Top 5: Beloved Characters Who Can’t Support Their Own Series

5. Cloak and Dagger


4. Nova


3. Martian Manhunter


2. Blue Beetle


1. She-Hulk


  1. The most recent Nova series actually seemed to have a pretty long run (3 years or so).  That’s pretty respectable.  

    I always think of Martian Manhunter as a really strong supporting character.  He is important to the DCU and I love him, but he seems to work best as part of a team.  

    I’ve never even seen Cloak and Dagger in a book, so I can’t really comment on their worthiness.  I’ve also never read a She Hulk book or a Blue Beetle standalone issue. 

    In summary, I think I’m part of the problem. 

  2. I love Cloak and Dagger! I think the reason they can’t support their own book is that they are not simple characters that can be given to just any writer. They’re B-List characters that deserve an A-list team to do them any justice.

    Martian Manhunter falls under the same category. Don’t really know much about Nova, but I did enjoy the first year of the last series. She-Hulk and Blue Beetle are characters that have always shined in team books or as guest stars in other books. I have no idea what it would take to make those characters carry their own books. 

  3. Eh, Nova did alright but yeah, turns out he couldn’t cut it. I would put Namor, Dr. Strange (or Voodoo, I suppose), Firestorm, Hawkman and the Atom up there as well.

    OH, and Hawkeye! He can’t support a series. At least… NOT LIKE THIS!

  4. I wonder why publishers want ongoings for "2nd" tier characters more so than say a mini. I’m just thinking about the recently cancelled hawkeye mockingbird ongoing that was cancelled, and right after a hawkeye mini was annouced. does anyone know the reasoning behind a move like this? would it not be better, more cost effective and maybe more profit to do a series of mini versus a ongoing with the high potenital to get cancelled?

  5. Can’t argue with your list.  We’ll see how Lemire does, but normally I would have said Superboy.  I am amazed that Supergirl has gone as long as it has.  Goes to show you, there are no bad characters, only bad stories.

    Other contenders (in the modern era): Namor, Captain Britain, Union Jack, Moon Night


  6. @ctrosejr Superboy who had a 100 issue run?

  7. I think the idea that certain characters can’t support a series is just silly.  I think any character can work if you have great story and art, plus a lot of luck.  Thunderbolts starred the Masters of Evil for God’s sake.   Luke cage is now a big name, but he was nothing for 20+ years.   I know things are insanely tough in the current market. However, I think when we and even creators and company employees say certain characters can’t support an ongoing series it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, and an excuse.  it frustrates me when I hear over and over, "Oh, that’s gonna sell well", or "That’s going to light up the charts!", when we should be saying " Go buy this!, It’s really good"

  8. I’m always blown away when I’m looking through old series lengths and compare them to how most new series can’t get out the gate. Harley Quinn has a series that ran for 38 issues! How Harley Quinn (who I’m a fan of) can sustain a series for almost 40 issues but none of the people on this list can is baffling.

  9. I agree completely. Sad to see Martain Manhunter and She-Hulk on the list.

  10. @ctrosejr Superboy’s 1st series ran for 100 issues. So…y’know…

  11. A Blue Beetle comic was the first book from DC i can remember reading. It was in a dentists office and i remember on the cover he was fighting some guy that looked sort of like the Question while hanging out of the Bug. Loved the character ever since.

  12. I would add The Phantom Stranger, Deadman and just about any major super Villain to this list. 

    not only are some characters not able to support their own montly, they don’t really need one. Martian Manhunter and Blue Beetle are cool and all, but i would at best consider reading a mini-series about a particular adventure. I most enjoy those two (MM and BB) when there are supporting the JLA. (same for Booster). They don’t *do enough* to warrant their own ongoing series. Some characters were created to be supporting characters and thrive in those roles. We need less books on the market not more.

  13. I immediately thought of Hawkeye.  Very beloved, but just doesn’t work that great in a solo book.

  14. Do Alpha Flight count?  They’ve had three false starts (at least two of which were really well written) since their first series.  That’s more #1’s than Martian Manhunter (whose series was also excellent).

    @Kaylon I used to think that any character could sustain a series if the writing was good, too.  Then Chase, Chronos, Alpha Flight, Shazam, and about a dozen other books got cancelled in the span of a year, because they were risky, interesting concepts that didn’t involve one of the big nine heroes.  Beyond the big nine, every character is second tier, and has to fight with Flash, Wonder Woman and others for survival.  For "Heroes for Hire" to get a series, "Guardians of the Galaxy" has to get cancelled.

  15. What do you guys think of Lex Luthor? Action Comics isn’t really *his* but he’s carrying it right now–albeit he’s piggybacking on a title that has been around since the Golden Age. Even though his run is only a short way in, i’m still  shocked that a villain like Luthor is having such success as a headliner. 

  16. I miss my Blue Beetle book.

  17. @PraxJarvin & @MisterShaw: Wow.  I didn’t realize that that run went on for so long.  *I* never bought it, so maybe I was projecting.  That said, that series ended in 2002, so it’s been almost a decade since he’s had his own book.  Do you think the new series would succeed if Lamire wasn’t on it?

