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’s trying to not let all the X-Men references in the Cable/Deadpool Marvel Omnibus hurt his brain too much but damn there is a lot…
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 giggling about the ‘underoos’ gag in the most recent trailer for Captain America: Civil War and thinks you should all be too.
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! The episode where we talk about this very sales charts in a little less detail is available here!
Full top 300 for February available here!
So its time again for myself and Ray to check the top 300 sales for the highlights and low lights of the monthly comic sales charts! Both of us were expecting some quiet for a few months while Marvel waits for Civil War II: There’s a movie you know and Rebirth coming out but this month still holds a few surprises.
Glenn: Before we start on sales proper, the drop in DC’s market share is something that is hard not to notice. If they didn’t have Rebirth coming around, they would probably be very concerned. Of course, they’re betting a lot on Rebirth working much, much better than ANAD has for Marvel. It’ll be an interesting one to keep track of but if this were a boxing match, DC would be on the ropes praying for that bell to ring so it can get itself together.
Ray: Yeah, this was probably DC’s worst month yet, and these sales were baked in well before they announced the details of Rebirth, so the drops you speculated about retailers backing off ordering when they realize none of this will matter in a few months are yet to hit. Although, details indicate this is not a reboot so much as a major refocusing and a rolling back of the less popular elements of the New 52, so those drops may not be as harsh as expected.
Glenn: Lets hope not. DC needs Rebirth to land at a much higher level than the majority of the ANAD titles have. Hopefully the refocus and the lower price point will gain them some momentum.
Glenn: Of course, even though they took a hit in Market share, they did have the top selling book of the month in the third installment of Dark Knight III. The large prestige book continues to pull in the numbers for DC as it sales to number one with sales over 146k. DC got some flack for ‘Before Watchmen‘ and there has been some controversy about Millers non-involvement in this but despite that, them going back to these classics for more material seems to work, even necessarily without the original creators. This shows that often branding can be just as vital as creator names. Right now, Batman is the MVP at DC, he’s keeping everything going on his own and hopefully a few other of their main franchises will help shoulder that burden following Rebirth. Dark Knight III is proving the be a big hit for DC and again, will keep them in the money in collected form for decades to come if the original is anything to go by.
Ray: Right now, it seems like DKIII is one of the very few bright spots in DC’s stable, and audience response to the book has been surprisingly good after some early controversy, so I expect this to maintain its hit status throughout the run. There’s a spin-off with art by Romita Jr. coming in April that should do very well too.
Glenn: Number two goes to the continuation of Marvel’s flagship book. No its not Avengers or Spider-Man or Deadpool, its Star Wars which has become a big part of Marvel’s current dominance in the Market. Issue 16 sells over 110k while the other big book in this universe, Darth Vader gives Marvel another slot in the top ten at number 7 with sales just over 81k. The sales on the latter are slowing down a little but Star Wars the title and the franchise doesn’t seem to be something anyone can touch (outside of Batman) at the moment. With more titles like Poe Dameron and a Han Solo mini both on the way, I don’t imagine this changing anytime soon.
Ray: We’ve talked so much about Star Wars, but it’s really amazing just how consistent it is. The drops are tiny, and it’s selling in an area far above anything else on the market regularly. And it seems to be lifting all boats, too. Darth Vader, of course, continues to be a solid top ten hit, and we’ll see how the other members of the line do a bit down the list.
Glenn: The streak continues with Batman getting the third slot with sales of over 102k. Now we’re pretty much guaranteed to see Snyder’s Batman run sell over 100k every issue this is something we may not see in the market again for a very long time. Its been quite a ride and its been something to be reading a run that will be one of those I believe people will look back at in the same way people now look back at Miller, O’Neill and others. It’s heavily rumoured that Snyder is moving over to Detective after Rebirth (he has frequently talked on Twitter on future Batman plans past the current run) and Tom King is taking over what is DC’s most dependable selling book. In a perfect world, this will mean that Batman will keep the majority of its sales on the brand alone and Snyder will hugely lift Detective as a major hitter for DC. Will that be the case? Time will tell but this is an accomplishment that is well worth a salute in my view.
Ray: 50 issues over 100K. That’s amazing in this market. Should easily make it to 51 with Snyder and Capullo’s done in one finale come April. It’s hard to overstate just how incredibly well this book has done. Any comic from any company that doesn’t involve Jedi would kill for these sales on a consistent basis. I’m wondering where Snyder and Capullo will go once Capullo comes back to DC – whatever it is, they’re likely going to be bringing some massive sales with them, even if no other combo of creator and character will reach these highs.
