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Off My Mind: When Team Rosters Change

Is it a good or bad thing?

How many times have you had your favorite team undergo a roster shake up? While most things in comic book characters' lives don't change (characters don't age, rarely get married, etc), often a team will change it's members. Life is about change but is this a good or bad thing?

It makes sense in TV shows when there's a mix up. Actors might want different roles or simply leave the show. In comics, you don't have characters that want to negotiate contracts. It's important for a team to know how to work together. After fighting missions along side each other, they know how to operate. It helps form a good defense and offense. They can get in, do their job and ensure innocents will be protected while catching the bad guys.

Changing a team's roster could give the comic a shake up that will make things interesting. Often it's used to gain attention. Is a change for a team a good thing?

== TEASER ==

Pretty much every single team has had members come and go. The Avengers, Justice League and X-Men have had countless members come and go. Just moments ago, I posted about X-Force's team change. Even the Fantastic Four, which is a team that's basically a family, has had members leave. Is change a good thing?

When things are different, everyone needs to get used to it, not just readers. When a team has a new roster, they need to know how to work together.

How many times have we seen the X-Men or Avengers training together? You don't really see the Fantastic Four practicing in a " Danger Room" type place because they know how to work together. They can face a bad guy and not get in the way of other members.

It's good to mix things up once in a while. It can keep things from getting stale. Often it's just a bummer to see things have to change. But that's just the way life is. Why shouldn't that apply to comics as well?

44 Comments
Posted by Baddamdog

I like it when members gradually leave one at a time and are replaced with cool new characters, this was especially evident with the original New Mutant series, the members gradually left throughout the 100 issues until there was a completely different team left! I mean Karma was hardly even with the team and she's still considered a 'main' New Mutant

Edited by ComicMan24

I don't have a problem with rosters changing as long as they don't change every two issues. I'm not saying to have the same roster forever but sometimes it's getting ridiculous. Take for example the JLA, few months ago we had the announcement that Starfire, the Guardian and others will join the team and a couple of issues later the roster changed. Another example were the Outsiders, they announced Martian Manhunter and Catwoman and later that changed too. To summarise all these, they should change but not so often. Sorry if I was ranting.
Posted by Nionel

I honestly don't mind seeing some roster switch ups, even though I know companies mostly do this to increase sales, I think it's a good way to introduce readers to a lesser known or newer character or to get readers to check out a book for a team they may not have read otherwise.

Posted by magicpower

I think it can be good, but the team needs to be together for a while before the change. The perfect example  of a team that has gone through to many changes are the Teen Titans. They had a good line up for a long time until Infinite Crisis. Superboy died and the team went through 20 members in a year. Then Robin left the team. They need to settle on a roster and stick with it for the next few issues. 

Posted by IronSpidy-Rooney

Team roster changes are a good thing as long as they dont have a complete roster change every year like the multiple avengers teams are doing 

Posted by Namor1987

Not really as long as they don't change rosters during significant storylines or remove crucial characters to a team for no-reason

Posted by Silver2467
@G-Man: Very good article. I think it pretty much covers all the points that need to be made. In my opinion, changes in comics have the potential to be very good or very bad. There usually isn't much inbetween. It's usually the difference of two extremes. You love it, or you hate it. I think team changes, although usually not drastic changes to a comic, can be the same way. Unless teams go through constant member shifts, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Like you said, the members have to know how to work together effectively. For the sake of the story, however, they have to have intriguing interactions also. The way characters deal with one another on a team can make a severe difference. That is another factor that may determine whether team changes are good or bad. As I already said, team changes aren't usually the most radical changes that could me made to a comic, but they will obviously affect the comic's enjoyment or lack thereof in some way. There are different points to be taken under consideration when deciding if changing the members of a team are a good change or a bad one, but overall, unless the performance of the team is lacking or there is no depth in the character interactions, I would say it would more likely be a good thing. 
Posted by excalibur5150

Change is good as long as it serves the story or team dynamic/chemistry.  I know the original reason for roster shakeups at least using the example of the Justice Society, was when one of the members on the JSA got really popular (Ex. Flash, Green Lantern), that particular hero went off into a solo series and was replaced by another lesser known or unkown character.  That is impossible with heroes like Superman, Wolverine, and Captain America already on teams.  If the change is roster is for these reasons, I think it's a good reason    
 
Unfortunately nowadays, a roster change on a lesser book, either means a new creative is coming in that would rather write other heroes or the realization that that title is lagging in sales and it's a last ditch effort to save it from cancellation.  If change is because of the then I think it's a poor reason.

