Writer Neil Gaiman has won the latest of a seemingly never-ending string of legal battles pitting him against artist and comics overlord Todd McFarlane. What's it all about? Well, it all started back in the early '90s when McFarlane tapped Gaiman to write an issue of Spawn, the series he created for the then-new, still-idealistic Image line. To that end, Gaiman wrote a script set in the Middle Ages that involved several new characters, including Medieval Spawn and his barely dressed heavenly antagonist Angela. Though McFarlane continued to use the characters, Gaiman received no additional payments. Whoops. In 2004, a Wisconsin court awarded Gaiman joint ownership of the characters. (The case was also all tied to the ownership rights of Marvelman/Miracleman in ways too complicated to get into here, even if we could claim to understand them.)
Fast-forward to the present: Over the weekend, Gaiman won a suit that also awarded him a stake in three characters deemed to be derived from Angela and Medieval Spawn. Seems that the Angela-like Tiffany and Domina and Dark Ages Spawn are a little too close to Angela for legal comfort. The case, covered in excellent detail on the blog of comics journalist (and A.V. Club friend) Maggie Thompson found Judge Barbara Crabb examining comics continuity and costume details to make her decision. A sample of the former:
Much as defendant tries to distinguish the two knight Hellspawn, he never explains why, of all the universe of possible Hellspawn incarnations, he introduced two knights from the same century. Not only does this break the Hellspawn 'rule' that Malebolgia never returns a Hellspawns [sic] to Earth more than once every 400 years (or possibly every 100 years, as suggested in Spawn, No. 9, exh. #1, at 4)
And, more hilariously, the latter:
Tiffany and Domina are visually similar to Angela and share her same basic traits. All three are warrior angels with voluptuous physiques, long hair and mask-like eye makeup. all three wear battle uniforms consisting of thong bikinis, garters, wide weapon belts, elbow-length gloves and ill-fitting armor bras.
The lesson? If you're going to knock off another character, put her in less revealing clothing and you'll have a better shot of not getting your ass handed to you, legally speaking, in court.