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bad johnny got out said on November 14th, 2012 at 11:56 pm

If the letting Constantine age in real time experiment is finally over, then I guess renumbering Hellblazer now does make sense. Thanks DC, for letting that go on as long as it did. It was kind of neat.

But really I stopped reading after issue 40 anyway (still mad at Garth Ennis, never got over it) and only recently checked in again to see what Peter Milligan was up to. Turns out Peter Milligan was getting cancelled like always. Figures.

In the reboot I guess Constantine can’t have been a 1970s punk rocker anymore. Maybe we’ll find out he was once a roadie for Oasis, or learned magick from a wizard at Lollapalooza.

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I get why you’d want to renumber a series when you have a major shift in direction.

However it creates HUGE messes. Captain America had his own book in the 40s. Then he took over one of the anthology books in the 6os and it changed its title while keeping its numbering*. Then they had a #1 for Heroes Reborn. And another for Heroes Return a year later. Then I sort of lost track (I think there were at least three more and sometimes the old numbering was used). Good luck organizing those backissues.

Plus sometimes its completely unnecessary. How many first issues of Avengers books has Bendis gotten while continuing to tell the same story? Likewise, one of those “Captain America #1s” was in the middle of Mark Waid’s run.

*Which didn’t make any sense when Hercules took over for the Hulk or Red She-Hulk took over for the OTHER Hulk either. Why not rename Amazing Adventures/Amazing Adult Fantasy/Amazing Fantasy (what’s one more name change?) instead of launching Amazing Spider-Man #1? We could have had Amazing #700 a year ago. Never mind that the first 14 issues were Twilight Zone riffs with no Spider-Man in them.

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mygif

Why not simply order the collection by cover date (year/month or year/week)? That’s pretty un-ambigous.

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I have mixed feelings about Hellblazer ending. It was (and still is, with Milligan/Camuncoli/Bisley on it) pretty consistently good, with only really some of the specials and maybe the Denise Mina run standing out as exceptions to that. Most of the writers were able to offer unique takes on the character and tell quality stories, benefiting from it standing on its own away from the DC universe proper. That being said, the past few years it seemed like just a matter of time until DC ended it, even before Constantine showed up in Brightest Day. It felt a little like a comic that DC forgot was still being published.

Anyway, the timing on this, in concert with the New 52 and Marvel NOW, makes me think that maybe Marvel and DC comics have passed me by. Not many of the New 52 comics really have compelled me to keep reading beyond a few issues, and Marvel’s endless events and strategy of releasing new comics with different adjectives in the titles just made me stop keeping up with it all. It’s like both companies gave me perfect end points where I could stop reading and move on. I’m definitely not the reader they are trying to bring in with all this, and that’s fine.

I feel old.

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mygif

Why not simply order the collection by cover date (year/month or year/week)? That’s pretty un-ambigous.

That got me thinking…if Marvel and DC are going to start renumbering after every story arc, why not just do away with “issue numbers” as they currently exist and just number everything by date and story arc? They’ve been putting the names of story arcs on covers for years, so it’s not like that’s something new or shocking.

Instead of “stopping” Captain America at issue 20 and then starting over with “Captain America #1,” just remove the issue number and say it’s “Captain America (November 2012); Vengence of Hydra Arc (1/6)”. If a new reader wants to jump in, all he has to do is find the start of a story arc and start reading there. Meanwhile, longtime readers can go by the monthly tag to find older issues.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on November 15th, 2012 at 9:00 am

Marvel’s endless events and strategy of releasing new comics with different adjectives in the titles

That’s it!!

The Amazing Constantine
John Constantine, the Spectacular Hellblazer
Astonishing Constantine
John Constantine, Blazer of H.E.L.L.

Given them all different approaches to the character. Then we can all have a Hellblazer book to enjoy!

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Fashion Constantine, Sports Blazer

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Moses Moore said on November 15th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

“Which Iron Man?”
It’s been a long time since I picked up a Marvel book, but I dimly recall that there’s a block of text near the beginning of each book that should mention each of the book’s title, issue number and *volume number*. If a book has the same title and same issue, should have a different volume number.

That block of text usually has the “people living or dead merely coincidental” blurb which I will bet will even be used at the start of the Superman issue with Neil deGrasse Tyson making a cameo appearance. Ah, mindless lawyering.

Meanwhile, for people wanting to organize collections, best to give up on using something unreliable and subject to shyster adjustments; NB has the right idea, and the title + publication date is what collectors should use. That gives a useful sequence for reading the books again (esp. since Issue #0 doesn’t actually come before issue #1, and the DC One Million stories don’t come after everything else).

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on November 15th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I think that “resemblances to people living or dead are coincidental” disclaimer also shows up at the end of every movie, even if there’s been a ton of cameos by famous people being themselves.

Maybe that’s there to prevent Wolf Blitzer, for example, from launching some kind of “I agreed to be in your movie in good faith but you made me look like a total asswad” lawsuit because then the company can always say “but that wasn’t meant to be YOU, the REAL Wolf Blitzer, that was an alternate universe Wolf Blitzer who is an asswad”.

