Top 10 Comic Book Characters That Didn’t Start In Comics -

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Top 10 Comic Book Characters That Didn’t Start In Comics

No Capes, No Shoes, No Service

By Rob Wieland     November 04, 2010


In the spirit of Dreamworks Megamind, Mania offers a look at our favorite comic book-style characters that began in some other media. Many of these characters have since gone on to a series or two, but all of them take some part of the comics experience and bring it to a wider audience.
Honorable Mention: Jay and Silent Bob
The two constants of Kevin Smith’s films wander across the pop culture landscape like a foul-mouthed C3P0 and R2-D2. Not content to stay in on the silver screen, they showed up both in the DC Universe and the Star Wars universe… when not starring in their own film or the various iterations of Clerks. Not bad for a couple of small time weed dealers from New Jersey.
10. RoboCop
The 80’s were a strange time, when a hyperviolent movie featuring a man brought back from the dead as a cyborg could somehow spawn a cartoon, action figure line, and a comic book series. RoboCop shares a distinction with Star Wars as a film that got both a Marvel and a Dark Horse comic series to tell stories not documented in the film. The Marvel comic was fairly tame, but Robocop was a perfect fit for the Iron Age of comics.
9. Conan the Cimmerian
A generation of fans was introduced to Robert E. Howard’s iconic barbarian through the pages of The Savage Sword of Conan, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 1974. Conan had been around since the 30’s, but this run reinvigorated the character and opened up a ton of kids to classic fantasy stories. The comics were also responsible for the Conan the Barbarian, one of the two films that turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a household name.

8. The Incredibles
Pixar showed off its awesomeness in a film that was a love letter to the stylish spy films of the 60’s as well as to the First Family of Marvel, the Fantastic Four. The Incredibles captured the “family of superheroes” dynamic in a way that neither of the Fantastic Four movies did. It also offered some excellent humor from comic fans in the know, whether it involved the practicality of capes or casting a comic-book obsessed fan as the villain. Pixar gets a lot of credit for the short films that precede its theatrical releases, but the most impressive part of the Incredibles is a DVD extra. A fake episode of the crappy Mr. Incredible and Pals cartoon, complete with an embarrassed commentary from Mr. Incredible and Frozone in character.
7. The Venture Brothers
The Venture Brothers have never starred in a comic book, but use the same convoluted mythology to hilarious effect. Characters like Dr. Orpheus and Professor Impossible are parodies that comic fans easily recognize (and in some cases are more interesting and realistic than the originals). Many members of the creative staff have ties to the influential super-parody The Tick, and their influence shows. While comics have slipped in friction between super team members for years, the Venture Brothers show what happens when you put someone truly dysfunctional at the center of the fabulous science fiction lifestyle depicted in comics.
6. Aliens
You might even call Dark Horse “The House that Aliens Built” with the sheer amount of limited series released for the property in the 80’s and 90’s. The comics are so well-loved that many fans consider them canon over the later films. Fans hoping for more adventures of Newt, Hicks and Ripley were disappointed when two of the three characters were killed off-screen in Alien 3, and the storyline for Earth War was raided to make the underwhelming Alien: Resurrection.
5. Hiro
Great responsibility from great power is all well and good, but wouldn’t it just be fun to be a superhero too? Most of the heroes on Heroes wrestled with issues of responsibility, but Hiro was a geek from the start. He knew the rules from the beginning and even after the storylines piled the complications on, Hiro seemed to be the only character on the show that enjoyed using his powers. He also seemed to be the only character willing to take bold steps with his powers and gave the world a catchphrase known around the world.
4. Predator
The Predator benefited just as much from its run in comics as much as the Aliens did, perhaps even moreso because it doesn’t have a modern classic like Aliens to back it up. But the Predator did get out of the gate first in a battle with one of the icons of the comic world in 1991’s Batman Vs. Predator. Most of the creatures’ mythology has come through the various comic series from Dark Horse, and the comics have influenced the films, first with an alien skull cameo in the second Predator film and then an adaptation of the fan-favorite Aliens Vs. Predator comics.
3 . Neo
Part of the superhero’s story is the journey from everyday schlub to powerful hero. The Matrix offers a trippy take on this journey, but every step of the way, we know that Neo is going to be The One. A hero like him has to rise to defeat the malevolent Agent Smith in the end. The later films never quite delivered on the promise of Neo’s power, but the ending of the first film still plays like a great final page to a first comic book appearance.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Even though she battled demons, vampires and other monsters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer touched on the same themes that comics like X-Men and Spider-Man have dealt with for years. Buffy had her responsibility as the Slayer forced on her and she always did her job with a quick quip and a quicker kick. She did her best to balance her social life, whether her boyfriend was a vampire, a secret solider for a government monster hunting program, or a snarkier British vampire. And she even died and came back, something most iconic heroes have done far too often.
1. Harley Quinn
One of the most beloved members of the Batman Rogue’s Gallery. Harley didn’t exist before her appearance in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. She made the rare transition from an adaptation to the original source material in Mad Love, a comic that was later re-adapted for the animated series. Her combination of a vicious streak and her sad sack love affair for her Mister J make her an unforgettable character and give the Joker someone to play off of that isn't on the other side of the law.