Glenn: You’ve speculated in the past that Snyder/Capullo would do gangbusters on Wonder Woman and I absolutely agree. DC will want to put a major spotlight on that book coming up to the film (like they’re doing with Suicide Squad by having Jim Lee apparently there to help launch that book). It’ll be interesting to see if this team can recapture the audience, sometimes these things are one offs that can’t be duplicated but you just never know.
Spider-Man starring the young man who is now the third Spider-Man in the new Marvel Universe, Miles Morales gets the number four spot with sales just under 100k. There’s a few ways to look at this, its a good launch for yet another Spider book (of which there are approximately eleventy billion) but you would have thought Marvel might have expected more. The issue came close but didn’t crack 100k so the first issue of a new Spider-Man title could not outsell the 49th issue of Batman (Marvel: Renumbering is fun lolz). It also had a dynamite creative team, a ton of variants and promotion and could be seen as a follow on from Secret Wars given Miles prominence in that book. Despite trying for years to make Miles a think, the audience doesn’t seem to be taking to it. The book will remain relatively healthy but there’s something to be said about how Miles as a character has yet to fully catch on as opposed to a brand new Spider character that I shall leave in Ray’s capable hands.
Ray: Yeah, on one hand 99K and #4 is not bad for the latest Miles Morales relaunch, but given the hype, I expected more. There’s a number of things that probably drove the title down, despite a huge spotlight in both Secret Wars and the current Avengers title. I think Miles’ title’s been relaunched a bit too often and that’s blunting the impact – which is a problem for a lot of Marvel books these days. I also think the idea of Miles in the 616 is a controversial idea to begin with, and some people aren’t on board. And given the twists to his origin revealed in #2, I have a feeling attrition may be harsh as time goes on. But even on the first issue, it’s easy to look at this first issue number, compared to the numbers Spider-Gwen did with far less advanced hype, and think that this title may not stay all that healthy for long.
Glenn: Miles will be safe as long as his creator is at Marvel. He sadly has just become yet another Spider-Man with little to make him special over Peter or even Miguel who is currently also operating in New York as Spider-Man in this new universe.
Just in case you didn’t hear, there’s a Deadpool movie out (which was awesome) that made a ton of money and Marvel never one to miss out a chance to make some of that sweet, sweet green, released some Deaddool books! A new mini ‘Deadpool: Mercs with a Mouth launched at number 5 with sales just over 90k and the 7th issue of the latest volume of the Chimichanga loving mercenary did over 88k.
The newest Deadpool issue is something to be taken in context, it received a huge sales bump for Deadpool’s big month in the form of an anniversary issue that was 80 pages that cost 9.99 (!!!!!!). That’s right, Marvel expected people to pay for one issue the equivalent of the price of the majority of vol. 1 Image trades and it worked! People love Deadpool, the market doesn’t seem to have grown tired of him and doesn’t show any signs of doing so. Again, fans are telling Marvel they are willing to pay more for their books and in response, Marvel will keep doing so.
Ray: Everyone loves Deadpool! I’m not surprised Marvel had a lot of content out for him in his movie month, even though the movie was Fox, and both of these are strong debuts. These numbers on the anniversary issue will likely not discourage Marvel from charging $10 for super-sized issues in the past, although it kind of looks bad for them given that DC just announced a comic of the same size for $2.99.
Glenn: Big mega debut for Power Man & Iron Fist which debuts at number 8 with sales over 79 k. This is a great number for a what is essentially a Heroes For Hire title giving it plenty of room to fall. The fact that Luke Cage has featured very heavily in the Marvel universe in the last decade and was featured on an incredibly popular and critically acclaimed Netflix show has probably helped a lot here. Iron Fist of course is moving ever closer to his own show which probably helps a good bit too. Even if this title manages to land around 35 K it would still be the best selling Heroes For Hire comic in decades and Marvel will be more than pleased.
Ray: Only 20K difference in sales between a title called Spider-Man and a title called Power Man and Iron Fist. That’s pretty impressive, and I’d say this is the result of savvy promotion, a creative team that fans wanted to support, and a book that just looked really, really good. I think a good model that this title could follow is Ms. Marvel. It’s not going to settle down to be one of the top books, but it’s going to land higher than a lot of other books and find its level quicker than most. It’ll be a solid mid-level hit for Marvel after that debut, and for characters who haven’t carried a spotlight title in a while, that’s a huge success.
