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When Did Comic Books Start Celebrating ‘Anniversary’ Issues?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
When Did Comic Books Start Celebrating ‘Anniversary’ Issues?

In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Longtime reader Patrick K. wrote in to ask:

Hey I was wondering if you would be able to answer a question I have for you. I was wondering when did comic books start caring about milestone issues? It seems that every 25 issues or so, a comic book needs do a big blow out story in honor of that run. Who was the first one?

Okay, here’s the deal, while Patrick clearly asked for “who was the first one?” and I’ll answer that, I think the question here is really more when did it become STANDARD to celebrate certain issues. And therefore, the question there is essentially, “When did Marvel and DC start doing it?” because they tend to be the guys who dictate the standard. Thus, when THEY start doing it regularly, that’s when it becomes “the thing that comic books do.”

However, the very first series that we would traditionally consider a “comic book” was Eastern Color’s Famous Funnies, which (like a bunch of comic book companies in the early days) reprinted newspaper comic strips in comic book form. Since it was the first comic book series, it was also the first one to reach #100 and it celebrated in style…

DC, though, did NOT celebrate when their first major series, Adventure Comics, More Fun Comics, Detective Comics and Action Comics reached #100 in the mid-1940s. Neither did most other comic book companies when they began reaching the milestone themselves in the mid-1940s.

However, as we got closer to the end of the decade, Fawcett Comics began celebrating the 100th issue of most of their superhero titles (not all, but most)…

In 1948, Flash Comics and All-American Comics reached 100 and DC at least gave it a bit of a note at the top of the issue…

They did the same two years later when Sensation Comics hit triple digits…

Finally, however, in the mid-1950s, when Superman and Batman hit #100, DC gave in and they have been celebrating issues ending with double zeroes ever since.

Oddly enough, though, just double zero issues for their SOLO titles. The anthology titles took until their respective 400th issues for Action and Detective to acknowledge the “anniversary” aspects of the issue. Here are their #200 and #300 covers, which did not reflect the “anniversary” aspect of the comic (although at least Action Comics #300 is a famous issue)…

Okay, so now we have the double zeroes taken care of, so what’s next?

In 1975, Amazing Spider-Man #150 first celebrated the rather dubious distinction of a 150th issue…

It soon became de rigueur to celebrate that issue, though.

175th issue celebrations are relatively rare, but the first one came in 1983 with Uncanny X-Men #175…

Okay, but as you can see, at least these issues are celebrating a book reaching a rather high number – first 100, then every 50 issue installment after that. But how about just reaching 50 issues period?

In 1976, Warren celebrated Vampirella getting to #50…

But really, 1977’s Defenders #50 is where the practice became common for Marvel (and then DC quickly followed suit)…

Okay, but what about the SUPER-dubious “milestone” issue of just reaching the 25th issue? When was THAT first celebrated? Go to the next page to find out!

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