Secret Origins

Agent Phil Coulson is a movie and TV star, and now also commands Avengers in the comics. Harley Quinn started as a TV sidekick, who stars in her own ongoing comic book series and is about to be portrayed for the first time on the big screen by Margot Robbie in the upcoming <i>Suicide Squad</i> film. <p>It happens more often than you'd think, as characters from TV, film, and even radio (yes, radio) have emerged alongside the comic book heroes they played off in those adaptations, becoming essential cast members in the world of pixels and panels after (sometimes long after) being stars on the silver screen. <p>With <i>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.</i> returning, <i>Arrow</i> and <i>The Flash</i> going strong on the CW, and a host of other comic-based TV programs airing or in the works, the next multimedia turned comic book star could be just around the corner. Check out ten of the biggest to come from other media here.


When <I>Smallville</I> began, it included familiar names in the supporting cast, like Pete Ross and Lana Lang. It also included a brand new character, the quirky, adorable, perky reporter named Chloe Sullivan. <p>Chloe Sullivan had never appeared in a comic book, and for a time was the de facto stand-in for Lois Lane as Clark's reporter pal. In fact, she was the one in that world who got Clark Kent into the world of journalism in the first place! She became a fan-favorite, was an early confidant in his abilities, and wound up romantically involved with both a Jimmy Olsen (yes, "a" no, don't ask) and Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. <p>Chloe came to comics late in the DC Universe's pre-New 52 life, in backups featuring Jimmy Olsen. She never got a chance to appear outside of those backup features before the reboot but could always come into the New 52 at some point.


If there's a breakout star from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that doesn't have "Iron" in his name, it's most definitely S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson. Appearing in <I>Iron Man</I>, Coulson was the face of S.H.I.E.L.D. for viewers... until that famous after-credits scene, of course. <p>After several film appearances, Coulson made his way into the Marvel Comics universe in the mini-series <i>Battle Scars</i>. Now firmly ensconced there, he is the S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison to a top-secret branch of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes in <i>Secret Avengers</i> - at least until April, when the series ends. He can also currently be seen as the lead character in the current <i>S.H.I.E.L.D.</i> series. <p>His pal to his left, Agent Nick Fury (Jr. in the comics) came along for the ride, discovering his parentage and changing his name - he only counts for half a point in this countdown, though, as the idea of an African-American Nick Fury came from the comics, too, just the alternate-reality Ultimate line.


1981's <i>Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends</i> remains one of the most famous comic book-based cartoons of all time, still running on repeats on Disney XD and serving as a source of inspiration for the "Marvel Mash-Up" segments during the current Sunday morning Marvel Universe programming block. <p>In the series, Spider-Man teamed with original X-Men member Iceman, plus new character Firestar, real name Angelica Jones (or "Miss Angelica Jinx," as crueler folks dubbed her). <p>The character was introduced to the mainstream Marvel Universe a few years later in 1985's <i>Uncanny X-Men #193</i>, then went on to star in her own miniseries. She became an original member of the New Warriors, an Avenger and most recently co-starred in <i>Amazing X-Men</i>. <p>Not to be outdone, Aunt May's Ms. Lion, also an <I>Amazing Friends</I> original, showed up in comic books recently in Marvel's Pet Avengers miniseries. Sadly, the Amazing Friends were later murdered in cold blood by the Inheritors during the recent "Spider-Verse" event.


The long-running (seriously, it lasted for nine years and 193 episodes) <i>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</i> animated series introduced plenty of characters not seen in the original comic books, from disembodied alien conqueror Krang to frumpy secretary Irma (clearly, the show encompassed a wide spectrum). <p>Among the most memorable and enduring were Bebop and Rocksteady, Shredder's mutated henchmen named after musical genres. They weren't the swiftest villains around, but they provided comic relief and were a constant fixture in the cartoon, which led to appearances in Archie's <i>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures</i> series, until they retired from a life of crime to live in a paradise planet (the comic went to some unexpected places). <p>Their comic book careers didn't stop there, as they later appeared, first in human form before assuming their more familiar mutated forms, in IDW's current TMNT comics.


How's this for influence: Mercy Graves first appeared in the 1990s Superman animated series, then the comic books, then inspired a live-action character in <i>Smallville</i>. <p>Mercy Graves, voiced by House and Castle's Lisa Edelstein, was Lex Luthor's bodyguard, and though that's not the splashiest role, she made enough of an impression to be introduced to DC's comic book continuity during the "No Man's Land" story arc, and later became a superhero in her own right as part of Infinity Inc. <p>In the later seasons of <I>Smallville</I>, Tess Mercer, played by Cassidy Freeman, was introduced, acting as a hybrid of Mercy Graves and Eve Teschmacher from the original Superman film. <p>The villain Livewire also made the journey from the Superman cartoon to comic books, and both she and Mercy finally appeared in the New 52 during <I>Forever Evil</I> - Livewire as a member of the Secret Society of Supervillains, and Mercy as a LexCorp employee who helps Luthor run his company after he joins the Justice League.


