Eric Rupe over at The Weekly Crisis wonders aloud:
It occurs to me that I’ve never seen anyone complaining that the 40th volume of Naruto should be accessible. Why is it only for Marvel and DC that people complain about the material being inaccessible? I mean, being generous here, the big Marvel and DC characters have been around for at least 30 years, often a lot more, and most have been in constant publication during that time as well. How do you tell continuously “accessible” stories with those kinds of characters without devolving into some sort of Archie status quo where nothing ever really happens?
Obviously, you need jumping on points, but lets take two examples from Marvel – the Ultimate Universe and Brand New Day. Sure, at the start, they were probably both good places to start, but, after a while, they do develop in title continuity and become “inaccessible” to new readers. It’s something that you are never going to be able to “fix” and still tell stories worth reading. I think Marvel did find something of a good solution though with their “Saga” free issues (ex. War of Kings Saga), but they are still only available in comic stores or on their websites, which only really preaches to the choir instead of making the comics accessible to new people.
Well, since Rupe is confused, let me explain.
Naruto #40 isn’t accessible…but anyone who can count can look at the cover, and say, “oh, right…I should start reading this series….at number 1. Simple, easy, based on the Arabic numeral system which is familiar to most likely readers. That is what you call “accessible.”
On the other hand, let’s take those two examples from Marvel. The Ultimate Universe and Brand New Day, you say. And I, as a new potential reader of Spider-Man, respond, “What the fucking fuck?” Ultimate Universe? Regular Universe? New Day? Old Day? Are these Spider-Man comics? What’s the difference between these Spider-Man comics? Where’s the real Spider-Man comic…the one that’s, you know, about Spider-Man?
Naruto has one single, simple, clear point of entry. Spider-Man has fifteen gazillion points of entry, none of which are actually a beginning. Therefore, Naruto is accessible and Spider-Man is a lot less so. Except for the Marvel Adventures all-ages Spider-Man, which has individual stand-alone adventures. Like Archie. And which is actually pretty good.
Update: Matt Maxwell weighs in.