By The Numbers: January 2016
Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money! What does your money tell them? What does it tell us as fans? What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out? What are the trends? What looks good? What looks rough?
All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.
Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor. He’s worked in the industry for 6 years but grew up reading comics. He is currently published with Outre Press,Nemeses Studios and Alterna! He likes to remind most people in America that the UK got Deadpool early so he got to see it before most of them, even though numbers indicate that since the majority of people also went to see it soon after, it isn’t that important.
Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the death of Superman. He is a writer and editor for Grayhaven Comics and is working on his first novel. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekmom and they’re brilliantly entertaining. He’s still wondering what Rebirth is and if DC can figure it out themselves while we’re all still young(ish).
We also do a podcast together with longtime buddy, Brandon James on iTunes with Rabbitt Stew or at the link here! Don’t ask, I didn’t pick the name. If you’d like to hear what me and Ray sound like, give it a listen!
Full top 300 for January available here!
Hey everyone and welcome to another edition of by the numbers by your favourite comic sales trackers on the internet.
This month we’re covering January 2016, the first sales charts of the years. Will they be an indication of the year to come? Time will tell!
Note: It seems that DC comics is planning something big which may or may not be a reboot/relaunch of their titles in the coming months. Whether a title is doing well or not well may be therefore unimportant. We’re going to treat the sales figures as face value because if nothing else it’ll be interesting to see a before and after picture following whatever DC is pulling out of the hat.
Without further ado…
Glenn: So myself and Ray speculated what may be the top book this month. A safe bet would have been either the final issue of the major crossover mini, Secret Wars or the first issue of Spider-Man/Deadpool and maybe even Uncanny X-Men having an outside chance. While all those titles did chart in the top ten, they were all defeated in the first month by the dark horse title that we did think might have a chance in issue 150 of Walking Dead.
Selling over 156k its not quite the massive juggernaut the the 100th issue was but its still an impressive achievement for what is quite possibly the most successful indie title the industry has ever seen. Proving that people aren’t afraid of triple digit issue numbers, Walking Dead continues to be a title that always delivers. The impact that Robert Kirkman’s black and white powerhouse book has had in on the industry over the last decade or so cannot be overstated. Long after the event or marketing campaign of the moment from Marvel or DC or anyone else is gone, Walking Dead will still be shuffling along, selling not only very well usually (and extremely well here) but also dominating the collection market month after month. The title will likely go back to its steady 70-80k range but having a triple digit numbered comic priced at $2.99 (paying less for more for a change) be the first top telling comic of 2016 is a nice way to start the year.
Ray: This may be the first time I can remember that a hit TV show or movie actually helps drive comic sales as well. There’s no question that Walking Dead really took off when the TV show caught fire. Sure, the comic’s also got over ten years of consistent quality behind it, but the fact that a bleak black-and-white horror comic is regularly one of the top books, and outsells everything on anniversary issues, is fairly incredible.
Glenn: The TV show is definitely a big driver. The numbers on that show are insane and its impacting the comics in a big way. I wonder what it is about this show that seems to not quite translate to other properties who for as long as comic book movies have been a big deal have been trying to capitalize on the massive audience the movies are getting to no avail. Perhaps people find Walking Dead to translate over to since its more ‘real’, you know apart from the killer Zombies…
Not far behind Walking Dead is the final issue of Secret Wars with sales of just over 149k. This is superstar writers Jonathan Hickman’s swansong and it has spawned a story line which will likely do well in collected format for years. The behind the scenes delays don’t seem to have hurt the book at all and its an impressive end for an event mini that held its number really well over its 9 issue run. It is curious that since this is the book that was the catalyst for so many Marvel books that some of the interest in this title hasn’t transferred over to some of those books but…I’m getting ahead of myself.
Ray: Secret Wars, in many ways, was the capper to an entire era of Marvel. The story it’s been building towards has been building for almost ten years and several different extended runs by Hickman. So I’m not shocked that SW is Marvel’s biggest event fit in years. I do think that Marvel was a bit vague in terms of the fallout, and it feels very much like an end of an era. So I don’t think there’s been all that much in the way of momentum coming out of it for the new books – unlike things like Civil War, the end of Secret Wars doesn’t leave people wondering what’ll happen next (with a few exceptions like the just-debuted Spider-man and the yet-to-debut Black Panther, which spin directly out of Secret Wars #9), so the new comics aren’t really benefiting from its hit performance.
Glenn: Many readers could be even using Secret Wars as a drop off point with Marvel, it doesn’t seem that some of the changes (weren’t aren’t that many) have not really been accepted with open arms. This could be some long time fans last Marvel comic ever that isn’t set in a galaxy far, far away
Settling for bronze is the book that no one had any doubt wouldn’t be a hit in Spider-Man/Deadpool Marvel has put their two best selling (non Star Wars) characters together and the results speak for themselves in a launch over 133.8K. In a conversation before the numbers were released, Ray believed that the book might not hold these numbers. I could see it being a strong seller somewhere in-between Spider-Man and Deadpool, especially if the superstar creator team of Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness do stick around.
