In the last few years, DC Comics has had the opportunity to celebrate the 75th anniversary of many of its beloved characters. It is only natural that when you have been publishing stories for that amount of time, there are going to be some characters that just don’t fit the long term plan. Some characters are designed to only be in one story, while in most cases any character worth their salt will get used again at some point.
It is important to note that we are focusing strictly on the comic book side of things on this list, so some characters may be a part of the television or movie universes, but they are not a part of comics at the moment. Some characters are intentionally forgotten in what could turn out to be future plot points, while others may be relegated to easter-egg name drops for long time fans. DC may even just want to move on from some of these characters altogether because of various reasons such as there being a different character that fills that role in a better way at the moment. Let’s see how many of these characters are still memorable to you.
15 CONNER KENT SUPERBOY
This one is a touchy subject because there aren’t many readers who think we have truly seen the last of Conner Kent. The character has a strong following coming off his starring role in the excellent Teen Titans of the early ‘00s and he is a major part of the Young Justice cartoon. However, this was all before the debut of Jonathan Kent, the new Superboy, who is the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Making matters even more dire was that when Action Comics revealed the newly merged history of Superman in “Superman Reborn,” there was no Superboy following the “Death of Superman.” That was his well-known debut, and if he wasn’t around then, was he ever around at all? There doesn’t seem to be any characters holding a candle for Conner either in current titles, so we should just delight in his role on Young Justice.
14 MR. ORR
When you get talent at the level of Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee on a major title like Superman, you expect big stuff and the chance for some major new characters to emerge. Orr is revealed in this story as a secret government agent who does experiments with weapons technology. He is always lingering in the background of things generally, but would star in things outside of this initial story.
It would later be revealed that he interacted with Lex Luthor and possibly even Desaad, but the biggest connection made was that his mysterious “Project M” used the technology associated with longtime Titan and now Justice Leaguer Cyborg. This led to a little known story of a Cyborg 2.0 from the future that would lead to his eventual undoing. With Cyborg being associated with Mother Box tech now, Orr may have to be reinvented entirely.
There are a lot of characters in the ‘90s that are female-wolf hybrids of some sort. There is Wolfsbane, Feral, and for DC Comics, there is Pantha (or X-24). She was a great fighter due to her violent edge and lack of concern for herself. Her biggest character arc involved her being a surrogate mom for Baby Wildebeest and going off with Red Star, a Russian ally of the Titans, to start a family.
Her final bow was in a battle with Superboy Prime during Infinite Crisis when she was decapitated. She has not been brought up much at all since, and who knows whether her existence is even part of DC’s history at this point. She did appear on the Teen Titans animated series as a luchador, but otherwise she seems to be relegated to a ‘90s novelty.
Some of the best aspects of this character are the origins of his names. Tad Ryerstad had a really rough childhood. He was raised in an orphanage and his last name is based off of a beer brand, but he wanted to be a hero to others, demonstrating some genuinely good intentions. The problem was that he went about it in an extremely aggressive way, leading to cruel and unusual punishment of both criminals and innocent bystanders.
He chose the name Nite-Wing, wanting to become a superhero, looking out his window late at night and seeing a 24 hour chicken wing joint. This guy clearly has a lot of issues, and he eventually becomes hurt badly by Blockbuster’s gang, which led him to encounter the real Nightwing. Despite attempts to train him, Dick learned that this guy needed some help. He was last seen in prison over a decade ago.
11 WACKY LEGIONNAIRES
The Legion of Superheroes is known for some really cool characters and some that have such strange powers that they become difficult to use over time. One of these characters is Stone Boy, whose power is to turn into a stationary rock. His crowning moment may have come when he was used as a projectile by one of his teammates. His power was so lame that the Legion rejected him, leading him to form a now popular crew called the Legion of Substitute Heroes.
Another of these Legionnaires is Matter Eater Lad, who can eat all forms of matter. This power was mostly used as a punchline during the Keith Giffen run on the title, and since then the character has mostly been portrayed as a civilian or in cameos with no real substance to his involvement. Who knows what the future hold for these unique heroes?
10 ZACHARY ZATARA
The Teen Titans had a lot of problems getting themselves back to being a solid team after Infinite Crisis. They had multiple teammates and friends and they wound up having lots of members come and go in the year that followed. One of those was Zatanna’s cousin, Zachary Zatara, a pretentious magician that does not make friends easily.
The character appeared sporadically in mostly Titans-related stuff, usually interacting with Kid Devil or dealing with mystical threats of various kinds. However, he hasn’t appeared again since being in the backups of Teen Titans issues back before the New 52 relaunch. That begs the question of if he ever will again. With his connection to Zatanna, there is always potential, but the character would likely be rebuilt from the ground up since most of his relationships didn’t mount to much.
Scott Snyder and Jim Lee had a run called Superman Unchained that featured a new character with an interesting origin. Wraith was a super-powered being sent from an unknown location to Earth and used by the military in secret since World War II. He was actually a “Superman” for the United States before there was ever a Superman at all. He empathized with Superman, despite his government loyalty.
This was clearly meant to be a parallel to the life and choices faced by Kal El when he crashed to Earth, but his being raised in Smallville made for a much different character. Unintentionally, at the same time this series was running, Geoff Johns was writing Superman with a character called Ulysses who had some interesting similarities to Wraith. Snyder’s story seems to be one that will be remembered as more of a standalone that is no longer in continuity.