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mygif

I like the numbering with the publication date idea.

My initial idea, before reading all the comments, was that it would be a good idea to try to figure out a good arc of, say, 10 issues for each major story line. That way, if you wanted to start reading a line, you could just pickup whatever round-number you wanted to start at. New reader to Iron Man? Grab Iron Man #70 to get in on the beginning of a new arc. If a good writer had a good arc that only needed 8 comics, flesh out the remaining 2 with self-contained stories. Longer arcs? No problem. Do a 2 parter.

Conveniently, 10 issues is also a pretty good number to press together into a trade paperback, which means that catching up on older stories is pretty easy to do also.

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Sean D. Martin said on November 15th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

NB said: Why not simply order the collection by cover date (year/month or year/week)? That’s pretty un-ambigous.

Because the date isn’t always printed prominently on the cover, and when it is often doesn’t include the year.

If only there were some clear and simple indicator they could put on a cover that would unambiguously tell you where an issue fell in the publishing order. Something like, maybe, a number perhaps?

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kingderella said on November 15th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

i agree with the post. uninterrupted numbering of long running series would be nice in theory. but its way too late for that discussion.

i also think a clear numbering system would make comics more accessible to new readers. the constant renumbering, renaming, rebooting, and relaunching only makes the world of comics look more like an impenetrable mess which can only be deciphered by the initiated.

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Sean D. Martin said on November 16th, 2012 at 11:49 am

the constant renumbering, renaming, rebooting, and relaunching only makes the world of comics look more like an impenetrable mess which can only be deciphered by the initiated.

The irony is that the re-numbering is supposed to draw new fans in, not away. And the stupidity is that the comic companies haven’t yet figured this out despite doing it repeatedly without success.

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Of course, another reason this is coming up lately is that I think I heard Marvel has been pulling out the decimal points in their issue numbers again. And I think we can all agree that that bullshit deserves a swift kick to the crotch of whoever came up with it.

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mygif

I think those of you suggesting that comics should feature publication dates and volume numbers to help identify their historical context are missing two critical points:

1) If that stuff is in the indicia (the block of text usually found at on the first page of a comic, but sometimes on other pages), then you have to open the comic to see it. I do this sometimes when going through my collection, but if I’m going through sealed bags at a shop or a convention, opening the comic may not be an option.

2) Even if Marvel and DC started putting that data on the covers tomorrow, that won’t fix the problem that they often didn’t put that data anywhere on their comics for long stretches of time. Take the “which Iron Man #7 is this?” scenario. An ideal Marvel trade dress on the Iron Man #7 of 2013 is not going to help me tell whether this one comes before or after this one.

As it happens, I can tell a 1998 Marvel comic from a 1997 one, and anyone with a little knowledge of ’90s Marvel history could figure it out. But then, not everybody has a little knowledge of 15-year-old Marvel history. The irony is that the Big Two justify these reboots and renumberings to resolve the concern of new readers not knowing history; but by making the present as accessible as possible, they turn the past into the complicated morass they fear it already is. This creates a barrier preventing many new readers from getting ingrained in the fandom and expanding the hardcore base, which forces Marvel and DC to continually seek new readers instead of cultivating last year’s new readers.

I see this all the time on Tumblr, when some new fan wants to go back and read all the Avengers comics. They aren’t as allergic to old stories or continuity as publishers think. What they do find confusing is knowing where to start, and having eight different first issues doesn’t help. New fans may not know the history of the Cosmic Cube, but they typically do know how to count.

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This is why comic companies should collect EVERY issue of a series together into TPBs that are clearly numbered and always in print (or at least print-on-demand). Forget the floppies, they’re the loss-leader, and that horse is already out of the barn and individual issues can be hard to track down; go with the collections instead.

However, the fact that there are now at least three *collections* titled “New Avengers Vol. 1″ from the last decade or so–each of which has different contents–is a travesty, and shows that neither DC nor Marvel actually has any clues about how this whole “publishing” and “attracting readers” thing actually works.

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Sean D. Martin said on November 19th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Perhaps it’s another unexpected result of the direct market?

I know when I was a kid (’70s) there was no real thought of seeking out back issues. I had my modest collection consisting of comics I’d bought which I’d not thrown away. But by-and large comics were considered disposable and the idea of tracking down stories from past years (let alone 15+ years ago) never occurred to me or my friends.

Now, when the place to buy comics isn’t the spin-rack at the local pharmacy but an actual comic store where back issues are in stock, seeking out back issues is something someone does.

If series had gotten renumbered back when I was a kid I’m not sure we’d have noticed. Most folks tended to stop reading comics after a few years. It’s now when you seem to have more long-term readers that renumbering has occurred and is causing confusion.

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William Kendall said on November 20th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

The whole practice makes me want to strangle some marketing chimps.

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