When Marvel Comics introduced their Marvel NOW! re-numbering initiative that also saw the House of Ideas re-shuffle their creative teams, writer Mark Waid’s Daredevil maintained its count because, quite clearly, it made no sense to re-number a book that had so successfully and recently re-launched.
In the spring, though, Daredevil will begin a new volume with a fresh number 1 issue right around the same time as Marvel launches an Elektra solo book. Are these two events linked? Almost certainly, as Marvel likely figures that Elektra fans will be more apt to jump onto a fresh Daredevil title then they are likely to go back, purchase, and read three dozen back issues before being caught up, but despite the volume switch, this isn’t a hard reboot of Daredevil. Waid and artist Chris Samnee are sticking around as co-plotters and the character’s history remains in place.
This is the beauty of a re-number versus something more extreme like the whole world reboot that DC Comics did with the New 52. But while re-numberings are less severe than reboots, they still bring out a bit of sourness among hardcore fans. Marvel VP Tom Brevoort knows this, but in a response to a fan question on his Tumblr page, Brevoort didn’t seem concerned about a backlash while also intimating that readers are protesting with their mouths and not their wallets.
We’ve gone over this in great detail recently, but just to sum up: the numbering really isn’t important in and of itself. Its only import is what you place on it. No other serial publications carry a number on them that is of any weight to their readership. The number is there to serve a function, but it has no intrinsic value in and of itself. It’s comfort food and nostalgia at best.
On this, we follow what you and your fellow readers do more than what you say. We hear complaints about renumbering every time we do it, but every time we do it it results in higher sales, which is the whole ballgame—so if it were your time and your effort, what would you do?
Also, there are a lot—a LOT—of readers who hear about one of our books being good, but who feel like they don’t know where to jump on board to try it out. They’re hesitant. The new #1 gives them a nice easy access point—which is part of why it always works.
In the case of DAREDEVIL, it’s a highly-acclaimed award-winning series. But that doesn’t mean that everybody who might love it has already sampled it. So when there’s a story reason that legitimizes a new first issue, why wouldn’t we take advantage of it? We know the material is strong, and we want to get it out in front of as many readers as possible. This simply allows us to do that more effectively.
The world has changed in so many ways, the world of entertainment more than most. The way television series are conceived and released, and the formats they’re available in are completely different now than they were even a few years ago. Asking a Network to do business the way they did in 2000 would be pretty self-defeating, right? So too the same is true of us.
The bridge of renumbering and relaunching was crossed a long time ago. It was crossed by DC after CRISIS in 1986, and it was crossed by Marvel ten years later for Heroes Reborn. And it’s been fifteen years since that. There is no going back, any more than there’s any going back to there being three central broadcast networks on television. This is the world as it exists today, now, in 2013.
We are in the business of selling stories. Our operating philosophy is that good, accessible stories will always sell better. But we live in the here and now, and we deal with the conditions of the marketplace in which we sell our products. And when it comes to something as irrelevant to the storytelling as the number that happens to be on the cover, we’re going to do whatever the marketplace tells us gives us the best chance to get that material into as many hands as possible.
Brevoort has a point about the irrelevancy of numbers. Honestly, my reading experience with Daredevil isn’t going to be hampered by the number on the outside of the book, but the worry comes when Marvel and DC read the market and determine that courting new readers is going to take more than pre-packaged entry points.