Friday, January 16, 2015

We're number one! (Again and again)

We have numbers in for the top selling issues of comic books for last year.  Marvvel dominated the top ten, and in from a character standpoint it was once again a Spider-Man/Batman year.  But there's something else that you hear about in chat rooms, Facebook rooms and the like that is driving a lot of reader and collectors nuts: the preponderance of number one issues.


By my rough count 29 of the top 100 were #1's of some kind (series starts/re-starts, first issues of special event series, or special one-shots), and 100 out of the top 500.  One-shots are no big deal, and new series starting are actually a good thing since it's bringing in some new material.  But the re-starts of existing series are nerve-wracking.  Marvel was the egregious here - in 2014 we got #1's from the following long established character and titles:

  • Amazing Spider-Man
  • Thor
  • Spider-Woman
  • Wolverine
  • Hulk
  • Daredevil
  • Silver Surfer
  • Fantastic Four
  • The Punisher
I really hope this doesn't become a thing, but it looks like it will be.  DC re-started Suicide Squad and Teen Titans almost immediately after "series ending" issues.  Now in both cases there were new directions taken and new creative teams coming onboard, but they recently switched teams and tones on Batgirl and Green Arrow without starting over with new number one issues.  I just don't find it necessary to start all over with a new number one issue unless you're doing a full-on New 52 style reboot of everything.   Of course the real reason to do these new number one issues involves a different kind of number:  sales.


Like I said at the top, number one issues make up a major chunk of the top selling issues.  Whether it's a new series or the next chapter in an existing one, a number one issue always gets more attention and often sells well.  But if you're a serious collector it flat out sucks.  The one argument I'm sympathetic towards when it comes to people bashing the New 52 is that the long running legacy titles (Batman, Superman, Detective Comics, and Action Comics) could and should have been continued with their existing numbering.  Every time you start over with a new number one it devalues the previous number ones.  For collectors who put real time and effort into putting together a collection of a series it's a real deflater.  Unfortunately the only way to put an end to the practice is to stop buying these number ones, and as the sales numbers show that's not going to happen.

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