The Churn


It’s true about politics, it’s true about crime, and it’s true about comics: the more attention you have to pay the news, the more you start to go nut-hoarding squirrelly.

This weekend, I had the honor of manning the wheel here on the S. S. iFanboy while just about everyone else was off at the New York Comic-Con. It was a lot of fun, way more fun than I would have had inside some hot, crowded convention center full of a ton of my friends, whom I’m not jealous of at all and certainly am not wishing con plague on right now with the aid of voodoo talismans. It is they who should be jealous of me: I got to read all the press releases.

As the days wore on and I scanned item after item for tidbits I could post so that everyone in New York could come home and read what had just happened in the building they’d spent all weekend in, I saw a lot of things to be excited about in the coming months. Jim McCann has an incredibly cool-looking indie book coming out. Greg Pak has an incredibly cool-looking indie book coming out. Brian Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming are publishing a creator-owned, all-ages book with a multi-ethnic all-female cast that might as well be called There, Internet, Now Shut Up. Nick Spencer has been given permission to write the rest of the comics from now on.

At the same time, the harder I perused the news to use, the more I started to feel like I could see the Matrix. In addition to all the exciting, purely new stuff in the pipeline, I kept seeing the same old patterns in a lot of the announcements that gave me pause.

When we talk about a “new” series coming out, especially from the bigger publishers, how often is it actually new?

One of my favorite teams in comics announced this weekend that they will be doing a brand new Moon Knight book in 2011. I immediately started counting the days… but the internal monologue that is dedicated to keeping me from just enjoying things couldn’t resist clearing his throat and asking, “Say, didn’t they just launch a Moon Knight book? Pick of the Week, as I recall… ah, there it is! Last September. Lasted ten issues. That one was launched after the previous volume from way, way back in 2006 lasted a prolific thirty issues. Man, somebody really likes Moon Knight. Not the readers, mind you.”

Hot on the heels of that announcement came word that Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, Forgetless, All Comics From Now On) would be writing a new War Machine book logically, shrewdly called Iron Man 2.0. Again, I thought, “There was just a War Machine book. I can remember being depressed by it. Lasted all of twelve issues in… wow, was that a year ago already? Where does the time go? It’ll be time to launch Iron Man 3.0 #1 before you know it.”

Meanwhile, poor Cloak and Dagger couldn’t buy a miniseries with a manilla envelope full of editorial blackmail photos.

The more you think about it, the more you notice this sort of thing everywhere, new projects that are really just new numbers on the cover. Maybe a different adjective. Marvel is putting out Ultimate Captain America and Astonishing Captain America within weeks of one another. When Marvel was up for sale, you heard a lot about how they had a catalogue of 7,000 licensable characters. After this weekend, I think I am officially ready for #7,001.

I like most of my comics! I do. It’s just that, in the last couple of months, I have bought #1 issues of X-Force, X-Men, Wolverine, The Flash, Namor, Avengers, Black Widow, and Hawkeye & Mockingbird. The youngest of these concepts is roughly twenty years old, and several of these #1s were for series that had been relaunched already just a few years earlier. When they announced X-Men #1, they said it was "the first X-Men #1 in twenty years!" and they were bragging about their restraint. It starts to feel like this churn, this misdirection to create the illusion of freshness, like an elaborate game of three card monte designed by Rube Goldberg. I keep thinking I’m going to pay attention to the latest announcements and then twenty minutes later realize my watch is missing.

This probably makes me sound like someone who’s hung up on the numbering, but if anything I’m hung up on nothing more than how loony it’s gotten. Every book that gets re-number-one'd will revert within five years. It happened to Iron Man and Ultimate Spider-Man this weekend. Remember how that Ultimate Spidey #1 represented a bold new era for the book? How far’d we make it? Fifteen issues?

If it’s been too long since your last headache, take a gander at what they did to the Hulk’s book. He got his new #1 way back in Paleozoic 1999 and lasted 113 issues before they renamed it after Hercules. Herc got 114-141, then he left, and then the Hulk came back for issue… 600. Good luck in that back issue bin.

