Why issue numbers haven’t mattered to me and maybe you can be free too…by Rick B.

January 19, 2020 Articles

I know, I know how can you possibly start reading a comic book today if you don’t start with issue number 1. How will you know who’s who and what’s what? How, how, how? If I don’t start at the beginning all will be lost. Or will it…

At the time I started reading comics, Spider-Man was my favorite superhero of all time. I watched his solo cartoon reruns during the week, wondered why he never spoke on Electric Company and devoured the live action TV show anytime it was on. Yet my first issue of Amazing Spider-Man was #230. My next issue was #238, then #239 then #245, then #250. And #230 is still my oldest issue of Amazing. Have I read earlier issues by now? Yes, I have, but I never bothered to go backwards for him in terms of reading everything or collecting. I have started and stopped reading Amazing Spider-Man so many times it’s kinda embarrassing to think how many holes in my collection I have. I stopped reading Amazing with issue #546 and read maybe 2 or 3 issues until #688. That’s 142 issues skipped until I wanted to read Spidey consistently again. And you know what. It was fine. Sure, there were a few details and characters I was clueless about but I never went back to catch up and within 2 or 3 more issues was immersed in the current storyline and somehow, I still enjoyed it. I’ve read every issue of Amazing up until just recently.

Just slightly after I discovered there were Spider-Man comics, I saw that my second favorite superhero Batman had comics as well. My first issue of Batman was an issue of DC 100-page Digest featuring Jason Todd as Robin. I had no idea who Jason Todd was, Dick Grayson was Robin on TV reruns and cartoons, but I just went along for the ride. My next issue of Batman was Dark Knight Returns #4. To this day that is one of my all-time favorite covers. Imagine how confused I was now; Robin was a girl and Jason was dead? Yes, I went back the next week and got #3, which didn’t really help but was still amazing. Then I had to wait a few months to save up to get #1 and #2. But in the meantime, I just started reading the next issue of Batman I found. It happened to be issue #426 and I was smitten by the cover art and more than a little skeptical of the interior artwork, but to this day when I imagine how Batman looks, it’s a Jim Aparo Batman that comes to mind first. And 3 issues later Jason was dead again, go figure. I found out Dick became Nightwing and started reading New Titans with issue #58. 

My first issue of Thor was #325. My next issue of Thor was #378. And somehow 35 years later he’s my favorite superhero of all time and yet I did not read the previous 324 issues. Sure, I wanted too and eventually did. I spent the next 10 years reading collecting every issue since and before. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of issues from #83 to #377 I read totally out of order piecemeal style. Didn’t care one bit. Imagine my poor wallets’ relief when I first discovered I did not need issues #1-82. As soon as I got a new backissue I read it later that day. I’ve never missed an issue since and I still love him above all.

Do you see a pattern here? I have loved and read comics for 40 odd years and I started with random numbers. Numbers don’t need to matter! The stories and feelings they produce in us do. Pick up a comic that intrigues you visually. Any comic and try it out. No really. It will be OK, I promise. How do I know? Because that is how this entire industry and genre of entertainment has existed for 80 plus years. You can always go backwards but it takes the first step forward to walk through that door.

P.S. No one over a certain age ever complained that Star Wars started with Episode IV until it became “cool” to rip on Star Wars after Episode I became a thing.

P.S.S. No one has ever said I need to watch DR. NO (1962) in order to watch the next James Bond movie…