Comic book issue numbers. Do they really matter anymore? To be more specific, do they hold the prestige they once did? In the old days, a comic with a higher issue count was considered more likely to sell, the idea being that the higher the issue number, the better it must be. Conversely, a lower issue count (most famously, Action Comics, #1) was once treated like the Hope Diamond. Not anymore. We’re not out to revolutionize the industry, but we need to point out a few industry failures—starting with the issue numbering system.
While it’s cool to see a comic reach a milestone issue, the numbers game isn’t really worth playing anymore. Having a 100+ issue run isn’t the achievement it used to be when those numbers are fudged to increase sales and drum up interest. When a title is cancelled and restarted every few years, only to return to its original numbering, the whole idea of long-term consecutive numbering becomes a joke. Perhaps an unlimited number of mini-series’ could work to everyone’s benefit? Before you go into a rage and shake an angry fist at your monitor, bear with us and listen to the rest of our arguments regarding why it might work.
Remember when Grant Morrison took over the X-Men? He put ‘em in black motorcycle jackets and made ‘em look more like the movie. For the first time in a long time, the X-Men were truly cool again. Morrison shattered preconceptions and reinvented the X-Men from the ground up and gave writers a whole new sandbox to play in.
This is an extreme example, but here’s where the system breaks down:
So what’s the point of even having an ongoing number these days? Sure, in cases like Action or Detective Comics which are somewhere around issue #800,000,000,000, it’s a little harder to justify, but when books get cancelled and restarted with new #1’s after every crossover, why are we so worried about numbering?
Everyone always talks about “jumping on points.” A while ago, a comic carried a tagline that read “New Storyline Begins Here!” to make it easier for the casual reader to know where to start. How did it work? Let’s say that casual fan walks into a shop. He wants to know what’s going on with Iron Man but he doesn’t know where to begin. When he finds Invincible Iron Man, No. 562 on the shelf, he’s likely to turn away from the massive gaps of storyline he’s missed. When he sees a “First Issue” seal on the cover, he’s a lot more likely to pick it up. If a series started over again with a new #1 every so often, it would be that much easier and it might even increase sales. #1’s always equal big sales, right?
Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk recently hit 600 and The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t far behind. Only one small problem: none of these books are anywhere near 600 issues.
Action Comics #1 was published in June 1938 and with the exception of a couple of hiatuses, it’s been published every month since (except when it was a weekly). That’book that can legitimately claim to have 878 issues. Thor? Not so much.
Thor originally starred in Journey into Mystery #83 (August 1962), which got a new title after issue #125 when it became Thor. When Thor “died” in that whole Onslaught debacle, it went back to being Journey into Mystery. Then it was cancelled. Thor eventually got a proper #1 in 1998. That series mysteriously ended with issue #587 in 2004, despite only lasting 85 issues. Once again in 2007, Thor had a new #1 only to find himself at issue #600 just a few months back. Confused? Try making sense of the Hulk’s numbering! And it isn’t just Thor. Spider-Man, Captain America and The Fantastic Four have all had more than one first issue and they’re all currently hovering around the 600-issue mark.
The point is, Marvel could debut a comic next month called Porkchop Man and start it with issue #532 and it wouldn’t matter. When Captain America jumps from issue #50 to #600 in 30 days, it ceases to be relevant.
It’s already happening, folks. Take a look at the shelves in your local comic shop. How many first issues of Iron Man are there? Hell, Iron Fist was just put on hiatus and a relaunch is inevitable. Now that Battle for the Cowl has wrapped up, we’ve got a brand new Batman and Robin #1 on the shelves.
This isn’t to say that every monthly series should be cancelled and replaced with mini-series after mini-series. Obviously this strategy won’t work for every book and as we’ve stated, nobody wants to cancel Action Comics. Rather than make attempts to launch a new title based on an obscure character (Blue Beetle, Red Tornado, etc) and will be cancelled anyway, why not go the mini-series route? It avoids the stigma and shame of cancellation and gives new readers a myriad of jumping on points.
After all, this isn’t the ’70s--writers don’t do 100-issue runs anymore. We’re lucky if we can get 20 issues out of most creative teams. If slapping a big, shiny gold #1 on the cover of a book every time a new team comes aboard helps sell more comics, then it’s worth it for the reader and the industry. Numbering has just become another publicity stunt these days. Why not milk that stunt for all it’s worth with an endless series of first issues?
By Ben Johnson and Chad Derdowski
Crypt Of Horror TP Vol 6, $24.95
Ben: As opposed to the Crypt of Comedy.
President Evil (One Shot), $3.99
Kade Rising Sun #3 (of 4), $3.95
No Hero #6 (of 7)(Regular Cover), $3.99
Ben: We need to start a support group for people who feel compelled to buy multiple covers. I can just see it now: “Hi, I’m Eddie, and I’m a total idiot.”
No Hero #6 (of 7)(Auxiliary Edition), $3.99
No Hero #6 (of 7)(Incentive Design Sketch Cover), AR
No Hero #6 (of 7)(Wrap Cover), $3.99
Ben: Starring Run DMC.
