The comic book industry is in a period of “austerity.” Slumping sales have led both Marvel and DC to announce in the last year that they are canceling a number of titles to scale back production and save costs. Marvel has announced that it is cancelling 33 of its titles, while DC has canceled nine comics, including popular ones such as Justice League United and Green Lantern: Lost Army. But this isn’t the first time that comic books have been canceled. Over the years, many of the most popular characters have disappeared from store shelves due to cancelation. And here are 10 comic book titles we feel deserve to be resurrected.
10. Power Man and Iron Fist (Marvel Comics)
This superhero duo originally came together because each of their own comic book titles was suffering from slumping sales. Rather than cancel the Power Man and Iron Fist books outright, Marvel decided to have the two heroes join forces in their own comic book in the late 1970s. The plan worked until 1984, when the title was canceled due to unsustainable sales—leaving Power Man and Iron Fist to serve as perennial guest stars in other Marvel comic book titles. However, Power Man and Iron Fist was resurrected in 2011 for a five part miniseries, which proved popular. And this duo is now getting the Daredevil treatment from Netflix. So why not capitalize on the momentum and launch a new Power Man and Iron Fist regular series. Nostalgic fans would eat it up and the Netflix series could help drive sales. Win-win.
9. Alpha Flight (Marvel Comics)
Doesn’t Canada deserve its own superhero team? Say what you want about the title Alpha Flight, which ran from 1983 to 1994, but the superhero group gave us the Wolverine origin and back story. That’s right, Wolverine is a Canuck and was an integral part of Alpha Flight during its run. And Wolverine is one of the coolest superheroes ever. Marvel resurrected this group for an eight part miniseries in 2012 and the collected volumes of the series continue to sell well. Alpha Flight even makes an appearance in the popular video game X-Men Legends. So why not roll the dice and resurrect this team of heroes from America’s northern neighbor? It certainly is worth a try. The original series attracted top talent such as writer John Byrne and artists Jim Lee. With the right people behind the book again, it could certainly take off.
8. Doom Patrol (DC Comics)
Everybody’s favorite cult comic book about a group of superhero misfits, Doom Patrol was published by DC Comics for a brief period between 1963 and 1968. Spanning a 121 issues, Doom Patrol never caught on with the public, but it has built a loyal fan base in the years since its cancellation. Comic book aficionados love the spirit, humor and social commentary of the original series. DC has attempted to revive the series a few times, most recently in 2009, but that new series only lasted 22 issues. However, the problem, say ardent fans, is that DC has never brought back together the original Doom Patrol cast or captured the spirit of the first and best series. There have even been attempts to recast the title as Doom Force and populate it with Teen Titan characters such as Beast Boy. Purists say that to succeed, DC Comics needs to bring back the original Doom Patrol team and put some talent behind the title.
7. Power Pack (Marvel Comics)
Power Pack was an interesting title from Marvel Comics. About a group of children who are superheroes, the series was quite mature in its outlook and dealt with a number of serious issues such as drugs and domestic violence. Yet despite solid writing and good storylines, the series was always looked down on as being for younger readers. The original series ran from 1984 to 1988, and the team was resurrected in the mid-2000s in an all ages book that was clearly aimed at children. However, it’s time to properly resurrect this team and give them their due. The team could exist well in the current Marvel Universe with their own title, and it could easily be updated to deal with contemporary issues facing children and Tweens—issues such as cyberbullying and ghosting.
6. The West Coast Avengers (Marvel Comics)
There was something cool about the West Coast Avengers, or Avengers West Coast as the title was later called. Led by Hawkeye, Wonderman and featuring Iron Man and Scarlet Witch, The West Coast Avengers were able to breakout and brand themselves apart from the original Avengers led by Captain America. They also seemed less stuffy and uptight. However, the hipness of this team didn’t help the series survive beyond its initial run from 1984 to 1989. I suppose that it became too obvious that the original Avengers could be a team of interchangeable superheroes and that there was no need for a second team out in California. So, the West Coast Avengers were disbanded and Hawkeye, Iron Man and the others were absorbed into the Avengers. But surely there must be a way to bring this team of heroes back from the dead. Perhaps they could be resurrected as a West Coast rapid response team?