Ray: I sort of expected more out of Spider-Man/Deadpool, honestly. This is Marvel’s two most popular characters at the moment, paired with a fan favorite creative team. This is a very solid debut, though. I think it’ll land pretty high down the line if this creative team sticks around, but I think that’s a big if. The history of Marvel is littered with titles that started with an a-list creative team and then quickly turned into anthologies with lesser creative teams. Remember Guardians Team-Up? Avengers Assemble? This will likely have a longer life than them because of the characters, but these sales levels aren’t going to hold unless the creators do.
Glenn: Taking up numbers 4 and 5 are Star Wars issues 14 and 15 with sales of 118 and 104k respectfully. The title seems to be on its way out of the 100k club but that’s after more than a year. With the amount of Star Wars books that Marvel continues to green light and the fact that this franchise is blowing nearly everything else they have out of the water, I doubt they’re concerned.
Next up is one of the later All-New, All-Different Marvel launches in Old Man Logan which sells just over 104k which is enough to land it at number 6 this month. Both myself and Ray have talked a LOT that Wolverine is not the sales monster he used to be but spinning out from a Secret Wars mini, being a kinda follow up to a huge Wolverine arc back in the day and having the critically acclaimed former Green Arrow team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino gives this a good amount of buzz. Looking back at all those factors, Marvel could have probably hoped for more but Wolverine’s days as a solid top seller are seemingly long gone. I can see this book having a soft drop, especially considering some of the other Marvel books which…wait…getting ahead of myself again.
Ray: Lemire and Sorrentino are one of those creative pairings, by now, that anyone reading knows they can expect quality out of. I was thrilled when I saw they were doing Old Man Logan. I think this debut is really strong for what’s essentially an AU version of a character who’s been dead for the last two years. A little higher than the All-New Wolverine title debuted, and that one’s held decently, so I see this being another hit for Marvel. And I’m glad to see the creators getting a title that keeps their profile high. Their GA run was brilliant, but the sales on that book were already low and never recovered.
Glenn: Next is number 7 which is another Star Wars book (see above) but this one is a little different. This one is Obi-Wan and Anakin which is set during the much devisive (to put it politely) prequel era. Considering that Marvel can pull over 102 K from an era that Disney seems to be largely distancing themselves from just shows how hot this franchise is at the moment. The comic market can’t get enough Star Wars content right now and I’m sure there’s a solid fanbase out there wanting to see these two characters together in perhaps a way they didn’t get from the prequel movies. I don’t see Marvel trying their luck in this time period of Star Wars canon too much but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more books from characters that audiences did like but didn’t see much of like Darth Maul or General Grievous (again, we do this for free Marvel. Name your next pool of money after us).
Ray: Look, if a comic starring Kid Anakin can debut over 100K, this franchise is beyond bulletproof. At this point, it’s pretty much Death Star-proof. Given the performance of this and the other three SW books in the top ten alone, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a lot more. This is right in line with the debuts of things like Chewbacca and Kanan, so I’m sure they’re lining up new miniseries as we speak. Boba Fett seems almost guaranteed, and I’m hoping they have Skottie Young working on a BB-8 comic ASAP!
Glenn: I don’t think the current market could survive a BB-8 comic.
Another monthly sales chart and another over 100k performance from Batman, DC’s only title in the top ten this month. I don’t think we can say much more about how astonishing this books success has been over its run. There are many, many, many rumors as to the books future following whatever Rebirth turns out to be but I don’t think we’ll see another creative team performance on a big two title like this for years to come.
Ray: I do notice that Batman is juuuuuuuuuust over 100K this month, though. Its 48-month streak could come to an end next month – although that’s a very key issue for Bruce Wayne with major developments, so it might be ordered a bit higher as a result. Then 50 will get enormous numbers, and the Snyder/Capullo era will end on a high note. I’m hoping it stays above 100K next month and remains undefeated!
Glenn: I think people will tune in for the return of Bruce Wayne (2016 version) and then 50 will get a massive bump in sales for sure. The title does dip at times but always seems to bounce back. If it does drop out of the six figure club next month I don’t expect it to be by much and it’ll be back up in no time.
The final Star Wars book in the top ten is Darth Vader with sales over 98k. Solid as a rock and now a top ten staple, probably for years to come.
The final spot in the top ten is the new Uncanny X-Men book by Cullen Bunn and Greg Land which manages sales over 93k. Its a good enough launch, especially if you consider this a successor to Bunn’s Magneto book which never lit the sales charts on fire but got a lot of critical acclaim. Considering it as an X-Men launch its not that hot but constant reboots and the bizarre stop, start Marvel is having with their foot on the pedal on the X-line has caused the franchise to lose a lot of momentum. For over ten years, X-Men have played second banana to Avenger’s, Spider-Man and even Deadpool. That can all change of course and its a very good launch but if this was launching even five years ago, it would be considered a disappointment but its 2016, not 2011 and a lot of comic companies are going to have to readjust expectations if the lower end of the top 100 is any indication.
Ray: I expected more out of Uncanny X-Men just based on the name, but it is worth noting that despite the title, this is really more of a relaunch of Magneto crossed with X-Force. It’s in no way a standard X-men book. So given that, this is a pretty solid number. Right in the middle of the three primary X-books. I think it should settle down to a reasonable level and be a solid performer for Marvel.
