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One of the weird things that can occur in comics is that some of the most popular characters didn’t start on page. Many notable fan favorites found life outside the funny pages. Here is some of the most popular comic characters that were birthed outside of the comics.
1. Harley Quinn
She is the most popular example of this and for that reason should be the first one to talk about. Harley is one of the most popular female characters in comics and she was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for the Batman: The Animated Series. Her original appearance was supposed to be a walk-on role to do something that would be weird for Joker to do. Without knowing it, they had made the perfect sidekick for someone as bizarre as the Joker. Ever since, she has been put into every media from comics to video games and will soon be making the leap to the big screen in the Suicide Squad film.
This Marvel heroine was created on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Her creation was due to the writers not being able to use the Human Torch. To further flesh her out, they made Firestar a former member of the X-Men and had a love triangle between Spider-Man and Ice-Man. She was introduced into the comics until she eventually found her way back into the X-Men.
3. Renee Montoya
This one is an odd one because Renee technically appeared in the comics before she was a cop in Batman: The Animated Series. In an odd twist, Paul Dini wanted to have more diverse characters in the cartoon and was going to introduce her as a part of the GCPD. When the Batman comic writers heard, they asked if they could use her and thus she was put into the comics first even though she was supposed to be for the cartoon. While she raised through the ranks in the show, Renee’s comic counterpart suffered humiliation by Two-Face when he outed her as a lesbian and frames her for murder to the GCPD. She retired from the force when her named was cleared and worked with the Question, eventually replacing him and becoming the new Question.
4. Phil Coulson
Hard to believe the one character that has been in almost every Marvel movie and even has a TV show isn’t a comic character. Clark Gregg’s first appearance in Iron-Man was originally to be the face of SHIELD for the eventual arrival of Nick Fury and the organization. The powers that be then expanded the role and even death can’t keep fans from seeing Coulson. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Marvel figured out a way to introduce him to the comic books where he is serving under Nick Fury.
Laura Kinney was created for the cartoon series X-Men Evolution. The concept of the show was to have the X-Men being teenagers when they signed up for Xavier’s School for the Gifted with Storm and Wolverine remaining as adults. She was introduced as a younger female clone of Wolverine, the Weapon-X Program failing to produce a clone 22 times prior, hence the name. She has Wolvie’s healing factor, as well as an adamantium skeleton. But she only has two claws in each hand, and a single claw in each foot making her a vicious killing machine like her namesake. Laura escapes and through circumstances of events, ends up at Xavier’s and is taken in with Wolverine taking care to help her.
6. Terry McGinnis
Batman Beyond was created to be a futuristic take on the Batman franchise, but a new Batman would be needed. Bruce Wayne had grown too old and frail to continue his fight and a new hero was needed. Enter Terry McGinnis, high school kid with a chip on his shoulder that one night finds himself at Wayne Manor and discovering the secret of Bruce Wayne. While a favorite to fans of the cartoons, Terry didn’t get to be a part of the DC comics for a long time. That has finally changed as Batman Beyond was given its own comic and set up a larger piece of the universe with a new future Justice League for Terry to contend with.
7. Jimmy Olsen
Olsen is such a key part of the Superman universe that it is hard to think that he didn’t start on the pages of the comic. Jimmy’s newsboy career started in The Adventures of Superman radio show. He was put into the show to give Superman someone to talk with. Eventually Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster placed him in the comics where he continues to be Clark’s best friend, with or without a bowtie.