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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cancellations - DC and Marvel

Poking around the web, I found various lists of cancellations, all basically traced back to CBR (

The oddly parallel events at both DC and Marvel are changing the lineups.  DC had a major re-launch a few years ago (with cover #s from that period only in the early 40's).  Marvel has continued a schizophrenic, random launch, relaunch, cancel, reboot cycle, so it is anyone's guess what the heck they are doing at any point in time.

From what I can gather:

DC cancelling:
Aquaman  and the Others
Infinity Man and the Forever People
Secret Origins
Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie
Trinity of Sin
World's Finest
Arkham Manor
Green Lantern Corps
Green Lantern: New Guardians
Red Lanterns
Swamp Thing
New 52: Future's End ("normal" end of series)
Earth 2: World's End ("normal" end of series)
Batman Eternal ("normal" end of series)

Looking at DC's list, I guess I can't be overly surprised.  I have never been a fan of Aquaman, so haven't looked at his stuff, I found the number of "New 52" Green Lantern-related titles overwhelming, so cutting back here makes sense to me, and aside from seeing the titles, I haven't ever read (or looked at) Klarion, Trinity of Sin or Star Spangled War Stories.

If DC is looking to re-launch, maybe "Star Spangled War Stories:  Featuring George W. Bush and Dick Cheney" would sell.  I'd really like to hear how they see the world, and a fictional universe most closely matches the one they were living in.

I don't think this particular cancellation series means much - it is part of the Convergence shuffle, and gets DC away from the magic 52 which wasn't really working anymore.  It is hard to tell which characters are actually being retired, but I suspect it is more of a "new #1" relaunch and shuffling than a real cut of characters from the universe (a cut of # of titles, probably "yes", but not characters).

Marvel Cancellations: (pretty much everything)
All-New Captain America
All-New Ghost Rider
All-New X-Men
Amazing Spider-Man
Amazing X-Men
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin
Avengers World
Captain Marvel
Fantastic Four
Guardians 3000
Guardians of the Galaxy
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon
Legendary Star-Lord
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man
New Avengers
Rocket Raccoon
Secret Avengers
Spider-Man & The X-Men
Spider-Man 2099
Superior Iron Man
Uncanny X-Men

I'm suspecting that after "Secret Wars" a similar number of titles will be published, all with shiny #1s, and likely re-vamped characters and teams.  Hard to get up in arms for Marvel title cancellations as they seem to have adopted an ADD mindset and start/stop/cancel/re-boot/shuffle constantly.  They are doing major damage to their flagship characters, but don't particularly seem to care. (I have several posts about how the direction they've taken with Spiderman, though that's not the only character they seem to play with without thinking long-term).

A consistent rumour is that Fantastic Four are on a lengthy vacation, as there is a wish for Marvel to "not support" the Sony re-launched Fantastic Four movie due out this year.

I understand that Marvel sold off  Spider-Man, X-Men and FF movie rights when they were hurting for cash, and before they launched their own successful movies.  However, a deal is a deal, and as the Spider-Man "shared" arrangement shows, there are mutually beneficial options to consider - killing your own product (the FF comic) seems a very suicidal path to take.  There is money on the table for super-hero movies right now, working on shared profit models, and comic tie-ins works for everyone - less profitable than owning both the comics and the movies, but more profitable than killing your comic and hiding from the movie.

Anyway, we'll see what launches later this summer.

P.S.  Not really interested in either event "Convergence" or "Secret Wars".  Convergence had some interesting 2-issue minis, but the overall story doesn't do much for me.  Haven't started Secret Wars yet, so have even less attachment.

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