The Wikipedia page on Mantis (the character from Guardians of the Galaxy) says that she has appeared in both Marvel comics as Mantis and DC comics as Willow because her creator "took her with him".

After leaving Marvel Comics, writer Steve Englehart carried Mantis' tale through two other companies before returning to Marvel. In DC Comics' Justice League of America #142, she appears as Willow. Asked where she came from, Willow replies, "This one has come from a place she must not name, to reach a place no man must know." (Mantis refers to herself as "this one").

Are there any other examples of a character appearing in both Marvel and DC comics? Especially if it's because the original creator has switched companies but still wants to utilize the same character, even under a different name?


7 Answers 7


Listing characters that have appeared in both Marvel and DC comics is a very difficult question to nail down because of several large-scale crossovers between the universes.

For instance, there was a series of comics called DC vs Marvel where the universes collided to provide one-on-one battles between some of the major characters. The winners were fan-voted. There have also been a number of specialty crossover series, such as Superman vs The Amazing Spiderman, or Green Lantern Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliances. In addition to the official crossover series, there have been a number of unofficial breaks in the universe walls, as recounted in this article. Finally, for an incredibly detailed list of crossovers, this wikipedia article goes on at some length.

It would be a monumental task to go through and find every character in every one of these instances that crossed over.

More specifically, it would be interesting to see a list of characters that creators have been able to carry with them after leaving one of these companies. One might call them "transfer characters" as opposed to crossovers. The legalities of this are very complex these days (as is discussed in this academic paper), and I haven't been able to pin down a specific list of incidents.

  • 2
    Appearing in a crossover is different than switching from being published in one to being published in another, which would be closer to the scenario that was actually asked about. I think you're answering the letter of the question and ignoring the spirit.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 17:54

Copy and pasted from Quora:

Which characters exist in both the Marvel and DC Universe?

If you are talking about the same incarnation of a person, there is only one - Access (comics). He was the one responsible for the coming together of the DC and Marvel universes in the DC vs Marvel series.

Hundreds (primarily minor ones) are listed in this exhaustive compilation http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/12/02/lorendiacs-lists-character-aliases-that-marvel-and-dc-have-both-used-5th-draft/

  • 3
    A good answer will do more than just link to a resource, as links can rot. Please quote or paraphrase the pertinent information, at the very least.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 20:17

It's difficult to truly say just how often this has happened.

First, in many cases, the characters created by a creator (especially when you go back to the 1960s and 1970s) were almost always considered to belong to the company, not the creator. So, if the creator explicitly stated that the character in question was supposed to be Character X they had created at Marvel or at DC, then there would be immediate legal issues involved. Marvel over ownership of Blade.

If the creator has never explicitly stated it, then it may be very hard to say with certainty that character X at Marvel is "really" the same character as character Y at DC (or Image, or whatever). It's not uncommon for a creator to create titles similar to what they're best known for when they move from one company to another. Around 1980 or so, Marv Wolfman moved from Marvel to DC. While what's he's best known for from that period is The New Teen Titans, he also created Night Force. Prior to the move, one of the things he was best known for was Tomb of Dracula at Marvel. Night Force was similarly steeped in the supernatural, and there are characters in the two that are at least vaguely similar. Does that mean that (for example) Count Winters was really Quincy Harker moved to DC from Marvel? I'd say certainly not; however, I'd be surprised if there isn't someone out there who'd argue the point.

Note: I'm ignoring topics such as:

  • authorized crossovers of characters published by two different companies;
  • cameo appearances, where the character is usually not appearing in their most recognizable form, and the appearance is mostly intended as a joke/easter egg (For example, Clark Kent has been seen as a bystander in multiple Marvel comics over the years, easily recognizable by his 1970s/1980s standard outfit (blue suit, glasses, red tie));
  • characters who are creator-owned, and whose adventures have been published by multiple companies (Dreadstar, for example);
  • licensed characters who have been licensed to multiple companies over the years (The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan, et al.); and
  • "homage" characters - characters who are obviously intended to be versions of another company's characters, as an "homage" to those other characters (most notably Squadron Supreme and the Shi'ar Imperial Guard).

(I will note that, over the years, certain "homage" characters have wound up as the leads of series; past a certain point, I think they aren't really actionable any more. Consider the JMS Supreme Power/Squadron Supreme series Marvel was publishing as an on-going series for several years. While the characters involved were originally barely disguised copies of the Justice League, these characters had been Marvel characters for decades at that point.)

All that said, I can think only think of two cases where the creator fairly explicitly stated that character Y was really the same character as character X published by another company.

The first was the Mantis/Willow thing noted in the original question. Steve Englehart had created Mantis during his run on Avengers at Marvel, and had told a long-running story culminating in her being the "Celestial Madonna". She married a plant pretending to be her late boyfriend, and they went of to do whatever (yeah, it sounds weird - because it was).