Posted by Cosmic Sentinel

After a while, certain characters just feel like they "are the team" and so taking them out is a bit like doing Amazing Spider-man without Spider-man or Batman and Robin without Batman. The Justice League has felt less and less like the Justice League to me since Martian Manhunter left and especially after the big three left. I don't think the Fantastic Four would be the same without Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny and who honestly isn't glad to have Thor, Cap and Iron Man back on the Avengers? It doesn't hurt to have odd characters leave for a while and bringing new characters in can be a great way to introduce them to a wider audience (I only like Plastic Man because of his stint in the JLA), but the right core cast on a book has a certain alchemy that you mess with at your peril!

Posted by logan48227

Roster shakeups are necessary in order to give the teams a different look & feel sometimes. In some cases a good roster change can be what a team needs to become successful.  
 
Would the X-Men have become the franchise that it is now if the "All New, All Different" lineup hadn't been introduced? The X-Men went from a book that was publishing reprints to one of Marvel's cash cows virtually overnight due to the addition of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee, Sunfire, Thunderbird, and everyone's favorite overexposed mutant......Wolverine.

Posted by Baddamdog
@logan48227 said:
" Roster shakeups are necessary in order to give the teams a different look & feel sometimes. In some cases a good roster change can be what a team needs to become successful.   Would the X-Men have become the franchise that it is now if the "All New, All Different" lineup hadn't been introduced? The X-Men went from a book that was publishing reprints to one of Marvel's cash cows virtually overnight due to the addition of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee, Sunfire, Thunderbird, and everyone's favorite overexposed mutant......Wolverine. "
Excellent point
Posted by arrowfan237

I don't mind adding a member or two but if it is like the Avengers, X Men, or Justice Leage it gets confusing who is on what version of the team.
Posted by DavidRose

 While change is sometimes a good thing, others time's it's not good at all. To echo some other commenters thoughts, imagine the X-men without Wolverine ... If his abscence were to serve a story-ark, okay. However, to mix things up simply for the sake of change, I believe, will lose more readers than it'll gain. 
 
 So, to sum thing's up... Yes, characters can change their costume, their name, their team affiliation, anything really.. The real question, I suppose, is... Should "dynamic" characters be allowed to do any of the before mentioned?
Posted by Mighty Thorion

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't - especially when several changes are made at once! Worked (eventually) with Avengers when Cap formed a new team #16 (first series), though took a while for everyone to accept Thor and Iron Man were no longer on the team. Failed spectacularly when the JLA Detroit team took over  the book with #232 of the first series. Worked (as above) with introduction of the New X-Men  (as they were in 1975!) and also with New Teen Titans when their roster had a more serious look and creative team from DC Presents #26 onwards. 
My bug bear with wholesale team changes is when it is done because editors do not trust writers to handle powerful teams or provide powerful enough opponents for them (recent case in point JLA). Teams are then artificially weakened and can no longer carry the tag-line (in the JLA's case) World's Greatest Super-Heroes.
Posted by War Killer

I like it when a team has had the same roster for a while they change up the roster just to mix things up and keep them form getting old. Plus like with teams like the Avengers or JLA, with so many characters in both universes, it's nice to see them get some spotlight in the big leagues.
 
But there are times when I really don't read the issues just because they made some huge roster switch, like for example, I would be reading JLA right now, except for the fact that I really don't care for most of the members on the team.
 