Amazing Spider-Man remains the high mark for Marvel’s regular ongoings, with sales of roughly 76K. Decent numbers, but it’s lost a step since the last relaunch. When you look at the sales of this title vs. Batman for DC, their mutual flagship titles, it’s pretty clear that something’s gone sort of amiss for Marvel. Star Wars is picking up the slack for Marvel, but their sales troubles are going to be a running theme in this column.
Glenn: Sales for the previous volume of Amazing had settled into a solid 85-95k pattern so year, it seems the relaunch here has done more harm than good. Writer Dan Slott is spinning a lot of plates on the book currently and perhaps the much promoted ‘Dead No More‘ will bring fans back. Time will tell.
Ray: Outside of the three in the top ten this month, Marvel’s debuts were sort of a mixed bag. Their attempt at creating a new female-led franchise, A-Force, debuted well below the level of the Secret Wars miniseries, with first issue sales of only 65K. Given the guaranteed big drops of second and third issues, that doesn’t bode well for the long run.
Glenn: A-Force was another attempt by Marvel to pull in female fans. This book serves as a direct follow up from some plot threads from Secret Wars. Its an okay launch but really, with the promotion Marvel put into the book I would have though it would have enjoyed much bigger numbers initially. I don’t see this one staying very healthy but it may be a solid enough performer in markets Marvel are trying to hit to keep it around, we’ll soon see.
Ray: Thor and Deadpool, two of Marvel’s biggest hits, continue to hold steady at around 60K. Clearly, these two are among Marvel’s elites right now – but if books on this level can only sell 60K, something is seriously, seriously wrong in Denmark. Or Marvel.
The story is similar for Rocket Raccoon and Groot #1, launching at #15 with 59K. This isn’t a book that really needed a relaunch, although it’s taking advantage of the time jump with a bizarre new status quo. But without the LootCrate boost that turned Rocket into a massive hit last time, it’s not looking good for this title to maintain it’s stop in Marvel’s elite tier.
Glenn: I’m genuinely shocked at the sales of Rocket and Groot, especially compared to the performance of the secondary Guardians title last month. These two have rocketed (no pun intended) to big Marvel Icons rather swiftly. I would have thought a lot more people would be interested in this but apparently not. As we’re going to say time and time again, likely for months to come, there is something amiss with these ANAD Marvel launches and could lead to some (more) major changes sooner than later.
Ray: I’m a bit surprised that Silver Surfer debuted in essentially the same area as Rocket/Groot and A-Force, at #17 with 57K, since the first volume was a low-selling cult hit. I’m not expecting the sales to hold that well, but I am glad more eyes landed on this book. It’s a blast to read.
All-New All-Different Avengers held fairly well at 18 and 19, in the 57K range. Not sliding as fast as I thought it could, but this is still not impressive numbers for what is currently the flagship Avengers book.
Captain Marvel #1, a relaunch of a book with a very enthusiastic fanbase but low sales, debuted at #22 with 52K sales. Strong, but unspectacular. I assume this title will slowly drift down to its previous level, although the new volume has been received very well. The new creative team, featuring the writers of Agent Carter, is bringing some buzz to the book, but I’m not sure how long that will keep it from the danger zone.
Glenn: Given that Carol has been given a starring role in Civil War 2: Cause we only have Star Wars, that might help get more eyes on her book. I may be remembering incorrectly but I don’t recall the original story having much impact on the Cap or Iron Man books at the time (apart from the Death Of Cap issue). It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a different story this time around. In general though, Captain Marvel is a title Marvel has continually tried to make work for a few years now and they’ll keep trying due to her getting a movie in a few years no matter how middling the numbers may inevitably become.
Ray: Batman/TMNT, after an amazing debut in the top ten, has settled to a standard level of 52K at #24, which is easily the highest we’ve seen an inter-company crossover in a long time. This is clearly a smash hit for both DC and IDW, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we got more in the future. Superman/Transformers seems like it could be a smash hit.
Glenn: A great result for both DC/IDW who are no doubt scouring both their catalogs to see who they can throw together to generate similar results like you mentioned. This is also something that will inevitably be a huge seller in collected form for years to come also.
Ray: Now, this is where we find the titles that are all starting to successfully find their level for Marvel. All clustered around the 50K mark, we see Doctor Strange, Spider-Gwen, Extraordinary X-Men, Invincible Iron Man, Uncanny Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and All-New Wolverine. These are the books that seem to be resisting the tide dragging most of the line down, and they should have nice long runs. We also see All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, and Daredevil around here, but it’s much earlier in their runs, so they could still have harsher drops. And Totally Awesome Hulk is already under the 40K mark at #40, not exactly great news there.
Glenn: Like I said last month, its weird to see so many books smooshed together around the same number. Most of these books were titles that Marvel had higher hopes for but it seems that retailers seem to be ordering them as pretty interchangeable. They’ve pretty much all landed in a middle tier zone which is great news for books like Spider-Gwen and Doctor Strange but I’m sure more was expected from the likes of Invincible Iron Man. Its fascinating to watch and speaks a lot to how retailers view Marvel as a whole right now I think.
