Marvel’s upcoming “Marvel Legacy” event will renumber titles to reflect their longevity. The announcement comes not terribly long after DC Comics renumbered “Action Comics” and “Detective Comics” to include their pre-New 52 numbers. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Publishers know that a new #1 draws in new readers, but renumbering draws in collectors and hardcore fans. Canceling a long-running volume, meanwhile, creates a lot of controversies. These gimmicks all make good business sense to draw attention and boost sales, but the end result is convoluted numbering schemes for long-running, beloved titles. With that in mind, here are 15 notable occasions where comic books resumed their original numbering.
15. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #500
It was a pretty big deal when Marvel canceled “Spider-Man” and its related books. They’d rebooted the “Avengers” line a few years earlier with “Heroes Reborn” and the eventual “Heroes Return,” but canceling all the main “Spider-Man” titles ahead of a January ‘99 reboot was a deal so big, it warranted a double page spread in Wizard. Comic fans weren’t sure what to expect when “Amazing Spider-Man” re-launched, featuring Peter retired from super-heroics following the events of “Spider-Man” #98.
Eventually, Marvel began dual-numbering the titles, and in 2003 “Amazing Spider-Man” jumped from #58 to #500 to commemorate the character’s 40th anniversary. “Happy Birthday” saw Peter forced to relive his life to save New York and everyone he loved. The story is a well done, touching tribute to the longevity of the character, though it wouldn’t last forever. The book came to a close with 2012’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #700, which saw the death of Peter Parker (well, his mind at least) and the launch of “Superior Spider-Man.” Peter eventually returned two years later, but the third volume of “Amazing Spider-Man” started numbering fresh with a new #1.
14. B.P.R.D.: HELL ON EARTH #100
Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” and its associated universe has done pretty well when you consider that it’s primarily been a series of miniseries. The series has enjoyed a strong success in other media, including two movies, animated features and video games, not to mention a number of statues and figures. Spinning out of the “Hellboy” universe, “B.P.R.D.” was a collection of miniseries surrounding the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense on their adventures to protect the Earth from otherworldly threats.
The series consisted of three cycles; “Plague of Frogs” ran from 2002 to 2010, and the second cycle, “Hell on Earth” started in 2010. During the sixth volume of the second cycle, “The Return of the Master,” B.P.R.D. officially renumbered itself to #100 and became a monthly series. The book ran until the end of the second cycle with #147 in November 2016. A third and final cycle, “The Devil You Know,” is slated to finish the B.P.R.D. story and is due out sometime in 2017.
13. ACTION COMICS #957 & DETECTIVE COMICS #934
DC Rebirth didn’t have the universe-wide implications of The New 52, but it did restart the entirety of their line with fresh first issues, barring two exceptions. “Detective Comics” resumed its original 1937 numbering, which had previously ended at #881, in October 2011. The series resumed in August 2016 with #934, counting all The New 52 issues with the critically acclaimed “Rise of the Batmen,” which saw Bruce forming a new team to protect Gotham City.
Perhaps more notable, however, is “Action Comics.” The original 1938 volume ended in October 2011 with #904 and picked up in August 2016 with #957. “Action Comics” and its sister title “Superman” have been lauded as the strongest part of DC Rebirth, even including the return of the pre-New 52 Superman and Lois Lane. Most importantly though, by adding in issues from The New 52, it’s likely that “Action Comics” will be the first American comic book to legitimately reach #1000, a feat that’s definitely worth celebrating.
12. CAPTAIN AMERICA #600
It’s easy to forget now what a big deal it was, but the death of Steve Rogers was a media blitz almost on par with the Superman’s. In his wake, Bucky Barnes gave up his identity as the Winter Soldier and became the new Captain America in an acclaimed, albeit painfully brief run. Bucky debuted as Cap in issue #34 of the third volume of “Captain America” with Steve’s shield and a redesigned uniform. After 2009’s “Captain America” #50, the series was renumbered to #600.
“Captain America” #600 kicked off “Captain America Reborn,” which put the main series on hiatus for a few months as Steve Rogers was returned to the Marvel Universe after being displaced in time. When he returned, however, Rogers didn’t reclaim his shield and instead served as a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. Bucky continued on as Captain America until 2011’s “Fear Itself,” where he faked his death with help from Nick Fury and an LMD, returning to his Winter Soldier persona.
11. INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500
With the success of 2008’s “Iron Man,” Tony Stark went from being a mid-tier Marvel character to the top of the pyramid, seemingly overnight. Spinning out of that hype, Marvel launched “The Invincible Iron Man,” a second ongoing that followed Stark as he fought the son of Obadiah Stane and dealt directly with the fallout of “Dark Reign,” wherein Tony wiped his memories. 33 issues into the volume, with Tony having lost his memory of everything after “Civil War,” Marvel went back to the original numbering.