Glenn: Number 9 is Marvel’s Superhero bread and butter franchise at the moment, Amazing Spider-Man with sales over 75K. Again there is a noticeable dip in sale figures on the book following Secret Wars but Amazing is Marvel’s best selling book not set in a galaxy far, far away on a consistent basis. With his debut coming in Civil War (the movie, not the comic cash grab…I mean sequel) and the movie next year, this isn’t going to change I expect anytime soon.
Finally in the top ten, we have the other big book DC puts out that keeps them from crying on a regular basis and that is Geoff Johns Justice League with sales of 72.7k. While its not the consistent juggernaut that Snyder’s Batman has been, Johns 50 issue run on this book has been something to really take not of also. Since it launches with the biggest platform possible, the title has remained a pretty solid staple for DC. If you think about it, only five years later as the run in the book is winding down, its only reaching the numbers that Marvel’s best selling superhero book can do without any renumbering or sales related shenanigans. So far, surprisingly the future of this major book has been verly low key. I’m sure DC will want to keep it at its current level but following this run is going to be a hard task for anyone. Unless Ray can correct me, any franchise Johns has worked his magic on has rarely managed to retain the same momentum after he leaves. Who will be the new Justice League creative team be? That’s a question for another time but this run will seemingly go out on a respectful sales high.
Ray: ASM and Justice League seem to have found their levels as consistent hits in the 70K range, and that seems to be as good as it gets in this market. I will notice, though, that ASM drops 4K between issues 7 and 8 (which lands at #11), which threatens to knock it into the 60K range by next month. Even Marvel’s top books are being hit by harsher falls than I expected, which has to be worrisome.
Glenn: Apart from Star Wars, many of Marvel’s previous heavy hitters aren’t retaining the sales they had. They’re sliding down a lot faster than one would expect. It seems that the relaunch effect is doing more harm than good perhaps in the long term.
Ray: When it comes to Johns franchises after he left, you’re pretty much right. Teen Titans, clearly, went right off the rails with only a few bright spots since. JSA never found its footing with any creative teams after Johns, to the point where they got the most radical revamp of anyone in the New 52. Flash and Green Lantern probably came the closest, with solid runs that kept them in the mid-tier of DC books, certainly higher than they were before he came on. Justice League, though, may be a bit more bulletproof. The title’s been a consistent hit for DC for a long time, and coming off this run the book will have a lot of momentum. And it’s worth noting that Johns and Snyder are the only writers who started and ended the New 52 era on the same book!
Glenn: That’s crazy to think after all this time Johns and Snyder are the only ones left standing from two out of 52 books! I’m not quite as confident in the longevity of Justice League by itself, it didn’t sell particularly well under McDuffie or Robinson back in the day. It seems that Justice League (or any variation) needs a big name like Morrison or Meltzer or Johns to help it. They’ve remained suspiciously quiet on future plans for the book so you just don’t know what they have up their sleeves.
Ray: Two debuts from last month, Spider-Man/Deadpool and Old Man Logan, held very well into their second month, with their second issues landing as the next Marvel books on the charts, in the 60K range. So these two should be safe for the long run, or at least as long as these creative teams stay on board! Especially well deserved with Old Man Logan.
Glenn: Its nice to see some books retain most of their sales at Marvel. This Wolverine book could be the biggest hit the title’s seen since Aaron left him a number of years ago. We’re still in the buffer months for both books but I don’t see any unexpected surprises from either book. Its quite astonishing that the Old Man Logan team are doing so much better than they did on Green Arrow over at DC. Wolverine isn’t the healthiest state as a sales draw and Green Arrow could be a big hit for DC given the popularity of the show but at the end, it all comes down to presentation and that is something Marvel excels at.
Ray: We see a bit of a bump for Invincible Iron Man this month, up to 63K at #16. As I recall, this was the first issue that had the “road to Civil War II” banner on it, so that probably helped a good deal. I wonder if it’ll maintain these increased numbers.
Glenn: Lets see if the main Civil War tie ins can have as much impact as the original did. This is kind of the level I expected the book to land at initially (maybe a little higher) so this could be its chance to get more of an audience. Its still not a big enough number to warrant the upcoming spin off title but hey, you never know.
Ray: Batman/TMNT is still holding in the teens with 64K sales, so I think we can safely say this isn’t just a sales bump from hype or variants. There’s a real audience for this crossover, and I think DC and IDW will definitely look at what crossovers they can do next and what creators have real passion for both sides like Tynion clearly does.
Glenn: Clearly Bat related crossovers are now a thing since we’ve just seen a Gotham Academy/Lumberjanes crossover announced. This will probably not be as much of a success but it seems these two companies are just starting what could be a long, healthy career of crossovers which will benefit both Boom and DC in the long run.