I'm also not a fan of teams having other heroes from different teams like how Wolverine is on both the X-Men and Avengers, I mean if the X-Men were still in New York, I wouldn't be so bothered, but the two teams are on the other ends of the U.S. for goodness sake, it doesn't make sense for how he can get to both teams. If they do what they do with Beast where he'll leave one team and join another, that's fine because he's not actually on both teams.

Posted by Icemizer

Team change can be good when there is a good reason for it.
Does the hero in question have a solo title and did something happen there that would affect his team membership? Good reason for a change. 
Was the hero injured during battle? Good reason for a change.  
Did the writer move from the solo title to the team book and want to bring over his character. Bad reason for a change. 
Is the book dropping in sales? Good reason for a change. 
Was there an Earth shattering crossover? Maybe good/maybe Bad reason for change. 
 
I find that as long as the reason for the change makes sense "in universe" than I can live with it.  I have less tolerance for changes made because of changing creative people. The old, well this is a character I have always wanted to do so I brought them into the group, is by far the worst.
Posted by SuperXAsh

I believe such change is only good if something actually comes from it as a result. I mean look at the potential that the Post-Infinite Crisis Justice League had, but it seemed to have hit a snag after it's first story-arc finished. If this change is allowed to develop, then yeah it's cool, if it's just some temporary thing, then what was the point?

Posted by doordoor123

I dont think roster changes are that big of a deal.
WHAT WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT IS TOO MANY TEAMS.
I mean how realistic is it that there would be so many avengers teams. X-men i could understand. There is a reason for each X-men team. I feel like the only characters we see nowadays are in teams. Its baloney,

Posted by goldenkey

I don't mind change, but sometimes when there's multiple books with big connections all the teams change and that can suck.  Usually when one X-men roster changes they all change, same as Avengers.  Most of the time.  That I don't like because then there's a new approach taken to the books and a lot a times one of the book just starts to fail.

Posted by blade hunter

Tim needs to get back in to the Titans.

Posted by Phantim555
@blade hunter said:
"Tim needs to get back in to the Titans. "

Truer words have never been spoken. AND he needs to lead the Titans as well as rejoin
Posted by scorpius72

ofcourse its a good thing. Familiarity brings predictability. you need to shake things up and introduce unknown variables to make it interesting. 
the biggest and worst new team was JLA detroit. what were they thinking? a bunch of no names (at the time) taking over the flagship group.it obviously didnt work the book was canceled like a year later and 2 members were killed.  but even from that you got a great character like Vixen who has becoming a well loved character in comics and TV. change is good.    
Posted by Mr.Hulk_Smashin'!

At least with Cyclops leaving, we get a Toys 'R' Us shopping spree.

Posted by DH69

after every arc there should be a rotation, but since avengers and x-men now have a hundred different teams theres no reason to anymore.

Posted by TheMess1428

Hey G-Man, you forgot the Teen Titans!

Posted by Scoobypuff

i don't mind roster changes but thats when there are clear rosters for each team.
 
what is it luke cage are u a new avenger? avenger? or leadrer of the thunderbolts?
 
i hate team hopping and marvel is just over doing it right now. marvel doesn't have the balls to say this is the list of characters on this team and thats how we're keeping it, so wolverine end up on every team.

Posted by A-Strondinaire
@TheMess1428:
OFT  I couldn't even enjoy Supergirl on the team she was gone by 1 issue. And don't get me started about Robin leaving
Posted by ComicMan24
@TheMess1428 said:
" Hey G-Man, you forgot the Teen Titans! "
Teen Titans are a chapter of their own. I mean with all these changes, they must hold the record.
Posted by 5ive

some teams are just made up a certain way in order to attract different fans of different characters, all to the same project

