Aquaman #1

Aquaman #1, January/February 1962

Here’s an example of how comics have changed since the Silver Age. This is the first issue of Aquaman, the very first time King of the Seven Seas had starred in a comic of his own — prior to this, he’d always featured in back-up stories to more famous characters. Fans of modern comics might like to look closely at that cover. Notice anything odd?

Nowhere does a “No. 1” appear. “First Issue” is a phrase conspicuous by its absence.

This was not a mistake, it’s quite deliberate. As amazing as it seems today, it was felt at the time that putting No. 1 on the cover was likely to reduce sales. Given a choice, it was reasoned, a potential buyer would more likely spend his/her pennies on a proven quantity, ie. a comic that had been published for a long time. A first issue might be good, but it might not be — with no track record, was it worth the gamble? No, better to go for a comic which had reached the heady heights of, say, No. 35, or 150, or whatever.

The editors did hedge their bets a little by announcing on the strap line that Aquaman was “now in a magazine of his own,” but that could mean any number of things.

If launching an Aquaman title today, of course, #1 would be plastered large all over the dramatic cover pose of the titular character. And, no doubt, there’d be multiple covers to hammer home the point and increase sales.

It’d work too — times really have changed.

Art by Nick Cardy.

©2007 DC Comics