Ray: A pretty strong debut for Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers from BOOM!, selling over 41K at #39. 90’s nostalgia is in full swing, and this title has former Snyder co-writer Kyle Higgins writing, so I think it could be one of Boom’s highest-selling titles. And now I can’t get the theme song out of my head!
Glenn: he new of the movie is picking up momentum and there is certainty enough of an audience that are up for all things Ranger to make this worth Boom’s time. Both BOOM! and IDW seem to be starting a trend of putting some pretty impressive talent on licensed titles. I think this is a really smart move because there are fans of those creators who might be curious how they treat a book like Power Rangers. Given that BOOM! lost their Marvel books, they need solid performers like this to keep them afloat while they try to compete with Image in the creator owned market (along with IDW and Dark Horse among others)
Ray: As we start to see some DC books on the charts again, I notice that for the first time in a while, Detective Comics outsold Harley Quinn. Harley’s sales magic may be wearing off a little bit, although she’s still obviously one of DC’s most dependable characters at the moment.
Batman and Robin Eternal has found its level at around 40K, with issues clustered at 41, 42, 44, and 48. To put it in perspective, these four issues are DC’s 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th highest selling books this month for their entire line. For a weekly, that’s pretty impressive. The title’s been hit by the same sales slump that most big two books seem to be suffering, but in terms of its place in the line, DC has got to be very pleased with it.
Glenn: Both Eternals will be great money earners with collections too. Although some other weekly books sold more, I think both Eternal‘s have to be the weekly model perfected in many ways. Its odd that we had three weekly’s coming out not too long ago but once Eternal ends they’ll all be gone. I have a feeling that DC might miss a solid 40k performer in the months to come.
The bizarre Amazing Spider-Man point mini continues to do solid numbers at just over 56k. I think this speaks more to Spider-Man’s brand at the moment rather than the mini itself which unlike the brilliant Learning to Crawl and Spiral point mini’s is a bit less to be desired. Look for more of these types of mini’s from Marvel though it manages to maintain these numbers, regardless of quality.
Ray: I have not heard a single person talking about this ASM .1 mini, which is a big difference from the previous one by Gerry Conway. I think this might be a case of it catching up with the next mini – look for this odd mini focusing on the Santerians to drag down the sales of the next installment, whenever it happens.
Glenn: It seems that Daredevil has landed a bit higher than it was before, huzzah a success out of ANAD Marvel! Its now outselling a few Batman titles among other things. Has the TV show helped gain interest in Daredevil? Perhaps but if it can manage to stay in this range, it will be a great number for a book that traditionally sells around 10k less. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a sales influx around the time of the shows second season.
Showing the power of Deadpool and cheap comics, True Believers Deadpool sells over 46.6 copies and lands at 34.This is a reprint of Deadpool’s very first appearance back in the day. There are going to be a lot more of these Deadpool books in the months to come and given they’re all sources of new income on stories that are long ago, its Marvel rightfully capitulating on the hype the film will gather for a character that is already more than capable of getting people to buy anything with his name on it as it is (note: written way before solicitations where Marvel has announced eleventy billion new Deadpool one shots).
Ray: The streak of bizarre Deadpool comics doing strong numbers continues! The only other time we saw a reprint do numbers like this was Spider-Gwen #0. There’s several other Deadpool reprints down in the 20K-16K range, slightly out of the top 100. Still strong for reprints, especially as they’re outselling some first-run big two books. Based on this, watch out for the first Gwenpool reprints.
Glenn: Both Saga and Paper Girls (numbers 26 and 45 with sales over 50k and 38k respectfully) continue to old status as Image’s strong performers behind the jewel in the crown that is Walking Dead. These two indies, among with a few others now deliver more solid and better numbers than the majority of Marvel and DC’s output. The more Image has books like this, the more they’re going to look like the former character in the story of the tortoise and the hare.
Ray: BKV’s very quickly become Image’s top all-star, with multiple books doing strong numbers. Kirkman has the biggest hit, but most of his other properties do decent to terrible numbers. BKV seems to be able to launch any book to strong numbers that stick around in the top 100.
Glenn: That’s true in regards to BKV’s batting average versus Kirkmans. Although Outcast (at 100 this month with sales of just over 22k) has a tv show around the corner. Could it have a similar magic effect that Walking Dead has? Its always possible.
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. relaunches at 50 with sales of over 35k. A decent enough debut for a comic starring characters that are only known through a TV show. Of course, this one will probably fall quite hard next month and again underlines how amazing it is that Walking Dead can get some of its audience to transfer over but books like this can’t.
Ray: That’s acceptable numbers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I don’t think it’ll hold them. There just isn’t that much hunger for a title starring the government agents from the TV show, even Coulson, and that show is a bit of a cult hit in the first place. I don’t think this title will get past 12 unless it gets pulled into some events.
Glenn: AOS seems like a perfect tie-in book which kept titles like Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel afloat for the majority of its run to name one of a few. It’ll last a lot longer than some of the other Marvel books but I don’t see it becoming a staple in the slightest.
