In the world of serialized entertainment, if something is gone, there's somebody out there who believes it's already been gone too long.
It's why shows that get cancelled after a season still have active fan bases talking about them on social media and petitioning for new episodes -- and it's why comics titles seem to get recycled ad nauseum instead of launching something entirely new.
After all, in a marketplace where a lot of comics sell only 20,000 issues or so, who's going to thumb their nose at releasing a new book with a built-in audience, even if it's only a few thousand? Every extra set of eyes is potentially the set that keeps a comic above the cancellation threshold.
With the industry abuzz over the recent cancellations of fan-favorite books like Nighthawk and Black Canary, it seemed as good a time as any to lament some of our favorite comics that have just been gone too long...even if we usually think "too long" is five minutes after the "final issue" solicitation hits the Internet.
Manhunter is a comic that's existed...a lot...during DC's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths history, but its most recent iteration is likely its most beloved (outside of that short period when Walter Simonson was working on it, but that hardly counts as a run since it's literally been collected as "additional content" in an unrelated Artists Edition by IDW).
That would be Marc Andreyko's outing with Jesus Saiz and a number of other artists who introduced fans to Kate Spencer, a district attorney who became so disillusioned with supervillains getting away with their crimes that she stole a bunch of gear out of an evidence lockup and took to the streets as a masked vigilante.
Manhunter existed so close to the cancellation threshold that it was cancelled, then un-cancelled before it ever had a chance to end, then cancelled again, then resurrected for a final hurrah. DC clearly had faith in it, its dedicated audience loved it, and the biggest problem it faced during its short life was the fact that in an attempt to woo mainstream readers, the book lost some of its identity toward the end.
With Andreyko, who's been kind of a journeyman in recent years with a lot of work on licensed properties like True Blood, currently writing the Hawkman/Adam Strange miniseries for DC, what better time to approach him about bringing Kate Spencer back to the DCU?
Many of the New Mutants characters haven't been major players in the Marvel Universe in a while, so it might be fun to see whether they could get somebody who has been long associated with the title to come back and do a postscript on it, as they did with Peter David on X-Factor. But if not, it's still worth trotting out the brand, and for a few reasons.
With an X-Force movie in development, there's likely to be a lot of interest in those characters and their roots -- which includes Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld's take on New Mutants. There's also the fact that in the current Marvel Universe, which is somewhat...ahem...mutant-challenged, a new X-book titled "New Mutants" and potentially including some actual new mutants would likely be embraced by a decent chunk of the audience who miss the halcyon days when X-Men ruled the comic book landscape.
China Mieville's recent, Vertigo-inspired Dial H For Hero was actually the second time in recent memory that somebody tried to revive this particular Silver Age DC property and make something really grown-up (but not EXTREME, just clever) out of it.
A previous attempt was made with H-E-R-O, which was one of those titles that sold phenomenally well when it first came out (so much so that DC decided to collect the first two issues and release them as a one-shot so that fans could get caught up), but petered out pretty quickly.
There was only ever one collected edition -- of the first six issues -- and if you want to read the rest of the book's two year run, you have to pick it up in single issues, since this isn't the kind of book that's been making it to digital just yet.
And it's well worth the investment. If you didn't buy it when it was new or get it in a dollar bin, you can probably still track down copies on eBay or MyComicShop for a little bit of nothing.
(As in, you can get the full run for less than $50 with shipping at MyComicShop right now.)
The conceit of the book is that years after the Dial H For Hero stories were thought to be over, the H-Dial starts making its way around the DC Universe, and a group of seemingly unconnected people have largely one-and-done adventures with it, allowing for as much variety in backstory, ethnicity, etc., as in the powers the H-Dial bestows. It's a great, simple high concept and one that could be a lot of fun to reboot.
With Champions selling out before the first issue hits the stands and a new Teen Titans about to be "reborn" at DC amid high expectations, it's clear that years of grim and gritty stories have given at least some of the comics-reading audience a bit of enthusiasm for youth-driven stories that are maybe not all full of death and misery.
Enter Power Back, a fun, versatile book that's one of the most successful series created for young readers in decades.
Some of the characters have shown up around the Marvel Universe on and off, but in general Power Pack hasn't had a consistent presence in comics in years. Meanwhile, the original series' creators are not only still working in comics, but writer Louise Simonson recently wrote a really entertaining crossover event featuring kids characters -- IDW's Super Secret Crisis War.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
Speaking of teen superheroes -- where the heck is the Legion?!
One of DC's longest-running titles, Legion of Super-Heroes were consistently one of the publisher's most popular properties for years, until 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths came along and started tinkering with their history. Between a never-ending string of seemingly-incomprehensible retcons and changes to the comics market in general, it was a slow decline for the Legion until it became one of the first post-New 52 casualties...and the characters have barely been seen since.
We've seen hints here and there, especially in the excellent and gone-too-soon Justice League United, and obviously there was that hint of more to come in DC Universe: Rebirth -- but so far, nothing.
It can't be too far off, though, right? Especially with the current popularity of the Superman family of titles? A Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes or Supergirl and the Legion would probably kill right about now.
Marvel's first family, and a comic that's homes to some of the greatest runs in comic book history, was cancelled due to low sales, scattered around the Marvel Universe, and now as far as we can tell, the characters won't be showing up anywhere at all come time for the All-New Marvel NOW Mark II.
It's a shame -- and there's really no reason that Fantastic Four can't be a premiere title for Marvel again, especially given the current trend in the market for genre diversity and a light touch. Play up the big-idea science fiction, play down the superheroics. Play up Johnny's youth and give him a diverse supporting cast of friends and/or girlfriends. Play up the "family" element that has been working so well with Action Comics and Superman.
The time seems right, at least on paper, for Fantastic Four to come back -- and there's no excuse for one of the most important superhero comics ever published to be sitting on a shelf.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
This one's tricky, because of course the heroes of Earth-2 have had comics pretty consistently since the New 52 reboot -- and even some pretty good ones.
Nevertheless, fans have been aching to see the "real" Justice Society back in action, and more than any other group of characters, they suffered at the hands of The New 52's hyper-shortened timetable, costume redesigns, and modern sensibility.
DC Universe: Rebirth seems to have established that the classic JSA still exists out there somewhere in the multiverse, though, and with the team coming to DC's Legends of Tomorrow, it stands to reason that putting them back in action in the comics would be a good short-term business strategy.