan's resemblance to the Lord of Apokolips really came from an editorial request of creator Jim Starlin to beef Thanos up. In the years since, Darkseid and Thanos have fed off one another, so that their mutual resemblance grew with time.

Drax was originally Earthman Arthur Douglas, whose family was slain following a chance encounter with Thanos. The Titan's father, Mentor, found Douglas' daughter alive. Mentor helped raise the girl to become the powerful telepath Moondragon. Mentor also used her father's soul as the driving force of an automaton, embued with great power but stripped of all memory, his sole purpose the destruction of Thanos. Drax the Destroyer was relentlessly grim and obsessive, but always managed to just miss out on killing Thanos thanks to better, faster moving heroes like Captain Mar-Vell and Adam Warlock. Drax's daughter was less than altruistic herself, and when Drax objected to Moondragon's subjugation of a planet, she scrambled his brains. As with his mortal enemy, Drax has been resurrected a bunch of times, but he has suffered through a few radical revisions. For most of the '90s, Drax was essentially a reincarnation of the dumb, violent, Frankenstein-ish Hulk. More recently, he's been Riddick, the Vin Diesel protagonist of two films and one cartoon, who counts Vin Diesel as his biggest fan in a shallow pool.

If I recall correctly, Jim Starlin acknowledged basing Drax partially on the Martian Manhunter. I suppose J'Onn J'Onzz's more severe attitude in his pursuit of Vulture may have played into that, but Drax's intensity far outstripped any take on the Alien Atlas seen to date. In fact, the O'Neil/Nasser interpretation of the character in 1977, and the many austere interpretations since, seem much more of Drax's bloodline than J'Onzz's. Drax had a daughter before J'Onn, and the telepathy angle (Moondragon's) hadn't been an ability of J'Onzz's since his earliest appearances. Once again, beyond the superficial, Drax may have reciprocated Martian Manhunter's influence with some of his own. It's not like super-strength, nigh invulnerability, and energy blasts are highly specific, although Drax playing the perpetual jobber certainly seems familiar. Most recently, J'Onn J'Onzz has taken on Drax's trademark purple costume, while Drax is running around topless to show off his tribal tats. Well, y'know, "Martian Co-Ops" doesn't have the same ring to it, so we'll let that alone.


will_in_chicago said...

I really was not that aware of Drax the Destroyer before this, and see some similarities between his costume and that of J'Onn J'Onnzz. How much of the similarity between these two characters is intentional is hard to determine. I am curious what take the writers and artists of Stormwatch will have on J'Onn.

mathematicscore said...

Always interesting Frank.

I recently watched the "Kirby-esque" Silver Surfer cartoon on the 'flix, and that has been my only real exposure to Drax. I did not know that Thanos was originally Metron, and that totally fits now that you mention it.

Really, with forty-ish years to cross-pollinate, It's little surprise there are so many dissimilarities to go wit the similarities.

Diabolu Frank said...

Oh God. I guess they made that show available because of the second Fantastic Four movie. I made it partway through one episode. Once Thanos showed up speaking in that shrill voice, I gave up. I never saw Drax. Was it the idiot version, or the intense tough guy?

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

Thanos vs. Darksied. now that would be an interesting match up.

Diabolu Frank said...

I like Thanos. He gets things done.