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 very excited because The Immortals are coming.
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. His birthday was this month and he just wishes those damned kids would get off his lawn.
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 March available here!
Glenn: Its time for March madness and another sales chart! This month may have been relatively quiet for big launches but this was the month where DC released the majority of the 50th issues of the titles that have managed to last the test of time since the launch of the new 52. Regulars all know how the industry loves these type of things so might make things interesting.
Or will it?
At first glance, yes as the top spot for March 2016 is the undisputed sales king, Batman 50 by Snyder and Capullo. This marks 50 issues in a row where this title has manages sales of over 100k with this month pulling in over 163k. It really can’t be said enough how amazing this is. Given how fickle the market is currently, this is something we may not see ever again from any creative team and certainty not anytime soon.
This issue had a lot going for it along with its number like the return of Bruce Wayne to the title role and the end of the long running ‘Super Heavy’ story. Still that should not take anything away from this team and what they have achieved. The Bat line has been a big help to DC in their fight against Marvel and this book has been leading the charge the whole time.
Ray: Yeah, this issue of Batman was essentially a perfect storm. A critically acclaimed run, a much-hyped issue that has both the significant number and a huge event in the story, and that adds up to a huge 50% sales increase. As we’ll see later, very few of the other anniversary issues had this kind of significant bump, but everything went right here. And with these numbers, I’m certain that we’ll see Snyder/Capullo stay above 100K for their final issue in April.
Glenn: I have no doubt about that. I’m sad to see them go (as no doubt are DC) but they deserve to go out on a high which they no doubt will.
In an astonishing turn of events, the first issue of Boom’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers takes the second spot with sales of over 119.5k This is Boom’s highest launch ever in the market and its just floored me how well its done. I had thought that the peak of the Power Rangers popularity was long gone and at best, this book would launch around 40-50k or so. It seems that 90’s nostalgia is alive and well. Could retailers have been overeager on their orders? Perhaps but I don’t think this is the product of guess work. Its a big cause for celebration at Boom and I’ll be interested to see how many of these sales they can hang onto.
Ray: The massive success of Power Rangers is a bit of a puzzle, but we’ve seen 90’s nostalgia come back in big form lately. Power Rangers has been a concept that has been extremely durable – it’s still on the air in some form, although it bears virtually no resemblance to the original “Ordinary kids become superheroes” show and now tends to hop genre quite regularly. This back-to-basics series featuring the original cast may have been exactly what fans wanted, and bodes well for the movie next year. I do think a host of variant covers certainly helped here, but this is clearly Boom’s first major hit.
Glenn: Number 3 on the other hand is no surprise with the 17th issue of Star Wars with sales of over 107k. Its Star Wars, it sells and as usual is on a very slow downward trend. The book probably has another 8-10 months of slow sliding to do before Marvel probably has to give it any attention to get interest beefed up again and by that point, Rogue One will be out so they’ll have their job done for them. At this point, these comics is almost literally like printing money.
Ray: Star Wars…what more can be said? Three in the top ten, easily the most durable franchise currently across multiple books. With Poe Dameron coming out in April, it’s likely that from here on out, Marvel will have three or four Star Wars books in the top ten each month – which may be enough to make up a plurality of the top ten books! This is easily the biggest bright spot that’s going to keep them in the #1 slot despite all the other problems they’re having.
Glenn: The 50th issue of Superman gets the number 4 spot with sales over 91k. This is the highest we’ve Superman chart since the launch of the new 52 and its surprising, even with the big anniversary issue number on the surface. The response to the direction of Superman following the launch of the new 52 has been lukewarm at best and as a result, the sales on Action and this title have been lacking. However this issue sees the meet up between new 52 Superman and the version of the character from the previous universe starring in critical favorite, Lois and Clark. It also is the first issue written by Peter Tomasi who has been cutting his teeth on the Bat line for a while and is due to be taking over this title following Rebirth. All this equates to a top ten number it seems!
