In "Follow the Path," I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.
Reader David B. wrote in to ask, "I read your recent column about HERBIE the Robot's move from television to comics, and it got me wondering about Marvin, Wendy, and Wonder Dog from the first incarnation of SuperFriends. Have they had much presence in the mainstream DC comics beyond the Superfriends comic? "
Ss you all likely know, Marvin and Wendy were two teenagers that hung out with the Super Friends in the first season of that series.
Hanna-Barbera clearly believed, whether true or not, that kids appreciated having younger "point of view" characters that would interact with the older characters so that they would serve as sort of self-identifiable characters for the kids. You know, you can't be Superman, but you could be Marvin, so seeing Marvin hanging out with Superman is fun because then you can see yourself hanging out with Superman.
Marvin and Wendy also provided a little bit of comic relief, also, as they would often get up to crazy shenanigans that the Super Friends would have to save them from. Marvin especially was kind of a dummy.
Marvin and Wendy also had Wonder Dog, an anthropomorphic canine sidekick. All Hanna-Barbera shows at the time seemed to include an anthropomrophic dog on them. I think it might have been some sort of ancient curse that happened to Joe Barbera's ancestors.
Despite only being in that first season, the thing was that while the show was ostensibly canceled after that first year, they just continued to re-run those episodes over and over again, so everyone knew Marvin and Wendy.
The show as popular enough that DC Comics finally came out with a spinoff comic book in 1976, two years after the show was technically canceled (it continued to be so popular that they finally revived the show, with the Wonder Twins replacing Marvin and Wendy in the series).
The writer of the series, E. Nelson Bridwell, came up with origins for Wendy and Marvin that were specific to that comic book series...
Wendy was the niece of Harvey Harris, the guy who taught Batman to be a detective and Marvin was the son of Diana Prince, the woman who sold her identity to Wonder Woman so that Wonder Woman could use it as a secret identity. That is why the Justice League were willing to train them to become crime fighters.
So they continued to appear in that comic book, but when the Wonder Twins were introduced, the Wonder Twins took over their role and Marvin and Wendy were off to comic book limbo.