5. Swamp Thing (DC Comics)
Let’s have some love for the Swamp Thing. Everybody’s favourite garbage monster just had his latest series cancel by DC Comics—again. The latest incarnation of Swamp Thing, which ran as part of DC’s New 52 lineup, marked the millionth time that a Swamp Thing comic book series has been brought back to life only to be canceled again. Since the character debuted in 1971, there have been five regular Swamp Thing titles and several other miniseries in between. While some people seem to love this character, he has, largely, remained a cult figure for comic book readers. Although it is worth noting that Swamp Thing has been the subject of not one but two movies, as well as a television series that aired on the USA Network in the early 1990s. The creation of comic God Alan Moore, there must be a way to properly resurrect Swamp Thing and give him legitimate storylines that will attract a wider audience. If the Incredible Hulk can sustain a series, so too should Swamp Thing.
4. Dr. Strange (Marvel Comics)
The last few years haven’t been too kind to Dr. Strange. From 2010 to 2013, the character was relegated to a supporting role in Marvel’s New Avengers title and renamed “Dr. Voodoo.” But the character has been dormant since 2013, which is “strange” given the character’s brand recognition among even casual comic book readers. Most people have, at least, a passing knowledge of Dr. Stephen Strange, a former neurosurgeon who becomes the “Sorcerer Supreme” and protects Earth from magical and mystical threats. A classic Silver Age comic character, a live-action film adaptation of the comic book is due to be released in the New Year starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. So now would seem the perfect time for Marvel to cash in and relaunch this comic book title in a new, ongoing series. Who knows, a new Dr. Strange comic book series could be “magical.”
3. The New Mutants (Marvel Comics)
There aren’t enough teenaged superheroes anymore. When Marvel Comics launched in the early 1960s, almost all of their characters were teenagers—from Spider-Man to the X-Men. This only made sense, as most people who read comic books are teenagers. However, over the years, these heroes grew up and became adults, and now there are very few comic titles featuring teens as the central characters. The New Mutants, which was published by Marvel from 1983 to 1991, was great because it was about a group of teenaged Mutants who are struggling with their powers and high school. This title was resurrected by Marvel in 2004 and again in 2009 but never with the original cast or title. The relaunched books were called Academy X and the New X-Men. However, a film version of the original series was announced earlier this year, so there’s hope that we could see a proper resurrection of this comic book series in the future.
2. Plastic Man (DC Comics)
The character of Plastic Man is popular enough that he appeared on the cover of The New Yorker magazine in 1999. He’s also had his own cartoon series and is a perennial guest star in other comic book titles, notably the Justice League. Yet despite being around since 1941, Plastic Man has never succeeded in sustaining his own comic book series. This is a real pity. The fault lies in the tone and temperament of the character. He’s too zany. People don’t know if Plastic Man is serious or not. What’s needed here is a great writer to make this character compelling while staying true to his quirky roots and origins. While Plastic Man continues to serve as a background character in many DC miniseries and other titles, it’s time to give this guy an ongoing series again. It wouldn’t be that much of a “stretch” to do.
1. X-Factor (Marvel Comics)
X-Factor started out with a great premise—reunite the original X-Men of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel and Beast. It was great. It was awesome. While the original X-Men title evolved over the years and grew into a bigger and bigger cast of different characters, here was a place for stories involving the original X-Men to continue. The problem is that X-Factor has morphed into the same situation as the X-Men series. Through different incarnations and relaunches over the years—most recently as X-Factor Investigations—the series has grown to include a revolving door of characters ranging from Quicksilver to Mystique. Time to get back to basics and resurrect the original X-Factor title and catch up with the original X-Men cast. The nostalgia “factor” would be huge and the title comes with a built-in audience. Forget everything that has happened over the past 30 years. Hit the reset button and let’s go back to a simpler, better time in comics when superheroes traveled around on ice bridges.