Ray: Obi-Wan and Anakin has a fairly harsh fall to the 58K range this month, but for a flashback Star Wars title set during a…controversial era of the property, that’s still pretty strong.
Glenn: Given the sales of Kanan (sales of over 38 k at 38) Clearly people are only really interested in post Episode IV era because all the books set during around that era have yet to sell less that 70k I believe. Its all relative of course, I’m sure that people would be all over a Maul mini or some such.
Ray: Walking Dead and Saga, still Image’s crown jewels. They’re at 13 and 24 on the charts this month, beating about 90% of DC and Marvel’s lineups. That’s amazing.
Four issues in, Mighty Thor has settled down around 56K, with virtually no drop from the last issue. That book’s found its level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wound up as Marvel’s #2 in continuity ongoing in a few months. This is what happens when you have a creative team that’s trusted, and a long ongoing run that people love. I think there’s a comparison here to the current All-New Batman story – if you have the audience’s trust, they’ll stick around no matter who’s in the costume.
Glenn: Agreed on Thor, I could even see it doing a slow climb over time. When Snyder was on Detective, the sales on that book just kept going up and up. It wasn’t cause of any incentives or crossovers or such, people just enjoyed the book because it was awesome. We could see the same from Thor. This will of course be helped along when it ties into Civil War and may be one of the few books that manage to keep the larger audience, like Captain America did back in the day.
Marvel launches a mini-event this month, “Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill“, and this issue is a prequel to the official kick-off in March. A bit confusing, and that might explain why it could only land at #18, with 57K sales. That might also have to do with the fact that it spins directly out of Captain America: Sam Wilson, a title that we’ve talked about a lot, and has not been doing very well. I don’t think audiences are treating this like an event, more a short-term crossover without much hype, and this pre-event before Civil War II will likely come and go without much fanfare.
Glenn: For the past few years, the inner title crossovers for the Spider-Man and Batman books have done very, very well. Outside of that I can’t think of many examples outside of the glory days of Johns Green Lantern. Avenger’s isn’t in the position it was even a year ago and people seem to be abandoning anything Cap related like they’re on the Titanic and the last boat is leaving. This is a crossover designed for the trade in mind which will likely hit around the movie, any other explanation for it makes little sense.
Ray: To go back to your boxing analogy, Marvel may have DC on the ropes, but they’re hiding some pretty bad bruises and if DC gets a second wind, they could knock them out in a hurry. By the end of this month, the only books they have above 50K in their main line that are at least three issues in are ASM, Deadpool, Invincible Iron Man, Thor, and Uncanny X-Men/All-New X-Men. And those last two are about to fall out of it. Sure, one or two of the newer books might hold above that level, but that’s still really grim. Two of their biggest new hits, Doctor Strange and Spider-Gwen, are selling 47K and 43K respectively. Their flagship X-book, Extraordinary, is down to 47K. Even their headline new Avengers book dips to 48K this month. Something is going seriously wrong in Marvel’s latest relaunch, and there’s a big opening for DC if Rebirth catches on.
Glenn: On the surface, Marvel is killing it but yeah,on closer inspection there are more than a few chinks in the armour. A lot of these books they’ve put a lot of effort and promotion into have not landed where I’m sure they thought they would. If it wasn’t for Star Wars, the race might be much, much closer and DC might even be slightly ahead. Now, Civil War II: Running Out Of Funny subtitles fast! is coming and that’ll help a lot. Its going up against Rebirth though so this is now fans to put their money where their mouth is so to speak. Civil War tie ins will likely be all 3.99 (with the main book probably costing more) and be a major wide spanning book that fans have been saying they don’t like anymore. Rebirth seems more like a branding excessive than an ‘event’ and all their books will be 2.99. DC is seemingly giving fans what they say they want but will sales reflect that? Its going to be a big Summer with a lot on the line for both companies over the Summer or so.
The bi-monthly Harley’s Black Book pulls in just over 45k at 31 proving that the crazy clown girl still has her audience. Its a great number for a bi-monthly book at 4.99 but won’t have a very long shelf life at all since its not being carried on following Rebirth. DC are perhaps wanting the new Harley book to follow Rebirth to be one of their major hits and don’t want to oversatuate the market but right here, right now this is a great number for this type of book.
Ray: All of Harley’s appearances are still doing gangbusters. Not the numbers they were to begin with, but still very much in the top tier of DC’s books. I’m a bit surprised to see Harley’s Little Black Book going away with Rebirth, but then Harley is going biweekly. Maybe they don’t want to oversaturate the market, which is a smart move.
