In case you were wondering how “issue numbers” worked.

§ March 4th, 2013 § Filed under collecting § 12 Comments

So a while back I decided I was going to go through and put all my B.P.R.D. comics in numerical order, as opposed to the alphabetical order they had been in. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the B.P.R.D. comics (as well as its parent comic, Hellboy) are released in a series of mini-series, each with their own numbering, starting over with a new number one when the next mini-series starts. However, in addition to that numbering, there is a secondary overall numbering system noted in each issue for the B.P.R.D. comics as a whole: B.P.R.D. The Black Flame #1 is also #18 of the whole shebang, as an example.

At least, that’s how it worked ’til the recent release of Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master #3, when the internal numbering system was moved to the cover with a big, fat “#100″ for all to see:

The cover numbering has continued forward from that point, though there are still companion B.P.R.D. mini-series that retain their own, separate numbering.

Anyway, that finally got me to go through and number all the issues on the removable labels (not tape…never tape, God help you) I have sealing the bags shut, using the list found here so I didn’t have to slow myself up by opening each and every issue to note the issue number. (Which is good, since they momentarily screw up the issue numbers in the comics around #57 anyhow.)

Now, I couldn’t just put all these in order and then throw the box back on the Vast Mikester Comic Archives shelves. Oh, no, of course not. After the Orderingening, I picked up B.P.R.D. Hollow Earth #1 (the very first B.P.R.D. comic):

…and read my way forward. I’m up to about issue 64 or so, and it’s quite the addicting page turner, where I find myself saying “well, maybe I’ll read just one more” after finishing each issue. And, like I did when I read all of The Boys over a relatively short period of time, I found myself catching storytelling nuances, or being reminded of certain plot points or character relationships, that I had missed or forgotten in reading these comics in serialized form over several years.

For example (and I don’t know if this is really a SPOILER or not, but here we go), I had somehow managed to forget Panya’s origins as a revived Egyptian mummy. That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing one would forget, but somehow, my impression of “weird psychic woman with perhaps dubious motives that the B.P.R.D. picked up at some point” overtook my memory of “…who also was a mummy” and she was just yet another oddball character hangin’ with the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Not that she still isn’t, but it’s odd that I somehow lost track of where that character had originally come from.

Part of it is, I think, not having reread the particular issues that involve Panya’s specific circumstance since they were originally released. Alas, I am at the point in my life when going back and rereading things is more the exception than the rule. Used to be, as a young Mikester, I’d go back and reread books I’d liked, comics I’ve collected, and so on. Now, who’s got the time? When I’m reading these comic series, I’m reading each installment with a month (or so) gap between issues, and I’m generally not going back and rereading previous issues to be fresh on every single plot point. For the most part, for most comics, that’s not a problem. But once in a while, particularly in series deep in plot and characterization subtleties like B.P.R.D. and The Boys, I can lose track of a detail between issues, and that loss is only compounded with each subsequent issue, separating me even further from that particular detail I may have forgotten. Even something like “she was a freakin’ mummy, you idiot.”

The plus side of this is, of course, the experience has sort of a fresh and new feel to it, going back and rereading this all from the beginning. Certain Big Moments are still stuck in memory, but it’s been long enough that finding out how even those Big Moments fit within the context of the overall story is still a fine pleasure. And to a certain extent, even knowing how particular events turn out, like a character death, it’s been long enough since I’ve read these stories for part of my brain to still think “surely they can get that character out of that trouble.” Basically my brain is working against me too, is what I’m saying.

I’m also sort of thinking what should be next in my Big Reread. In recent years, I’ve read through all the post ’80s reboot Superman, the Baron/Loebs Flash, Concrete, Grendel…I’ve come close to rereading all of Cerebus, but I feel like I’m not quite ready for that yet. I reread all of Nexus about a decade ago, and those recent Nexus installments in Dark Horse Presents kinda want me to do it again really soon. And I should do a Love & Rockets reread…the stuff after the original magazine series, since the mags I’ve probably read about a million times. Well, not literally. You probably realized that.

Maybe, once I’m done with B.P.R.D., I’ll go through my Flaming Carrots. We recently got a number of these in a collection at the shop, and that reminded me of how much I liked those comics, which is the sort of thing that usually gets me to dip into the long boxes at home and pull out my own copies to look at.

I wonder what subtle plot points I’ve forgotten about in those early issues of Flaming Carrot? Like maybe the revelation that the Carrot’s secret identity is actually a fit and fightin’ trim Dean Martin or something. I’ll let you know what I discover.

12 Responses to “In case you were wondering how “issue numbers” worked.”

  • ExistentialMan says:

    As a 14-year-old kid possessing about 50 funny books, I used to read the covers off of each one. To this day, I can remember panel details that are just burned into memory. Now, ahem…many years later, I too find that rereading older material is the exception rather the rule. I also can’t remember what I ate for breakfast on any given day so that’s aging for ya’.

    Far too many long boxes (even after a considerable purge about a decade ago) and even more trades/hardcovers make it difficult to find the time to dig into those old treasures. But your mention of Nexus, now that’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

  • Roger Green says:

    There is a conspiracy to gaslight customers with comic book numbering systems.

  • John Platt says:

    I did a big Hellboy/BPRD re-read about two or three years ago. It was so worth it at the time. And yeah, I’m feeling that I should do it again — but the stack of new, unread comics (including the last several months’ of both titles) means I probably have other priorities!

    (Another great series to re-read: Planetary!)

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    How about those Yummy Furs, now that you’ve got the whole set?

  • Aaron says:

    Mike, did you back Bob Burden’s recent Kickstarter for a new collected edition of issues 6-12 or so? It was my first read of those issues – absolutely amazing stuff. The astral journey issue is unbelievable. Excitedly awaiting the autographed jam print from Bob, Dave Sim, and Kevin Eastman…

  • Bruce Baugh says:

    Grimjack makes for some very nice re-reading fodder, I can testify.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “what should be next in my Big Reread”

    GRIMJACK and AMBUSH BUG!!

  • philfromgermany says:

    “what should be next in my Big Reread”
    How about Suicide Squad, Hourman or Priest Black Panther?

  • Bill D. says:

    What sort of removable labels do you mean?

  • David G says:

    A few years back I finally got the Death of Superboy issue of Legion I was missing, and so decided to re-read all the Levitz issues of Legion that I had (Great Darkness Saga to the Magic Wars). Excellent fun, holds up really well, and there were tons of plot points I had forgotten, so I thought “Maybe I’ll do the 5 Years later stuff, and then quit with Zero Hour”. Which was so much fun (even with all the many frustrations of the Giffen run) that when I got there I thought “Maybe I’ll keep going”.

    I had dumped the Legion somewhere in that next run, and the interesting thing was, on re-reading I can see why. It did start to suck before DnA came.

    So, long story short – you’re a Legion man aren’t you? Legion re-read is good.

  • Bruce Baugh says:

    By the way, the Abenett & Lanning run is really, really worth a re-read in as close to one binge as you can manage. It starts off quite dark, and I can see how Legion Lost and that first year put readers off. But ohhhh baby if you follow where it goes…it’s glorious, with the use of a major 20th/21st century figure of the DC universe (at least major in terms of my personal continuity), and a ton of great stuff.

  • Harvey Jerkwater says:

    The Flaming Carrot’s true identity is never revealed, but the implication is clear: he’s Elvis Presley. (At least, that’s what I recall. It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve read those comics, but I do remember an “oh, he’s Elvis!” moment. It would explain his raging sexiness.)