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cdauch36 11/4/2010 7:42:25 AM

i totally agree with this list 100%..loved robocop as a kid and harley was created when i was 3 years old, so she's been apart of my life for a while, and as a kid i thought she was jokers girlfriend since the very beginning, and i think that's why she stuck around so much...she had that element that she has always been "there" and her simple costume helps haha. other than hush, she's prolly the only batman character made in the past 20 years that has becoming a top notch character..i'm sure some can debate that, but outside of the comic world people know who harley is and some know hush. i done with my tangent and great list!

samurai1138 11/4/2010 7:50:38 AM

Those two buffoons Jay and Silent Bob get an honorable mention and Darkman isnt even on the list? For shame Mania. Darkman is not only one of the best non-comic super hero movies, it's one of Raimi's best movies as well. And what about The Toxic Avenger? How could he possibly be left off of this list??Easily one of the most popular non-comic superheroes we've seen. Spin-off comics, cartoons, action figures and videogames, and he's not even on the list? But Jay and Silent Bob are?? I'm rolling over in my grave, and I'm not even friggin dead yet!   

SarcasticCaveman 11/4/2010 8:40:58 AM

cdauch36, JEEZ, way to make somebody feel old!  I didn't need to know you were three when the animated series came! 

I love it that The Venture Brothers was included on this list.  It is one of my two favorite Adult Swim shows, the other being The Boondocks.  I've always enjoyed all the comic book parody that goes into the show, and how they manage to keep up with the times (Brock finding out that Sphinx are actually the good guys and OSI being the bad guys mirroring Nick Fury finding out that he's been a Hydra agent for years).  A series full of parodies of Dr. Strange, Apocalypse, and a Superman/Batman hybrid definitely deserves to be on this list, and somebody should see about doing a comic book of the show...maybe have the comic set before the show, since God knows how many Venture Brothers there have been.

Jetro 11/4/2010 9:00:20 AM

Some good names on the list and as much as it pains me to say so but number 1 should have been something from the Star Wars universe although I'm not sure which character would be ideal to represent the franchise. 

You could even argue that Transformers which originally started off as a TV series that spawned into toys, comics (which were completely different than the TV Show during it's original run), movies and such. 

mosgza 11/4/2010 9:52:05 AM

Boba Fett... duh!

samurai1138 11/4/2010 11:10:46 AM

Jetro, Transformers didn't start off as a TV series. The toy came first. Years before if you consider its original Japanese incarnation, Microman and Diaclone. While the animated series started around the same time as the comic book, both came after the debut of the toyline.

tiredjay 11/4/2010 12:06:25 PM

There's a Venture Brothers comic?

I love the show, but....

SarcasticCaveman 11/4/2010 12:44:40 PM

Okay, going to try this comment again...I can see why the Toxic Avenger should be on this list (comics, toys, animated series), but Darkman?  If anybody from Raimi's movies deserves to be on this list it's Ash.  He's been in a few video games, had toys, and in the comics he's taken on the likes of Freddie and Jason AND The Marvel Zombies.  MUCH more street cred than Darkman.

tiredjay, I just assume the Venture Brothers are on this list because they're simply steeped in comic book parody.  Yeah, I don't think they have a comic book either, but don't mind them being on this list...and they probably should have their own comic...I think so anyway.

ZurEnArrh 11/4/2010 12:46:57 PM

I found it hilarious upon rewatching Darkman recently how many scenes he lifted from it for the Spider-Man flicks. Samurai1138 is correct not only about DM but also about Toxie. Used to stay up reeeeeeallll late to watch Toxic Avenger marathons on... USA, I believe it was? Had many Toxic Crusader toys and comics.

Definitely remember having a few issues of some cheap Captain Planet series, also.

Forgot how good BTAS was, haven't seen it in a long time. I remember catching the first episode in a motel somewhere on a cross-country trip with my parents. I must've been 10? So long ago. Before the trip I recall being very displeased that I was going to miss the debut episode on account that we were heading out that morning but somehow I managed to see it.

ZurEnArrh 11/4/2010 12:49:17 PM

On a side note, the whole Darkman series has a lot of good moments. The two sequels were... well, they were definitely movies. They had a lot of funny violent moments sprinkled throughout.

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