The third issue of Vision lands at 53 with sales over 34k. On the surface that’s a great number for a book starring the Vision but this was the issue that had Marvel including extra copies in retailers orders for no reason than ‘just cause’. The numbers will be slightly inflated here, can the title gain new paying readers from this strategy? This is also the month where the first issue of the book was reprinted in Spider-Man/Deadpool, will the effort pay off? We probably won’t find out for a few months but its interesting how much effort Marvel is putting in here.
Ray: Yeah, Vision held almost 100% of its audience from issue #2. If that’s due to the increased orders, we’ll see how the real numbers present themselves next month. If it’s due to increased demand, though, that’s great news. I think this is one of Marvel’s best books at the moment. On the other hand, Red Wolf dropped from 39K with issue #1 to 26K with issue #2. It also got the order lift Vision got, so next month’s drop could be particularly ugly. One of these books has buzz, the other doesn’t.
Glenn: All I hear is how fantastic Vision is, despite its numbers it seems to be a book a lot of sites are talking about. If Red Wolf wasn’t on this list and one of us mentioned it now and then, I’d probably forget it existed.
The first issue of Poison Ivy: Life and Death blooms at 62 with sales of over 31k. A great debut from a villain (sort of) book by two creators that aren’t that well known to the market. DC promoted this one pretty hard and of course will get a Batman influenced bump but really good numbers for a title starring a b list (at best) Batman villain and I say that adoring the character!
Ray: That’s acceptable numbers for Poison Ivy, definitely better than a few other DC books got this month with their #1s. There was a lot of online demand for this book, but it doesn’t seem to translate to strong sales. This is only a six-issue miniseries, so the odds are it should end with decent numbers, but I don’t see this translating to an ongoing like some people were hoping.
Glenn: Perhaps she and her old pal Harley can get their own book to go on the months that black book isn’t out. I actually started this as a joke but after typing that sentence…
Ray: The bleeding finally seems to have stopped for Captain America, as it charts at 67 this month with sales of 29K, dropping only 500 copies from last month. That’s a good month-to-month drop, showing it’s found its level – somewhere in between Ultimates and Howard the Duck. If this counts as good news for Captain America, it’s no surprise that Steve Rogers’ return has already been announced for May.
Glenn: Yeah, Steve Rogers return to tie in to the movie where he is sharing his film with a bunch of other people will launch well. Afterwards, we’ll see. It’ll then become a question of whether two titles are needed or practical and Marvel will be seen as justified when Sam Wilson is quietly cancelled.
Ray: Swamp Thing‘s new miniseries written by his creator launched at #68 with sales just over 29K. The days when this character was a powerhouse written by Scott Snyder are clearly long over, but this debut shows there’s still some interest in him, I think.
Glenn: The new 52 launch of Swamp Thing may be the best thing to happen to the character in years. Around 20k is what I would expect so if it can maintain that then great but if not, I don’t see it lasting. I wonder if DC is starting to consider moving titles like this back over to Vertigo after Rebirth, Under the general DC umbrella the sales are a bit eh but under a Vertigo banner, it could be a flagship book, who knows.
Ray: I do think Swamp Thing and Constantine are doing far better in sales than they ever were there. I don’t think they’ll be pulled out of the main universe, because by and large they’re critically acclaimed. I’m hoping the Dark line gets a big push with Rebirth – they might not be able to sustain solo ongoings without big names attached, but Justice League Dark had a long and healthy run.
Glenn: With Rebirth coming shortly, you thought it might have been better to put Swamp Thing on hold for a few months and launch it with the rest of whatever may be coming, could have met a few more orders!
Ray: This is where we now see a glut of holdovers, all clustered in roughly the same 35K to 25K range as they slide down the charts. Both Inhumans books are still here, showing that Marvel is still struggling to make this an A-list franchise. This is also where we see most of DC’s books below the A-list. They are really going to appreciate that relaunch in a few months time, I think.
Glenn: Well you say that but its not as if Marvel are popping open the champagne from their current relaunch numbers. Of course DC has now gone nearly 5 years since the new 52 so retailers might treat it a bit differently than Marvel’s unusual fear of numbers greater than 30
Ray: One thing I note is that Ms. Marvel is now selling 32K at #59. That’s roughly the same numbers it was doing before the previous run ended. Solid, but unspectacular in singles, although its digital sales are apparently strong. The main thing to take here is that the only book that looked like it was holding at a higher level compared to the previous run has dropped back to that level. Not good for Marvel.
Glenn: If it can maintain that then it’ll be fine. Ms. Marvel is a digital and collection fave that Marvel is currently pushing hard. They’d probably want the book higher but Kamala may be invaluable in her own right for the company. I really hope Marvel is considering a new YA book with her on it, I think although these sales are solid but not brilliant but I think Kamala has a dedicated enough audience that would support any title featuring her in a decent enough fashion. Mostly this is just me missing Young Avengers…
Ray: Yeah, there’s no question that Ms. Marvel will be fine at its previous levels, especially with the digital sales. I’m more stunned that not a single one of Marvel’s relaunches, even the most well-received, are able to stay above their previous levels. Kind of a disaster. Your YA idea is intriguing – while I think this fusion team in ANAD Avengers is an odd fit, it strikes me that Marvel had a big opportunity to make the YA an elite franchise with bigger characters like Kamala and Miles.