  18. You left out Wonder Woman.

  19. @gothamcentral79–the other day i was bargain long box diving at the ol shop and i was amazed at how many characters and titles had sustained runs back in the day (and by that i mean into the 2000’s). got up to issue 53? Wow. lol Nowadays if you get a run that lasts a year its epic. 

  20. Cloak and Dagger were my favorites as a kid.  Who did the art on that cover?

     Oh, and he doesn’t deserve to make this list, but Firestorm should get an honorable mention. 

  21. Like @stuclach said I think Nova had a pretty good run this time. Even if they can’t sustain their own books they can always come back as a mini or ensemble book.

  22. The Spectre should its own series on HBO. Model it after J. Ostrander’s run from the 1990’s. The recent "Showcase" animated short is a good example of its potential.

  23. I love the Martian Manhunter Showcases (even if he does remind us he’s Martian every second panel — ah, the Silver Age) and pine for a return to ongoing for the big guy. I think he could do it.

  24. @wally, I think Lex can hold that title, one because of what that title is as you’ve already mentioned, but two, because Lex repesents a character that really isn’t out there. Look at the number one pick, She-Hulk; there is already a hulk, and while she may be a great character, can she accomplish something at her core, on her own that the hulk can’t? Yes there is the lawyer thing, and a number of other characteristics that she has that the hulk doesn’t, but essentially, she is big, green and super strong, which the hulk is too. I wonder too, if the Red Hulk will be able to buck this trend, or will he be better in a team book, or surrounded by marvel stalwarts.

  25. @ctrosejr I think it could; if Supergirl can sustain a series, I don’t see why Superboy can’t. Really depends on who’s on it and what direction DC was taking the character. If I remember correctly, it wasn’t that long after the 1st series ended that Superboy was killed…and he just recently (Final Crisis?) came back, so the gap between series isn’t that remarkable.

  26. It’s really hard for any second- or third-tier character to have a long-lasting book these days. If you look at the Top 300 list, and you cut out the long-lived "legacy" titles (Action, Detective), there aren’t all that many books that are numbered past issue #60. Plus, a lot of the high-numbered books are relaunches that have been renumbered (Cap, Amazing, Adventure, WW, Thunderbolts, etc…)

  27. How did Flanagan approve this list without his beloved Hawkeye?

  28. Hawkeye hasn’t had as many failed series and minis as these characters.  He’s top 10, not 5.

  29. @josh: But I think we both can agree he can never carry any type of series ever. 😉

  30. Maybe if Captain Britain joined the Guardians of the Galaxy…

  31. @themanagement – Good thought, but they need a magic user on that team… Doc Voodoo?

  32. The simple reason why they can’t sustain their own title is because there are already better character out there that have that same power set.

    Nova-Green Lantern will always be superior.

    Blue Beetle-Batman will always be superior.

    She Hulk- A crappy character but who even cares when the Hulk book itself doesn’t sell well.

    Martian Manhunter- So many better alien superheroes out there, works best as an offensive co ordinator of the JLA in the watchtower. Only good when used as part of a team

  33. I really love Cloak and Dagger. I would love for them to have a really well written mini. They are awesome street level characters that always seemed to get jumbled in to background characters for the X-Men or Spider-Man.

    It also sucks that She-Hulk always fail to get readers because it’s seriously just a better Deadpool when it comes to the jokes. Ah well. I love that late 80s She-Hulk series.

  34. I think I’m gonna cry.  I would read a Blue Beetle/Booster Gold ongoing.  I hate Nova.  I would read a J’onn J’onnz book if they made it more street level versus Gods among us.  I.e., if he was a gumshoe. Go figure.

  35. @themanagement: lol. Completely the thought I had as soon as I saw the title of the article!

  36. I love Cloak and Dagger, but I think maybe they’ve gotten so mired down in their own backstory that it’s made it difficult to really make them interesting enough to sustain an ongoing. I just feel like I’ve read their origin 8,000 times.

    Nova really does make me sad, as his last book along with Guardians of the Galaxy reminded me why I love Marvel, while all of the other Marvel books are currently failing to do the same.

    And while I know it’s a team book and not a character, Agents of Atlas deserves a mention.

  37. As said above, there are no bad characters, just bad stories.

     It doesn’t matter what "power set" they have, or which other characters they are superficially similar to. The very fact that they have a dedicated fan base is testament to that. All any character requires is top creators. If you took any of the above characters and had serious talent produce it for an extended period, then you could make a new Batman or Spider-Man. Of course its easy to say that, nigh imposssible to make it a reality.

    The recent Nova series was excellent and the most recent She-Hulk series was great, while Dan Slott was writing it. Peter David is forever on my shit list for the mess he made of that book.

  38. poor ted, way to kick a guy when he is dead…

  39. I would also add Deadman and The Spectre, maybe Catwoman but her comic lasted for a while before it was canceled

  40. My life needs a Dr. Strange story. I’m actually illustrating a script with the doctor for my own portfolio, and after spending so much time with the character and re-reading classic stories and BKV’s work, and Bendis’ Strange writing in New Avengers, I would be the first to by an on-going.

