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Introduction

Introduction to "Comic Book Numbering"

Comic book numbering used to be a very simple issue - each issue was incremented one number from the preceding issue in a simple natural number sequence starting at issue #1 until infinity.

Occasionally there would be some complications when a series was re-named (often when a key character in an ongoing anthology becomes popular enough for their own title), such as "The Incredible Hulk (1968)" taking over the numbering from "Tales to Astonish (1959)" or "Captain America (1968)" taking over the numbering of "Tales of Suspense (1959)".

However, DC Comics started an inadvertent trend when John Byrne re-structured the Man of Steel in the mid-1980's. All Superman comics (Action Comics and Superman) were taken offline for a few months, and a re-launch re-started Superman (1987) with a new #1, and continued the pre-existing Superman (1939) numbering with "Adventures of Superman (1987)". Superman (2006) re-merged Superman (1987) and Adventures of Superman (1987) to a single title.

Both DC and Marvel comics insisted on the occassional oddly numbered comic (0, -1 for Marvel, 1,000,000 for DC) which made continuity of numbering strange.

Marvel had a mathematical psychotic break and sold off key characters (e.g. Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four) to a group of artist/writers in the ill-fated "Heroes Reborn" period of about a year in the mid-1990's, each series being re-started as a new #1. This experiment lasted about a year from 1996 to 1997, where the characters were re-introduced into the "real" (616) universe of Marvel in "Heroes Return".

Marvel's marketing department, realizing that "#1" issues had extra purchase value, began randomly re-starting series to generate new #1's. Later, someone woke up and realized that they were missing the chance to capitalize on significant milestone issues (500, 600 etc.) and began to re-number the ongoing series, with mixed success. Some re-numbering was simply the inclusion of series X and series Y of the same character, with the new numbering being the sum. However, with other series, the effect was somewhat confusing (see Hulk).

This site is an attempt to make sense of the numbering issues.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Marvel NOW - Captain America


Captain America, the post-WWII character, started in Tales of Suspense (1959) #59, where he shared billing with Iron Man.  At issue number 100 of Tales of Suspense, Iron Man got a new #1, and Captain America took over the Tales of Suspense numbering and masthead.

Captain America is the revival of the WWII character created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon in the 1940's (first appearance, Captain America Comics (1940) #1).  Most superhero comics had lots of trouble selling post-WWII (exceptions Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman).  Captain America (1954) has been ret-conned to not be the "real" Captain America (in this series, he was a commie smasher) but somebody created to keep the symbol alive (not sure about "Weird Tales (1949)").  Cap from this era is typically considered the "Golden Age" Captain America - the one in "current" Marvel is the "Silver Age" Captain America.

In the Marvel comics retcon, the character of Cap was suspended in ice following a mission in WWII (when his original series died), and found and revived in Avengers #4 in the "new" Marvel Universe.

As with many Marvel characters from Marvel's near collapse in the mid-1990's, Cap has been re-started a number of times.  As near as I can figure, here are the pre-Marvel NOW comic series in Cap's lineage, up to Captain America (2012) re-launch under the Marvel NOW banner


Series
Issues
Total Issues
"Full Cap" Numbering
Captain America Comics (1941)
1-73
73
n/a
Captain America’s Weird Tales (1949)
74-75
2
n/a
Captain America (1954)
76-78
3
n/a
Tales of Suspense (1959)**
1-99
99
Jan-99
Captain America (1968)
100-454
355
100-454
Captain America (1996)
1-13
13
455-467
Captain America (1998)
1-50
50
468-517
Captain America (2002)
1-32
32
518-549
Captain America (2005)
1-50
50
550-599
Captain America (2009)
600-619
20
600-619
Captain America and... (2011)*
620-640
21
620-640
Captain America (2011)***
1-19
19
641-659
Captain America (2012)
1+
n/a
659+
.


* Captain America and...Bucky (620 to 628); ...Hawkeye (629-632); ...Iron Man (633 to 635); ...Namor (635.1); Black Widow (636-640). 
** Captain America began appearing in Tales of Suspense (1959) with issue #59 (Nov. 1964) and had appeared with Iron Man in the previous issue.  Iron Man and Cap split the series until issue 100, when Cap took over and Iron Man got his own series.
*** originally missed Captain America (2011) - noted by Jovial Jay in comment attached to this post



Captain America Comics (1941) #1

Captain America's Weird Tales #74

Captain America (1954) #76

Tales of Suspense (1959) #59

Captain America (1968) #100

Captain America (1996) #1

Captain America (1998) #1

Cover for Captain America (Marvel, 2002 series) #1 [Direct Edition]
Captain America (2002)

Captain America (2005)

Captain America (2009) #600

Captain America and ....(2011) #620

Cover for Captain America (Marvel, 2011 series) #1
Captain America (2011) #1
Cover for Captain America (Marvel, 2013 series) #1
Captain America (2012) #1











3 comments:

  1. Love your work on these pages, but I think you forgot the "Captain America" series from 2011 that was only 19 issues long, which came just after issue #619 (but did not continue numbering). Numbering was continued, as you pointed out in "Captain America and..." so we appear to have divergent line here. The "Captain America" title continues (19 issues in 2011 and now 18 issues in the 2013 volume), but the numbering continued in a separate indicia, "Captain America and..." I feel that if the indicia gets a new name, even if the numbering continues it's a different series. Thanks for all the hard work researching!

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  2. Thanks Jay - have updated the post to reflect. Much appreciated (didn't really know anybody looked at this blog)

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