Glenn: The latest Avengers team(s) are an odd bunch of groups. I would suspect we’ll be looking at a much more traditional team following FCBD, none of these teams feel like the ‘real’ Avenger’s to me. At least when Bendis started his run, that was kind of the point. I think thats whyall the Avengers books have landed at the same level. It used to be a solid performer for Marvel but these days its just another line of books shuffled in among a bunch of other books.
Ray: Hey, remember how puzzled we were by Guardians of Infinity‘s impressive launch last month, at over 100K and in the top ten? We were pretty skeptical it would hold those numbers. Well, it CRASHED. All the way down to #73 and 27K, losing about 75% of its sales in one month. That’s grim. So whatever it was last month that gave it that odd debut, this book looks like it’s going to struggle and fast, especially with that $4.99 price tag.
Glenn: Wowwwww that might be the hardest crash we’ve seen from a big two title in quite some time. Marvel are really eager to share their number one numbers but no one can be happy about some of these issue two crashes. I would say that this is one that will be retconned into a maxi (or even mini) series before so long. I suppose it depends how Marvel perceives the book which caters to the audience that liked the Guardians before it was cool.
Ray: The news was not good for DC’s other new launches this month. Green Lantern: Edge of Oblivion brought Ethan Van Sciver back to the franchise for the first time in years, but it was only able to sell just short of 27K at #77. Legend of Wonder Woman, the digital-first Wonder Woman by Renae De Liz, landed at #85 with 25K sales despite great reviews. And just out of the top 100, we find a Suicide Squad anthology starring Deadshot and Katana, launching with 21K. It seems pretty clear that DC is ready to clean house, as there’s a number of projects like this one that they’re combining from what would have been separate miniseries.
Glenn: I have to give props to Renae De Liz for really going out there and promoting her own book the way she has been. Its not often you see a big two creator go to this much effort to get people to buy their own book. I find the sales for Wonder Woman an odd one as this is a title with a tone that fans have been clamoring for but it has middling results at best. Another example of DC listening to the cries of change and such and being met with mediocre numbers or less.
Ray: As we head out of the top 100, we start to see a lot of the new Marvel numbers crash to Earth very quickly. Patsy Walker, Hellcat had a healthy debut last month, but lost 60% of those sales to fall to 20K, roughly the same level as its sister title Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, only two months earlier. Illuminati, Drax, Angela, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Hercules, and Weirdworld are even lower, making it look like they’ll join Black Knight and Howling Commandos sooner rather than later. And then there’s Starbrand and Nightmask, which only sold 11K at #166 – in its second month! That’s not quite Telos numbers yet, but it’s easily the biggest misfire out of Marvel’s new line.
Glenn: I doubt anyone at DC is really concentrating on numbers too hard right now. All eyes will be on Rebirth.
At this time we invite regulars readers to create their own bingo sheets of Marvels titles that will be cancelled over the coming months! These sales are just beyond a little disheartening but instead of learning why people are rejecting a lot of new books, Marvel will undoubtedly respond with even MORE new books which will also suffer a similar fate. Thus is the circle of life in the current market.
Ray: There’s a few new non-big two books that did fairly well this month Valiant gave fan favorite heroine Faith her own miniseries, and were rewarded with sales of 22K at #102. A little above most of their recent debuts, although the hype made me expect a bit more. Red Sonja relaunched a few spots lower, with sales of 21K. Marguerite Bennett is having a bit of a moment right now, so I think she helped keep some of the buzz from the Gail Simone run going. And then there’s Cry Havoc #1 from Image, a mature readers werewolf military thriller. Despite having no big names attached, it managed a respectable debut of 20.6K at #109. Any Image book without an a-list creator is probably thrilled with this level of sales.
Glenn: A lot to be celebrated at this level for sure outside of the big two who should have higher hopes that this. Given how much publicity and advertising Valiant has put behind Faith, I could see it delivering stable numbers. It seems the company likes to crank out the marketing machine a lot and it seems to be benefiting them with 9 other titles in the top 100. Given that we’re in a market where the two biggest and oldest companies in the industry are having problems, that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Speaking of companies benefiting from an ad campaign, Archie still lives in a completely different league compared to previous sales level of the title. It sells over 20k at 109 showing that when done correctly and not done to death that a reboot/relaunch can make all the difference.
Ray: Archie’s been taking it very slow with the relaunch. Only two books rolled out, aside from the long-disappeared horror titles, and they’re both delivering solid sales. I’m assuming they’ll expand soon with some of their more popular characters, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain this success.
Glenn: Dark Knight III makes its monthly appearance in the form of the second issue premier edition reprint which lands at 117 with sales over 19k. Given that this is an edition specifically for people who REALLY want to splash out and is priced at 12.99 (?!?!?!?!??!?!) I’m sure DC is thrilled. Yay for Batman says them!
You mentioned Black Knight and no surprised its been cancelled. Not only is it performing just over 17k at 131 but its outsold by (among many other things) Deadpool reprints from yesteryear…ouch
Injustice enters its Fifth (and final) year with over 17k sales at 132. I can’t remember any other video game adaption that has managed to get such longevity in comics form. Its been a solid performer over five volumes now and is something DC will miss on a regular basis I’m sure. I’m not aware of any other DC property getting a major game adaption anytime soon so it may be years before we see something like Injustice again from either company.
