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Top Five Comic Book Characters Who Debuted in Comic-Based Cartoons

Top Five Month (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) continues with a look at characters who debuted in cartoons based on comic books and were then brought over to the comic books that the cartoons were based on (in other words, not characters like Mickey, Donald or the Simpsons). Oh, and by “brought over to the comics,” I mean in the normal continuity, not cartoon tie-in comics.



Manitou Raven

Manitou Raven is BASICALLY Apache Chief from the Super Friends cartoon, but I don’t know if it is close enough to really call them the same character. To wit, I bet Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke are listed as the creators of Manitou Raven, ya know?

Wendy and Marvin

Geoff Johns did a clever job of making Wendy and Marvin geniuses known as the “Wonder Twins” for their brilliance. They helped out as tech support for Johns’ Titans for awhile. That was a clever idea. They weren’t used a lot, though, and soon after they were more or less written out when one of them was murdered and the other severely wounded by “Wonderdog” in a…well…let’s go with “ill-thought-out” reveal. Wendy, though, was “rescued” a bit by becoming a supporting character in Batgirl.

Batman (Terry McInnis)

Now that Terry is firmly a part of the DC Comics continuity, I bet he will rise on the list!


Again, if this character shows up more often, she could be higher on the list. She’s a good character.

5. X-23

She debuted in the X-Men: Evolution series and then was brought into the comics as a teenage prostitute (thankfully that was very brief – now she is a normal enough character).


This Human Torch fill-in has been a great straight man robot for Franklin Richards!

3. Firestar

This Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends character has been a longtime popular Marvel character.

2. Renee Montoya

Created as a supporting character for the classic Batman: The Animated Series, Montoya has become a stalwart member of the DC Universe.

1. Harley Quinn

One of the most famous characters from the Batman Animated Series, Harley Quinn has not lost a step in the transfer to comic books, becoming a very popular character (even having her own solo series for a number of years and currently co-starring in her own comic).

That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Think that Lock-Up or Mercy Graves were good in the comics? Think Reptil has shown enough already to be on the list? Let me know!!


It may be an age thing, but Firestar and HERBIE are the only 2 on this list that I knew debuted in cartoons.

I’m trying to decide if it’s worth pushing the Condiment King for an honorable mention.

What? He’s a fun villain.

Well, and then there’s the original Super Friends. The Wonder Twins, Apache Chief (in the form of Manitou Raven) and Wendy & Marvin & Wonder Dog have all shown up in DC comics since then.

Do you think Manitou Raven should count? I didn’t know if he would count. If he counts, then yeah, he belongs on the list. And actually, now that you mention it, I did like how Johns brought Wendy and Marvin in, so sure, I’ll add them!

Oh, and it’s not a character per se, but the Hall of Justice from Super Friends wound up as JLA HQ in recent comics. Giganta first appeared in comics, but the current giant-size version was a Super Friends invention.

And then there’s Offspring, who is totally Baby Plas from the Plastic Man cartoon.

Yeah, I dunno. Manitou Raven’s a borderline case, because he’s entirely an homage to the cartoon but not literally the same character.

I love Firestar, so glad she made this list!

I would switch Renee Montoya and Harley Quinn. I get why Harley Quinn is number one, but personally I like Renee as a character much more.

You’ve flipped the covers for Manitou Raven and Wendy/Marvin.

Also if Wendy/Marvin had any fans, you’ve chosen the one cover that would throw them into blind rage.

Also, Wendy’s now a supporting character in Batgirl; she’s essentially an Oracle in training, with the codename Proxy.

Good call on the Wendy stuff, Thok, thanks (also the flipped covers)!

And yeah, it is pretty funny that their only cover appearance is the one issue fans of theirs would NOT want to read.

Guess we will have to wait a few more years to see if Reptil can make it onto this list.

I immediately thought of Harley Quinn and Firestar, and then HERBIE came to mind. I wasn’t aware Renee Montoya or X-23 debuted in cartoons, nor was I aware that Wendy and Marvin ever appeared in mainstream books.

Heck, even the Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna occasionally popped up in Extreme Justice and Young Justice.