8 AZTEK: THE ULTIMATE MAN
How cool would it be to be raised to be a superhero? Aztek was raised to represent the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, complete with magical armor to amplify his natural skills. He is said to be preparing to battle Tezcatlipoca, an evil Aztec god, which is how his story plays out once he joins the world’s premiere super-team, the JLA, during Grant Morrison’s run.
It turns out that the world-threatening machine called Mageddon is actually the evil god he was raised to defeat and Aztek sacrifices himself in true heroic fashion, allowing Superman to stop Mageddon. The character has another possible future (as a woman), and she sacrifices herself in a battle against Darkseid. He also made some appearances on Justice League Unlimited, but there hasn’t been any noise heard from this character in any fashion for years, though it seems it wouldn’t be difficult to establish a legacy of some kind.
7 EVERYTHING FROM NEW 52 EARTH TWO
There were lots of things about the New 52 that went well for DC in terms of sales and stories, but the biggest issue lay in how they eliminated the history of so many great legacy characters. Some of them were brought back in an Earth Two title, but it was really just bringing back a Jay Garrick or Alan Scott in name only, with no eye toward restoring the legacy that made those characters so special in the first place.
Eventually, the Earth Two: World’s End story, which led to the death of some of the characters, while some lived on in a short-lived title called Earth Two Society, which ends with the heroes being on a newly formed Earth to protect. At this point, these characters are no more than niche multiverse story characters, pushed into the shadows by their original versions’ rebirth.
6 CARRIE KELLEY
Carrie Kelley is an interesting example on this list because she is clearly a large part of the Frank Miller “Dark Knight” books. However, she was actually brought into the main continuity of the New 52 in Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman & Robin title. She was revealed shortly after Damian Wayne’s death as an acting teacher of Damian who became concerned after he stopped showing up.
Bruce pays her a ton of money hoping she will leave the situation alone, but she doesn’t, eventually getting hired by Alfred to take care of Titus, the Bat-dog. However, after Bruce creates a recording of Damian explaining he is studying abroad, she is never heard from again in any regular DC title. It seemed there were seeds of something forming but the plans were cancelled. We may never know how it could have all turned out.
5 JAMES GORDON JR.
This is a character with a tricky history in comics as his debut was in “Batman: Year One,” the post-Crisis Frank Miller masterpiece. In that story he was a just a baby that Batman had to save, and strangely he really wasn’t mentioned much again until Scott Snyder’s “The Black Mirror” story in Detective Comics, in which he had grown up to be a frightening psychopath who opposes the Dick Grayson Batman in that story.
James Jr. obviously places a massive amount of stress and guilt on the rest of the Gordon family, especially Babs (who is either his half-sister or sister depending on your continuity of choice) and his father. He later goes from serial killer to member of the Suicide Squad and hasn’t really appeared in anything since. Maybe DC thinks he is better left forgotten as he was for the vast majority of comic book history.
4 DAVID GRAVES
When the New 52 Justice League title kicked off with a brand new origin for the League, it involved some backup material in the early issues that was written by an author who admired the work of the League as they fended off the invasion of the forces of Apokolips. His writing would turn into a book called “Justice League: Gods Among Men” that would bring the team into the public eye.
However, unbeknownst to him at the time, he and his family were affected negatively by the ashes from the battle between the League and Darkseid, which leads to his family’s death and him becoming unspeakably ill. The whole scenario is very sad, and the story had some strong character moments for the League, but it doesn’t seem that Graves is a villain that is going to be brought up ever again.
3 NYSSA AL GHUL
Ra’s al Ghul has lived a really long time thank to the Lazarus Pits, so it stands to reason that he would likely have had more than one child. Greg Rucka took this premise and introduced Nyssa, who seeks her father out after finding out who he is and winds up winning him over with her skill. She becomes disenchanted with Ra’s and his goals over time and goes through the horrendous life experience of being in a concentration camp where she begs for her father’s help to no avail.
Her anger leads to her ultimately siding with her father. Shortly after this, she is assassinated by the League of Assassins, never to be seen in comics again (though she has been a big part of the Arrow show). Interestingly, she has been known to be able to reuse Lazarus Pits.
Triumph was meant as a commentary of sorts on the challenge of creating new characters. His story was that he was actually a founding member of the Justice League that was teleported to another dimension that was lost to time after his first mission with the team. When he returned, he spent time as a League member, and his arrogance made him unpopular with readers and characters alike, which was the intention.
He is offered the chance to regain the 10 years he lost from Neron, and he ultimately decides not to use it. However, it unknowingly gets used by some of his League allies and he finds out nothing changed by having him there during that decade. He becomes a villain, but dies a hero in the Trinity weekly series (albeit in a false timeline). He was created to be forgotten, as many characters wind up being.
1 COBALT BLUE
Mark Waid is one of the greatest comic book writers today, and his work on The Flash is some of the best that has ever been done with the character. So it is odd to see him create a villain called Cobalt Blue that brings together a lot of his stories, but it just doesn’t hit the right notes.
Cobalt Blue is Malcolm Thawne, raised by distant descendants of the great Flash villain, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash. The Thawnes of that time have the power of the blue flame which healed people, and Malcolm’s parents used it to con people. However, Malcolm realized he didn’t have the ability, which led him to finding out he was actually Barry Allen’s twin brother separated at birth by a drunk doctor! This character has been unused and with that mess of an origin, it isn’t hard to understand why.
Are there any other characters you think DC would like us to forget? Let us know in the comments.