Posted by reaper2923

I didn't like it when they changed the Thunderbolts in Dark Reign

Edited by ahumancartoon

Most roster changes happen mainly due to creative team changes in this day and age, and that happens waaaay too often in my opinion. An example would be Claremont's 20 year X-Men reign. During the course of that run one member or another coming or going an average of every 20 issues or so, but never a total roster change at any given time. That's what made it such a celebrated run. Plus you get more character interaction and development that way. This is the roster changes I prefer, a little at the time, not the way most are done now. Most creative teams these days don't have a lengthy run because they are ether not willing to commit or simply given a small time frame with the title(or they could just have ADD). Another downside to todays roster changes is usually followed after a death of a member of the team. This clearly brought on because new creative teams have their own favorite cast members they want to bring in or keep, the ones they don't care for get killed off because A: to put as much drama and emotion into the their storyline and B: because it's easier to kill someone than to create a situation where their least favorite character would leave the title(makes ya wonder why their called creative teams to begin with don't it?) but I digress. 
 
One of the biggest gripes recently is the JLA. When it was annouced that Robinson was taking over the book, they showed a very intriguing lineup: Mon-El, Congorilla, Donna Troy, Batman, Cyborg, Starfire, Atom, Green Arrow, Hal Jordan, Guardian and Dr Light, and in the course of 2 issues that roster was reduced to just 4 member. WTF!

Posted by Jumpercliff


Changes in team lineups is an okay thing, only if they do it in a limited timeframe (say, maybe every 15 years). But I believe that with each team change, there should always be a constant. It isn't the JLA without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, nor is is not the Avengers without Cap, Iron Man, Thor, and the Pyms, nor is it the Doom Patrol without Robotman, nor is it the X-Men without Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, and Storm. Just look at the rosters in today's books: 
 
-The new Justice League has at least Batman, though it's Dick Grayson under the cowl, and a former Wonder Woman (Donna Troy). 
-The current Avengers lineup has Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, though it's Bucky under the cowl. 
-The Doom Patrol, for the most part, is the original team. 
-The X-Men still has Cyclops and Wolverine, and that's about the only constant right now. Storm occasionally appears.

 

But what I think is one reason why I barely read any current comics is the issue of team stability that seems to have plagued the books in recent years. Members nowadays come and go every two minutes, due to some issue with either the writer or the editor. Either that, or the members get killed in one of those big company-wide storylines, like Nightcrawler in Second Coming. For once, I would like to see a team lineup, once it's unveiled, LAST FOR A WHILE. Probably a prime example (not counting the FF since they've, for the most part, had the same team since the first issue) is how the original Justice League of America stayed intact with some of its prominent members (Supes, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman) since 1960 till 1983 (Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter left briefly in '69 and '70), and then was disrupted until JLI came out, and their membership fluctuated.

 

I've been reading a fanfic that deals with just that, on the website of The Five Earths Project. One of the writers kept the classic JLA alive with a membership made up of Wally West as the Flash, the Katar Hol and Shayera Hol Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna, Elongated Man, Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Supes and Bats, and Nubia as Wonder Woman. Nothing else has changed since then.

Posted by X-93

I usually do not like team changes, but in the case of  x-force it has been for the better.

Posted by Graphicly

It's the total team change every 6-12 issues that start to get tiring.  How long did the New Avengers Roster last till it was changed?  Or how long has it been since we've had Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman on The Justice League?
 
Team changes are fine, but after so long too many in a row can run readers ragged.

Posted by CellphoneGirl

I don't really mind a change in the roster, as long as it doesn't screw up the book.

Posted by BrianDusel

The companies and writers are always trying to find ways to shake it up, open more stories and create different character interaction dramas.  Do I mind?  Nope, it helps keep things from feeling stale and can definately be useful in getting certain characters more face time with readers.  I love the idea with the new Justice League, how Clark, Bruce and Diana are not a part of it, eventhough it does have the feel of a Titans 2.0.  But this gives A- and B listers the A+ team to be on.
Posted by daak1212

Its sometimes good to see fresh blood but ousting your old charecters is a bad idea.  I kinda brought this up with m Doc voodoo topic when they canceld Avenger of the Supernatural I wonderd if he'd be joining any teams in order to fill the void.
Posted by cbishop

To me, the X-Men, Avengers and Justice League have way too high a turnover.  X-Men's a little bit of an odd case though.  On any other team, the question is "are they really qualified to be on this team?"  With an X-team, if you're a mutant, you're qualified.  From there, it's just a question of whether they are good or evil.  I get tired of seeing the rosters switch so much though.  With X-teams and Avengers, it seems like it wouldn't be done so much, if there weren't four or five (or more) books with X or Avengers on them. 
 