I know he’s not a part of anyone’s particular continuity, but that SPACE GHOST book written by Joe Kelly in 2005, published by DC, was one hell of a great little comic, imo.

Good list, minus Terry McGinnis. Batman Beyond was a travesty, and bringing it into comic continuity just adds insult to injury.

I’ll bite. Why would wonder twin fans hate that book?

i’m guessing the severe wounding happened in it

I’ll bite. Why would wonder twin fans hate that book?

Didn’t I explain it in the description for the Wonder Twins?

On a tangent, isn’t it true that John Stewart/Green Lantern and Shiara Hal/Hawkgirl were brought back into the DC Universe proper, due to their populariy in the Justice League animated series. Weren’t they both dead/retired at the time when the animated series debuted. Of course, I could be wrong.

I’d have ranked Montoya much, much lower. Sure she is prominent and gets used a lot, but she is a really, REALLY annoying pet character as well as someone used to constantly push “messages” in her appearances, at least in the Gotham Central Rucka issues I read: “Look, I’m a lesbian. I’m so discriminated against!” “I’m being discriminated against for being hispanic!!!” “Look, I’m being underestimated by those sexists because I’m a woman! Let me beat up a guy one on one in a ridiculous streetfight to strike a blow for women’s rights!”

She is incredibly obnoxious.

I agree taht Montoya is a “pet” character. I liked her and thought she was a good foil with Bullock and Crispus Allen and her stories with Two-face wre always interesting, hell, I even think the the fact she is a lesbian is good storytelling. But making her the Question was a ridiculous choice. Both her and Crispus were better off on the GCPD. And don’t get me started on all the unnecessary Batwoman nonsense.

Montoya was great in the cartoon, but so incredibly lame in the comics. “Half a Life” is one of the more overrated and below-average arcs in Gotham Central.

How about Lock-Up & King Tut? Both were imported into the comics from their respective Batman series.

Why would you call Manitou Raven an homage to Apache Chief? He’s an entirely different character. Who would characterize Apache Chief as a spellcaster? He had one power: growth. Manitou Raven used it one time in the comics, to fight a giant Gamemnae. And while it was a butt-kicking call out – knowing what he was about to do, giddy with anticipation going “Say it! Say it! YES!” – that’s ONE TIME. He’s not entirely an homage. He’s his own character.

If there’s background in the Super Friends I haven’t seen where Apache Chief starts smearing himself with blood sigils, turning himself into a murder of crows, and using a dreamcatcher to spy on people, I’ll acquiesce. Until then, it’s just one cool reference at the climax of The Obsidian Age.

Excellent list!

Why would you call Manitou Raven an homage to Apache Chief? He’s an entirely different character.

Because he was an homage to Apache Chief. Joe Kelly (his creator) was quite explicit about it. But yes, I agree that since he’s more of an homage than an actual transplant from the cartoons, that’s why I didn’t have him ranked higher, but he just deserved at least a mention.

I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Reptyl actually debuted in the comics — I remember an Initiative special that came out before the Super Hero Squad show.

If you haven’t finalized the Top Five list for the rest of the month, how about Top Five Characters Who Debuted in Mega-Crossovers? There’s Amanda Waller, the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman, and… um… Venom, sort of… um… hm.

Not Harrison Ford

September 22, 2010 at 7:43 am

Keep waiting for Spyke to make the jump to comics.

Not Harrison Ford

September 22, 2010 at 7:44 am

Also we’ll see if any Disney characters make it into the 616 now.

I did not know that Joe Kelly had point blank stated that Manitou Raven was an homage. I thought that it was a judgment (which I clearly disagree with) based upon the Inukchuk spell usage. I apologize. Can you direct me to a link for the interview? I googled a bit and haven’t found it said by Joe Kelly yet.

I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Reptyl actually debuted in the comics — I remember an Initiative special that came out before the Super Hero Squad show.

I believe you’re correct, but so did Montoya (she showed up in an issue of Detective before the TV series debuted), but they were still both FROM the cartoon, they were just put into comics earlier because of the much shorter lead time comics have.

Found the interview where Joe Kelly point blank says that Manitou Raven is Apache Chief.

