In September, DC is trying to recapture some of the sales and marketing success it had with the launch of its New 52 initiative a year before with a slate of zero issues for all of its core, New 52 titles (which is a slightly different lineup than it was a year ago). A zero-issue month is far from a new phenomenon for DC. It had one in 1994, coinciding with its Zero Hour crossover event. Zero issues have become, perhaps unfortunately, a much more common gimmick in the world of mainstream comics, especially in the super-hero genre. Still, there are times when I see the use of the odd numbering shtick.
One such situation was the release in late 2010 of Batwoman #0. The 16-page comic book served as a payoff for those of us who waited for years for the arrival of the series, and it also acted as something of a placeholder until the series proper finally got underway (in September 2011 as a part of the New 52). Really, it was a promotional item (the readers had to pay for) to sustain audience anticipation.
But come September 2012, DC is publishing another Batwoman #0, and the previous #0 is considered a part of the New 52 series. One series, two different issues with the same number. Pay close attention, Batwoman fans, when purchasing items on eBay. Which zero-issue item are you buying?
I certainly don’t expect DC to scrap its plans for its new Zero Month for its entire line over what’s perhaps a forgotten issue from two years ago. Having two comics called Batwoman #0 isn’t the end of the world, but it certainly spotlights the ridiculousness of comics numbering as perpetuated by DC and Marvel these days. I realize other publishers have adopted irregular numbering schemes as well, but DC and Marvel are the ones driving things in that direction. Constant relaunches with new first issues, renumbering those relaunches to exploit a big-number milestone such as a 500th issue, half issues, zero issues, issues with decimal points, Greek letters… it’s exhausting and irritating, and I’m certain it’s frustrating for people preparing price guides and collection databases. Next I’m guessing there will be a series numbered in an alien math rooted in a fictional Kryptonian base-14 numerical system.
It’s all so… silly and unnecessary. I think we all long for the days when comics were sold on the strength of the stories, the appeal of the characters and/or the reputation of the creators, not meaningless gimmicks meant to create the illusion of rarity or collectibility.
Here’s a further depressing thought. There actually aren’t going to be two Batwoman #0 comics — there will be four. The November 2010 comic had a variant cover, and the upcoming zero issue will have a variant as well. At least the interiors of those variants match their regular-edition siblings.
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