You would think a character becoming iconic would be a cut and dry process. Like, make a few seminal stories, a few really good runs by famous creators, and of course, make sure those comics are properly advertised, and bing bang boom, you got yourself a character everyone knows.
Well, if that were the case, Blue Beetle wouldn't keep getting cancelled, would he?
Obviously things are a little more complicated than that. Sure, Chris Claremont did a lot to put the X-Men on the map, as did Walt Simonson with his Thor series. But just as often, a character will become one of their company's most iconic characters without any initial direct input from that company. Whether it's because of another series they appear in, or getting a cool TV show/movie that boosts their popularity, comic characters can become iconic completely out of the blue.
However, when that happens, it sometimes means that fans who've discovered these characters in a different medium are left disappointed when they go hunting for their comics. There are genuinely comic characters that are iconic, despite lacking the seminal runs and stories that they rightly deserve. Here are the biggest of all...
10. Captain Atom
The good captain began his life in Charlton comics, before that went under and Charlton's entire superhero line was bought out by DC. Since then Captain Atom has been kicking around from superhero team to superhero team, occasionally getting his own books that inevitably go nowhere.
Which is a shame for anyone who - for example - grew up on the early 2000's Justice League cartoon, where he was a prominent side character. He's also made appearances in other media such as the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which has resulted in him becoming a very well known character in the DC universe.
This being in spite of the fact that DC just can't get someone to work on his series that really adds that special oomph that makes a legendary comic.
Hopefully that'll happen one day, because this great character really does deserve it. His powers put him on par with superman (being basically a thermonuclear reactor that walks and talks) and that combined with his military background can make for some interesting stories.