Dark Horse makes a rare appearance with a Hellboy holiday special which sells just over 16k. Its hard to be nothing that not concerned for Dark Horse who largely now deal in cult favorites and low selling creator owned titles. Nearly every other company represented in the sales chart has some buzz in some form or another while Dark Horse seems to have been quiet for over a year now. Either they’re planning something huge behind the scenes or they’re being behind in a comic market which will not wait for them by any means.
A new Dynamite debut in Devolution at 152 with sales over 14k which is a really good number for the company. I expect it to probably drop a good bit lower next month but its a decent number for a book I only heard of on day of release. It seems that Dynamite are managing to put out some books to a small but dedicated audience. It managed to outsell a lot of other titles that are probably wondering where this book came from.
Ray: It was a bit odd to see Devolution at Dynamite when Remender has had such success with Image in recent years. From the critical reception of this book, I’m thinking it might be a case of Image passing. Either way, the creative team clearly gave it a better debut than most Dynamite books, but I don’t see this title getting many people talking unlike Black Science and Deadly Class.
Glenn: Speaking of titles that are probably wondering what a Devolution is and why its selling more than them, We Are Robin has sales which not even Robin War can save apparently. Its at sales of just over 12 k at 165. On paper this seemed like it would be a strong performer at DC but something seems to have gone terribly wrong somewhere. It won’t matter in a few months of course but still a book that is firmly set in the all powerful Bat line is a little jarring to see.
Ray: I’m not really sure what went wrong with We Are Robin. It’s tied into the Bat-line, features a character who made his debut in Snyder’s Batman, and just took part in a crossover. This seems like it should have been a mid-level hit, but it’s just been crashing since the start. Depressing. I’m expecting it to be the end of the road come May, unfortunately, when DC’s current era ends.
Glenn: It is a book where everything seemingly went right yet here we are…its probably a mystery DC may spend a long time trying to figure out themselves. I doubt they’ll take a roll on a continuation after Rebirth which is probably a shame
IDW continues to be the licensed property go-to company with the launch of Ghostbusters International this month. The newest Ghostbusters book from the company manages a debut over 9k at 179. It seems that the nostalgic audience that supports the Turtles book for IDW don’t seem to want much of Ghostbusters. I would have thought with the new movie coming out, there might have been a bit more interest but its not as if there has been a hell of a lot coming out in that regards anyway. Even if it was, I don’t think the fans of the films (or even the cartoon) are going to be searching for more content in comics form.
Ray: Vertigo just rolled out a whole wave of new titles, and the results are…not good, to say the least. There seems to be two solid hits, with Lucifer selling 12.5K at #163, no doubt boosted by the TV series. And the miniseries Twilight Children did just over 10K at #176, thanks to Darwyn Cooke in no small part. But from there, it gets grim. You’d think Gail Simone’s new horror comic Clean Room would be able to do better than 7.5K with her popularity, although this is a disturbing and challenging book. And the same goes for Tom King’s Iraq War mystery The Sheriff of Babylon, which sold just over 7K. These two are books that would likely be getting much more buzz and sales over at Image. And these are the top sellers! Unfollow – 6.5K. Red Thorn, Art Ops, Jacked, Survivor’s Club, New Romancer – all in the 5.7K range, and this includes an Allred book! And then you have Last Gang in Town and the already-cancelled Slash and Burn, selling under 5K very early in their runs. Vertigo is making a big play to get its momentum back, but it feels like they went too hard, too fast, and the result is that a lot of these books won’t be making is to 12.
Glenn: Vertigo is trying to cater to an audience that Image has been solidly serving for many years. Their brand just isn’t as powerful as it used to be. I wonder if some of the creators involved regret not placing the book at Image or somewhere else instead but they may have had little choice of course. DC will probably be keeping an eye on how trade numbers do for most of these books before deciding their fate but there won’t be many left afterwards I’d wager. They need that money for more Hanna Barbera!
Ray: A fairly strong debut from little-known Aftershock Comics is American Monster, Brian Azzarello’s new book, just under 10K at 181. This is actually the first I’ve heard of this book, but Azzarello’s name is pretty strong and this landed higher than many books from other more well-known companies.
Glenn: You might have expected a little more from a creator like Azzarello whose currently writing Dark Knight III among many other high profile things past and present. Of course if this is a company you’ve never heard of, I would wager that hardly anyone does. With that in mind, these sales are fantastic and the company themselves are probably thrilled with seeing a title of theirs in the top 300 which is pretty hard to remember.
Ray: I feel it’s worth saying that no matter how bad things get for books like Black Knight, Starbrand and Nightmask, or Omega Men, at least they’re not Telos. 195 with 7.7K sales. It should stay in the top 300 for the duration of its very short run, but not by much.
Glenn: Every time you mention this much misjudged series from DC, I can’t help thinking of the brilliant Image title, Tellos by Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo. Sadly it doesn’t seem that this series will be as fondly remembered when DC finally puts it out of its misery which I’m sure they have marked up on the calendar.
