The Future is #1

Remember these numbers.

  • Amazing Spider-Man vol 4, #1 sold 245,873 copies in October 2015.
  • Amazing Spider-Man vol 4, #22 sold 63,359 copies in December 2016.

I read last night that Amazing Spider-Man will be rebooted as Amazing Spider-Man vol 5, #1 in May. They are calling this reboot "Fresh Start." New writer Nick Spencer says, "I think that a lot of what I'll be doing is reconnecting Peter with some very classic, quintessential elements of the story that fans and readers are going to recognize." That's interesting, because that same logic was used in the original reboot in 1998. Amazing was cancelled and the new writer, Howard Mackie, said he was going to go back to the original story telling style of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Keep in mind that Amazing Spider-Man #800 is on sale on May 30 and is part of the "Legacy" mandate. Amazing just returned to its original numbering (meaning, what issue number it would be if the series had been allowed to run uninterrupted from its start in 1962) a few months ago. "Legacy" hasn't even finished being put in place and it is already being ignored in favor of "Fresh Start."

From a business perspective, it obviously makes sense to do what needs to be done to boost sales. Issues marked #1 are clearly much bigger sellers than issues sold just a year later. At the same time, these constant reboots and reshuffling of the drawing board smacks of desperation, and that makes me nervous. Comic book sales have been steadily dropping for decades and it seems like the publishers don't know how to stop the bleeding. All they have left to spur interest are endless cancellations and reboots with #1's.

Can Marvel really be blamed for all of this? No. They want to stay in business. Marvel can only stay in business if they sell comics, and that is something that is in decline. Unfortunately there is no consensus among readers telling what we want to read in order to boost sales. I, and other writers here, have pointed this out in previous rants. Maybe constantly starting over isn't as bad as it seems, but it doesn't give readers much confidence for the future of our hobby, either.

I have to wonder if we will be getting The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 6 #1 in 2020. I also wonder how long this can go on.

**We didn’t get another reset of Amazing Spider-Man #1 but as of October 2020 ASM was renumbered at issue #850. Close but not right.**