The "New Gods" comic series from DC Comics first appeared in 1971, six years before the first Star Wars movie was released.

The similarities are striking. Luke Skywalker is the protagonist in the first trilogy, and he is initially unaware that the primary antagonist, Darth Vader, is his father.

The primary protagonist in the New Gods series has always been Orion, who originally didn't know that his father was Darkseid, the main antagonist.

The New Gods have the Source, Star Wars has the Force. The Dark Side of the force is a recurring theme of Star Wars, Darkseid is pronounced "Dark Side".

Darkseid's helmet even looks like Darth Vader's helmet.

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    Probably just a coincidence. But Harry Potter definitely ripped off Star Wars. – Harry Johnston Aug 28 '16 at 0:06
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    Lucas ripped off/was inspired by so many sources that he basically made a new thing by copying several elements and then changing the setting and the details. It's a common creative technique. Put together enough things copied from elsewhere and the result has both the legal and artistic illusion of originality. – Todd Wilcox Aug 28 '16 at 2:56
  • @ToddWilcox Well, in the alleged words of the father of modern art, "good artists borrow, great artists steal." The more you study great and innovative artists, the less tongue-in-cheek that quote sounds. – Misha R Sep 24 '18 at 6:08

According to "The Secret History of Star Wars" by Michael Kaminski:

As mentioned earlier, Lucas was no stranger to comic books and not only was he an avid collector, but he bought reams of them looking for inspiration while writing Star Wars, and was even the co-owner of a comic book store in New York City. Jack Kirby was one of the most influential comic book artists in the history of the medium and was regarded as a legend by the 1970s, when he was as prolific as ever. It is here, in 1970, that he began his most epic creation, loved by serious collectors but largely ignored by mainstream audiences: his Fourth World serial, an epic of interconnected science fiction tales which formed a growing narrative and ran from 1970 to 1973, the year Lucas began writing Star Wars. The series would serve not only as an immediate influence on Star Wars, but perhaps a later influence, either consciously or residually, on the future shape of the saga in its sequels. For example, in The New Gods saga, a number of obvious influences immediately jump out. For instance, the villain of the series is named Darkseid (“dark side”). The hero (Orion) battles Darkseid, armed with a power which flows throughout the universe and is known as The Source (in other words, The Force) only to discover that Darkseid is in fact his own father.

As for visual inspiration, Darkseid was a hulking, caped, armoured character, adorned in black, with large boots, gauntlets and a helmet-like head.

The second Jack Kirby creation is Doctor Doom, one of the most memorable villains from the popular Fantastic Four series. Once a brilliant scientist and friends with the leader of the Fantastic Four, he became bitter with jealousy and was horribly scarred in a laboratory accident. He emerged as Doctor Doom, sworn enemy of the Fantastic Four and forever encased in a large iron suit, complete with a fluttering cape. Not only is his visual design very similar to Darth Vader’s but the character’s backstory is as well; it may be argued that this is coincidental, as masked characters in literature are often encased in their coverings to hide deformities, reaching back to 1909’s Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, but being such an important villain in the comic book world Doctor Doom’s influence may very well have been a conscious one. Supposedly Lucas himself has admitted the influence, though I am ignorant to such a reference. Doctor Doom first appeared in 1962, though the character would not gain prominence until the mid ‘70s.

It may be surmised in counter-point that these three characters were not necessarily deliberately copied by Lucas, but rather were swirling around in his subconsciousness as he prodded McQuarrie into the final Vader design, a mental catalog of villains and images that he had absorbed in his thirty years of viewing such material. On the other hand, the fact that Lucas provided McQuarrie with comic books (and showed a very hip awareness to the contemporary comic book scene at the time) and 1930s pulp pages for design references may demonstrate that these similarities are very much intentional.

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    I also think people also tend to overestimate how well and how much Lucas had planned out the first trilogy. Lucas' original draft for Star Wars II had Luke talking with the ghost of his dead father -- who was clearly not Darth Vader. So the whole Orion-Darkseid father-son conflict couldn't have been an inspiration for the overall storyline. – jeffronicus Aug 25 '18 at 17:00
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    ^ agreed. Kasdan rarely gets enough credit for ESB and Jedi – NKCampbell Sep 24 '18 at 15:04

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