By limiting the number of launches, Marvel could run advertisements like these, and by having such a small amount of new #1's, people had a chance to try out each and every one:
Perhaps it could be tied to the time period in which this happened, but four of those six titles went on for five years. The only exceptions were Nth Man, which I don't think hit #20; and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., which still was the longest-running S.H.I.E.L.D. comic book to date at something like 47 issues.
This plan would also be implemented the next year with the "Heroes for the 90's" campaign that launched New Warriors, Ghost Rider, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man, among others; and 1991, which gave us Wonder Man and two of the biggest-selling comic book launches of all time -- X-Men and X-Force.
Now, even before the whole "Marvel Now/New 52" relaunch trend, we often get multiple new series launches in a single week. How can anyone try anything new?!?
|Jim Lee's X-Men #1. It was awesome.|
Compare that to two weeks ago, when Amazing X-Men #1 hit... itself something like the fifth X-Men #1 in the past two years! What's the big deal there? Yes, the content of the story surely helped too, but historically, will it matter? Will it be worth anything years down the line, when it's nothing that special in the collectible scheme of things?
Aside from the new series launch trend, there's also the issue of constantly relaunching and renumbering a long-running series. As a collector of 25+ years, it makes me a little sad, partly because issue numbers were a big part of my collecting background. It was always fun to me to know I started buying Wolverine at issue #4 (1988's issue #4) and now the book was at #156, or something like that. Now, both DC and Marvel are guilty of messing with that legacy a bit, and it seems to only be getting worse, with recent relaunch announcements for several series.
|Wolverine #1... take six.|
At least the new costume is cool.
Not counting satellite series like Wolverine: The Best There Is, Wolverine: Origins, and Savage Wolverine, but still including Wolverine: Weapon X as it was included in the tally that took the previous volumes to issue #300, this will now be the sixth Wolverine #1 in 30 or 31 years, if you also include the original four-issue miniseries. Can someone honestly say that Wolverine volume 6 #16 will sell better than Wolverine #340 would, as long as the content is good? I doubt it. In fact, these lower-numbered books would (I assume) make it difficult for fans to seek out back issues, not knowing what it is they need. The comic book companies probably don't care, they want you buying trade paperbacks and digital copies, but what they forget is that for a long time, back issues were an extra source of income that kept the lights on in comic book specialty shops. The back issue market probably won't ever explode like it did before again, and that's too bad, but as a young collector, seeking out back issues was one of my favorite things.
(Not just picking on Marvel here: I'm sure Batman written by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo would sell just as well at #725 as it would at #25. The content on the inside really helps. At least, though, Batman has only been restarted once vs. six times.)
|The cover for issue #1 of The|
Punisher's second ongoing series.
Yes, the cover really was that shiny.
|All-New Punisher NOW! #1.|
At least unlike the last few series,
he has a decent cover logo.
The same thing happened to Silver Surfer, who hasn't had a significant ongoing since his own title was canceled in the late 1990's. I think I read somewhere that the Galactus The Devourer miniseries was supposed to be issues #145-150 of his series -- if that had been the case, with John Buscema artwork, among other things, I think it might have brought sales up anyway. The Surfer is getting another chance at his own title in a few months -- but even with top-level talent involved, will it get lost in a glut of other all-new #1 issues?
I think after the failure of the Sif-led Journey Into Mystery or the inexplicable non-#1 of Red She-Hulk, Marvel is probably done with the "taking over the numbering" concept, which is probably a good thing in the long run, even though I did like that it did give us some big numbers on comic books. It makes me a little sad that Journey Into Mystery could get to #655 and then end with so little fanfare, but that's Marvel in the 21st century for you. Were it my choice, I would have probably tried turning JiM into a secondary Thor book, heck, even maybe putting the official movie adaptation in there... either way, it's a great title for a comic book. Oh well.
Either way, I'm probably entering babble territory so I should probably stop. I am curious what others think, so if you can politely respond, I'd love to hear what you think of all of these launches and relaunches. Does #1 matter? What would you like to see in the future? Will the numbering ever "turn back?"
The only thing I know for sure -- and this is a story for another blog post -- is I hope we get Amazing Spider-Man #701 in 2014, and I'm pretty sure we won't. Oh, and for all that is holy... enough with this #700.1, Villain's Month, #18.INH BS, especially when it's not consistent. How can Fantastic Four have #4 and #4.AU, yet Avengers Assemble gets AU issues and no regular issues? Or how do we get Peter Parker: Spider-Man #156.1 when there was no #156 to begin with (the last issue was effectively #155)? It's confusing, and dumb. Stop it, and just go back to going in a proper sequence.
Thank you for reading.