Glenn: Speaking of Harley and her sales draw, a one shot she shares with Batgirl set in the video game ‘Arkhamverse’ does really well for this type of thing at 55 with sales just over 33k. Not too bad at all, expect a lot of Harley related stuff to be coming out around the time of Suicide Squad’s time in theater’s if the truly crazy amount of Deadpool books Marvel is currently putting out is anything to go by.
The launch of the Neil Adams vehicle, Superman: The Coming Of The Supermen launches this month at 40 with sales over 37k. Not great for a mini starring one of DC’s most iconic heroes by one of their most iconic creators ever. It seems that more people are willing to buy a Neil Adams title if it has Batman in it. This mini better find a level soon or its not going to be pretty as it continues. I would say that DC are wanting to get most of these tie in and non mainline books out the door before Rebirth so the audience doesn’t get confused about what to pick up. The sales aren’t dire but they’re more akin to what I would expect Neil Adams to get if he was drawing say…Swamp Thing instead.
To put it into perspective, this mini still got beat by Image’s Paper Girls.
Ray: On one hand, this isn’t actually a bad number for an out-of-continuity Superman miniseries that seems to be set in the 1970s. Such a strange project. But then, Neal Adams is a big draw, and I expected a bit more. I suppose the strangeness of Odyssey may have driven off some fans, who are interested in his art but not so much his odd plots. Worth noting that this disappointing debut is still DC’s 9th highest book of the month.
Glenn: That number for the Adams book says volumes about DC’s state at the moment. I wonder if they just want to move up Rebirth just a smidge…
There’s the third issue of Deadpool and Cable: Split Second at 42 selling over 36.6k. Did we mention the market loves Deadpool? Cause they do!
Ray: As Eternal enters its final act, it’s staying fairly steady in the 35-36K range. I’m sure DC would have liked more, but with only 9 books in their entire line selling more (with only five of them being ongoings), this has to be lifting them a good deal. I think this performance is more a product of DC’s whole line being in dire straits than any weakness in this book.
Glenn: Eternal will finish with respectful numbers for a weekly comic. I bet DC is hoping both this and the previous series (70 odd issues in all) is an indicator for how people will order the rest of the line when the majority of them go bi-weekly.
Ray: The second-issue slide for A-Force was predictably harsh, down to 35K by issue two. This isn’t a title that’s in immediate danger, but what are those issue three numbers going to look like? How about issue eight? I would have expected a bit more for a title that got a big roll-out with Secret Wars. The same goes for Captain Marvel, which slid even harder down to 28K. Rocket Raccoon and Groot, which was a huge hit in vol. one, is down to 29K now. Given how much hype these three got, this has to be disappointing.
Glenn: Sad times all around for books that seem to be under performing, especially like you said the likes of Rocket & Groot and also Spider-Gwen which were doing killer number prior to Secret Wars and are either ‘meh’ or worse. Civil War to the rescue in a few months no doubt. How it can effect a book set in space and one in another reality is anyone’s guess but if anyone specializes in loose tie ins to boost sales, its Marvel.
Ray: This is where we see a bunch of Marvel titles finding their levels in the 30-35K range. Totally Awesome Hulk, Uncanny Inhumans, Ms. Marvel. This is pretty clearly the third-tier group, and it’s odd to see Hulk down here.
Glenn: At this point you can imagine Marvel setting the Hulk property down and yelling ‘what do you want from me?!’ They’ve thrown everything from putting big names on it, big artists on it and even putting someone else in the main role and it doesn’t seem to be working. The solution to the problem? You guessed it, Civil War to the rescue in a few months.
Its unusual for DC to release two issues of the same title in the same month (this will change after Rebirth!) but due to what I would assume is a shipping issue, two issues of Flash came out this month. I only mention it because they landed side by side at numbers 52 and 53 with both over 34k with around 500 units between them. This is some great consistency between issues that we are not seeing from the majority of Marvel’s line. Given that the character is going to be apart of the DC cinematic universe soon and has his own juggernaut TV show, I’d imagine DC will be wanting to draw more attention to this book and make it still a consistent seller but at say…30k higher or so.
Ray: Yeah, there were some delays with Flash, hence two issues in one month. This is a mid-level performer for DC, even though the current team hasn’t been all that popular. I expect this book to get one of the biggest pushes come Rebirth, given how popular the TV show is.
Glenn: There’s Captain America at 69 with sales just over 27k. He used to sell well, we promise.