All of this is just me fretting about the health of the business. None of this seems like something you need to do when things are going well. On the other hand, I guess Pepsi and Cap’n Crunch change their labels every few months to attract attention, too. As for the perpetually relaunched characters, I should accentuate the positive; they believe the Moon Knights and War Machines of the world can work if given enough chances. Plenty of Alpha Flight fans are banking on this kind of thinking right now with candles in their windows. I certainly didn’t say, “Oh, that again?” when they announced a new Alias miniseries, or Mark Waid’s return to Ruse. When I heard about Iron Man 2.0, one of my first thoughts was, “So, this means I should get S.W.O.R.D. back right about July 20th?”


Jim Mroczkowski would pay top dollar to ditch his original numbering. Back issues available on Twitter.


  1. I don’t understand the love of Moon Knight -he sucks in Shadowland and Secret Avengers. As for War Machine… urgh I bought the first arc in singles when that got launched back around 2008 (or was it 09?) and remember it just being AWFUL… is he still more machine than man? And can he still just wire himself into a big fucking massive tank on the fly?

    Regardless I know what you mean, it’s all getting a bit tiresome, but as the difficulty launching books for well established and known/loved characters like the Moon Knights, War Machines, Cloak and Daggers goes to show.. well it aint easy, now try and imagine them launching something new?! Just ain’t gonna happen.

     I’m happy with Ultimate Cap, some interesting and more action packed tales to be told there… bollocks to Astonishing though… Aaron will bring me on, but there really is no need to stick this under the Astonishing banner. So many Cap books already and plenty more to come in the run up to the movie, I just don’t see the need for it… especially when Brubaker is going to tell the best cap stories in the Captain America on going or one of his other books. 

    Oh and heres hoping S.W.O.R.D don’t come back, the art was horrendous and the story was more boring then painting your mates fence, watching it dry and then walking home.

  2. I miss S.W.O.R.D. I really didn’t expect it to win me over the way it did but damn that book was good.

  3. If that Hulk renumbering gives you a headache, apparently Tom Brevoort said they would probably renumber Avengers at 600.  He said they would count the original volume of New Avengers, presumably not the current volume, and the current volume of original recipe Avengers.  Not Mighty (an adjective used for much of the original series), Dark, or Secret.  have fun in that back issue bin.

    @origanmikid- I agree that the last volume of War Machine was very lackluster.  Probably why they aren’t calling this one "War Macine".  but, by the end of the story, his brain was downloaded into a clone.  that should quell your frustration with him being able to wire himself into a tank on the fly. 

  4. There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills! They keep trying to strike gold with characters they think SHOULD BE successful…Moon Knight is SUPPOSED to be Marvel’s Batman right?

    I’d be interested in a Cloak and Dagger mini or something…. 

  5. If Marvel ever got on the digital day and date release of the new #1s maybe they would drum up more business…  Image books have caught on to this…

  6. I get the jist of your articles, but the mere fact that they’ve tried Moon Knight in the recent past with Benson (I believe), and the more recent run with Opena as the artist doesn’t necessarily mean that I shouldn’t be excited for the new run with Bendis. I’m a big fan of MK; enjoyed the Benson run on MK, but the Opena run not so much. I’m glad they are finally giving MK a shot with a proven writer like Bendis, and a stud artist like Maleev. Yes, there’s nothing new about the MK character or a MK #1 issue, but it’s nevertheless an announcement I’m excited about.


  7. Jimski hits it out of the park again.  This "new adjective" and renumbering strategy just puts me deeper into the tradewaiting catagory. Bad idea.  But look at what is happening: how many Avengers books are there?  Now we’ll have several different Cap’s, a Bat corporation – and no energy given to investing in newer characters that a new generation of readers can embrace as their own.  I’ll just let the dust settle and pick up those collected editions after all the reviews are in.  This undermines the monthly purchase, which I imagine is still important.  Maybe not.  The market is getting flooded with overlapping titles that are poorly executed.  Is there a real reader groundswell for Ultimate Captain America?  If so, I’ve missed it.  Pass.

