Okay, it's been years now, but thanks to Mike at Progressive Ruin, I can't hold back any longer.
Mike points out that there's a dangling plot thread in Superman and one in Swamp Thing that drive him crazy. My personal plot thread of Damocles is the one where Lois's mother has a fatal disease for which -- duhn duhn DAH!-- only Lex Luthor has the cure. Once idea that was established, it was completely forgotten. Did Lois's mother die? Did Superman pull an all nighter with Kelex at the Fortress, whipping up an miracle drug? Did Lois put on a French maid's costume and table dance for Lex just to save her mom? I will never know.
Abruptly abandoned subplots, unsolved mysteries, and disappearing characters are the annoying manifestations of one of my big gripes with today's comics: writers are changed too frequently and editors do t0o little to ensure continuity when the shift is made.
In fact, sometimes change becomes the point. i understand that this may lead to a short-term spike in sales, but it damages the long-term mythmaking of the character. Much of the Batman and Superman mythoi were developed during long periods with the same writer/editor. Nowadays, a writer is brought on to tell "his arc" and then shuffles along.
This may work for more established characters like Batman and Superman, but this phenomenon keeps undercutting the long-term development of characters like Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkman, and Aquaman. Wonder Woman and Flash change their entire supporting cast every time they get a new writer, for goodness sake.
"Aquaman" is now the common name of what is essentially four of five different characters (Topo's Pal, the King of Atlantis, Hookhand, Waterhand, and Sword Guy), putting "his" fans at odds with one another. Now, that kind of thing can happen with a Batman, too ("I like happy Batman"; "I like psycho Batman"), but I feel that those difference are more ones of degree than of kind.
In the Green Lantern realm, instead of letting a character grow, editors just replace him with someone else. 1940s Entrepeneur/Action Hero Alan Scott is replaced by 1950s/60s Company Man Hal Jordan is replaced by 1970s Liberal Rebel John Stewart is replaced by 1980s Bad-Ass Guy Gardner is replaced by 1990s Party Boy Kyle Rayner.
When a good writer is tasked to revitalize a character (like GA, GL, Hawkman, et al.), what do they do: they go back and start at the last point when the character was the result of long-term consistent mythmaking. Hal Jordan has to be brought back to the Top Gun shtick, Ollie Queen returns to millionaire philanthropist and civic figure, and Hawkman becomes Carter Hall, tough guy archeologist.
Is it so hard to learn a lesson from all this? Do not change the myth; the long term problems it causes for the character outweigh the short term gains.
Instead, expand the myth so that it contains more elements that more people can identify with. Batman remains a popular figure because he can credibly be Detective Batman, Streetfighter Batman, Superhero Batman, Spooky Batman, and Head of the Batman Family from one moment to the next without it seeming too jarring; Batman is all those things.
Anyway, back to what this post was originally supposed to be about (which is basically stolen from Mike...):
what are the dangling plot threads for your favorite characters that have been driving you crazy all these years?