Ray: This Superman #50 was hyped as the first meeting between the pre-Flashpoint Superman and the current Superman, but that was actually pushed back a month, leaving this as the conclusion to the “Truth” storyline that saw Superman depowered and exposed. That storyline wasn’t received particularly well, so I have a feeling those additional orders may have left a lot of unsatisfied customers. This is a huge jump, and the fact that it’s mainly based on faulty solicits is iffy.
Glenn: I wasn’t aware about the solits snaffu here. I wonder if as a result, DC made any gesture to retailers such as returnability but I would doubt it.
Amazing Spider-Man sees a sharp uptake in sales up over 88k which is enough to land it at number 5. Its the start of a new storyline but apart from that, I don’t see any major reason why the sales have gone up by 10k or so since last month. Perhaps the audience that seemed to drop out after the end of the last volume are coming back? Next month should tell us if this is just a fluke or if the title is on an upward trend. Either way, the title continues to be Marvel’s most solid performer in its super hero line and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
Ray: I was a bit surprised at how well ASM did this month. There’s always the question of variants to account for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is ticking up again. ASM was incredibly steady in its last run, and it seems odd that it would just shed those 15K readers with no explanation. Time will tell.
Glenn: I don’t recall any special variant for this issue because that was my first thought too. Next month will provide a clearer picture either way.
Force choking his way to two spots in a row, Darth Vader issues 17 and 18 land at 6 and 7 respectfully giving sales of over 80k and 77.9k respectfully. See the comments for Star Wars but give it 5-7 months instead at which time…you guessed it, Rogue One and a Death Star related story to boost sales!
Number 8 is Deadpool with sales of over 72k as he continues to solidly establish himself as Marvel’s go to guy behind Spider-Man. With continued mini’s being released and a second ongoing now being announced, it seems that for the moment anyway, the market can’t get enough Deadpool.
Now we get to a Marvel launch at number 9 which is International Iron Man with sales over 70.8 k. Its an alright debut for a second Iron Man book everyone seems to be puzzled is a thing but I would speculate that Marvel can’t be thrilled with the number. The issue features the reteaming of writer Brian Bendis with his former Daredevil partner Alex Maleev which I would have thought would have gathered a few more buys. Taking into account that Invincible’s ANAD issue 1 had sales of over 200k on its launch and this one has to sting a bit. I don’t see this title lasting long and joining the likes of this duo’s Spider-Woman and Moon Knight as ‘planned’ brief runs.
Ray: Yeah, I won’t mince words – 70K for the first issue of a Bendis-written Iron Man spinoff book is not good. At all. It feels very much like the market saying “Thanks but no thanks, one is enough, especially at $3.99 and often biweekly”. So yeah, I see this falling quickly and going the way of Mighty Avengers, another Bendis spin-off book to a franchise that was already covered really well.
Glenn: Finally in the top ten is the start of the mini event, Avengers Standoff which has sales of 68k. A top ten launch is a top ten launch but you would have thought that the latest, heavily promoted Avenger’s mini event would have gotten more eyes than this. This kind of shows to me that the Avenger’s day as one of Marvel’s top franchises is done for the time being. It probably doesn’t help that this book is launching only shortly before the launch of Civil War 2 which may be taking most of its spotlight but considering they couldn’t even crack 70k at issue 1, I don’t like the chances of this story when things wrap up.
Ray: Standoff ticked up a decent bit from its prelude issue, but not all that much. Just over 68K for a big Avengers crossover is pretty weak, and I think the fact that this is essentially a glorified prequel for CW2 really hurt it right out of the gate. In the end, though, it’s just a two-month crossover for a flagging line of books, so I imagine Marvel can’t be too disappointed with these sales.
Glenn: On a side note, this is another month where the top ten is entirely full of books ranging in price from 3.99 to 5.99. People say they want cheaper comics but still, they’re being ordered in vast quantities. Its going to be very interesting how the top ten fares when DC launches their Rebirth books which will all be priced at 2.99 initially.
Ray: I’ll be really interested to see how DC’s most popular books start doing when they’re $2.99. While Batman loses Snyder and Capullo, the book’s going down to $2.99 with King and Finch, so if it shows some real sales legs, we might see DC’s experiment being a success.