It’s interesting to note that while this volume picks up the numbering of “Iron Man” Volume 1 (which ended at #332 in September 1996, a result of “Onslaught”), it’s still considered “The Invincible Iron Man” Volume 1 due to the title discrepancy. Beginning in 2011, the renumbered “Invincible Iron Man” saw Tony contend with the Mandarin and battle alcoholism anew. The series would run until #527 in 2012, making way for a third adjective-less volume of “Iron Man” under the new “Marvel NOW!” banner.
10. WOLVERINE #300
“Wolverine” Volume 2 holds the distinction of actually being Logan’s first ongoing, following the original “Wolverine” miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. The original volume ran until 2003’s #189 before relaunching for a third and eventual fourth volume. After 20 issues of Volume 4, “Wolverine” renumbered itself to #300 and returned to the second volume.
The second volume’s revival lasted just over a year, ending at #317 and rebooting into a new fifth volume which saw Logan lose his powers, and then into a new sixth volume which saw Logan operate without his healing factor. The sixth volume would end its run 12 issues later with “The Death of Wolverine” and so far has been the definite end. Laura Kinney, the former X-23 has since taken up the mantle with “All-New, All-Different Wolverine,” but the character is one of many slated to return to original numbering in the upcoming “Marvel Legacy” event.
9. THE FLASH #231
“The Flash” #230 was the final issue to feature Wally West as The Flash before he and his family disappeared in “Infinite Crisis.” Spinning out of this, “One Year Later” featured “The Flash: Fastest Man Alive,” where the former Kid Flash, Bart Allen, fell into the role of The Flash. It was a short-lived jaunt, though: Bart would be killed in the 13th issue when the Speed Force mysteriously stopped working.
The cause was revealed in a “Justice League of America” and “Justice Society of America” cross-over that saw the Legion of Super Heroes bring Wally and his family back. Wally’s return shorted out the Speed Force, which led to Bart’s demise. Wally would return to being DC’s primary speedster with “The Flash” #231, but his return didn’t last for long. The volume ended with “The Flash” #247 and led into “Final Crisis,” which saw the return of Barry and Bart Allen and a re-launched Flash ongoing shortly afterward with Barry as the lead.
8. FANTASTIC FOUR #500
As Marvel’s first family and one of the company’s longest-running, flagship titles, the cancellation of the first volume of “Fantastic Four” with #416 in 1996 was a big deal. A result of the “Onslaught” event, the Fantastic Four were believed dead, along with The Avengers. In 1998, the heroes returned to the Marvel Universe with new ongoings in grand fashion. The FF’s new volume was incredibly well received, spearheaded by an all-star creative team of Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis.
In 2003, counting the “Heroes Reborn” and “Heroes Return” volumes, Marvel renumbered the series and resumed volume 1 with “Fantastic Four” #500. The title would end again with #588 as a result of Johnny Storm’s death to make room for “FF,” and resume again in January 2012 with “#600. The volume ended again with #611 for a relaunched “Fantastic Four” by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley, and that run would then resume at #642. The title would again be canceled with #645. With Reed, Sue, Franklin and Valeria believed to be dead after “Secret Wars,” the title has yet to resume but it’s likely only a matter of time.
7. AVENGERS #500
The first volume of “The Avengers” didn’t end on a great note. 1996’s “Avengers” #402 was part of the “Onslaught” event that saw the team transported to an alternate universe created by Franklin Richards, but prior to that they’d dealt with a brainwashed Tony Stark being replaced by his teenage counterpart, a Thor who lost the ability to heal his wounds, and a Captain America who lost his super soldier powers. Going into an alternate universe was probably for the best.
Relaunched as just “Avengers” in 1998, this volume is the clear pinnacle of the “Heroes Return” line-up. Crafted by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, these early issues redefined the team for years to come, and the volume enjoyed a healthy 84-issue run. But in 2004, the book returned to the original numbering with #500 as part of “Avengers Disassembled,” the event that saw the team dissolved just four issues later. The team would reform a short time later in “New Avengers,” and various other volumes have continued on, but no others have been renumbered to reflect the longevity of this classic title.
6. VENOM #150
The most recent renumbering to date on this list, “Venom” #150 marks not only the 150th issue but also the return of Eddie Brock, who gave up the Venom symbiote way back in 2004’s “Marvel Knights: Spider-Man” #6 when he discovered he had a brain tumor. Venom spent some time with the Scorpion, Mac Gargan before joining up with Flash Thompson as Agent Venom in a new “Venom” ongoing in 2011. Recently it had possessed former army ranger Lee Price, but the symbiote forcefully split from Price hoping to rejoin with the more heroic Spider-Man.
If it sounds like 150 is a high number, you’re not wrong. Counting the 2003, 2011 and 2017 “Venom” ongoings, as well as 2016’s “Venom: Space Knight” you only get about 78 issues. The rest are likely coming from the innumerable mini-series released in the mid to late ‘90s. During this period, Brock became an anti-hero, did dirty work for a government agency and often teamed up with Spider-Man. The “Lethal Protector” era of Venom was insanely popular, so it’s only fitting it counts towards 150 issues.
