Gutterball: Wolverine Out of Order
Wolverine #71 came out a month ago. This week, another issue of Wolverine was released. Wolverine #72, you say? Unfortunately, you say wrong. Wolverine #73 came out instead, skipping over #72 because Marvel thought the later issue would be a better jumping-on point for potential new readers from the Wolverine movie. #72 is coming out NEXT week, and will be followed by #74. If that seems confusing and difficult to follow, that's because it is, which is why fans and retailers are having a minor fit over the it.
Retailer and comics critic Brian Hibbs took on the issue today in his 'Tilting at Windmills' column today at CBR, explaining why the counter-numerical maneuver hurts stores and won't be the gateway comic Marvel is shooting for:
"As I write this today, in 2009, "Wolverine" #73 has been on sale for less than 24 hours. In that time I received three in-store questions, four phone calls ("Do you have #72?!?"), and had at least one customer angrily put the issue back on the shelf, and told me to cancel his future orders for the title...
The majority of new interest comes either before the film is released, or immediately (typically 1 week or less) after. "Wolverine" #73 is, at this point, coming far too late to thread that particular needle... But, let's say that somehow it happens, and this increasingly mythical customer buys #73 cold, and likes it, and comes back looking for more – and the next issue released will be, um, #72, and will feature a completely different story. Yay!
There's really no level on which this works – it won't do what they're pitching it as, and it will create a whole lot of confusion and headache. It makes them look bad. It makes us look bad. Hell, it makes comics look bad, because even a kindergartener knows how to count in sequence."
What do you think? Is Hibbs right about how angry people are? Is moving issue numbers -- and stories -- out of order is a bad move from a fan perspective, or not that a big deal?