10 Popular Comic Book Characters Who Have Completely Vanished

These once popular characters have disappeared from the minds of comic book readers.

mockingbird comics
Marvel Comics

There are some characters who have incredible longevity. Superman, considered by most to be the first costumed superhero was created in 1938 and is still popular enough today to star in multiple comic books every month. The more recent Wolverine was created in 1974 and his appearances in comic books became so ubiquitous that the joke was made that being on multiple teams at once was his mutant power. But there are some characters who, like shooting stars, shine very brightly for a brief period and then seemingly disappear.

The disappearance of these characters might have happened for a variety of reasons. They may have been the particular favorite of a certain writer and, once that writer left the project, that character was written out. The character might have been altered or retconned in another medium like television or films and that change will be made to the comic books. It could also be that the characters were created at a specific time and, for whatever reason, their stories no longer work in the modern era. Or the stories might have just run their course.

Regardless of their longevity, all of these figures were strong and popular individuals who made a definite mark on the comics industry. They were parts of great stories and made some important contributions to comics as a whole. Thanks to the nature of comic books, these characters may be gone now but may return again someday.

10. Shade The Changing Man

mockingbird comics
DC Comics

Shade the Changing Man was created by the legendary Steve Ditko in 1977. Rac Shad was a fugitive from the planet Meta and used a stolen “M-Vest” to defend himself. The vest has a force field, flight capabilities and projected a grotesque image of Shade. Framed for treason and sentenced to death, Shade spent some time on Earth trying to clear his name, but the series ended before he could achieve that goal.

Writer Peter Milligan reimagined the concept as Shade took over the body of Troy Grenzer, a serial killer, and became embroiled in the life of Kathy George, a woman whose parents Grenzer had killed. This Shade’s M-Vest changed reality in the area around him. Shade fought the American Scream, another Changing Man who was driven insane after being deeply immersed in training about American culture. Shade was killed several times, taking over new bodies.

After the end of the 70-issue Vertigo series, there was a brief flirtation with trying to bring Shade into the mainstream. Shade was a founding member of the Justice League Dark but retired after he lost his M Vest. That was the last significant sighting of Shade. The Milligan work put such a strong stamp on the character that it gives the feeling that he said everything that needs to be said about the character and that scares most creators away.


John Wilson has been a comic book and pop culture fan his entire life. He has written for a number of websites on the subject over the years and is especially pleased to be at WhatCulture. John has written two comic books for Last Ember Press Studio and has recently self-published a children's book called "Blue." When not spending far too much time on the internet, John spends time with his lovely wife, Kim, their goofy dog, Tesla, and two very spoiled cats.