Thursday, June 9, 2016

The End of Uncanny, Revisited

In light of this week's release of Action Comics #957, I decided to dredge up my thoughts on the (grumble grumble FIRST) renumbering of Uncanny X-Men done back in 2011, post-Schism story line.  Nothing Earth-shattering here, mostly just me kvetching and acting like an old man... but, the point still remains that legacy numbering is important to a great deal of comics fans... and I'm glad that DC Comics is starting to notice that.  This was originally written/posted somewhere in the Fall of 2011... and is sadly and disturbingly wildly out of date.  Never at the time of writing would I imagine in just a few short years we'd be on volume-freaking-four of Uncanny X-Men.

In recognition of this week’s FINAL ISSUE of Uncanny X-Men (#544) I wanted to take a little while to reflect on the passing of the series I’d collected since the late 80’s. When this was announced several months back, we were assured that this wouldn’t be a stunt, or sales trick. There would be a legitimate reason for the re-launch. In a post-Schism Marvel Universe, I’m left wondering exactly how *this* is worth re-numbering a nearly 50 year old title. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Schism. Thought it was a decent enough story... I just don’t think it required restarting the book.

I understand that re-numbering is all the rage right now in light of DC’s New 52… however, Uncanny X-Men (vol.2) #1 will be a direct continuation from Uncanny X-Men (vol.1) #544. No real justifiable reason for a restart. The status quo of the X-Men has changed several times throughout the past five decades, never necessitating a new #1. That said, I’d like to go through the (Uncanny) X-Men run, and point to some other instances wherein I feel a re-numbering would have fit better than Regenesis.

(Uncanny) X-Men #94 (1975) – All-New, All-Different. If we’re discussing places in X-Men history where a re-start would comfortably fit… this is it! Following the introduction of the “All-New” X-Men in Giant-Size #1, their adventures would continue in the main title, which for several years prior had only served as a reprint mag for the original X-Men’s 1960’s stories.

Uncanny X-Men #229 (1988) – Following the Fall of the Mutants cross-over, the X-Men were believed to be dead. In “reality” they had left to rebuild in Australia, leaving the world at large to continue believing their demise. This starts the X-Men “Outback era” which would continue for the next couple of years.

Uncanny X-Men #281 (1991) – In a time when the New Mutants became X-Force, X-Factor shuffled rosters and X-Men (vol.2) was launched, Uncanny still managed to maintain its numbering. Famous for the first real non-Claremont Uncanny issues for quite some time, these stories felt… different than anything that had come before (not necessarily for the better, but still… different).

Uncanny X-Men #322 (1995) – The Age of Apocalypse had just ended, and the already hiatus-ed X-Men titles, including Uncanny were brought back under their original numbering. A relaunch upon the title's return would have fit.

Uncanny X-Men #337 (1996) – In the wake of Marvel’s onslaught (no pun intended) of #1 issues, with Heroes Reborn and influx of new titles (Thunderbolts, Alpha Flight (v.2), Deadpool, etc.) the X-Men titles all kept chugging along at their legacy numbering.

Uncanny X-Men #381 (2000) – The “X-Men Revolution” featured the return of Chris Claremont to the X-Men after nearly a ten-year absence. In addition, this was just around the time the first X-Men movie landed in theaters (in fact issue #384 just three months later featured the new movie logo taking the place of the traditional one for several months). A movie these days often mandates a new volume of a title, to allure and ensnare the non-existent “New Reader”.

There are a few more instances I could argue, however, these are the one's that stand out most to me.

In closing, while I don’t like random re-numberings of comic books especially when we readers are told that there are REAL storyline justifications for it… with the way sales are going right now, I can see why it is done, and done so often. I’m not sure if this is a long-term measure, or if in six-month’s time, Uncanny will be re-re-numbered to #550. Or if in two years, Uncanny will be re-re-numbered in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the X-Men, or if we will have to wait until Uncanny would have reached #600 for a return to traditional numbering… if at all.

The importance of numbering to me is probably quite silly I must admit. As long as the story is good, that’s all that matters, right?
I enjoy collecting high-numbered titles, makes a collector feel as though they're piecing together a puzzle. One of the things that kept me away from DC Comics in the early 1990’s was the fact that titles like Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Green Arrow were still only in the double-digits. Characters created several decades prior, to me, should have high numbered, long running volumes. I was wary I’d get invested in any given DC title, only to have it re-started (which, has happened time and time again since.) 

As a collector, I enjoy filling in gaps of my collection. Picking up various old issues of Uncanny X-Men makes me feel as though I’m actually accomplishing something. I know, silly. Right now, picking up early issues of, say, the Avengers aren’t nearly as satisfying as it could be, it feels as though I’m collecting for a dead series.

Cliff Notes version of this entry – Wahhh, wahhh, don’t renumber my comics!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hold to the notion that:

- If the numbering is stupid and doesn't matter and no one SHOULD get upset over something as "trivial" as a number on a comic book...then darnit, leave the numbering alone at the higher numbers.

- If the numbering DOES matter and "counts" in sales and such...then darnit, keep the original numbering because it really DOES matter!

Either way... the "numbering" or "renumbering" has TRULY driven me away from series I would otherwise follow and/or be interested in (or I'm interested but opt NOT to buy DUE TO the numbering). That Marvel is already renumbering a few months after "Legacy" has me finishing the "Death of the Mighty Thor" arc and the Rogue & Gambit mini; but then I'm jumping off again.

New EiC? Show that there CAN be a consistency by NOT renumbering. A "Fresh Start" can be new story, new art, new creative team(s), new status quo, etc...and yet KEEP the numbering. Give us a blurb like "First Issue of An Exciting New Era!" or such. Or a "Marvel Fresh Start!" banner across the top of a dozen or so issues of any given title. "Marvel: Fresh Start (Month #1!)" even.

Alternatively, if this "Fresh Start" is remnants left over from the previous EiC, then it's going to take a heckuva lot more than "following through" with those plans and going along with the renumbering to get me back.

Approaching Legacy, I'd figured to myself that if Marvel could keep the numbering consistent for 18 months or so, great--I'd happily give them another chance.

Now they've just sent me retreating for the '90s, where what's done is done, and most of it is 20 years in the past.