10 Frequently Relaunched Comic Book Series1 of 12By Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer
A comic book series is rarely gone for good. Some get relaunched almost immediately with Captain America, The Mighty Thor, Incredible Hulk and Invincible Iron Man all ending at Marvel in October, it's virtually guaranteed they'll be back as soon as the next month; and it's already public knowledge that Avengers and New Avengers are getting new #1s in December and January, respectively.
Some take a while before they come back around, like DC's upcoming relaunches of Phantom Stranger and Sword of Sorcery.
And some come back more often than others. Way more often. So with that in mind, here are 10 of the most frequently relaunched series in comic book history, characters and concepts who aren't always able to carry their own book, but never seem to be far from the minds of readers or publishers.
NEW WARRIORS2 of 12Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of launches: Four.
Have you ever attended a Marvel Comics panel at a convention, at anytime, anywhere? Then you've probably heard a fan ask when New Warriors would be coming back, even if Marvel happened to be publishing it at the time.
The first 75-issue volume is still beloved by many, but the second volume, written by Jay Faerber, only hung on for 10 issues (and an at-the-time-practically-obligatory Wizard-exclusive #0). Zeb Wells and Skottie Young cast the team as comedic reality TV stars in their six-issue 2005 miniseries, which led to them inadvertently causing Civil War. (Whoops.)
2007 saw a post-Decimation series by Kevin Grevioux and Paco Medina, starring a team of mostly depowered mutants, which saw 20 issues before wrapping. The team saw a bit of a revival in the pages of Avengers: The Initiative, and Speedball and Justice left Avengers Academy last year to be full-time superheroes again, but there's still no fifth volume. (Yet.)
DIAL H FOR HERO3 of 12Publisher: DC Comics
Number of launches: Four.
The original Dial H for Hero series wasn't really a Dial H for Hero series it occupied House of Mystery for 18 issues, but since that was commonplace in the Silver Age, it probably counts.
The series was then revived in the 1980s, where it once again didn't really have its own title, but bounced around the likes of Adventure Comics. A proper ongoing series, just called H.E.R.O. launched in 2003, and was critically acclaimed but relatively short-lived, getting up to issue #22.
As part of DC's "second wave" of The New 52, a new comic using the H-Dial concept, Dial H, debuted in May 2011, written by fantasy novelist China Miéville.
WILDC.A.T.S.4 of 12Publisher: WildStorm
Number of launches: Five.
Spawn and Savage Dragon have both been published continually since the debut of Image Comics. The other titles that launched with them, not so much.
Case in point: WildC.A.T.S., which saw several reinventions following its first run of 50 issues. The second volume, which started in 1998 after DC's acquisition of WildStorm, started to shift when Joe Casey and Sean Phillips took over with #8, eventually meriting, you guessed it, another relaunch a mature readers book titled Wildcats 3.0 in 2002. The next launch came in 2006, when the all-star creative team of Grant Morrison and original series artist Jim Lee took over the book for exactly one issue.
Two years later, another ongoing surfaced, which ended when the rest of WildStorm did in late 2010. Other old-school Image books, like launchmate Youngblood and fellow WildStorm titles StormWatch and Gen 13, have seen similarly frequent revivals, with a new Stormwatch comprising part of DC's The New 52 as do Grifter and the now-canceled Voodoo, both characters first seen as part of the WildC.A.T.S. cast. At Comic-Con this year, Jim Lee indicated that a full-scale WildC.A.T.S. revival at DC is a definite possibility for the future.
SHE-HULK5 of 12Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of launches: Six-ish.
Jennifer Walters first popped up as The Savage She-Hulk in late 1979, which spanned 25 issues. The Sensational She-Hulk saw her emerge as a wisecracking fan-favorite, lasting 60 issues.
Current Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott's reputation was bolstered by his run on She-Hulk, which started in 2004, and was relaunched with a new #1 after 12 issues in an attempt to goose up sales. The recently wrapped She-Hulks, starring both Jen and newcomer She-Hulk Lyra, was originally announced as an ongoing series but ended up as a four-issue mini.
The Red She Hulk Bruce Banner's long-time love, Betty Ross is now a part of Defenders (more on that team later), and is getting her own ongoing series which should count, probably Red She-Hulk, starting in October.
DOOM PATROL6 of 12Publisher: DC Comics (sometimes Vertigo) Number of launches: Five.
DC's team of superpowered misfits led by an older man in a wheelchair actually pre-dated Marvel's X-Men by a couple of months, though while Uncanny X-Men has been going strong for decades (and relaunched late last year itself), Doom Patrol hasn't had the same luck.
The first volume took over the numbering of the intriguingly titled My Greatest Adventure in 1964, lasting until #124. The team got a new ongoing in 1987, which Grant Morrison took over and thoroughly Morrison-ified starting with issue #19, leading to the comic becoming part of DC's mature readers line, Vertigo. Two short-lived DC proper series followed in 2001 (from John Arcudi and Tan Eng Huat) and 2004 (by John Byrne), leading to the current Keith Giffen-written series, which ended in 2011 with issue #22. Thus far, DC's New 52 relaunch has been Doom Patrol-free, but with the frequency they've been reviving existing concepts (even Amethyst), it may only be a matter of time before a sixth volume surfaces.
AQUAMAN7 of 12Publisher: DC Comics
Number of launches: Five? Probably? Let's go with five.
