COMIC BOOKS: Starting Over

Jan. 28—It's difficult keeping up with favorite comic book characters nowadays, whether a regular reader or a casual reader.

Seems every few years, each character gets a reboot in the mainstream comics companies of DC and Marvel.

DC is more likely to start its titles all over again than Marvel (Marvel characters carry their past history from era to era — condensing decades of comics into a consistent pattern of about 14 years between origins to now), though really the major reboots in most titles for both companies doesn't represent a new "beginning" for the title characters as much as it reflects the beginning of a new creative team.

For example, there have been hundreds of issues of "Fantastic Four" since it started in the early 1960s but the current FF book is numbered at issue 3 to mark the first three issues of the title by writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello. North and Coello took over the FF creative reins after the end of writer Dan Slott's run (numbered as issues No. 1-46, 2018-22).

Or the Hulk's current run of 11 issues so far by Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley. The Hulk has also been around since the 1960s and his current issue is listed as No. 11. The Cates run began after "The Immortal Hulk" concluded its run at No. 50 in 2021.

Confusing? It gets worse.

Say you want Volume 4 of the Batman run you've been reading. You go to the book store and find multiple Batman collections marked Volume 4. Same if digital. You need to know the creative team — most importantly, the person credited as the writer — to find the right Volume 4. That is assuming the writer hasn't been involved in multiple runs of Batman ... this happens, too.

So, the best approach is to take your time seeking the next volume of a title. Look at the creative credits; know the creative credits. You may have read three volumes of the Slott FF but purchased the fourth volume of the Jonathan Hickman FF run. You may enjoy it, though it's not what you're looking for.