Ray: To put Captain America’s performance into perspective, it’s currently selling between Carnage and Karnak. Not what I would expect to see for Captain America, and there’s no way Marvel is happy. Hence, Steve Rogers returning. I don’t think that’s likely to burn up the sales charts either, though.
Glenn: Issue One of Steve Roger’s will land high but whether it’ll sustain that is anyone’s guess. It doesn’t seem that Cap is going to be playing as much of a role in this Civil War sequel (which is surprising cause his third movie is also called that). We’ll definitely be only seeing one Cap book well before the end of the year and spoilers folks: its not going to be the guy that can fly.
Ray: Three DC titles, New Suicide Squad, Aquaman, and Teen Titans all got new creative teams this month, only to have it revealed that the writers were just on board for an arc. That pretty much undercut all their buzz, resulting in them landing right next to each other at 82-84 with 23K sales. I think this might be the first sign of Rebirth hurting current books. It’s hard to get excited when the new creative team is essentially a glorified fill-in.
Glenn: Everything at DC is at holdover mode and outside of Snyder’s Batman, people might be taking it as an excuse to save a little money for the next few months. Lets just hope for DC’s sake they’re saving it all for all those new Rebirth books over the next few months.
Ray: DC’s two plant-themed heroes, Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing, had modest debuts last month, and both seem to have held pretty well. They held in the top 100, which shows that the initial weak debuts may have been accurate representations of reader interest.
Glenn: Both are just mini’s right? They’re perfectly fine numbers for mini’s starring these characters. I do expect a lot more from Poison Ivy’s creative team in Rebirth, its likely they’re both going to either be on a higher profile book each or together.
The next new launch is way down at 99 and its Worst X-Man ever with sales just over 21k. Back in the day anything at Marvel with an X on it (insert your own dirty joke here) sold like no tomorrow. Those days are way behind us and calling something ‘the worst’ in any format is not going to encourage people to buy it. This is a terrible result for a book that received a heck of a lot of promotion but then again all that did over and over and tell everyone in a round about way how bad it was.
To put it into perspective, this mini got beat by Image’s Outcast.
Ray: I snarked a good deal about Worst X-Men Ever on the Rabbitt Stew podcast, only to eat my words when the book turned out to be really good. But yeah, marketing here was just a disaster. Very little idea of what this book was about, no connections to the X-line, and that negative superlative in the title didn’t make for an appealing package to retailers. Kudos to Marvel for putting out a quirky project like this, but the pieces just weren’t there for it to sell.
Glenn: A really unhealthy drop to 115 at just over 18k for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D which unless Civil War helps it a huge deal will soon be sharing time in the ‘no’ box with Black Knight. Of course, these characters that also feature on the TV show will likely be showing up in a lot of other titles. Long gone are the days where when S.H.I.E.L.D shows up that means David Hasslehoff Nick Fury or Dum Dum Duggan are the only ones answering the call.
Ray: And this is where we see the new Marvel titles start to run into trouble. That’s a disastrous second-issue fall for Agents of SHIELD, akin to already-cancelled titles like Black Knight and Howling Commandos. Spider-Woman and Web Warriors are about to dip below the 20K mark, making them the weak links of the Spider-line. Critical acclaim hasn’t been able to keep Vision above the 20K line, and that one is now likely to end with 12 as Tom King leaves. New Avengers has a shockingly sharp fall with issue #7, losing 13K from #6 also in this month. Something weird might have gone on there. And quirky sister titles Squirrel Girl and Hellcat have both sunk well under the 20K line and need to pray for trade sales to save them.
Glenn: There’s a lot of bad news for a lot of books out there. When it gets to this level, the future of these books do not look promising. If you’re a fan of any books Ray mentioned, you might want to get some word out about the books you love because Marvel tends to take these books away without much (or any) notice. I wonder how much benefit the up coming female Spider spin off will help Spider-Woman whose day in the limelight (which was when she was a Skrull btw) has long last. Spider-Gwen is still a thing yes but I don’t think even she has the power to help her other female Spider heroes
Ray: And those aren’t even the worst. I think we can safely say that Illuminati, Drax, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Weirdworld, and Hercules aren’t long for this world, all hovering around the 15K mark or below. Red Wolf seemed to get no benefit at all from the order bump, sinking down to 12K sales, the second lowest uncancelled Marvel book. And Starbrand and Nightmask actually fell below the 10K mark on issue #3. To put it in perspective, both of these books sold less this month than Howling Commandos of SHIELD. This really looks like an accelerated version of the New 52, where all the odd, quirky books were culled quickly.
