Back in the mid-90s, Marvel had what I thought was the very clever practice of printing on the inside front cover of every issue of every ongoing comic a mini-introduction to the comic – quick blurbs for each of the cast, a short synopsis of what was currently going on in the comic, what happened last issue, et cetera.
Why don’t they do that any more? Why doesn’t DC do it, for that matter? I understand sacrificing potential ad space is a bother, but now that all the pages of a comic are printed on glossy paper (which I dislike, incidentally, but that is neither here nor there), there’s no functional difference between the inside front cover ad space and an additional page of ads elsewhere in the comic. (And it’s not like Marvel and DC are particularly shy about putting additional pages of ads inside the comic.)
Moreover, the inside front cover space is probably the least-read ad page in the comic anyway, because it’s the part you can automatically skip just to get to the good stuff, IE, the story. If there’s a part of the comic’s ad landscape you can reasonably sacrifice, it’s that page.
And a “previously” page just makes sense. It makes the book easier to read for a casual reader. (Imagine how much simpler Secret Invasion would be to read with a “Previously in the Marvel Universe” blurb on the inside front cover. Okay, only a little for that particular book, but even so, it would be more comprehensible to somebody who didn’t know what was going on.) I chose the title of this post for a reason: complex shows like Lost, with large casts and multiple subplots running at any one time (which is something like, for example, any superhero team book ever printed) like to help even regular viewers remember what’s happened before that’s important.
So why don’t the Big Two do this?