Heading out of the top ten, we see a couple of the month’s notable launches. Black Widow by Waid/Samnee launches at #15 with 62K sales, a pretty strong number. I might have expected a bit more given the creative team’s hype from Daredevil, but Daredevil never sold all that high either. Word of mouth will determine legs here.
Glenn: Black Widow will be a curious one. Marvel is giving it a good launch pad with this creative team but I would have thought it would have opened a bit higher. It doesn’t have much room to fall but it could be a book that finds it level quickly which is becoming increasingly rare. It all depends what Marvel expects out of it of course.
Ray: I was surprised to see the out-of-continuity Secret Wars spin-off X-Men ’92 do so well, landing at #18 with 58K sales. The original miniseries had a lot of controversy and was not all that well-received, so I’m not thinking the legs here will be all that great, but a strong start.
Glenn: This is 90’s nostalgia at work again. May have gotten some orders depending on people who were even fans of just the cartoon. On the Stew, I asked if when you opened the comic it played the cartoon’s theme. I bet it would have been the top telling comic ever if it had. In all seriousness though, this is another one that is going to have to find its level fast to justify it sticking around.
Ray: Both Extraordinary X-Men (Apocalypse Wars) and Sam Wilson: Captain America (anniversary issue, Standoff tie-in, bonus stories by top creators) both got sizable bumps into the top 20 this month. Extraordinary has been hanging around the top tier of Marvel ongoings, so that’s not a surprise, but I’m expecting Cap to sink back down to its previous levels once the event is over.
Glenn: Well, Cap will then be going into Civil War so that will help it for a while. In the past there have been some Marvel c-lister books that existed in near permanent crossover mode to survive, it would be odd to have Captain America become one of those.
Ray: This is where we start seeing some books hanging on pretty well. With its third issue landing at #17, I think we can safely call All-New Logan a genuine hit book now, and the odds of original Logan coming back shrink as this title continues to find its footing. Meanwhile, it’s still too early to say for Spider-Man, which holds well at #16 this month, but that second issue drop was less steep than I expected.
Glenn: This direction with Wolverine is definitely catching on. I wouldn’t expect to see the classic character return until Lemire wants him to or his run is over. Either way, the book is another solid performer from the new line that really needs them.
Ray: Detective Comics got a fairly sizable bump for its #50 issue, landing at #24 with over 50K sales. There was a special art jam backup featuring a dozen of Batman’s most iconic artists, so that helped this issue stand out.
Harley seems to have gotten a decent bump this month for #26, even though it wasn’t a special issue of any kind. It’s back up over 50K, which probably explains why we’re getting a special and a new miniseries for her in April!
This is where we see all the top-tier Marvel books that have found their level for now. Thor, Doctor Strange, Avengers, Invincible Iron Man, Guardians, Uncanny X-Men and Uncanny Avengers, Spider-Gwen, Daredevil, and All-New Wolverine all seem very healthy, such as healthy is today.
Glenn: The books you all mentioned are selling in the mid 40k range. You’re right, in todays market that’s a steady seller (which is somewhat unsettling). It’ll be interesting if Rebirth will redefine what a steady number is and how these books you mentioned will compare then.
I do see Power Man and Iron Fist’s second issue perform really well at 41 with sales of just over 41k. Not too bad a drop from their top ten debut last month and a really good number historically for what is again, essentially a Heroes For Hire book. If this book can stay at this level (probably has room to fall another 6k or so to still be considered a solid performer) then its a rare win for the ANAD relaunch!
Ray: Yeah, I think Power Man and Iron Fist is turning into a low-key sleeper hit for Marvel, mainly thanks to good word of mouth and advanced hype for these guys’ Netflix series. The series is probably going to settle around the low 30K/high 20K range, which is enough to qualify it as a hit for Marvel at this point. Which is neither here nor there, but it means a good book is finding an audience!
