Friday, December 15, 2017

DATA ERRATA: Captain American legacy numbering

So, I've just posted a review of CAPTAIN AMERICA #696 and, in the "Bottom-of-the-Page Dept." section, told you 696 is the wrong number, that it should be #679, or possibly #720.

Here's the math:

Inside the previous issue, Marvel's bean counters gave their tabulation for how they got to #695. And not to put too fine a point on my critique, it’s crap. I’ll explain why in a moment, but first let’s review the official numbering:

• #1-99 — TALES OF SUSPENSE #1-99
• #100-454 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #100-454
• #455-467 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (1996) #1-13
• #468-517 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (1998) #1-50
• #518-549 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (2002) #1-32
• #550-619 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (2005) #1-50; 600-619
• #620-638 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (2011) #1-19
• #639-663 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (2012) #1-25
• #664-669 — ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1-6
• #670-693 — SAM WILSON: CAPTAIN AMERICA #1-24
• #694 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (2015) #25

Now, first up, I don’t know why Marvel doesn’t count Cap’s Golden Age title. Probably because doing so would have made the most recent issue #773, which isn’t close enough to an excuse for an up-priced anniversary issue, I guess. I also sneer knowingly at the fact that the actual indicia title for SAM WILSON: CAPTAIN AMERICA is CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON.  Now, I don’t mind counting the ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA run, even though that starred Sam, because it stood as THE Cap title of the moment. But SAM WILSON ran more-or-less concurrently with CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS, which should be the Cap title of record when choosing between the two.

Still, my real problem is counting TALES OF SUSPENSE, given that Cap did not even appear in the title until #58, becoming a co-feature with Iron Man as of #59. Also, Marvel is also counting TOS #1-99 in its new TALES OF SUSPENSE series, essentially counting those issues twice!

Now, in my humble opinion — and comic book geeks are, as you well know, famous for being as humble as they are demure — a legacy number is a chance to reset on the basis of: What if we had never cancelled a series, restarted it, changed the title, or resorted to trick numbering? What would the current number be if all of the similar titles starring a given character had run as one continuous ongoing series?

So, for this reason, we want to count CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS. After all, unlike FLASH COMICS over at DC, which was an anthology title that just happened to star The Flash as its lead feature, CAC was Cap’s own mag.

Then, we want to come forward counting each issue (regardless of number) of each title (whatever its logo or indicia variation) that starred Cap as the sole or lead feature. However, we only count the primary title in months were there is a second Cap series. Thus, we don’t count THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA limited series, or the CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY ongoing, for example, nor the CAPTAIN AMERICA AND … issues that picked up the numbering from the 2005 CAPTAIN AMERICA series (which jumped from #50 to #600 in a previous, equally ill-calculated attempt to eek a few extra “special anniversary” dollars out of fandom).

And, most definitely, we do NOT count the issues of a previous, totally unrelated title just because Marvel, in an attempt to avoid paying for a new postal delivery permit, picked up its numbering.

Now, I’ll grant you, a decision has to be made on TALES OF SUSPENSE #59-99. After all, it was THE Captain America title of its era, and Marvel was more or less forced to double him up with Iron Man because it's distributor at the time (a sister company to DC Comics) limited the number of titles it could publish each month.

However, TOS also was THE Iron Man title. And we can’t count these issues in the legacy numbering for both CAPTAIN AMERICA and IRON MAN. Or can we? I’m going to argue we can’t. But, because Marvel probably would have put out solo titles at the time for both characters if it had been allowed to, I’ll also argue we can.

But for the most part, we can't, because there is simply no reason to. The early monster-themed issues of TOS that did not feature Cap play no part in his legacy, and Cap's numbering has rebooted at No. 1 enough times that there is no value in counting non-Cap comics just to preserve a high number. Again, the postal services is no longer watching. It does not care. The sole consideration then when trying to calculate a legacy number for Cap is the number of individual issues Marvel has published of Captain America as an ongoing series.
Thus, my legacy number calculation (without Cap's TOS issues):

• #1-73 — CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS (1940-1949) #1-73
• #74-75 — CAPTAIN AMERICA’S WEIRD MYSTERIES (1949-1950) #74-75
• #76-78 — CAPTAIN AMERICA (1954) #76-78
• #79-422 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol.1 (1968-1995) #100-443
• #423-433 — STEVE ROGERS: CAPTAIN AMERICA (1995-1996) #444-454
• #434-446 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol.2 (1996-1997) #1-13
• #447-496 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol.3 (1998-2002) #1-50
• #497-528 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol. 4 (2002-2004) #1-32
• #529-578 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol. 5 (2005-2009) #1-50
• #580-599 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol. 6 (2009-2011) #600-619
• #600-618 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol. 7 (2011-2013) #1-19
• #619-643 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol. 8 (2013-2014) #1-25
• #644-649 — ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA (2014-2015) #1-6
• #650-656 — CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON (2015-2016) #1-7
• #657-675 — CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS (2016-2017) #1-19
• #676 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, vol.9 (2017) #25
• #678 — CAPTAIN AMERICA, Vol.10 (2017) #695

So, as I see it, CAPTAIN AMERICA #696 should actually be CAPTAIN AMERICA #679. However, if we were to slide in TALES OF SUSPENSE (1964-1968) #59-99, that’d bump us up to #720.

Sadly, while either would have been more correct in setting a real, actual, honest-and-for-true legacy number, neither 678 nor 719 meets Marvel’s obvious goal of landing as closely as possible to the all-important #700.

Anyway, that’s MY legacy number for good ol’ winghead. Your mileage may vary.

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