Hero Squared TP Vol 3 Love & Death, $12.99
Bone One Volume Edition SC (13th Printing), $39.99
Ben: The hole goes all the way through.
Rasl HC Vol 1 Drift (Collectors Edition), $50.00
DABEL BROTHERS PRODUCTIONS
Dean Koontzs Nevermore #2 (of 6), $3.99
Robert Jordans Wheel Of Time Eye Of The World #1, $3.99
Ben: Should have a character called Atreyu.
BPRD 1947 #1 (of 5), $2.99
Doctor Grordborts Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory HC (3rd printing), $12.95
Neon Genesis Evangelion Shinji Ikari Raising Project TP Vol 1, $9.95
Pixu HC Mark Of Evil, $17.95
Sinfest TP Vol 1 (Dark Horse Edition), $14.95
100 Bullets TP Vol 13 Wilt, $19.99
Absolute DC The New Frontier HC (New Printing), $75.00
All Star Superman #1 (Special Edition), $1.00
Batman #688, $2.99
Batman And Robin #1 (Frank Quitely Second Printing Cover), $2.99
Booster Gold #22, $3.99
Cartoon Network Action Pack #39, $2.50
Chuck TP, $19.99
Go West TP Vol 3, $9.99
Chad: Remember that song they had back in the ‘90s? King of Wishful Thinking. Officially, I hated that song but secretly, I kind of liked it. You’re the only people I’ve ever admitted that to.
Green Arrow Black Canary #22, $3.99
Green Lantern #43 (Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy Regular Cover)(Blackest Night Tie-In), $2.99
Green Lantern #43 (Eddy Barrows Variant Cover)(Blackest Night Tie-In), AR
House Of Mystery #15, $2.99
Justice League International TP Vol 2, $17.99
Nobody HC, $19.99
North 40 #1 (of 6), $2.99
Prototype #4 (of 6), $3.99
REBELS #6, $2.99
Red Robin #2, $2.99
Scooby Doo #146, $2.50
Showcase Presents Batlash TP, $9.99
Stormwatch PHD #22, $2.99
Superman Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow HC (Deluxe Edition), $24.99
Superman World Of New Krypton #5 (of 12)(Gary Frank Regular Cover), $2.99
Superman World Of New Krypton #5 (of 12)(Tan Eng Huat Variant Cover), AR
Tom Strong #1 (Special Edition), $1.00
Unwritten #3, $2.99
Warlord #4, $2.99
Wednesday Comics #1 (of 12), $3.99
Chad: My most anticipated book of the year.
DEVILS DUE PUBLISHING
Barack The Barbarian Poster, $5.99
Drafted One Hundred Days (One Shot), $5.99
I Am Legion #4 (of 6), $3.50
Zombies That Ate The World #4, $3.50
Army Of Darkness #22, $3.50
Good The Bad & The Ugly #1 (Dennis Calero Regular Cover), $3.50
Chad: Try to guess which one’s me and which one’s Ben!
Good The Bad & The Ugly #1 (Sergio Cariello Regular Cover), AR
Chad: Nope. Um… no… yeah. Yeah, I’m the ugly. Thanks.
Good The Bad & The Ugly #1 (Francesco Francavilla Regular Cover), AR
Good The Bad & The Ugly #1 (Dennis Calero Sketch Incentive Variant Cover), AR
Good The Bad & The Ugly #1 (Sergio Cariello Sketch Incentive Variant Cover), AR
Jungle Girl Season 2 #5 (of 5)(Frank Cho Regular Cover), $3.50
Jungle Girl Season 2 #5 (of 5)(Adriano Batista Variant Cover), AR
Man With No Name TP Vol 1 Sinners & Saints, $19.99
Masquerade #4 (Foil Cover), AR
Super-Zombies #5 (of 5)(Fabiano Neves Cover), $3.50
Super-Zombies #5 (of 5)(Mel Rubi Cover), $3.50
Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me & Other Astute Observations GN, $16.99
Ben: Starring me.
Prince Valiant HC Vol 1 1937-1938, $29.99
Ben: Why read the book when I’ve already got the hair?
