Although superhero comics fans typically react to series relaunches with howls of derision, there's little arguing with the sales numbers: Somebody is buying all of those new No. 1 issues. Just ask Tom Brevoort, Marvel's senior vice president of publishing.
Responding to a loaded question on his Formspring account -- "Why is Marvel terrified, no dare I say PETRIFIED, of having a book reach more than 15 issues before getting reset to issue number 1?" -- Brevoort explains, "We’re not terrified, nay PETRIFIED, of any such thing. But neither are we living in the past."
"The number is there to serve a function, but it has no intrinsic value in and of itself," he continues. "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?"
In addition, he points out, the No. 1 issues give potential new readers who might otherwise hesitant to start reading an acclaimed series, say, like Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's Daredevil, an easy entry point.
"We are in the business of selling stories. Our operating philosophy is that good, accessible stories will always sell better," Brevoort concludes. "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."