With JLA, it was a big deal when the Big 7 came back to the team.  To me, that IS the Justice League.  Anyone other than that is a placeholder - certainly only there to bring them to the attention of the readers and keep the copyright current for DC. 
 
As much as I thought Young Justice was a dumb name (so's Young Avengers) I was disappointed to see those kids become the next Teen Titans.  It shoved the originals aside, so that they were literally outsiders, so why not make them The Outsiders?  Well, because now the originals of that team are off in limbo somewhere, and the writers were compelled to throw Katana and Shift into the mix.  Personally, I liked the Outsiders series, but the crew had been shoved so far to the side by the YJ/Titans that they didn't seem to matter anymore.  To add insult to injury, the new characters that made the team interesting when they were the New Teen Titans - Starfire, Cyborg and Raven - were made part of the YJ/ Titans.  That just wasn't right. 
 
Most times, it seems like a roster shake-up is just to bring in B, C and even D list characters, so that they're active again.  I can do without that kind of change.

Posted by Nova`Prime`

Is it just me or does it look like Superman is charging up the eyebeams to take a shot at the Bat?

Posted by Gylan Thomas

Without a change once in a whie things would stagnate, the audience would get bored and sales would drop.

Posted by AirDave817

I think Batman and The Outsiders was genius. Sucked that it was at the expense of The Brave and the Bold. I chalk it up to Mike W. Barr's writing. And, times were different. This really changed the staus quo. It was a much better book that what the Detroit League was. Moreso than the Justice Leagues of America. I liked that Batman was the mysterious leader of the team and didn't trust them enough to reveal his identity to the team. I liked how the League felt the void he left behind. I do believe that after Batman left, that should have been the end of the team and the book. The storylines should have been wrapped up, there should have been real closure and the Outsiders should have been done. 
 
I can't believe that Dick and Roy were part of an Outsiders relaunch. And then they were part of a new wave of Justice Leaguers... 
 
I guess it's just newer stories for newer readers...  

Posted by Shadow_Thief

Roster changes really need to be evaluated individually. The X-Force shakeup makes sense to me; X-Force is a sub-team within the X-Men, and it's logical that Wolverine would assemble a team based on the needs of the current mission. Currently, they're trying to stop a group of fanatics from resurrecting Apocalypse, so it's looking like his choices heavily favor characters with stealth/close combat specialties (himself, Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke). He's also included a telepath (Psylocke), allowing his team to psychically "network," and a member who is extremely familiar with Apocalypse (Archangel).

Edited by Gothic Storm

HOLEY DOUGHNUTS, BATMAN! I CAN WIN A TOYS R US SHOPPING SPREE?!? Oh wait, that was like 30 years ago... damn.
 
Seriously though, I do enjoy a good story where a hero exits to take on other things. But, when a hero leaves a team or changes teams just because the writers dislike writing about him or her then it's personal for me as a fan. Even if it's a character I really dislike, the least the writers could do is come up with a legit reason as to why that hero is departing. "They have personal business to deal with on the home front", is NOT a good enough reason. Show us some respect when moving a hero from the ranks of a solid team. Case in point: Wolverine leaving the X-men... for the 100th time. Yes, some of his departures have been very dramatic, such as when he lost his adamantium to Magneto back in the 90s. THAT was a very emotional time in the X-books and it came right immediately after a big crossover storyline. But, what's even worse than Wolverine departing the X-men is when he just pops up in another book and assists another team. I know this is all a sales ploy to sell more books, but at least have the decency to explain as to why he is there in the first place. Give us fans credit, writers... We're the ones paying your salaries after all.

Posted by Meteorite

Character line-ups make for more character interaction and a wider range of personalities and powers. They're cool by me, unless the line-up change makes the team worse than what it was before.