- Every so often, we have to talk about developments in what I refer to as the “renumbering conundrum.” Should comics relaunch at #1 or keep using what is called “legacy numbering”–the practice of adding most, if not all, of the numbers of a title together into one? That’s likely because certain numbers on issues sell better than others. A #1 almost always sells much better than a #60, for instance. Something interesting is happening with DC Comics titles featuring Wonder Woman and The Flash.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
It’s recently been reported that Wonder Woman and The Flash comics are soon going to return to their legacy numbering–#750. What’s interesting is that there are no plans to return to lower numbers any time soon. A recent news release included the following:
“As with Action Comics and Detective Comics, Wonder Woman and The Flash are part of the DNA of the DC universe,” said SVP and Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras. “Resuming our Legacy numbering for these titles enables both past and current fans to embrace the rich history of both of these iconic characters and is a reaffirmation that in the DC universe, everything counts.”
I’ve been watching when companies revert to legacy numbering, and it usually took place when a BIG number was coming. Recently, Action Comics and Detective Comics passed #1,000, and the latter was the biggest-selling issue of 2019. Marvel also produced their Marvel Comics #1000, which was another sales success.
But these renumberings have often taken place with those BIG numbers, like the aforementioned #1,000. And that makes sense because those stand out to fans, particularly collectors. Other numbers, well, not so much.
WHAT’S SO MAGICAL ABOUT #750?
Of course, when you renumber a comic to something other than a BIG number, your results might not be quite so outstanding.
However, it might sell better than #70 or such, especially these days.
I’ve often talked about the importance of #1 when it comes to attracting the attention of collectors in particular. I mean, it can wreak havoc with people who try to organize their collections. Most people put them in chronological order, with the various runs including those treasured #1’s beginning the next reboot or relaunch.
It seems that the smart thing would be to do what DC did with Action and Detective… restart their numbering then return to legacy numbering when the title nears #1,000.
But until that time arrives, a company still has to sell comics, make a profit, things like that. As I often point out, it is show BUSINESS, after all.
So, if you need to wait years until you come to #1,000, you may be trying to figure out how to sell more copies.
That’s when the opportunity to increase sales by using any means necessary is really attractive. And I think that’s why DC has decided to return two of their biggest characters’ comics to the bigger numbers. They’re hoping that #750 will indeed see an increase in sales that will make it worth doing.
WILL THIS BE HOW COMPANIES WILL NUMBER COMICS MOVING FORWARD?
For many years, it’s been quite the debate: Can comics survive after selling 50 issues? I mean, we still see series’ ending when #50 hits, and the rationale is, by then, we’ve done as well as we are going to do, so we need to change course. That might mean going back to #1 or cancelling the book altogether. But beyond #50 has pretty much been the kiss of death.
And that has saddened me quite a bit. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s the story that counts. If a creative team takes over a long-established title, and word of mouth spreads among fans, you’re likely to see sales increase. However, the lure of more lucrative assignments might have them leave the book, and it seems that creative teams often change once it’s determined that sales have peaked as far as they are concerned.
I’m encouraged to see this change of numbering, honestly. Does this mean the focus will revert to storytelling from numberings? I hope so. I continue to believe that stories make fans’ interest sparkle. It frankly wouldn’t be a bad thing if the importance of numbering would decline while good stories would return to rule the day.
But until that day arrives, we’ll see Wonder Woman and The Flash will soon arrive at #750, and continue on from there. They should hit #1,000, but that’s still years away. We’ll see if #762 sells better than a low-digit numbered issue of, say, #92. Again, I truly hope so.
What do you think? Is DC doing the right thing by changing these two comics to #750? Or should they return to #1? Whatever your opinion, be sure to share your opinion and thoughts in the space below!