And then in the realm of less healthy Marvel books, we see one of their lower debuts this month, Mockingbird #1 at 39, selling just over 42K. Sure, it could be a lot worse (more on THAT later), but these are the kind of debut numbers that lead to numbers under 20K by the end of the first arc, and those books rarely see 12. Marvel was surely hoping for more when it came to a book starring a popular character from Agents of SHIELD, but this is what you get when you launch 70 new series in a matter of months at $3.99.
Glenn: With Mockingbird being featured rather heavily in Amazing, they were likely looking for that to help too. Its another puzzling launch that no one was really asking for and another one of Marvels now trademark ‘lets just throw it and see if it sticks’ strategies that they’ve been implementing since they had a surprise hit with Fraction’s Hawkeye. A Civil War tie in might give the book a bit of borrowed time but otherwise, it won’t be long for this world.
Ray: Action Comics, Wonder Woman, and Detective are all clustered around the same spot in the charts, just above #50, and all of them seem to have gotten bumps of approximately 5K or so from their usual numbers. DC had to have been expecting more, but it’s worth noting that all three of these issues were just mid-arc stories, with nothing to pull in casual readers.
Glenn: DC probably were expecting more but yeah, the other books that did better had either major things going on (or at least said they did) or was the start of an end of a story. Its kind of awkward timing in a way since most people will be ending their stories 2 issues later for Rebirth to come along. It may mean that people treat the 52nd issue with more regard than the usual 50th, we’ll find that out for sure in a few months.
Ray: Batman and Robin Eternal wraps up, with all five issues in a row from 47 to 52, all selling in the range of 35K. Not a bad performance from a book shipping 4-5 times a month, and I think a lot of these fans will be migrating to Detective Comics come Rebirth, which looks like a direct continuation. This was definitely a win for DC, even if it didn’t reach the numbers of the first volume.
Glenn: Erosion is going to set in, no matter what but its fantastic sales for a weekly book to finish out on. I think DC got out of it a solid performance and going to the well the third time would have been pushing their luck. They’ll be able to get a lot of story elements out of Eternal and of course, the trades will be healthy sellers for DC’s back catalog for years to come.
A launch of a new Marvel miniseries ‘The Infinity Entity‘ (which I had to google, shame on me) starts off at 33k at 54. Its an okay number for this type of thing which gears towards the old school type of cosmic stories they used to sell. Of course, back in the day the Guardians monthly would sell around this number (maybe a bit less) and this is just the start so the rest of the mini’s sales will probably be minimal. This seems to be aimed towards fans of old school Marvel cosmic and for getting trades on shelves in plenty of time for Infinity War.
Ray: The Infinity Entity is apparently part 20 or so of Jim Starlin’s Adam Warlock/Thanos epic that has been going back and forth between miniseries and OGNs on the fringes of Marvel for the last decade or so. It’s an odd project that really only appeals to hard-core old-school fans, so this number is pretty decent. Starlin still has a bit of pull, although I’m sure Thanos fever thanks to the Avengers movies helped a lot too!
Glenn: You say part 20 and some might think you jest but considering he’s been telling stories starring these characters since the 80’s, you might not be far off!
The next new Marvel launch is Hyperion with sales over 31.8k at 61. Not sure what Marvel was expecting given that the Squadron Supreme book hasn’t exactly been a huge hit (it has sales of over 22k at 87 this month) so its not the healthiest book to launch a spin off from. Hyperion had a role in Hickman’s Avengers so that was likely the logic here for the green light but this is another one of the 12 issue club most likely come to the end.
Ray: Honestly, a debut at #71 makes the 12-issue club almost feel generous for Hyperion. If it doesn’t stabilize and very fast, it could be a member of the 6-and-done club like Black Knight, Howling Commandos, or Hercules. And it makes me wonder if we’ll see any better numbers for Nighthawk. David Walker is developing a reputation as a strong writer, but the Squadron is just not a title that can handle spinoffs. It’s not a title that can really sustain a single title with strong numbers, as we see by the main series at #87 with just over 22K. The extended roll-out of Squadron almost reminds me of the Red Circle spin-offs from DC years back.