  8. Wood’s article a few weeks explained how fiscally lucrative it is for the companies it is to release number ones. I’d link to it but I am away from my computer. It’s good reading and I think it explains it much better than I ever could.

  9. Great article as always Jim.

  10. i don’t actually know who marvel’s newest sustainable character is…I have a sinking feeling it’s Daken.

  11. Oddly, I was just thinking about this topic today. Am… Am I gonna have a Fight Club moment where I discover that I’m Jimski?


  12. Look, all I want is books that don’t suck and it looks like that’s what I’m getting. Fuck numbering and back-issue bins are dead; it’s all about trades, remember?


  13. They should simultaneously renumber ALL the Avengers books to 600. Including the minis.

  14. or @MikeFarley they could just do a Deadpool and renumber everything to issue #900 or something hahaha

     Also… Woah, Woah WOAH @ABirdseysView …they downloaded him into a clone? The clone saga sucked in Spiderman – it still sucks now on different characters! I always thought making him so close to machine was an odd choice considering they (Marvel) had just released Iron Man and were prepping for Iron Man 2, why have a potentially financially lucrative character at essentially the end of his life in a relaunched series that was drowning in backstory noone knew… ah well I will give this new series a shot I guess,

     I find Fraction’s Iron Man unreadable so need to get my Iron Man fix from somewhere

  15. I feel your pain, Jimski. Good article.

    I couldn’t care less about press releases or announcements for new series that won’t be released until next summer. I think I’m actually at the point where if Alan Moore personally emailed me and told me "I’m going to write the Avengers with J.H. Williams on art…starting in July 2011", then I honestly wouldn’t be ACTIVELY excited. It would just be another case of "Hm, that looks interesting. Wake me up when it comes out and/or when a reviewer I trust says that it’s great."

    This is for three reasons:

    1) We’re swamped with advertising and press releases to an extent that it’s all nearly meaningless. I really feel bad for the iFanboys who are tasked with repeating the company press releases as news stories on this site. Hey, it’s your site–do what you want to do–and I guess any discussion it generates is cool. But I honestly couldn’t care less. I am totally numb to being manipulated by every little press release Marvel puts out. Nothing is "exciting" or "shocking" anymore.

    2) It’s all so long away. I guess things like that Ultimate Cap series looks good. But I’ve got too much on my plate right now to speculate about a comic that won’t be out for a year. Especially when we don’t really have much information to go on. I feel the same way about next year’s comic movie releases: I feel it’s just a waste of time to talk or think about them very much because we just don’t know specifics. It’s all nearly-pointless speculation…which would be fine, maybe even fun, except there are SO MANY different movies and comics to speculate about, which kind of diffuses my interest in ANYTHING.

    3) There will probably be delays. My interest in upcoming projects has been killed so many times, simply because the comics are pushed back so much and so often. When the comics are released, yeah, usually I still buy them. But if many things are just going to be delayed anyway, then why get excited by press releases so many months ahead of time? I’ve gotten burned out on too many things that way, and often had my expectations raised too high by over-hype.

  16. I guess I am just to the point now where I pay attention to what they say, but it doesn’t move me. Once I see the team working on a particular book I will get excited or indifferent. At that point I will be able to estimate my approximate chances of getting a good story out of the book.

  17. I think I liked comics more when I didn’t know who was who or what new #1’s were coming out. I knew I liked Wolverine and Batman and Green Lantern. It’s like watching your food being cooked in a less than stellar restaurant. 

  18. Another great Jimski article! I totally sympathize with this. I’ve been burned by Moon Knight one time too many. I always buy them, they never last. I’m jumping off the bandwagon, as much as I like the character.


    DC does this same thing with Doom Patrol. it seems every few years a new Doom patrol series comes out. I really liked the one from the late 90s/early 200s (don’t remember the exact year it was around), then it got cancelled. I skipped the next relaunch (I believe it was by John Byrne) and it didn’t last. I picked up the most recent one, because I love me some Kieth Giffin (AMBUSH BUG FTW!) and so far it has lasted, but I’m wondering for how long?