Comix Tawk

Cosmic Treadmill Presents… Comix Tawk, Episode 8: “Reboots”

For this week’s new-to-most episode of Comix Tawk, Reggie and I discuss the old go-to the industry has for zsuszing sales… Rebooting!  I’m not sure if “zsuszing” is a word… but, if you sound it out phonetically, hopefully you understand what I mean by it.

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“Reboot”, when it comes to comic books is one of those descriptors that sometimes finds itself conflated with “Relaunch”.  For the purposes of this episode, I do believe we discuss both Reboots and Relaunches… we probably conflate them a time or two as well.

I can’t remember how I may have worded it in the heat of the moment of recording, but… to me, a “Reboot” is more of a tabula rasa sort of thing, where continuities and characterization are wiped away… where a “Relaunch” is just Marvel and DC’s insistence on resetting volumes to #1’s every handful of months.  In certain situations (The New-52!), an issue may serve as both a Reboot and a Relaunch.  Ya dig?

With the semantics out of the way, I suppose I could discuss some of my feelings about the Reboot/Relaunch phenomenon.  If you’ve followed this blog for any of the past 1,600+ days, you could probably guess that I’m not a fan.  I feel like they are disrespectful to the fans who have supported the industry, the creators who had built the industry… and, in most recent years, have quickly fallen down the well of diminishing returns.

I’m trying to think of a time where I was actually excited for a “New #1” or for some “inconvenient continuity” to be wiped away from a beloved franchise… annnnnd, I’m coming up empty.  Maybe Daredevil (vol.2) #1 from Marvel Knights?  Maybe Green Arrow (vol.2) #1?  I… didn’t mean for those to both to be Kevin Smith books, but, whattayagonnado?

I am a huge fan of “legacy” (and not whatever the hell “Marvel Legacy” was trying to be a few years back).  To me, tossing an entire volume to get a slight (and often short-lived) “zsusz” to your sales, really isn’t worth it.  Granted, I’m no “bean-counter” and I couldn’t care less how many pennies Marvel or DC have in their coffers, but I feel like this does more harm than good when it becomes an annual go-to, rather than something organic and born out of the direction of a story.

Resetting/Rebooting/Relaunching shouldn’t be the “in case of fire – break glass” situation that it has become, especially in the past 10-15 years.  If we are “courting” new readers, this is really just about the dumbest way to go about it.  Just because you’re buying Fantastic Four (volume whatever the hell) #1… doesn’t mean there isn’t over a half-century’s worth of continuity there.

We go into much greater depth during the episode, and even discuss a few times where the practice (mostly) worked.  What are y’alls thoughts on Reboots?  Is there a place for them in comics?  Is it something that should be exploited as much as it has?  Does it affect your enjoyment in any way?

3 thoughts on “Cosmic Treadmill Presents… Comix Tawk, Episode 8: “Reboots”

  • The most important reboot and the most successful is the Silver Age DC heroes.
    My favorite reboot is Crisis on Infinite Earths, which unfortunately ultimately was a failure. The DC editors of the day all had their little fifedoms and were unwilling to go with Marv Wolfmn's idea of starting everything with new #1s the month after Crisis ended. They were in the middle of stories in their little corners of the DC Universe and were unwilling to restart their characters from scratch. Imagine if Byrne's Superman, and Perez's Wonder Woman, and Miller's Batman year one all started the month after Crisis ended. How great would that have been?
    The Flashpoint reboot suffered from this same problem. Everything was all new and had no continuity tied to it EXCEPT Geoff John's Green Lantern epic, and Grant Morrison's Batman Inc. Which were alowed to just continue as if nothing happened. There were other stories in other books that were either forced to end prematurely or were just never allowed to end at all. But the written for the trade and hopelessly late Batman Inc. was too important to not continue. And John's had too much pull behind the scenes to allow his milti year grand plan to not reach his full conclusion. To hell with the reboot and making a cohesive universe, Geoff is in the middle of his plan for his book.

