Revivals. They’re sooooo hot right now. You think you said goodbye to shows like The X-Files, Full House and the upcoming Roseanne and the next thing you know, your favorite characters are back in your life. This phenomenon isn’t a brand-new thing unique to TV; they’ve been doing it for decades in comic books. While some may not have stuck, there have been extremely successful revivals that have hit the comic spindle racks! Don’t know which ones I’m talking about? Then you’re reading the right article! Here are the top seven revivals in comic book history!
7) Guardians of the Galaxy (2013)
While the current lineup of everyone’s favorite @$$holes debuted in 2008 with Annihilation Conquest, it wasn’t until 2013 when people truly knew the name Star-Lord. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Steve McNiven took the new team to unseen heights. This put the team on the map and certainly helped the general public get familiar with Rocket, Gamora, Groot and Drax before their 2014 cinematic debut! Sure, the 2008 revival was noteable but the 2013 series had staying power. The team is still going strong today!
6) Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider (1972)
Some people may not know this, but Johnny Blaze is not the first Ghost Rider. That title belongs to Rex Fury, a western superhero who debuted in the late ’40s in Magazine Enterprises.
Later, Marvel got the rights to the Ghost Rider name and published their own series in 1967, starring Carter Slade.
However, there was something about the 1972 relaunch of Ghost Rider with Johnny Blaze as the spirit of vengeance that made this iteration so memorable. Maybe it was the supernatural aspect to the story. Or maybe the fact it was so different compared to what else was out in the market at the time. How many other comic books had Satan as a character and demonic possessions as plot points? None. That’s how many!
Also interesting about this incarnation is the fact Marvel acknowledged the past with Blaze and Slade teaming up from time to time, as seen in Ghost Rider issue 50.
While others have been chosen to be the devil’s bounty hunter since Blaze, his time as the rider sticks out the most. The image of a motorcycle rider with a skull on fire became iconic and was the basis of Danny Ketch, Robbie Reyes’ and Alejandra Jones’s runs as the rider.
5) New Teen Titans (1980)
The Teen Titans have been one of DC Comics’ longest standing teams in the publication’s history. They got their humble beginnings in Brave and the Bold issue 54 in 1964, which spun off in their own solo title from the late ’60s until 1978.
However, with Marvel’s successful revival of the X-Men in the mid ’70s, this led the way to DC reviving their own teen super-team with The New Teen Titans in 1980. Similar to the revitalized X-Men, The New Teen Titans acknowledged time had passed since the book was last published and relaunched with a mix of old and new characters. For a while, New Teen Titans was DC’s signature book.
What made this revival so great was the work of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez. You can tell right away from the first issue they clicked instantly, and their styles just complimented each other. During this title, characters like Raven, Starfire and Cyborg were introduced. However, the most memorable character to debut in The New Teen Titans is easily Deathstroke! While Geoff Johns’ revamp of Teen Titans with artist Mike McKone also took the team to new heights, Wolfman and Perez’s tenure with the Teen Titans was a watershed moment in DC Comics.
4) Hal Jordan Green Latern (1959)
One of the key Golden Age heroes from DC Comics was Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. As the Golden Age ended, a lot of the heroes were lost to time. After the Silver Age kicked off, DC reached into their bag of goodies and reintroduced the Green Lantern with a completely different origin and new identity. Hal Jordan embodied what was popular after World War II: pilots and space exploration. The US was looking to the new frontier and who better to help comic readers explore it than the sworn protector of Space Sector 2814? The success of Hal Jordan lead to the creation of other Green Lanterns like Jon Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner.
3) Giant Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)
As far as team-wide revamps go, this is the gold standard. When Marvel reintroduced their band of merry mutants after a five-year hiatus, they needed to come at it with a fresh new angle. So, rather than making the team composed of mutants from America, writer Len Wein and artist David Cockrum had the X-Men made up of mutants from all over the world! After all, the mutant gene isn’t limited to the US. This not only lead to the team being back in the spotlight, the massive success of this particular book made the X-Men the marquee book for Marvel for decades!
2) The Human Torch in The Fantastic Four
Now before you gather your torches and burn the comment section to the ground over placing Johnny Storm’s debut over Giant Size X-Men, let me explain. Don’t get me wrong, that single book is a pivotal moment in comic book history. But, Fantastic Four #1 not only launched one of the iconic teams of the Silver Age of comics, it launched the entire Marvel Universe as we know it. And who was a big part of it? Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch. Sure, unlike his Golden Age counterpart, he was a human as opposed to a robot who could light on fire, but he had a personality that captured audiences. That’s why he gets the #2 spot.
1) Barry Allen as The Flash
This should come as no surprise. Barry Allen’s debut as the scarlet speedster in Showcase #4 in 1956 not only brought the Flash back into the comic book world, it launched the Silver Age of comics. Barry Allen brought superheroes back into the limelight in comic books. Around this time, after the infamous book Seduction of the Innocent was published, superheroes and comic book in general had a stigma against them that they corrupt the minds of readers. Popular genres in comic books though after the fallout were romance and westerns.
The massive success of Barry Allen’s debut as the Flash rejuvenated DC as well. Afterwards, DC brought back the Green Lantern as well as the Justice Society of America in the pages of Justice League of America. You could argue that without the Flash, comic books might not exist as we know them today.
Those are my picks for the best revivals in comic book history. Thought some deserved a mention? Agree? Let me know in the comment section below!