Monday, August 30, 2010

The Fallacy Of #1

For years I have patrolled the stacks on Wednesdays to find each week's new titles. It should come as no surprise that the big two have vastly different marketing strategies. All the way down to numbering of the issues, both companies' divergent philosophies lend to an interesting debate. Should continuity matter?
DC's flagship titles (Action Comics, Superman, Batman, Detective Comics) have cruised along since their premiere issues, quietly ticking off issue after issue toward landmark thousandth issues. The approach is methodical and helps the hardcore fan knowing exactly which place his reading has left him. Casual fans also have the ability to see exactly how many issues may have eclipsed since last picking up the book.
Marvel employs a much more chaotic approach to numerical chronology. The House of Ideas thinks that counting patiently in order is, indeed, madness. Marvel employs every new story arc, costume change, lineup change, bowel movement, and change in narration to press the reset switch and revert the book back to #1. Then like a freshly waxed used car, Marvel rolls their "#1" onto the showroom floor. But wait, isn't it the same character? Same villains? Same history? Shouldn't this just be part one of a new storyline? No my friends, this here is a fancy new Marvel #1, hot off the presses and complete with 13 overpriced variants.
Well, its not much of a debate. There are positive features to a constant state of flux. It gives potential new readers the luxury of a place to begin their collection and exposure. But these aren't true first issues, with their back story development and exposition to explain the ground rules of what you need to know to participate in this adventure. A Marvel "#1" in the modern age is a false face, a promise left unkept. I have bared witness to more Avengers #1's than I could possibly begin to list. For a popular, high-selling character like Wolverine to be on his fourth volume "#1" is an insulting joke.

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