Friday, 17 February 2012

.1 Issues...The Good and the Bad

Recently Marvel has been putting out ".1" issues of their comics.  As I understand it, these .1 issues are meant to be a jumping on point for new readers.  When they first came about I thought they were going to be a one-time thing, but I keep seeing solicitations for new .1 issues so I guess that isn't the case.

I'm of 2 minds on these issues.  The long time comic book reader in me doesn't really like them.  I do like stand alone issues, without question, but since the .1 issues are usually done by a different creative team the tone of the .1 books just doesn't resonate with the rest of the series, at least in the ones I've read.  If I'm going to go back and reread a run (which I enjoy doing), I don't care for the .1 issue throwing off the tone of the main creative team.

Due to that lack of consistency, it seems to me that the .1 issues are also a way to pad the time the creative teams have to put out their book.  I'd rather see a planned fill-in issue than a mad scramble or delay, so if that's part of the strategy then that's fair enough.

I do, however, like Marvel making an effort to reach out to new readers.  Dan Slott commented on Twitter that for everyone who complains about the Amazing Spider #679.1 issue numbering, somebody else tells him that the numbering is why they picked it up.

I guess part of what bugs me is I don't care for the Big 2's "creative accounting" to get to milestone issues.  I've detailed this before using the Thor books as my example, so I won't go too deep into it here.  Basically, I don't like how books are canceled and relaunched with a new #1, only to revert back to the original numbers to get the sales boost of a #1 and a #500.  With the .1 issues, this approach to issue milestones can get even more convoluted.

I really do think that comics should look at adopting a volume system.  You get the sales boost of a #1 and a "final issue" every year or two, however long you decide a volume is going to be (I would say at minimum 12 issues since that's two-6 issue story arcs).  It would also make it far easier on new readers to break in and be able to follow along; to be honest, if I hadn't of bought the Thor books as they came out, trying to follow the story through the numbering system alone would be a nightmare (again, see the linked post for details).

So good on you Marvel for reaching out to new readers, but I think there is still work to be done as that same approach is going to make things even more confusing in the long-run.

1 comment:

  1. For me comic numbering at Marvel with Heroes Return. They should have stuck with the original issue numbers back then and not relaunch for a few years then revert, then cancel, then relauch, revert cancel or whatever. Bah.