Glenn: If Marvel does cancel these books then there’s going to be a lot of shelf space they need to fill. So there is three possibilities
1) They keep these books going and tie them into Civil War for easy cash
2) They relaunch even more books making the situation even worse
3) More Star Wars books, one starring those little droid dog things the empire keep around
Let us know your guesses!
Ray: Dog Droid! Dog Droid! Just give Skottie Young, Chris Eliopoulos, and Andy Runyon a book where they do cute silent droid stories. It’ll be doing Death of Superman numbers.
Glenn: Or Dustin Nguyen, who doesn’t want a Bandit (Of Descender fame) one shot?
Ray: There weren’t many new Image books this month, and no A-list ones. However, two did manage respectable debuts. Snow Fall, by the creative team of Great Pacific, got about 17K in its debut, and quirky futuristic fantasy Mirror, by Emma Rios, pulled just under 15K. Decent results for creator-owned books without a lot of hype.
Glenn: They may be on the smaller end of the Image launches but some of them could hold more of an audience than most of the DC/Marvel books we’ve been talking to. Right now, if nothing else Image books have a consistent audience on each of their titles while most Marvel books are all over the place.
Ray: We’ve talked a lot about how Boom doesn’t seem to really be clicking in the direct market, despite a lot of critically acclaimed titles. However, they had one impressive debut this month. Jonesy, an offbeat romance comic with quirky, stylized art, was promoted aggressively and it landed at 188 with sales of over 9K. That’s their third-highest book this month, below Grant Morrison’s Klaus and licensed comic Bill and Ted Go to Hell.
Glenn: Good to see Boom get a shout in. The trouble with them is the same issue Dark Horse is now faced with. They’re both attempting to compete with Image on creator owned books and IDW with licenced properties. Seemingly without anyone noticing IDW has now filled the licencing hole that Dark Horse used to hold for decades. Where they will both need to invest is talent people no one is talking about yet. They need to grab creators with talent who may not be household names but can tell stories that may get people talking. Image has managed to grow tremendously and is now seen as a real viable choice for creators to go to on the back of the success of Walking Dead and Saga. However, back in the day Robert Kirkman was just some guy putting out a little known book called Battle Pope. Dark Horse and Boom need to be looking for the next big thing and maybe taking the risks the other companies aren’t/won’t. Its the only option I can see where they stay both can stay relevant in the market that the biggest two companies are finding it rough waters in themselves.
Ray: Boom seems to have committed to launching a good number of teen-centric titles that they’re trying to sell to the bookstore market. Lumberjanes is their biggest hit, and they’re trying to follow in that model. The sales in the direct market aren’t quite there yet, but it’s a niche they’re going for. Dark Horse’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t seem to have a distinct niche of its own. It’s putting out a little bit of everything, but everything it puts out can be found elsewhere (unless you’re a die-hard Mignolaverse fan).
Glenn: A USP is crucial for any business to survive and its true, that is something Dark Horse lacks.
Speaking of IDW and licenced properties they release a quite random Street Fighter vs GI Joe issue 1 of what I assume is a new mini. 90’s nostalgia is seemingly alive and well as it sells just over 18k at 119. Not too shabby for two properties that have far past their peak and would not seemingly be your first choices to throw together…
Remember when I said Dark Horse is struggling like Boom to find its place in the market? The proof is their newest Hellboy comic starting at 155 with sales just over 12k. This is their second highest comic in the charts from one of their oldest and most enduring properties. We talk a lot about how much a boxing match that DC and Marvel and in but Dark Horse is the fighter currently being carried out on the stretcher. Dark Horse has been around a hell of a lot longer than IDW, Boom or even Image but it seems they’re at their lowest point possibly ever. I’d like to imagine that they have enough of a back catalogue to keep themselves afloat but you just never know…
For the record, a reorder of the Batman/Turtles crossover and a Jem and the Holograms annual outsold Telos, the 5th issue of which lands just over 9.5k. I expect DC is opening that sink hole they shoved Klarion into to put Telos into also. Never to be heard from againnnnnnnn.
Ray: Ah, Telos. Easily the most puzzling title either company has greenlit in recent memory. Who would have imagined that a title attempting to turn the generic villain from a forgettable event into a solo hero wouldn’t have found an audience? It goes to join Klarion and GI Zombie in the limbo hole, I guess.
Glenn: I don’t even remember GI Zombie! Just goes to show you.
A decent debut from Dynamite this month with Dejah Thoris at 181 selling over 9.7k which considering their place in the market is a great start. Not a book I’ve heard a great deal about so I would consider this a great number to start off with.