The underwater superhero/perennial punchline has had a long history in pubishing since his debut in 1941's More Fun Comics #73. (Man, comics had the best titles back then.) His first own ongoing series started in 1962 and lasted for 63 issues, and he got another shot with a four-issue miniseries in 1985 following Crisis on Infinite Earths.
That was followed by a couple more miniseries testing the proverbial waters, building towards the 1994 75-issue ongoing series initially written by Peter David, introducing the long-haired, bearded, hook-handed Aquaman (and one of the few examples on this list of a subsequent volume lasting longer than the initial one). After a couple of years off, the king of Atlantis returned with another ongoing in 2003, which shifted dramatically with #40, introducing a new lead character entirely. (Does that count as a relaunch? You make the call.)
In September 2011, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis launched a new Aquaman series as part of DC's massive "New 52" revamp, and the circle is once again complete.
DEFENDERS8 of 12Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of launches: Four or five, depending on your perspective. (Maybe six.)
Defenders was a stalwart series in Marvel '70s publishing lineup, lasting for 152 issues (gaining a "New" prefix with issue #125).
Following that, the title returned as The Secret Defenders in 1993, with Dr. Strange still a key part but characters like Wolverine, Spider-Man and Darkhawk (he was around a lot back then) as part of the mix. That only lasted 25 issues, but a much more traditional Defenders arrived in 2001 thanks to Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen. That stuck around for 12 issues.
The noted Justice League International team of J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire brought their trademark humor to a five-issue Defenders miniseries in 2005, which was followed by the Joe Casey-written, post-Civil War miniseries The Last Defenders.
The book returned as an ongoing in December 2011, with the team of Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson reuniting (most) of the original lineup for a post-Fear Itself adventure spanning the Marvel Universe.
ALPHA FLIGHT9 of 12Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of launches: Four (kind of five).
Alpha Flight enjoyed a long and healthy run in its initial 130-issue volume, stretching from 1983 to 1994. Three years after that, Sandman Mystery Theatre writer Steven Seagle helmed a thoroughly unconventional take on the Canadian superteam, heavy on conspiracies and new characters. That one lasted 20 issues.
Scott Lobdell went in the opposite direction for his 12-issue 2004 series, relying heavy on comedy. (The first arc was titled "You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me.") Following the majority of the team's death in New Avengers, a new team called Omega Flight was formed from the ashes, and featured in a 2007 five-issue series.
The current Alpha Flight series ended earlier this year with issue #8. It was originally planned as an eight-issue maxiseries, but was upgraded to an ongoing in mid-run, before that decision was reversed a bit later. That doesn't count as an extra relaunch, but it does add to the book's complicated history.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES10 of 12Publisher: DC Comics
Number of launches: Practically infinite.
Legion of Super-Heroes has a special place in relaunch history, since nearly every time not only do they see their numbering restarted, but their entire history rebooted. (When a comic takes place a thousand years in the future, there's some flexibility there.)
The original team debuted in Adventure Comics, but didn't get their own title until 1973; a four-issue reprint miniseries. That same year, Superboy was renamed Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, dropping the Superboy part seven years later. New series followed in 1984 and 1989, then a reboot and another new series post-Zero Hour in 1994. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning revitalized the concept with the Legion Lost miniseries and a subsequent ongoing title, simply titled The Legion. Then in 2004, the Empire team of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson started a new, sixth (?) series, which trailed another reboot. That ended with #50, and the team is currently later starred in two ongoing series, Adventure Comics (launch #7?) and Legion of Super-Heroes (launch #8?), both penned by storied Legion writer Paul Levitz.
Of course, both were scrapped as part of DC's September 2011 New 52 revamp, and were replaced by a new Legion of Super-Heroes (launch #9?) and a new Legion Lost (launch #10?).
PUNISHER11 of 12Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of launches: Nearly incalculable.
Frank Castle is not just every mobster's worst nightmare, he's also the undisputed king of relaunches. He first took center stage in a five-issue 1985 miniseries, with a 104-issue ongoing series starting two years later. Following the end of that comic, Marvel launched a new series almost immediately under the nearly forgotten Marvel Edge imprint, which stuck around for 18 issues. Next was the infamous Punisher as an angel miniseries under the Marvel Knights banner, and then the acclaimed (and much more traditional) 12-issue MK series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.
The same team returned for a 37-issue ongoing, which transitioned into a mature readers MAX title, still written by Ennis. During Civil War, the character re-integrated into the Marvel Universe with a new Punisher War Journal series, that was, and here's that magic word, relaunched as just Punisher in 2009. That comic was rechristened as Franken-Castle with issue #17, and ended with #21. Following that, Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto launched a new Punisher ongoing series in June 2011, as part of Marvel's "Big Shots" initiative. That book is ending in September, with a Punisher War Zone miniseries taking its place and after that, another new ongoing series is likely not far behind.
This doesn't even count the multitude of miniseries starring the character, or ancillary titles like the various incarnations of Punisher War Zone. And, oh yeah, the MAX title was relaunched in 2010, and ended in February meaning that might be primed for a relaunch itself pretty soon (beyond the current Untold Tales of PunisherMAX miniseries).
1 of 12
2 of 12
3 of 12
4 of 12
5 of 12
6 of 12
7 of 12
8 of 12
9 of 12
10 of 12
11 of 12
12 of 12