(No, I don't mean Illyana's crib. That's where they have all the best parties, of course it's not a bad thing.)
"Limbo- n. The state of being used to describe fictional characters who are not actively being used in storylines."
With the advent of Marvel NOW! and the subsequent shuffling of a lot of characters either into the spotlight or out, a lot of people (myself included) are stressing over the fact that some of our favorite characters are not being included in any of the titles. They are doomed not to be a part of any upcoming stories, except in the form of background cameos if they are lucky. This makes way for a lot of the more mainstream characters that we've seen over and over again.
Is this a necessary evil, though? After all, comic books are essentially stories. Imagine reading a novel in which there were twenty-five main characters, and every member of the supporting cast was mentioned on every page. It would never work. The reader would be confused and overwhelmed trying to figure out which characters he/she should be paying attention to. The various characters vying for space would never be able to have rich and fulfilling story arcs.
I have my obscure favorites. I wish Elixir, Anole, Transonic, and Cipher could go on the big-time adventures with Cyclops and Emma Frost. But I also am interested in reading the storylines of those bigger characters, as well. Is giving up these minor characters a necessary price we all pay when reading mainstream comics?
Some smaller characters get their spotlight in certain series. Both the original and new incarnations of Uncanny X-Force are prime examples. Puck, Spiral, Fantomex...they are all getting/will get a chance to shine in these new series. As readers, do we need to accept that only a few "small" characters can ever be in the spotlight at once for the books to continue selling? After all, hardcore fans like those on CBR aren't the only people reading those books. Do casual fans and the ever-important "New Readers" need to see somewhat familiar faces filling up a title, perhaps with only one or two newbies/obscurities, in order to purchase the comic and thus keep in on the shelves at all?
Do our fan-favorites need to go into Limbo, sans two or three luckies at any given time, in order to keep the books filled with the main characters afloat?