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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Read Ultimate FF (2014) 1-6

No surprise that the Ultimate FF (2014) didn't fly.

I really liked the Ultimate Universe.  I thought it was clever to run two universes, re-building the characters in the Marvel Universe and giving a fresh start, without sacrificing their main universe.

For some reason, the ability to kill characters seemed more important than actually having compelling stories.  Why kill off Peter Parker?  I quite liked that title.

The Fantastic Four was quite different than the main universe title, with Reed going a little bonkers.


The whole "Reed and Sue" have to have a kid prospect was weak.  Particularly given that is not what happened at the end of the story.  Was it really a 50/50 split to see if it was "Sue"'s kid or "Reed's" kid that made the difference in keeping all of reality going?  I guess it would be less that 50/50 'cause it was presented as the offspring of the two of them.
The "resolution" that Sue didn't forcibly extract "genetic material" from Reed was nice, though stealing some of Ben's does not make Sue a very likable character.  They did help make Reed look less evil, and maybe recoverable, but not sure why Sue (who seems to love Ben and vice-versa) would steal his "material" without consultation or discussion (or even create a child the old-fashioned way). If they really felt the "Reed-Sue" child was not an accurate requirement to offset Galactus (or the swarm), they why the sneaking around?

I'm not sure where Marvel is headed, but it seems downward.  I know it is difficult to keep characters running for 50 years, but the new model of very strange story-lines dramatically changing characters seems self-defeating and short-term.

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