Interesting he said Thunderbolts was originally thought of as the Avengers leaving and being replaced by villains, until Captain America was the only hero on the team. Sounds a lot like Cap's Kooky Quartet. I wonder if Stan ever thought that, having Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch turn out not to have reformed at all. If you think about it, it was really shocking back then for Iron Man and Giant-Man to just walk off and leave Cap with three people that might have decided to slit his throat once he was alone with them for all their knew. I think if I was Cap I would have slept someplace hidden with a dummy in my bed for awhile.
Interesting article, but I disagree. Except for a few localized places such as Roy Thomas' corner of the DCU in the 1980s, neither the DCU nor the MU are quite that conscious of their own past.
Instead, it seems to me that there is a powerful self-image of what the universes should be like, but it does change gradually during time. It changed quite a lot in the 1990s, particularly. Books and characters that don't present themselves as compatible with the zeistgeist of their time are simply not taken seriously.
Further complicating the matter is how the market itself changed. Comics are more expensive and have a lot more competition these days. And they are available in a far more restricted network as well.
Impulse buying, once the norm, has all but been extinguished. Symultaneously, technical advancement has made it so that the market is a lot more segmented as well. Even leaving aside the very significant marked of digital media, it is not really difficult for independent authors to essentially self-publish. Marvel and DC are less commited to creators, but creators also have far less need for Marvel and DC.
The result of the best concepts being spared for independent publishers that give them more control over their characters is certainly part of the reason why so few of the more recent characters are successes. But also, Marvel and DC are simply more hostile to creativity, even with their own property. Marvel in the mid-1970s was almost a free-for-all, and DC was considerably more experimental as well. Now they seem to have to fight their own instincts (and sales departments) to even consider something that isn't a new Batman or X-Men book. In a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, they are alienating their readers who might want to try something new, and they end up having more faith in characters from outside anyway.
I would argue that characters created to be on a team aren't intended to be solo stars. Within your examples, New Mutants and Power Pack both worked within a team concept. The characters learned to complement one another, and it was that learning and their experiences that made them interesting. I recenlty re-read the entirety of Power Pack and it holds up very well. One of the best aspects was the characters switching powers over time, and dealing with those changes. Also, the lighter stories hold up well too. The ones that aren't as good are the ones that tried to get grim and gritty.
With New Mutants it wasn't about the powers really, but about the people. Sam could only fly in a straight line, true, but he became as solid a leader as he could be. The most interesting character of all was the one who had the most visually static power of all, Cypher.
One of the other things about teams is that they relieve the creative team of coming up with a supporting cast, as they are the supporting cast. Taking a team character and trying to turn them solo isn't easy, as the supporting cast is just as important as the lead character.
It depends on the team. Look at the X-Men. The Angel got a short serial and the Beast had his own series for awhile. And of course Wolverine did get his own series, although it took years. Some of the Legionaires might have worked in their own title, while others clearly weren't meant to appear outside of the team. I doubt anyone was writing DC begging them to publish Bouncing Boy Comics.
Well, DC did try Karate Kid, and that didn't work out so good. I think a large part of the Legion's appeal is the interaction between the characters, and while it's certainly possible to write a solo story (even for Bouncing Boy), I don't think many of the characters really have long-term solo appeal. Maybe you could do something with Timber Wolf leaving the team, but really how long would that be interesting?
As for the X-Men, the only character who's had a successful solo career is Wolverine. They've tried minis with the others, but I'm assuming sales never warranted a solo series. They are trying now, as Nightcrawler has his own series, and Storm's debuted this week.
Regarding X-Statix, those characters were never intended to survive the series. I'm sure Milligan knew how each would die when he started the series. Doop's still around, sure, but he's hardly a major character.