After the massive success of Marvel NOW in 2013 that introduced a number of brand new Marvel books to local comic book shops everywhere, the House of Ideas is looking to do it again with All-New Marvel NOW in 2014. While some people have mistakenly labeled this as another reboot or relaunch, it’s simply a new starting point for new readers that will also introduce even more new titles to both the physical and digital shelves of wherever you buy your comics.
One thing that seems to be happening more and more when events like this begin are new #1 issues, even for books that aren’t getting a reset. Fans have been complaining about this since Marvel started doing this and have found it annoying that they don’t just continue with the original numbering from the days of old. Recently, Marvel Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort addressed this complaint on his blog and broke it down as simply as he could while citing that sales are a huge factor in the constant new #1s. Here are a few passages from his answer:
“We’ve gone over this in great detail recently, but just to sum up: the numbering really isn’t important in and of itself. Its only import is what you place on it. No other serial publications carry a number on them that is of any weight to their readership. The number is there to serve a function, but it has no intrinsic value in and of itself. It’s comfort food and nostalgia at best.
On this, we follow what you and your fellow readers do more than what you say. We hear complaints about renumbering every time we do it, but every time we do it it results in higher sales, which is the whole ballgame—so if it were your time and your effort, what would you do?
Also, there are a lot—a LOT—of readers who hear about one of our books being good, but who feel like they don’t know where to jump on board to try it out. They’re hesitant. The new #1 gives them a nice easy access point—which is part of why it always works.
We are in the business of selling stories. Our operating philosophy is that good, accessible stories will always sell better. But we live in the here and now, and we deal with the conditions of the marketplace in which we sell our products. And when it comes to something as irrelevant to the storytelling as the number that happens to be on the cover, we’re going to do whatever the marketplace tells us gives us the best chance to get that material into as many hands as possible.”
To be quite honest, while I was initially one of the people who was becoming annoyed by the renumbering, Brevoort makes a lot of sense, especially when he calls the numbers “comfort food and nostalgia at best”. After all, we’re still getting the same great stories. What does it matter if it’s #1 or #21 in a series? Maybe that’s why the company has elected to label some books, like Jonathan Hickman’s ‘Avengers’ for example, as both #24.NOW and #1.
What do you think about Marvel Comics constantly renumbering their books? Do you find Tom Brevoort’s answer to why they do it acceptable? Sound off in the comment section.