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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Where did January 2015's Fantastic Four #642 come from?

The new issue of FF is #642.  Given the last issue of FF was #14, there is a little work required to figure out where we are.

Rumours abound that Marvel is abandoning the FF because of movie rights issues between Marvel Studios and Sony.

Earlier, I did a post on FF #600, here is the update for #642.

"Volumes" become odd when Marvel decides to re-number.

You could consider Fantastic Four (2004) to be Volume 1, as the numbering returns, with a similar story for Fantastic Four (2011) - it also can be considered a return to Volume 1.

Volume 2 was the ill-fated "Heroes Reborn" experiment with Volume 3 the "Heroes Return" to the 616 Universe.

Volume 3 had "double numbering" starting with issue #42 (Volume 3 - aka 471 in Volume 1 numbering), so they did acknowledge issue #500 with the 71st issue of Volume 3 (in fact, with issue #500, the "old" numbering was primary, with the Volume 3 numbering secondary - a reversal of issues #43 to #70 where the Volume 3 numbering was primary and the "old" secondary).

Volume 4 was a re-set to "old" numbering, story continued from Volume 3.

Volume 5 is the re-set to Fantastic Four, from the end of Volume 4 plus the first 11 issues of FF (2011).

The oddity is that FF (2011) still continues, and has its own #12 and onward.

Volume 5 ran from issue #600 to issue #611.

Volume 6, Fantastic Four (2012) starts over with a new #1, as has FF (2012).  Fantastic Four (2012) ran 16 issues and was "reborn" as Fantastic Four (2014) in Marvel Now, with (surprise, surprise) a new #1.  FF(2012), ran 16 issues but doesn't seem to factor into the Fantastic Four numbering.

Add up all "Fantastic Four" issues, add in the first 11 FF (2011) issues, an you end up at Fantastic Four (1961) issue # 641.  Thus, the next issue is #642, which came out this week (Jan 21, 2015).

Series Issues Total Issues "Full F4" Numbering
Fantastic Four (1961) V1 1-416 416 1-416
Fantastic Four (1996) V2 1-13 13 417-429
Fantastic Four (1998) V3 1-79 79 430-508
Fantastic Four (2004) V4   509-588 80 509-588
FF (2011) V1 1-11 11 589-599
Fantastic Four (2011) V5 600-611 12 600-611
Fantastic Four (2012) V6 1-16 16 612-627
Marvel NOW Fantastic Four (2014) V7 1-14 14 628-641
Fantastic Four (2015) V8 642-645 642-645
FF Issues Issues Total Issues Total "FF"
FF (2011) 1-23 23 1-23
FF (2012) 1-16 16 24-39

Fantastic Four (1961) #1
Fantastic Four (1996) #1

Fantastic Four (1998) #1

Fantastic Four (2004) #509

FF (2011) #1 (first 11 issues "count" in Fantastic Four issue numbering)

Fantastic Four (2011) #600

Fantastic Four (2012) #1

Fantastic Four (2014) #1

Fantastic Four (2015) #642

Fantastic Four (2015) #645

FF (2012) #1 (not included in counts)

1 comment:

  1. There was never any rights issues between Sony and Marvel over the FF - that was FOX and now its a none issue since Disney bought Fox.