     Would also LOVE a Blue Beetle series. I was a big fan of the Jaime Reyes Beetle book and Crisis made me fall in love with the character… Before he got shot in the face and everything.

  41. @DarkKnightDetective : The Catwoman stories that Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke did are some of the best Bat-Universe stories I’ve ever read. 

  42. Instead of trying push an ongoing, they should focus more on creating a really great mini-series. So many great first three issues are followed by eh three issues and then cancellation.

  43. about luthor if he could carry his own book??


    cornell happened to say luthor is sorta Tony Stark for the dcu so yes i think he could but i don’t think i would want him too. 

  44. Silver Surfer, anyone? I love him but didn’t he have like 3 reboots?Namor, alos had a ton of reboots!

  45. I think, that any character who is being considered for an on going should have a one or two mini series first. But these mini series should be used to establish the characters villains and supporting cast.  I believe that these characters struggle because of a lack of supporting players rather then the characters themselves. The most interesting character in th the world is useless without supporting players and and compelling villains to interact with

  46. Despite the Brightest Day love, Aquaman’s never really sustained much of a series (with the exception of the Peter David run.)

  47. Why did the Bendis/Maleev Spider-Woman series end so quickly? I would’ve thought that the combination of semi-hot character (from her Avengers exposure) and hot creative team would have given us a hot title.

    My interest in comics news ebbs and flows, so I wasn’t paying attention at the time. Wikipedia says something about there being too much work in producing both the motion comic and the normal comic. So why not just scrap the motion comic, or was it a combination of that and low sales?

  48. Maleev got burned out on doing it, which he produced along with the motion comic, which was a butt ton of work, so they ended it.  As I understand it.

  49. I don’t think Spider-Woman was selling that well.

    If that creative team can’t sustain good sales, I don’t think any female based superhero comic stands a chance.

    Comic book readers don’t like female superheroes and they don’t like quality books that "don’t matter" (The Mighty Thor, Agents of Atlas, S.W.O.R.D., C.B MI13).

  50. I suppose Moon Knight, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel (re: Shazam) are also Top Ten. 🙂

    Poor She-Hulk; her series’ has always been good (though Dan Slott’s run was much better than Peter David’s most recent run). They gotta put her back on the Avengers.

  51. So, basically everything I like?

  52. No Dr. Strange? Really? I would’ve thought he would be # 1 the only Dr. Strange storyline that I know of is great is the Oath by Brian K Vaughan & that’s it! Strange definitely needs his own on-going especially if they’re going to make a short film about him!

  53. What?  No Sentry?  This list is bullshit.

  54. wait, was nova canceled? I thought they just put it on break until the end of thanos imperative.

  55. I love Cloak and Dagger, and I still see them as having a lot of potential, but it hasn’t been tapped into in a full series, at least not one that I’ve read.  Maybe some day. Of course it’s the wrong side of the fence, but I always thought they could do well in stories that were tonally similar to some of the better Vertigo titles.

     Poor She-Hulk.  I liked the ’90s version, which went on quite a while, I think, but it was extremely silly.  But I think that series was limited in its appeal by its silliness, because a lot of the fun came from breaking with long-held comics conventions, so you had to had to a "serious" fan of comics to appreciate it, and share the warped sense of humour of the series.  When to goal is to drive up readership as much as possible, it’s not too surprising that that formula didn’t work long term, but for all that, it did last several years.

    In fact, for all her "failed" series, She-Hulk has actually had her own title for about half of the 30 years since her debut, so I think that puts her a cut above some of the rest. She and Moon Knight should probably be in some subset of characters with hundreds of their own issues in spite of not being able to maintain a series.

  56. Was the most recent Cloak & Dagger mini good? I always liked them when they would pop up in the Spider-books in the early 80s (I’m thinking the Silvermane arc in PPTSSM), and I was hoping they’d stick around on Utopia for a while. But every time I’ve read them on their own, I’ve been underwhelmed.

    I’d like to see them as a part of Spidey’s supporting cast. Maybe Peter, Tandy & Ty can bring back that old "Amazing Friends" vibe.

  57. I’ll usually read a new She-Hulk because that series tends to be more interesting than you’d think.  But I guess that makes me the minority.  I loved John Byrne’s run on the series in the late ’80s/early 90s.  Cloak and Dagger strikes me as a team that has enough hardcore fans, and has a lot of potential, that it would be ripe for a great run with the right creative team.

  58. I had so much love the last (long) She-Hulk series. And then it got cancelled in favor of yet another ‘Blah Blah Blah DARK FUTURE Blah Blah’ from Marvel’s nursing home of obsolete ideas.

     Anyways….The suggestions for running B-list characters with regular mini-series are spot on. Look at how indie comics work. Hellboy, Mouseguard, Chaos! Comics, Hack/Slash (though thats monthly now) etc come out when there’s  a solid story. Then take a break for the writer to craft the next solid story. As long the creative teams keep up a fairly dependable schedule of new material on a regular basis any of these characters should be able to keep up a solid presence.

  59. For me it’s Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Falcon, Ragman and why not the Defenders