A few months back, I posed the question "Which Came First: The Doom Patrol or the X-Men?", one of the enduring Unsolved Mysteries of superhero comics. Of course, I didn't come up with any definitive answer, but that's the fun of an unsolved mystery, right?
Well, another unsolved mystery that's always fascinated me was the virtually simultaneous first appearances of DC's Red Tornado and Marvel's Vision characters.
The Red Tornado took his first bow in Justice League of America #64, which sported a cover date of August, 1968. A mere two months later, the Vision appeared in Avengers #57. You're probably thinking "What's the big mystery? The Red Tornado beat the Vision by a whole two months!" Ahh, but you have to keep in mind the process of creating a comic book, which (at the time) took about three to four months from concept to printed product, so it would have been impossible for Marvel to rip-off DC within that tight of a time frame. In short, just like the X-Men and the Doom Patrol before them, the Red Tornado/Vision debuts appear to be a genuine cosmic coincidence!
What makes their dual debut such a "cosmic coincidence"? Here, let's compare their first appearances and chalk up the astounding similarities:
Note that both of them are depicted as looming,
larger-than-life (and extremely red) figures.
Evil scientist T.O.Morrow created the Red Tornado (using advanced
technology stolen from the future), while the evil robot Ultron
created the Vision (using advanced technology of the past).
Red Tornado was supposed to bring down the Justice Society of
America, while the Vision was sent to kill the Avengers.
The original Red Tornado was actually a big gal named Mathilda "Ma" Hunkel, who patrolled her local neighborhood wearing a costume made up of long underwear and a cooking pot helmet. Most of her lighthearted adventures appeared in DC's All-American Comics, but she also made a brief cameo apperance in All-Star Comics #3 (1940), where she attempted to join the nascent Justice Society of America.
The original Vision was an alien law enforcement officer created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. The 1968 Vision obviously bore a much stronger resemblance to his Golden Age counterpart than the Red Tornado did. As an added Golden Age twist, it was later revealed that the 1968 Vision's android body was actually a modified version of the original Human Torch (who was actually an artificial human).
Even after DC and Marvel were aware of their amazingly similar android heroes, the Red Tornado and the Vision continued to share some interesting similarities:
Despite their mutual whining that they were emotionless automatons, they both eventually experienced human emotions in a big way by falling in love with (and being loved by) human women.
In his "human" disguise of John Smith, the Red Tornado fell in love with Kathy Sutton. The Vision grew to love his teammate Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch, eventually marrying her in Giant Size Avengers #4.
Red Tornado was revealed to be housing an entity named The Tornado Champion, a sentient tornado that first appeared in an old Adam Strange adventure. The Vision was revealed to have had the imprinted "brain wave patterns" of Wonder Man, a deceased superhuman who'd attacked the Avengers years earlier (who has since "gotten better" and joined the Avengers himself).
Of course, both characters were preceded by mechanical men who yearned to be like humans, such as the Tin Man from the Oz books or Asimov's I, Robot stories, so it's not like a completely original science-fiction concept suddenly hit a pair of comic book writers at the same time. However, the similarities I detailed above go far beyond vague literary influences and into the realm of dumbfounding cosmic coincidence!