When he moved to DC and was writing Justice League of America, he decided he wanted to tell a story that was basically about Mantis' pregnancy - that was the Willow story in JLA #142.

Actually, the story gets even odder than that. Englehart later wrote Coyote and Scorpio Rose for an independent publisher, Eclipse Comics. In Scorpio Rose, he included a character named Lorelei, who was fairly clearly supposed to be Mantis/Willow after her child was born. (To make sure you didn't miss his intent, Lorelei lived in Willimantic, CT (not certain about the state, but I am about the city name).

Just to close the loop: Mantis was basically unused at Marvel from when Englehart left, until, well, he came back and wanted to use her again. She appeared in (at least) Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer in the late 1980s (her previous appearances having ended by the early 1980s). After his use of her, she went unused until Englehart brought her back yet again in his Avengers: Celestial Quest mini-series in 2001-2. Finally, someone else brought her back: Abnett and Lanning used her in their Guardians of the Galaxy series in 2008, which lead to her being in the "Guardians, Vol 2" movie.

The other instance also traces its origins back to Marvel in the 1970s, and to a writer named Steve. Steve Gerber created a character named Howard the Duck while writing Man-Thing for Marvel. He was well-received, and was given his own comic, initially also written by Gerber. Gerber was eventually fired from the book for missing deadlines, and moved on to other assignments at other companies.

When he heard Marvel was looking to license his creation out, he sued Marvel for ownership of Howard. The lawsuit was settled out of court, with Marvel owning the character. Given how some of those licensing deals went (the "Howard the Duck" movie, specifically), Gerber may have been fortunate.

However, Gerber had a chance to write a Spider-Man/Howard the Duck team-up (Spider-Man Team-Up #5) in 1996. As it so happened, he was also writing a crossover for Image, pairing his character Destroyer Duck (who was basically created to help finance his lawsuit in the early 1980s), and Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon.

There was an semi-official crossover in that story: both stories involved a fight in a Cleveland warehouse, with the characters from the other stories appearing as silhouettes. Marvel, however, was not happy when they read the Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck comic. Gerber had added some scenes were the Howard silhouette was cloned. According to his story, Spider-Man went home with one of the Howard clones, while the real Howard (and his girlfriend Beverly) were in the SD/DD comic at the end. Howard changed his name to Leonard, and Gerber had "stolen" Howard back from Marvel.

He never really did anything with Leonard from there, and in fact wrote a Howard the Duck mini-series for Marvel's MAX imprint a few years later.


There where several characters that were published by both companys: Tarzan, Korak, The Phantom, even Doc Savage who appears also in the Marvel universe (crossover with Spider-Man) as a regular character. Marvel had similar characters to DC-Originals: The Shi'ar Guard is an equivalent to the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Squadron Supreme to the Justice League

  • The thing about the list of characters you've got is they were already established characters created either in another medium, or for another comic company first and then the rights where bought and sold at different times. The second part of your answer deals with homages, which isn't the same thing as what the OP is looking for.
    – Monty129
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 18:16

Classic fiction characters are usually stock to both companies. Hercules, Captain Marvel and various incarnations of a horned daemon are prominent examples of characters shared by Marvel and DC.

Mattel toy line characters 'Masters of the Universe' (the tales of He-Man and Skeletor, etc) have been published by both as have stories involving movie and sporting celebrities.

In terms of other media, Peter Parker referred to Superman in Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man 2'(2004) while toy company MEGO produced an action figure line in the 1970s that saw DC and Marvel characters interact at all levels.

  • How does this address the question? Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 3:22
  • Marvel's Captain Marvel is in no way related to the DC (originally Fawcett Comics) character once referred to as "Captain Marvel" (now Shazam). DC changed the name to avoid confusion, though technically they didn't have to since he came first by a few decades. Commented May 26, 2021 at 17:36

Mantis is the only one and the creator changed her name.
Steve Gerber sued Marvel for the rights to his characters then he left the company and lost. All creations are owned by the company not the artist, so unless the company sells or releases a character it remains their property. As far as Willow/Mantis are concerned they are technically two different characters created by a clever artist.

  • Do you have a source for this?
    – Mithical
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 14:09
  • I believe you've confused Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck, with Steve Englehart, creator of Mantis.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 23:06

Ant- man is in an old batman comic that I have. I'm talking really old. Like in an issue somewhere 1 - 20 ish. I think he just got renamed "The Atom" to avoid copyright stuff...

  • DC has their own character with shrinking powers, named the Atom. The original Atom, seen in comics from the 1940's and early 1950's, was just a short, strong guy. When DC was revamping their early characters in the late 1950s and early 1960s, their revised Atom had shrinking powers. This version of the Atom debuted in Oct 1961, while Marvel's Ant-Man debuted (as a scientist in a horror comic story, who shortly was revised into a super-hero) three months later. Given the timing, neither would be likely to be a "rip-off" of the other.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 23:11

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