    Now as for new #1s and legacy numbering, nothing drives me crazier then these. If you want to publish issue 1000 then yuou need to publish issues 1-999 first. Not 1-856, then 1-43, then 1-78, then 1-22, then 1000.
    On the flip side however.
    I have no problem with a numbering changing titles, like Journey into Mystery became Thor then returned to JIM. And Tales of Suspense became Captain America at issue 100. But when Strange Tales became Doctor Strange at issue 169 and then a couple yaers later Marvel relaunched Strange Tales as a spotlight type book they had the first issue be Strange Tales 169. The 1970s return of All-Star comics started with issue 58 even though issue 58 back in the golden age was the first issue called All-Star Western. This drives me insane.

    They need to stop relaunching every other year. When everything has a #1 on it the #1 is no longer special.

  • This may be a little off topic, but here is a problem caused by reboots and legacy numbering that drove me, as a collector, nuts.

    Superman volume 1 started in 1939 and went from issue 1-423. There were also 12 Annuals published as Superman Annual 1-12 in conjunction with this volume.
    In 1987 Superman volume 2 launched and went from 1-226 (plus issue 0 and issue 1,000,000). There were also 12 Annuals published as Superman Annual 1-12 in conjunction with this volume.
    Also in 1987 Superman volume 1 changed it's title to Adventures of Superman and continued the numbering of Superman volume 1 from 424-649 (plus issue 0 and issue 1,000,000). There were also 9 Annuals published as Adventures of Superman Annual 1-9.
    In 2006 Superman volume 2 ended and Adventures of Superman returned to using the title Superman with issue 650. So Superman volume 1 returned with issue 650.
    In 2008 Superman Annual 13 was released and contained the final chapter of the "Camelot Falls" storyline being published in the renamed and renumbered Superman volume 1.

    Which volume of annuals should Annual 13 be placed with? (And for that matter Annual 14 that followed in 2009)

    Both volume 1 and volume 2 had 12 Annuals before annual 13 came out. Superman volume 1 was restored to its legacy numbering so does it fit in with the volume 1 annuals? Or does it belong with the more recent volume 2 annuals even though volume 2 had been cancelled for 2 years by the time it was published?

    Are Annuals considered a part of the main series or a completely separate series on their own?

    Shouldn't Adventures of Superman annuals 1-9 been legacy numbered Annuals 13-21 to continue the legacy numbering of the volume 1 annuals?

    This is the kind of thing that drove me crazy as a collector.

  • Nicholas Fenner

    This was a great episode. Definitely could fully get yours and Reggie's thoughts across without being constrained by the flow of your regular history episodes. A few quick thoughts the episode brought up – now that we're a few years removed from all the events discussed. First, "Convergence" drove me to finally by a trade paperback of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I have yet to finally read past issue 6 or 7. It WAS a lot of words! Hahahahaha. I know the general story though, so one day I will return to finish it. Also, I was one of the elusive "new readers" brought in by all the hubbub with the New 52. My coworker mentioned the relaunch offhand in a conversation about superheroes, and said it was a good time to start reading the comics. I did and I've been hooked in bit by bit. Started with the Batman, Dark Knight, Superman, and Swamp Thing series at the time, but is now just a little bit more than that. I was nearly exhausted by the DCYou, had switched to mostly Marvel with the Hickman Avengers run, and then did a hard reset on collecting when Secret Wars fizzled with no impacts and DC was promising more with Rebirth. Since Rebirth, the most frustrating aspect has been the strong contrasting decisions made by successive authors on each title – something the Marvel relaunches and reboots drove me nuts with. I've settled into a happy medium of very core books, independents, and a host of back issues and collected editions. I really appreciate the non-connectedness of my current collecting and reading, where series live and die on their own merit instead of how much I enjoy them connecting with the latest or next relaunch. Thanks for sharing some of your older content!


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