Sweetly Diabolic Art Of Jim Flora HC, $34.99
Angel Not Fade Away #3, $3.99
From The Ashes #2, $3.99
Ghost Whisperer The Muse TP Vol 1, $11.99
GI Joe Best Of Storm Shadow GN, $19.99
GI Joe Movie Adaptation #2 (of 4)(Cover A Casey Maloney), $3.99
GI Joe Movie Adaptation #2 (of 4)(Cover B Casey Maloney), $3.99
GI Joe Origins #5 (Andrea DiVito cover), $3.99
GI Joe Origins #5 (Tom Feister cover), $3.99
Star Trek Crew #5 (John Byrne Regular Cover), $3.99
Star Trek Crew #5 (John Byrne Incentive Sketch Cover), AR
Star Trek TNG Last Generation TP, $19.99
Transformers Maximum Dinobots TP Vol 1, $19.99
World War Robot TP Vol 2, $11.99
Back To Brooklyn TP (Jimmy Palmiotti Book Market Cover), $14.99
Back To Brooklyn TP (Mihailo Vukelic Direct Market Cover), $14.99
Darkness #78, $2.99
Elephantmen War Toys Yvette (One Shot)(Moritat Regular Cover), $3.50
Elephantmen War Toys Yvette (One Shot)(Marian Churchland Variant Cover), AR
Proof TP Vol 3 Thunderbirds Are Go, $14.99
Strange Adventures Of HP Lovecraft #3 (of 4), $4.99
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36, $3.99
Amazing Spider-Man By JMS Ultimate Collection TP Book 1, $34.99
Anita Blake Laughing Corpse Necromancer #3 (of 5), $3.99
Dark X-Men Beginning #1 (of 3)(Jae Lee Regular Cover)(Utopia Tie-In), $3.99
Dark X-Men Beginning #1 (of 3)(Niko Henrichon 60s Decade Variant Cover)(Utopia Tie-In), AR
Genext United #3 (of 5), $3.99
Hulk Broken Worlds TP, $15.99
Hulk Red And Green TP Vol 2, $15.99
Ben: If you love your brain, don’t read this.
Chad: I’ll second that notion. This isn’t even “so bad it’s good” – it’s just bad.
Marvel 70th Anniversary TP, $24.99
Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #13, $2.99
Marvel Art Of Marko Djurdjevic HC, $49.99
Marvel Illustrated Odyssey Premiere HC, $24.99
Marvel Masterworks Warlock HC Vol 2, $59.99
Marvel Masterworks Warlock HC Vol 2 (Variant Edition Vol 119), $59.99
Moon Knight Premiere HC Vol 5 Down South, $19.99
Ms Marvel #41 (Sana Takeda Regular Cover)(Dark Reign Tie-In), $2.99
Ms Marvel #41 (Paolo Rivera 60s Decade Variant Cover)(Dark Reign Tie-In), AR
New Warriors Classic TP Vol 1, $24.99
Chad: This was my favorite book in the proverbial day, but I have a bad feeling it doesn’t hold up to the test of time. Nevertheless, I’ll probably buy it.
Pride & Prejudice #4 (of 5), $3.99
Punisher Frank Castle Max #72, $3.99
Runaways Premiere HC Teenage Wasteland, $19.99
Skrull Kill Krew #3 (of 5)(Mario Alberti Regular Cover), $3.99
Ben: It’s official, don’t read this book.
Skrull Kill Krew #3 (of 5)(Roberto Di Salvo Top Cow Variant Cover), AR
Stand American Nightmares #4 (of 5)(Lee Bermejo Regular Cover), $3.99
Stand American Nightmares #4 (of 5)(Mike Perkins Variant Cover), AR
Stand American Nightmares #4 (of 5)(Lee Bermejo Sketch Variant Cover), AR
Thor Tales Of Asgard By Lee & Kirby #3 (of 6), $3.99
Uncanny X-Men First Class #1 (of 8), $2.99
War Of Kings Warriors #1 (of 2), $3.99
Ben: So what is this now?
X-Men Forever #3, $3.99
X-Men Legacy #226 (Utopia Tie-In), $2.99
Ben: I don’t care enough about Utopia to ever buy this crap-fest.
X-Men Shattering TP, $34.99
Ben: It’s not so hard if you freeze it first.
MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT
Monsters From The Vault Special Edition #1, $9.98
Skull & Bones TP, $15.95
Spider Judgement Knight, $9.95
Forever Nuts George Mcmanus Bringing Up Father HC (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $24.95
NEW ENGLAND COMICS
Mangalicious Tick #1 (of 3), $3.95
Wasteland #25 (Special Double Issue), $5.99
Asterios Polyp GN, $29.95
Tales From The Crypt HC Vol 7 Something Wicca This Way Comes (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $12.95
Tales From The Crypt GN Vol 7 Something Wicca This Way Comes (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $7.95
2000 AD #1636 (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $4.50
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Dance In The Vampire Bund GN Vol 4 (resolicited)(Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $9.99
Lost SC Messages From The Island (Release not confirmed by Diamond Distribution), $14.95
Brickjournal #6, $8.95
10) Red Robin #2 – My Tim Drake love keeps going, but not as strong after last issue.
9) North 40 #1 – Interesting idea here.
8) Good The Bad & The Ugly #1 – Damn good movie, hopefully a damn good book.
7) Green Lantern #43 – So, is it finally starting?
6) Superman World Of New Krypton #5 – Soon to be renamed ‘Big Book of Awesome’.
5) Dark X-Men Beginning #1 – Sure I promised to quit Dark Reign, but this looks pretty awesome.
3) Stand American Nightmares #4 – This might be even better than Gunslinger.
2) Drafted One Hundred Days #1 – I really liked the huge twist at the end of the first volume. Now we’ll see if I still like the book starring Barack Obama.
1) Amazing Spider-Man By JMS Ultimate Collection TP Book 1 – This is how Spider-Man was meant to be.