5. THE DARKNESS #75
“The Darkness” had a pop culture boom nearly on par with “Witchblade” when it debuted in 1996. The dark tale of Jackie Estacado, inheritor of the titular Darkness, spawned three volumes and two popular video games (though admittedly the first game may have been more well known for letting players sit on a couch and watch entire movies with their girlfriend). With its grim art and dark, well-built world, “The Darkness” was perfect fodder for a teetering comics industry as it tried to escape the grim superheroes of the mid-90s.
“The Darkness” had two volumes that were rather brief, ending at 40 and 24 issues respectively. The third volume, launching in 2007, ran for 10 issues before renumbering itself as #75. The series continued its run for a respectable length afterward, including numerous tie-ins with “Witchblade” before ending in 2013 with #116. Though Jackie would show up in “Witchblade” from time to time, there’s not been another “The Darkness” ongoing since.
4. UNCANNY X-MEN #600
“Uncanny X-Men” has a strange life, actually being the continually running volume first known as “X-Men” from 1968. The book ran uninterrupted until 2011’s #544, which saw it infamously canceled. Driving home the importance of the recent X-Men event “Schism,” the end of “Uncanny X-Men” saw Marvel’s Merry Mutants decisively split up. “Uncanny” would relaunch with a new #1 as Cyclops continued with his “Extinction Team” while Wolverine would restart Xavier’s school as the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters in “Wolverine & The X-Men” #1.
After Cyclops was declared a terrorist, the book continued through #35. For the final issue of the run and to mark the departure of writer Brian Michael Bendis, “Uncanny X-Men” was renumbered #600. “Uncanny X-Men” would relaunch without Cyclops shortly after, tying into the reveal in “Death Of X” that he had died of Terrigen Poisoning. With the recent relaunch of X-Men related books, there’s no current “Uncanny X-Men” ongoing, but the door is always open for the return.
3. SUPERMAN #650
A bit of a confusing tale here, but the first volume of “Superman” has perhaps the second most convoluted renumbering scheme. Officially, this volume ended at #423 in September 1986 with the seminal classic “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” A fitting end, given the nature of that story, and several DC books re-launched around the same time as part of the new continuity spinning out of “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
“Superman” Volume 2 would run for 226 issues before ending in the fallout of “Infinite Crisis,” and it picked up the renumbering at #650, but it’s not really treated as such by DC. In January 1987, DC continued the first volume of “Superman” as “The Adventures of Superman,” picking up with #424. With “Infinite Crisis,” DC canceled “The Adventures of Superman” at #649 and considered “Superman” to become the continuation of Volume 1, making “Superman” #650 the resumption of original numbering, as well as the continuation of two volumes of Superman titles.
2. WONDER WOMAN #600
Wonder Woman has been a character with as much staying power as her Trinity counterparts Batman and Superman. Why, then, does she not have the same numbering? Traditionally relegated to a single ongoing and subject to a number of reboots and relaunches, “Wonder Woman” Volume 1 ended in 1986 with “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” The second volume ended in April 2006 with #226 in response to “Infinite Crisis” fallout, relaunching with a third volume that ran for 44 issues.
It was during the third volume that fans reached out about the significance of the numbering. With a massive fan outpour, DC responded and resumed the original numbering in 2010 with “Wonder Woman” #600. This also launched “Odyssey,” an arc which saw Wonder Woman’s costume and origin reworked for a time. The story made Wonder Woman a huge deal again and was incredibly well received, but it wasn’t meant to be. The New 52 came along, and “Wonder Woman” was again relaunched after #614. Despite “Action Comics” and “Detective Comics” being renumbered later in DC Rebirth, “Wonder Woman” was yet again relaunched with a new #1 with no mention of any plans to resume the original volume numbering.
1. JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY & THOR (REPEATEDLY)
“Journey Into Mystery” must be the most convoluted instance of a series being renumbered. Marvel just can’t seem to decide if it’s still going or not. “Journey Into Mystery” launched in 1952 and introduced Marvel mainstay Thor in #83. The series technically ended with #125, being retitled “Thor” with #126. “Thor” runs uninterrupted until 1996’s “Thor” #502, which tied in with “Onslaught” and “Heroes Reborn.” At this point, the book again becomes “Journey Into Mystery” and ran as an anthology series before ending with #521 to make way for a new “Thor” volume as part of “Heroes Return.”
“Thor” volume 2 ended with #85 in 2004. Volume 3 launched in 2007, and after 12 issues was renumbered to “Thor” #600. However, 2011’s “Thor” #621 marked the end of that Thor volume, shifting focus to Loki and becoming “Journey Into Mystery” yet again! The previous “Thor” volume is considered part of this run, and “Journey Into Mystery” resumed at #622, while Thor would get a fresh ongoing, “The Mighty Thor.” “Journey Into Mystery” concluded in 2013 with #655, but it seems inevitable that Marvel will revive this title again.
Do YOU have a favorite title that should return to a higher numbering scheme? Let us know in the comments!
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