I believe those Wonder Twins issues of Teen Titans were not written by Geoff Johns but rather By Sean McKeever.

I only read the Brubaker issues of Gotham Central and I thought Montoya was pretty well-written there (I don’t think I’ve ever read her written by anyone else, though).

Hmmm…think there’s a legend there? You’re no dummy and you thought it wasn’t true, right? So I bet there’s others out there like you.

I believe those Wonder Twins issues of Teen Titans were not written by Geoff Johns but rather By Sean McKeever.

Johns is the one who introduced them and gave them their clever little niche in the Titans universe.

McKeever is the one who wrote the issue shown above where one of them is killed and the other one maimed by Wonderdog.

I would have thrown in Morph from the X-Men animated series (who did appear in Age of Apocalypse and later in Exiles), as well as Batgirl, who admittedly, was in a live-action TV show, but the opening credits were animated…

And Brian, where are the rest of the Top 50 X-Men!??? That list was awesome!

Morph was based on a comic book character (Changeling).


September 22, 2010 at 10:11 am

Yeah I never realized the Raven/Apache Chief thing. I just thought Manitou was a horrible character that I never cared about in a run of JLA that I didn’t like by a writer I usually love.

Then it will, indeed, be a legend. Perhaps as early as this week!

I only read the Brubaker issues of Gotham Central and I thought Montoya was pretty well-written there (I don’t think I’ve ever read her written by anyone else, though).

Brubaker issues of Gotham Central were GREAT. I loved them. I think I’d have liked Montoya much more if he and not Rucka were primarily responsible for her comic development.

Christina Cabrera

September 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Spyke was so bad. He was just Marrow minus everything that made her interesting and plus a lot of lame elements

I think that the Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna sort-of appeared as homages of their earlier selves in the JLA/JLU shows, as part of the manufactured super-team whose name I forget at present. One turned to liquid and the other into a dragon of some kind. Another of the team was Longshadow, a native American who could become giant, and Wonder Woman was briefly interested in him. I forget the episodes, though..

Why do I even read comic websites at this point? So DC introduces Marvin & Wendy and Wonderdog, the three better cartoon-invented characters from Superfriends (sorry all you Gleek fans)and then promptly kills one off and maims the other. Nice going DC! Wow. DC really knows how to depress people huh? Mark Waid recently spoke of the pessimism in superhero comics and how it’s driven him to put down superhero comics for a while. I have to say I agree. And everytime I think I might want to get back in…I read crap like this. For me it’s more DC than others but really DC used to be the positive, shining light comics. The FUN forget your reality comics…and now…yesterday I read an interview with Paul Levitz and just as I was starting to think about Legion again, I noticed the cover with the coffin. Again, wow DC. Maybe the new DC is Depressing Comics.

Terry McInnis should be on the list. Definitely ahead of Herbie and probably at the #2 spot.

“the three better cartoon-invented characters from Superfriends”

Really, Michael!? They were a poor man’s Scooby Doo gang. And Scooby Doo was for the poor man to begin with. They were complete Hannah Barbera trash. The thing DC did wrong was to let(the usually clever) Johns include them in the book to begin with.

Gee Doc, sorry I upset you so much with my opinion. It’s also my opinion that Geoff Johns is only clever if you admire the way a 14 yr old boy would write superheroes but again, that’s just my opinion.You should be happy though. DC has made a huge ton of cash trashing otherwise fun characters so I’m sure they’ll continue to do it.

was going to be surprised if harley quin did not make the list for she started out like firestar in the batman cartoon and became a hit she got transfered to the comic. same with fires star and Montoya aka the current question.

Not trying to be geeky but can anyone list EVERY comic book character who debuted first on film or television. And since I’m mostly a DC fan, let’s stick to DC. This includes Batman’s Dr. Daka from the 1943 serial , I suppose.

Tony Young

I’d forgotten that X-23 debuted in a cartoon, but I’m glad to see Harley Quinn has the No. 1 spot b/c she’s the first one I thought of when I read this article’s title. :) Those are the only one’s I knew about, tho.

The question was actually a character who debuted in his own series from another publisher. DC later bought the rights to the question.

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