It’s kind of neat when a comic book company revisits an old gimmick. DC is offering #0 issues this month. That means all the comics that didn’t get a #0 issue (or just weren’t around to get one) in the 1990s will get their chance. Batgirl will get a #0! Batwing will get a #0! A more appealing incarnation of The Justice League will get a 2nd#0! Nightwing will get a #0! Blue Beetle will get a #0! Batman Inc. will get a #0! Green Arrow will get a 2nd#0! Superman will get a 2nd #0! OMAC – was canceled. Before Watchmen…won’t get #0s, but, gee, you would figure if they were going to screw Alan Moore, they would at least stick it all the way in there and finish the job. Enough with the foreplay.
The #0 gimmick has a lot to do with the desire to have a #1 issue of a comic that’s been around long before you were born. It’s a form of compensation. In many cases, companies would use it as a preview of the upcoming #1 issue (some #0’s were bagged with issues of Wizard Magazine – and they would come up with the Issue 1 1/2 mail-order exclusive gimmick). I used to have a #0 issue of Sonic the Hedgehog. DC used the gimmick as part of a company crossover event called Zero Hour, which was an attempt to explain away discrepancies/inconsistencies/garbage (the histories of the Legion of Super Heroes, the Justice League, Superboy, and a possible return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl) and the fallout from a previous crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths (it didn’t work). Some of the issues offered retellings of origin stories, others offered new takes on familiar events. Much of the suspense from the event was whether Barbara would return as Batgirl after being left in a wheelchair after the events of “The Killing Joke”. It would take another decade and a half before she did. A lot of fans either wish she had stayed in the chair and a lot of fans are happy to see her back in the Batgirl costume – it’s just one or the other.
One gimmick at a time, here – #0 issues ran their course as a gimmick. The next was relaunches with new #1 issues, particularly comics that never technically had a #1 issue (a lot of the Marvel comics characters – Thor, the Hulk, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Iron Man) appeared as feature in anthology titles that were spun off into their own series with the issue numbering continuing uninterrupted, the Hulk in particular. His new #1 by John Bryne and Ron Garney was collectible for a while, until people realized it was his 2nd. That’s another story.
And then there’s the curious phenomena regarding #2 issues. It turns out the comic shops would order more copies of #1 issues, then order a more conservative (less) number of #2 issues. To muddy the waters further, Marvel was trying a gimmick to make #2 issues of their relaunch titles more appealing by offering variant covers. This lasted through 1998. You see what happens when you order a #1, find it boring, skip out on #2, then learn that that was the hot one to own? What a mess! Oh, and 1 1/2 issues went out after a few years when Wizard stopped offering them. Those books usually offered a short comic and some sketchbook material from the artist, sometimes with a short interview. On one occasion, Wizard offered a future edition – Witchblade #500.This cynical gimmick did not catch on – partly because a lot of people questioned if most comic books would ever exist near #500, given the number of cancellations, relaunches, etc. Remember Crossgen? That was a thing.
O.K. – DC is offering #0s again. Does this mean you get to pick and choose to keep which zero issue of a title that already had a #0 issue? There’s no 2nd “0” on a calculator…
Say, if you’re bored, take two #8 issues of any recent DC Comic from the New52 relaunch, two of the new #0 issues and one #5. Line them up together a hand of cards and fan them out. Make sure the issue numbers are lying next to each other when you spell “80085“. I don’t think you need to look at them upside down to get this joke.