Who’d win in a fight between Superman and Spawn? How the f*ck old is Cable? And what in the holy hell is a Megatron? When the tough questions arise, Panels on Pages will gather the facts, but it’s up to the PoP!ulation to draw its own conclusions. So come on… Riddle Me This!
Earlier this year, I posted an article bemoaning the fact that most comic companies won’t allow their titles to go past a particularly high issue number before relaunching it with a new number one issue. The rationale around this action is that a high issue count would scare off potential readers who might think they have to start from the very beginning of a series in order to know what’s going on in a particular book. Both Marvel and DC have made it a common practice as of late to start all of their most popular and long-running titles over with new number one issues in order to rope in those mythical “new readers,” and according to sales numbers, it seems to be working for the most part. Marvel, however, seems to be going overboard with the current trend of relaunching titles to the point where titles seem to be getting renumbered every couple of years.
While DC relaunched their entire line of books back in September of 2011, Marvel did more of a soft launch in 2012 when it relaunched (and in some cases, renamed) a number of books while letting other titles keep their current issue counts. At the time, many of those books had been recently relaunched themselves, such as Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Peter David’s X-Factor, which was relaunched as a new number one back in 2006 before reverting back to its original issue number count with #200. Both titles, however, were recently cancelled and Marvel has announced that both will be revived once again with new number one issues. This will make the third official time that Daredevil has been relaunched with a new number one issue and the second time for X-Factor. Other prominent Marvel titles such as Captain America, Iron Man, Thunderbolts, and The Incredible Hulk (now titled Indestructible Hulk) have been relaunched with new number one issues as many as five times in the last decade. This practice is obviously a marketing ploy to boost sales and to prevent these books from reaching issue numbers that would theoretically make them inaccessible to novice readers.
Of course, issue numbers are not an indication of whether or not a book is worth reading, and frankly, as long as a comic is good, it shouldn’t matter what the issue number is. There are also times when a relaunch and renumbering makes sense, such as when a major shift in the status quo of a certain character takes place (as was the case with Waid’s Daredevil) or when a new character adopts a superhero name that was formerly held by another character (such as Captain Marvel, Superior Spider-Man, and the upcoming Ms. Marvel relaunch). A major change in a book’s creative team might also be used to justify a new number one, but it doesn’t seem as necessary. Regardless of how its being used, this trend is not going away any time soon based on how its worked for Marvel’s sales and overall share of the comic market, but I for one am slightly saddened at their eagerness to constantly reintroduce their titles in shiny new packages instead of just letting them run as long as possible. Some have proposed that this is a sign that ongoing comics will one day follow the format of weekly television programs by running in “seasons,” with a book reverting back to a new number one at the end of a particular story arc. I’m not necessarily averse to this idea, but I do find it unnecessary and a little annoying to my old-school tastes as far as mainstream comics go.
Where do you weigh in on this issue, dear readers? Does this practice by Marvel make you more or less likely to buy and read their books, or does it not make a difference to you? Is this a sign of what’s to come in how ongoing series are presented, or do you think it’s a fad that will run its course like holofoil covers and polybagged editions with trading cards? Voice your opinions in the comment chain below.