Introduction to "Comic Book Numbering"

Comic book numbering used to be a very simple issue - each issue was incremented one number from the preceding issue in a simple natural number sequence starting at issue #1 until infinity.

Occasionally there would be some complications when a series was re-named (often when a key character in an ongoing anthology becomes popular enough for their own title), such as "The Incredible Hulk (1968)" taking over the numbering from "Tales to Astonish (1959)" or "Captain America (1968)" taking over the numbering of "Tales of Suspense (1959)".

However, DC Comics started an inadvertent trend when John Byrne re-structured the Man of Steel in the mid-1980's. All Superman comics (Action Comics and Superman) were taken offline for a few months, and a re-launch re-started Superman (1987) with a new #1, and continued the pre-existing Superman (1939) numbering with "Adventures of Superman (1987)". Superman (2006) re-merged Superman (1987) and Adventures of Superman (1987) to a single title.

Both DC and Marvel comics insisted on the occassional oddly numbered comic (0, -1 for Marvel, 1,000,000 for DC) which made continuity of numbering strange.

Marvel had a mathematical psychotic break and sold off key characters (e.g. Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four) to a group of artist/writers in the ill-fated "Heroes Reborn" period of about a year in the mid-1990's, each series being re-started as a new #1. This experiment lasted about a year from 1996 to 1997, where the characters were re-introduced into the "real" (616) universe of Marvel in "Heroes Return".

Marvel's marketing department, realizing that "#1" issues had extra purchase value, began randomly re-starting series to generate new #1's. Later, someone woke up and realized that they were missing the chance to capitalize on significant milestone issues (500, 600 etc.) and began to re-number the ongoing series, with mixed success. Some re-numbering was simply the inclusion of series X and series Y of the same character, with the new numbering being the sum. However, with other series, the effect was somewhat confusing (see Hulk).

This site is an attempt to make sense of the numbering issues.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

...A Few Months Away from the first #1000 Comic Issue - Superman (2016) #1000

With the demise of the New 52, DC is starting anew.

Superman has the chance to be the first #1000 comic book.  The original Superman comic began publishing in 1939 and ran for 423 issues until the "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomoorw?" story that ended that DC Universe.

Both Superman and Action Comics took a break from publication for a few months, and John Byrne re-booted the Man of Steel in the six-issue mini-series "Man of Steel" in 2006.  This story re-told an updated Superman origin and re-set Superman as a relatively new character in the present.  Following that series, Byrne got to re-number Superman with a new #1 issue, and a new title "Adventures of Superman" took over the original numbering beginning with #423.

In 2006, DC merged the two Supermen series together with Superman #650, which was the next issue number from "Adventures of Superman", which means it continued the original Superman numbering from the 1939 series.  This Superman series ended with issue #714.

New 52 re-launched Superman in 2011 and ran for 52 issues, ending last month.

Thus, if you add up the issues:

Superman (1939)                      1-423 = 423 issues
Superman (1987)                      1-226 = 226 issues
Adventures of Superman      424-649 = 226 issues
Superman (2006)                  650-714 =   65 issues
Superman (2011)                        1-52 =   52 issues (plus a couple of .1 issues and a 0 issue)


Which means the next Superman issues will be 993, and this puts us only 8 issues (or a 8 months) from a legitimate #1000 issue of Superman.

If you don't like adding "Adventures of Superman" and "Superman (1987)" together (which, was in effect a twice-monthly Superman book), you can look to Action Comics to be the legitimate #1000 comic:

Action Comics (1938) ran for 904 issues when it was re-booted in New 52 to a new #1.  This new Action Comics ran for 52 issues, which means the next issue of Action Comics will be issue #957, which puts us about 3.5 years from a #1000 party.