Ray: Dejah Thoris is the second of three revamps of classic female pulp heroes from Dynamite. Red Sonja had a strong debut last month, but falls all the way down to 211 this month. That bodes very poorly for the less-known Thoris in following months. We’ll see how Kate Leth’s Vampirella does next month.
Glenn: I have heard of Sonja and Vampirella but not this one so I’d expect her to do a little bit better. The market has always had a soft spot for the buxom vampire.
Another new debut from DC from I assume their Vertigo line in the form of Dark & Bloody with sales of over 8.6k at 194. This is pretty much a standard launch from Vertigo these days. The brand itself is not in a strong enough position to launch new properties and I think if you looked at Vertigo as its own company they’d be in the same seats that Dark Horse and Boom are in. Since Vertigo is a part of DC the line likely won’t be going anywhere but I won’t be expecting another steady solid performer along the likes of Fables for a while, possibly ever.
Ray: Yeah, Lucifer and American Vampire (when it returns) should continue to be solid performers, but most of Vertigo’s line is in serious trouble. This isn’t a terrible debut for The Dark and the Bloody (which is only a miniseries), but it had very little advanced promotion. And looking at Vertigo overall, only Lucifer and the all-ages Astro City are over 10K. Then it’s all the way down to Clean Room at 7K and Sheriff of Babylon at 6.3. These are the ones with big names attached. Unfollow, Jacked, Art Ops, and Survivor’s Club are in the 5K range despite some well-known and popular creators – one of these is by the creator of Supernatural! And you have New Romancer and Last Gang in town not even breaking 4K. One Vertigo book, Slash and Burn, even fell all the way out of the top 300. That’s pretty shocking, given that these are books with DC money and promotion behind them. I think we can safely say the big Vertigo rollout has fallen flat, despite some great quality in there.
Glenn: I wonder if perhaps the Vertigo line would be better repackaged to the OGN market. The Earth One books always do very well and most of the strong Vertigo back catalog (Fables, Sandman, Y: The Last Man) perform very respectfully even years after their publications. The monthly market as it stands may not be the best place for Vertigo titles to make their mark.
A new Grumpy Cat title from Dynamite also launched this month at 198 with sales of just over 8k. This one features Grumpy Cat and another character named ‘Pokey‘….
Ray: This is what we get when there’s no Garfield title on the market to satisfy those who want their comics to feature wisecracking, cranky cats, Glenn. This is on Boom’s soul.
I just saw an article today calling Snow Blind, Boom’s witness protection thriller, one of the best new comics in years. And we see it all the way down here at #295. Depressing. I salute them for taking chances on a variety of intriguing genre books, and I hope it starts paying off for them in sales. But also, they should bring back Garfield.
Glenn: Now you’ve managed to get Supergirl back, I see the logical move to campaign the return of Garfield, they’re very similar
Ray: Looking ahead to March, DC’s big news of the month is their #50 anniversary celebration, with the lucky 12 books from the New 52 that made it to this point getting big anniversary issues. I expect we’ll see increased numbers from all of them, but I think Batman #50 should safely take the #1 slot this month with no big events from either company of new Star Wars launches. DC’s only other new release of note is Legends of Tomorrow #1, an 80-page mega-comic that is actually four cancelled miniseries featuring Firestorm, Metamorpho, Metal Men, and Sugar and Spike. Not expecting much out of this one, as the similar Suicide Squad spin-off title is doing grim numbers.
Marvel’s bringing us quite a few new #1s as well. There’s Black Widow from the Daredevil creative team, International Iron Man (which was likely conceived when the sales were expected to be higher on the parent title), Mockingbird, which will attempt to make another of Marvel’s fan-favorite team players a solo player, and Hyperion, an ill-advised attempt to spin a solo book out of the low-selling Squadron Supreme title. I see the first two landing top ten debuts. There’s also a C3PO one-shot, the debut of Haunted Mansion by Ghosted writer Josh Williamson, and the proper debut of the Stand-off mini event and its tie-ins.
Indie comics have some interesting releases as well, with Image books like former Vertigo thriller The Discipline and anime-inspired sci-fi adventure Circuit Breaker. But the biggest debut of the month outside of the big two will likely be Boom’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which sold gangbusters in its preview issue. Valiant also revives its fan favorite heroes Archer and Armstrong in a new series.
Glenn: With lots of 50 issues to scare Marvel away (they can’t count higher than 30 odd these days) DC may have a strong showing next month. It should be interesting how they do and if the main Standoff mini event has more of an impact as it moves in on the main story (I’m going to say…no).
Until next time, be good
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