Ray: Two cult Image books, Four Eyes and Prophet, return this month with new stories and land in the 6K range, out of the top 200. I would have expected more for Prophet, but I suppose at this point, retailers know what to expect out of these books and ordered accordingly.
Glenn: I’ve not heard of these books. If you read them and like them, you might want to give them some support! It all depends if the creative teams can float it at these numbers of course. Another Image series in Nailbiter which delivers a quality that is deserves far better than its 187th spot and sales just over 8k seems to be in a healthy state according to the letter columns. Still, every creator owned book from Image, Vertigo, BOOM!, Dark Horse or whoever always needs new readers so get more people aware of them! Share the love!
Ray: Yeah, there’s a very different threshold for Image books. Kieron Gillen once said that if your Image title is selling over 10K, you have to buy the drinks at meet-ups! So Nailbiter is very much in the healthy range for Image, and will go as long as Williamson wants it to, especially given that we’re close to #20. However, a title debuting at that level or below…much less safe.
As always there’s a few new #1s from various companies right at the bottom of the top 300, including Ted McKeever’s latest oddball Image book Pencil Head, quirky IDW titles Amazing Forest and Luna the Vampire, and their new supernatural crime drama Gutter Magic, and BOOM!’s ultraviolent aging-hitman thriller The Last Contract. There’s more and more creator-owned books coming out every month, and it’s quickly becoming a bit of a feeding frenzy to see which can find their footing. Image usually delivers decent numbers, but IDW, BOOM!, and Dark Horse are still struggling.
Glenn: Image has really set themselves ahead of the pack as far as indie titles go. At the moment everyone else is trying to find a way to survive in a market that is pretty rough terrain. Again, creators will mostly at this level be depending on word of mouth hoping their book can survive for the story to be told. Even Walking Dead was down at this level once upon time but it may be a long time (if ever) we see a catapult success like that ever again. Much like in television, the comic market doesn’t have the breathing room anymore to support books that can’t carry their weight…and soon.
Speaking of the other companies and creator owned books, we have the sequel to the very successful
Kickstarter comic by Gail Simone and Jim Califore in Leaving Megalopolis: Escape From Megalopolis. Given how big the Kickstarter was and how well known this creative team is, I would have expected much better here. I think that is probably a mix of where Dark Horse is in terms of market power and that people who supported the Kickstarter might be waiting on a collection to go with the book they have. Its nice to see a fan funded project continue in any case though even if it lands at 256 with sales just over 5k.
Ray: The Megalopolis series is not as well known as a lot of Gail’s other properties. It’s also very much an adults-only book, as extreme as Clean Room if not more so. And speaking of Clean Room, it seems like Gail is one of those creators like Rucka that has a big fanbase that doesn’t quite translate to sales on every property. I wonder if the Kickstarter-first model also affected the numbers here – many weekly comic shoppers may have missed the first volume entirely. I’m sure it’ll do better in collections.
Glenn: Even though you mentioned how Vertigo is struggling for a hit these days, a $1 reprint of Mike Carey’s Lucifer series at 263 with sales over 5k shows there is still some interest in the classics from the line. It seems that while people are more than willing to support Vertigo books that link to the hits of the past, people aren’t looking in that direction for new content. Its no surprise then that Vertigo has revived Lucifer and will be trying to get more Sandman spin-offs going with the supposed involvement of Neil Gaiman.
Ray: Lucifer certainly seems to be the runaway hit out of the new Vertigo wave, for a number of reasons. Even if none of the remaining books last past 12 or their initial planned run, this one seems like it’ll be around for a while.
Glenn: Apart from that, we see that 2016 starts much the same way 2015 ended. The big books that are selling well are not anywhere close to the titles selling piss poorly. That being said, it seems like Image is riding the rough waters well but if it wasn’t for franchises like Star Wars and Batman, heads would undoubtedly be rolling at Marvel and DC.
Ray: Looking ahead, this is a quieter month for the big two, although there’s still a number of notable launches. Marvel is bringing us a new Deadpool mini, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money, as well as an oversized Deadpool 25th anniversary issue. There’s also Miles Morales’ 616 debut in Spider-man #1, the launch of Power Man and Iron Fist #1, the first issue of Avengers mini-event Standoff, and oddball comedy X-book Worst X-Man Ever. DC is almost entirely taking the month off from new launches, with only Neal Adams Superman mini Coming of the Supermen and Vertigo horror miniseries The Dark and the Bloody. Creator-owned comics are a little busier, as we’ve got debuts like Emma Rios’ trippy futuristic adventure Mirror and Joe Harris thriller Snowfall. BOOM!, meanwhile, is debuting oddball animal prison musical Kennel Block Blues and Sam Humphries’ teen romance comic Jonesy. And IDW is bringing us a crossover in Street Fighter vs. GI Joe. February’s going to be the calm before the storm as both of the big two rest up in anticipation for what will likely be a huge spring and summer.
Glenn: Marvel will be taking a breather as we wait for Civil War II: Now With Glenn and Ray on sales tracking duties and DC patiently waiting around for Rebirth, next month will be quiet.
This may be the month we see a few smaller companies show how stable they can be vs. the ‘bigger’ titles in a month that is largely lacking in the usual hype and fireworks to get them by.
See you next month when we find out either way!