10 Beloved Marvel Superhero Teams That Weren't Successful When Introduced – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Some of Marvel’s most well-known teams started out as less than successful.
Marvel has become synonymous with superheroes in the minds of the world and a big part of that is its superteams. Marvel’s teams are some of the most powerful in comics, saving the day from the worst threats. The comics industry can be a cruel mistress and sometimes teams that are popular now weren’t always. Fans may love some teams but that doesn’t mean that those teams are always going to be popular.
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Some of Marvel’s most well-known teams started out as less than successful. While they’ve gained popularity, their early years were full of problems that kept them from reaching their potential.
The Inhumans have a checkered legacy at Marvel. In recent years, a forced push by the company hurt their brand immensely but even with that, the fact that they got a push at all is better than their early years. The Inhumans were first introduced in Fantastic Four #45 and while they got the Lee/Kirby rub, they were never exactly popular.
It would take years for fans to really warm up to the team enough for them to even get a miniseries, with their highpoint being the 1998 Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee twelve-issue series. Fans love the Inhumans but Marvel has a tendency to take them out of their lane, which is a problem.
The Eternals were created by Jack Kirby when he returned to Marvel after creating the Fourth World for DC, when he was at the height of his creative powers. Eternals would be his most ambitious Marvel series, introducing the titular Eternals and the Celestials to the Marvel Universe. The book only lasted 19 issues and it was years before the characters showed up again.
Eternals started popping up in other books, with fans loving members like Sersi and Ikaris in other books. This led to a Neil Gaiman/John Romita Jr. miniseries and more canceled books. While they don’t do very well sales-wise, fans love the Eternals, which is why they keep showing back up.
The Defenders is a strange team in Marvel history. The team has boasted some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe but it’s never risen to the level of the Avengers. The Defenders had their own book for years and it even got a reboot with The New Defenders, but calling the team successful is a road too far.
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Readers had fond memories of the group, especially its original foursome of Hulk, Namor, Doctor Strange, and Silver Surfer, and it’s become a beloved part of Marvel history. Marvel has tried to bring it back several times, including using the Netflix version of the team, but never recaptured the thing that made fans love the team.
The Champions debuted around the same time as the Defenders. The LA superteam, the team consisted of Angel, Iceman, Hercules, Ghost Rider, and Black Widow and while it was popular enough to sustain a book, no one cared too much about them. Eventually, the team just sort of disappeared and no one thought too much of it.
Fast forward to 2016 and Marvel brought the team back, except this time it was a team of teen heroes banded together to make a difference in the world. Consisting of the most powerful teen heroes, the team made their own legacy divorced from the forgotten original team.
Teen mutant teams have been a part of Marvel since the introduction of the concept, and Generation X was the ’90s version. While they had their book throughout the ’90s, saying they were successful is a misnomer, as most of the time, they felt like they were in shadows of the New Mutants/X-Force, their ’80s predecessors. They were there but they were basically an X-Men also-ran.
A comeback in 2017 also failed but fans love Generation X, including former Head of X Jonathan Hickman. While they’ll never be as popular as the New Mutants, fans still have a soft spot for the team.
The Hellions were once basically the junior league for the Hellfire Club. Taught by Emma Frost, they were used as enemies to the New Mutants before the team was brutally slaughtered in a Sentinel attack. In the Krakoa era, they’ve become the misfit team, working with Mister Sinister and trying to work out their mental issues.
The Hellions is a unique team. Led by Psylocke, it combines former heroes like Havok and Wild Child with former villains like Greycrow, Empath, Nanny, and Orphan-Maker. This blend has made them an extremely entertaining and beloved part of the Krakoa era.
The New Warriors definitely benefited from when they were published. While their first series was long-lasting, calling the team successful is a bit of a misnomer. They were relegated to their corner of things and rarely ventured out. While the team has some powerful members, it often felt like the place good characters like Marvel Boy, Firestar, Rage, and Nova went to die.
Marvel Boy, renamed Justice, and Firestar got a chance as Avengers after leaving the team and it made people remember them. While the team was destroyed in Civil War, people were intrigued by them as a reality show superteam but Marvel didn’t take advantage and besides for a few abortive tries, the New Warriors have been dead ever since.
The Marauders are another team with a villainous legacy, and they have made a triumphant return. Originally Mister Sinister’s hit squad, the team perpetrated the Mutant Massacre but after that got beat by the X-Men at every turn and their fanbase was pretty low. A new group of Marauders, consisting of Kate Pryde, Storm, Bishop, Iceman, and Pyro would take to the seas, acting as Krakoa’s pirate force.
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The Marauders work to rescue mutants from countries that deny Krakoa’s sovereignty and smuggle Krakoan pharmaceuticals to those same countries. The team has taken a villainous legacy and created something special from it.
For years, the Guardians of the Galaxy were always on the cusp of stardom. The team’s original 30th-century incarnation got its own book and team-ups with the Avengers but wasn’t exactly popular. The team was recreated in the present after the Annihilation event, with a roster more familiar to fans of cosmic Marvel and the movies, but it didn’t last very long.
Since the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the team has skyrocketed in popularity, fighting brutal battles against the most dangerous threats and constantly being published since the movie dropped.
The X-Men are known as one of the most popular superteams of all time; their movies helped pave the way for the MCU and their comics were a sales juggernaut, even today outselling most other Marvel books. The X-Men are big business with amazing stories that have stood the test of time but it wasn’t always that way.
Their original book faltered after Stan Lee and Jack Kirby left, holding up for a while before being relegated to a reprint book. Eventually, Len Wein and Dave Cockrum would team up for Giant-Size X-Men #1 and the book that began their rise to the top, especially once a rocket named Chris Claremont got strapped to the X-Men’s back. The rest, as they say, is history.
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David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.


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