A new year means a hell of a lot of new titles, apparently, with Marvel and Image particularly active. Over at House to Astonish, Paul O’Brien wrote about Marvel’s curious recent practice of sticking #1s all over the shop, mocking the “Avengers #24.NOW = Avengers #1 in all-new Marvel Now” labelling that results in the cover bearing both #24 and #1. The intention is to highlight the issue as a great jumping on point without simply relaunching the title; whether the approach proves to be successful will be revealed once the sales figures are released. It should be noted that, in many cases, the issues featuring this dual numbering aren’t great jumping on points, as O’Brien points out.
Of course, if you’re already reading one of these titles, it’s easy enough to ignore the numbering and get on with the story. The glut of new #1s pose a different problem: too many titles, too little time (and money). Take Marvel. This month, I’ve already bought Black Widow #1, Loki #1, Ms. Marvel #1, Punisher #1, and Wolverine #1 and plan on buying She-Hulk #1 and X-Force #1; in March, Marvel are releasing another seven new number ones I’ll be picking up. No doubt more will follow throughout the year. The Marvel NOW! initiative has, broadly speaking, been a success, with the overall quality of the line impressively high. If the aforementioned 14 titles maintain this standard, then that’s a lot more books competing for my money, of which there is a sadly finite amount. Meanwhile, Image insists on launching unique new concepts by strong creative teams with increasing regularity, demanding more and more attention and making it clear that the medium is now ruled by a Big Three.
The upshot is I’ll have to make some difficult choices, and drop several titles I’m enjoying. And whilst it does seem ridiculous to complain about the rude health the mainstream comics industry is currently in, sometimes there really can be too much of a good thing. A while back, Bleeding Cool published a piece by Reed Tucker, which amongst other things argued in favour of Marvel and DC drastically scaling back their lines.
One final topic related to #1s is worth mentioning. There seems to be a groundswell of support amongst creators, readers, and critics alike for comics to follow the TV model of “seasons.” Andrew Wheeler’s piece on the subject is required reading, making a compelling argument for this new approach. I’m on board, although I do think it could lead to more people waiting for a trade collecting the entire season, rather than buying single issues. For example, as much as I’ve enjoyed reading Young Avengers, had I known the creators had a specific endpoint in mind I would’ve waited until I could have a beautiful hardcover of the entire run on my shelf. Which may be another side effect of all the new #1s – reading via trade is ultimately cheaper than buying single issues, particularly if you purchase through Amazon. Of course, this would be devastating for comicbook stores, which are already faced with the possibility of digital sales accounting for an increasing proportion of the market.
Anyway, next time out I’ll be offering capsule reviews of the many, many #1s I’ve read since I returned from my travels.