Outside of a handful of characters, popularity comes and goes. Sure, everyone always loves Batman, Spider-Man, and the Hulk, but in most cases, everyone else gets their time in the spotlight and are sooner or later forced to hand the attention off to another character. If they’re lucky, they’ll enjoy a rotational popularity that comes around in waves, like Carnage or Punisher.
For this list, we’re going to be looking at some DC Characters who were popular for a period of time, but seem to have dropped off the map lately. This means they were once constantly featured in comics, but these days can barely get an appearance in a mini-series, let alone get their own comics. Follow us down the lonely path of obscurity.
10 JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
When Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire launched Justice League International back in the day, it was a massive hit. It’s been forgotten these days, what with the first half of the 2000s being spent writing the franchise off as a joke.
Back then, though, it spawned several spin-off comics and turned the Justice League into its own world. However, after the initial wave of popularity from 87 to 92, the JLI have had a bit of trouble trying to stay in the spotlight. They were brought back with Justice League: Generation Lost in 2010-2011 to great acclaim, but the New 52 reset everything and left them with a new monthly series which didn’t have the roster or the interest of Generation Lost.
At one point, Despero was big time. He’s destroyed the League’s Satellite HQ, he’s reshaped reality after having his powers boosted, he’s even been responsible for killing one of the members of the Justice League Detroit team.
Most recently, he appeared in the mini-series Death of Hawkman, and gave both Hawkman and Adam Strange quite a bit of trouble before being killed in a sacrifice that cost Hawkman his life and Adam Strange to be lost in time and space. Despero was left at the very edge of the universe, and it’s about time he made another appearance.
Mongul was a big deal when he was introduced, even though he was just a sort of wannabe Darkseid. He had his own planet in Warworld (just like Darkseid), sought to conquer other planets (just like Darkseid), and had a personal vendetta against Superman (...just like Darkseid).
In the early 90s, he worked with Cyborg Superman and attempted to turn the Earth into another Warworld, resulting in the destruction of Coast City. Then, during the 2000s, he becomes the leader of the Sinestro Corps. Aside from a less-than-impressive appearance during Superman: Doomed, though, Mongul has dropped off the map in favor of better known Superman villains like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Zod.
7 BLACK ADAM
Teth-Adam was a big deal in the 2000s, thanks to Geoff Johns’ portrayal of the character in JSA. More of an anti-hero version of Dr. Doom, Teth had to learn to balance protecting his home country of Kahndaq with his impulsive nature and incredible power.
The character was everywhere during the 2000s, even being the source of a mini-event during 52 entitled WW3. But after the New 52 reset so much of his personal story, there simply hasn’t been much need to see him. He’s been in Doomsday Clock, but even there, his importance has been reduced and he’s made zero appearances outside of that comic.
6 NEW SUPER-MAN
One of the new characters introduced to fans during the Rebirth era of DC Comics, Gene Luen Yang’s work on Kenan Kong quickly made him one of the more likable newer aspects of the DC Universe. His world felt fresh, yet still connected to the DC Universe, with fans getting to meet the Justice League of China and seeing unique new additions to a world that’s decades old.
After Kenan’s comic book ended, however, we’ve seen very little of any of these characters. It’s strange that all of these unique and promising personalities haven’t found a home somewhere.
5 ADAM STRANGE
Adam Strange was an archaeologist who was transported to the planet Rann thanks to their Zeta Beam technology. Adam’s bravery, heroism, and quick thinking turned him into the hero of Rann, as he managed to save their planet several times with nothing more than a ray gun, a jet pack, and his intelligence.
During the 2000s, Adam Strange was a big deal as he was part of several of DC’s cosmic stories, with Rann caught in war with neighboring planet Thanagar. During the New 52, he was a member of the Justice League United team, alongside his wife Alanna. During this Rebirth era, though, Adam’s been nowhere to be found, taking a back-seat to the Justice League’s cosmic characters.
For a time, DC pushed Firestorm as Ronnie and Professor Stein, but got rid of them during Identity Crisis to introduce Jason Rusch, a young high school student who inherited the Firestorm matrix after their death. Though his comic lasted a while, by the time of Blackest Night, DC thought to reintroduce Ronnie Raymond as a Black Lantern, before eventually bringing him back via the White Lantern.
The result was both Jason and Ronnie forming Firestorm for a time, before the 2011 reboot lead to the character getting a polarizing ongoing story that didn’t last very long before coming to an end. Since then, the Ronnie Raymond version of the character has made a couple of guest appearances in Doomsday Clock (but nowhere else), while Jason Rusch has been nowhere to be found.
3 SECRET SIX
Gail Simone made this lovable band of villains into one of the most critically acclaimed books over at DC Comics. The team consisted of characters which were woefully underused like Scandal Savage, Knockout, Catman, and Ragdoll, giving them character development and depth on a level that was difficult to find in any other comic.
The series lasted until the New 52, but it was brought back briefly in 2014 and lasted roughly until Rebirth. Since then, most of the roster has dropped off the map, while Bane and Deadshot have gone back to their old tricks of being an annoyance to Batman.
2 STATIC SHOCK
“Superhero Static Shock! Whoop whoop!” Virgil Hawkins was one of the most popular heroes of the 2000s, no question. His cartoon series propelled him to a level of popularity many other characters on this list could only dream of having.
Despite this, and despite teens and kids who grew up on 2000s cartoons wondering where Static is now, we haven’t seen much of him. He made an appearance in the New 52 for a few months before his comic got canceled, but since then there’s been no sign. Since he’s really a Milestone character, this could easily break down to a rights issue, but it’s unfortunate no-one’s been able to work out a deal if that's the case.
1 THE ATOM
Between both Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi, the Atom was a big deal in the 2000s. Ray Palmer had a major role during the 2004 story Identity Crisis, then Ryan Choi had his own following Ray’s disappearance. We even got an entire series devoted to finding Ray again in 2007 in Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer, while Ryan Choi’s death created a bit of controversy when he was killed during the aftermath of Brightest Day in a Titans comic.
Since then, neither of them have been seen very much. Ray and Ryan were the subject of an arc in the Justice League of America story “Panic in the Microverse.” Since then, they’ve both shrunken out of sight once again.