OK, so this one is kind of a technicality, but stick with us. <p>Morph was introduced as a new character in the 1990s <i>X-Men</i> cartoon, apparently perishing in the pilot before resurfacing in a much less stable incarnation, thanks to Mister Sinister's manipulation. <p>The character was based on old-school X-Men character Changeling, but clearly had a personality of his own. During <i>Age of Apocalypse</i>, a new Morph was introduced as an alternate timeline version of Changeling, but called Morph and with a similar sense of humor as the animated series character. He later went on to have many subsequent adventures as part of the reality-hopping <i>Exiles</i>. <p>So: Does that count? Seeing as how Changeling and Morph are effectively two different characters with the latter clearly inspired by the animated series, we're going with yes. If that doesn't work for you, though, well, pretend that we gave Ms. Lion her own entry.


The seminal <I>Batman: The Animated Series</I> introduced lots of new characters to the Dark Knight's world, from villains like Lock-Up to a certain associate of the Joker you might see later in this countdown. <p>One of the biggest is Detective Renee Montoya, frequently partnered with Harvey Bullock and a welcomed female presence within the ranks of Gotham's PD (not to mention often an ally of Batman). <p>She was brought into the comics the same year <I>B: TAS</I> debuted, and later starred as one of the main characters of the acclaimed <I>Gotham Central</I> series, where she was outed, framed and kidnapped by Two-Face. But she wasn't destined to stay a cop, eventually becoming the new version of vigilante hero The Question in 2006-2007's weekly series <I>52</I>. <p>Montoya is returning with a new <I>Convergence</I> miniseries, and she's also appeared on the Fox crime drama <I>Gotham</I>, in an example of a character making it to comics, and then back to TV.


<i>X-Men: Evolution</i> followed up on the earlier X-Men cartoon by presenting younger versions of Marvel's mutants and focusing on the school setting. <p>The show introduced a young female equivalent to Wolverine named X-23, with one less claw on each hand but an extra one on each foot. She soon became part of the comic books via <i>NYX</i>, as one of several wayward, homeless mutants. She later starred in her own solo ongoing series, became a part of the X-Men and X-Force, and was a main component of <i>Avengers Arena</i> before joining the time-displaced original X-Men in <i>All-New X-Men</i>. <p>A female clone of Wolverine, X-23's history has been fleshed out in a big way in the comics, including the revelation of time spent as a teenage prostitute not typical Saturday morning cartoon fare.


Yep, that's right bow tie-sporting photographer Jimmy Olsen, one of the most recognizable elements of the Superman mythos, didn't debut in comic books. <P>The character is actually a product of radio show <i>The Adventures of Superman</i> in 1940, though a Jimmy-like character (not specifically named as such) was seen in the comics before that. Jimmy then showed up in the comics a year later, and the rest is four-color history. <P>Since then, Jimmy has become a constant fixture in practically every version of Superman as his loyal "pal," down to his latest reinvention in DC's New 52. He's also had many of his own, solo adventures, including once turning into a giant turtle once. (It happens). <P>Jimmy isn't the only famous <I>Daily Planet</I> staffer who debuted in the radio serial: Same goes for Perry White, who picked up his "Great Caesar's ghost" and "don't call me chief" catchphrases in his portrayal by actor John Hamilton. <P>Jimmy is also slated to appear in CBS's upcoming <i>Supergirl</i> pilot, portrayed by Mehcad Brooks.


Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel worked at Arkham Asylum as a psychiatrist, treating Batman's rogue's gallery of insane villains. While treating the Joker, she fell madly in love with the psychotic clown, and adopted the personality of Harley Quinn, a harlequin jester (get it?), becoming his sidekick, his lover, and a breakout star on <I>Batman: The Animated Series</I>, which was of course featured earlier in our countdown as well. <p>Her first comic book appearance didn't actually establish her in the DCU, as it took place in the DCAU. <i>Mad Love</i> told Harley's origin in the universe, and won an Eisner for Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (also the creative heads of <I>B: TAS</I>, for the uninitiated). <p>Later, though, she came into the DCU, even carrying her own ongoing series for 3 years. She became a key character in many Batman (and especially Joker) stories, teamed up with Poison Ivy and Catwoman in an anti-hero version of the Birds of Prey called <I>Gotham City Sirens</I>, and appeared front-and-center (and controversially scantily clad) in The New 52's <I>Suicide Squad</I>. She's also currently headlining a ongoing of her own, with a second title, <i>Harley Quinn/Power Girl</i>, is on the horizon. <p>If that wasn't enough, she's also slated for her first big screen live-action appearance played by Margot Robbie in the upcoming <I>Suicide Squad</I> film. <p>Harley's popularity (and Dini's involvement) carried her into the video game world with the award-winning <I>Batman: Arkham Asylum</I>, and gave her a continued role in 2011's Batman: <i>Arkham City</i>. In fact, the game's final DLC was titled "Harley's Revenge" and centered entirely around the high-pitched queen of crime. That makes her not just a character that carried over from TV to comics, but from TV to comics to video games. And that makes her our best character in comics from another medium.

10 Comic Book Characters That Didn't Debut in Comic Books

Date: 06 March 2015 Time: 06:00 PM ET