Glenn: Nighthawk might have a little more legs since he’s essentially Batman but won’t be a permanent fixture considering another Batman-like character in Midnighter wasn’t able to grab the markets attention, despite some heavy praise. The supreme verse has been twisting in the wind since the abrupt stop of Supreme Power, it might be time to give them a Thor/Fantastic Four style rest.
Showing that their fetish for number one’s is not deterred, Marvel also launches another Spider-Man mini, this time with Silk in tow with Amazing Spider-Man and Silk: Spiderfly Effect launching at over 30.8k at 63. I had thought that the ‘point’ mini’s had been doing well based on the Amazing Spider-Man branding but that hasn’t really been the case here. The Spider-Man line has been Marvel’s MVP (as well as Star Wars) for a while now and this launch isn’t that great compared to what else the line is managing to hold up. Its just a mini of course but considering the branding, where the Spider-Man line is and that this spins out of a story from the main book that Marvel probably expected, at worst 10k or so more.
Ray: Yeah, I’m a bit surprised by the numbers on this Spider-Man/Silk mini. It’s by the regular writer of Silk, and it’s a fun story with a robot dinosaur and Todd Nauck art. The $4.99 price tag may have turned people off a bit, and maybe this would have been better off as an arc in the main title. Silk is struggling a bit in sales in general, so another spin-off may not have been the best decision right now.
Glenn: Agreed, they maybe again thought the Amazing Spider-Man tag might get interest but I guess a brand’s strength only goes so far. Great to see Todd Nuack getting work though.
What’s next? You guessed it, its another Marvel launch with another comic telling a tale based off a Disney ride in Haunted Mansion. The comic featuring the classic ride launches at 66(6?) with sales over 28.7k. That’s not too bad a performance for this type of thing which is no doubt going to have a long life of sales in collected form in the gift shop of the ride as Disney. I think other similar books such as Figment and Thunder Mountain performed about the same in monthly form so this is pretty standard.
Ray: This is actually a much better performance than things like Figment or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad did, probably because of a more recognizable property and Josh Williamson returning to his old “haunting” grounds of ghost stories. It was a great first issue, and I have a feeling this one’s going to be a bit of a sleeper hit in both singles and trades. This is the first Disney-themed book to really show any sales strength for Marvel.
Glenn: Valiant still manages to able to launch books at a relatively healthy level with their latest A & A starting at 73 with sales over 27k. Not too bad a launch as Valiant adds more and more books to its catalog. They have some sleeper hits in their range and have just announced that their comic ‘Faith‘ will now be an ongoing. Its a hard market for everyone at the moment but Valiant seem to be carving themselves a nice little corner. A few books that perform steadily will all they need to be able to build a solid foundation on. If they can ride the rough waters, who knows where they might be in a few years.
Ray: Yeah, Valiant is slowly but surely creeping up on the charts. Their last few launches have been stronger, and Archer and Armstrong is a fan favorite that people have wanted back for a while. They do a lot of relaunches, almost as often as Marvel, so that gooses things a bit, but they’re getting a reputation for some quality books.
Glenn: The Neil Adams Superman vehicle, Coming Of The Supermen second issue delivers over 27k also at 74. This is kind of what I expected given the first issue sales. Again, you would expect more on paper from a book starring one of DC’s most iconic heroes drawn by an industry legend but this is a comic that doesn’t really have much to do with the main DC direction and the Superman line, as discussed hasn’t been the healthiest the last few years. Unlike Spider-Man, DC can’t get away with random Superman mini’s and expect them to deliver decently at the moment. This one might do well in collected form or might just become a forgotten side note.
Ray: Coming of the Superman is…a strange book, to say the least. Neal Adams still has some sales pull, but after the strangeness of Batman: Odyssey, I have a feeling that most people are buying this out of either loyalty or trainwreck fascination. It has its audience, but it’s a bit of a niche product at this point.
Glenn: Yeah that’s true (re: Coming Of The Supermen) but it might serve well in the old collection archives for a bit.
It’s Image’s turn for a new launch now with Discipline landing at 97, just making it in the top 100 with sales of over 20k. We’ll talk in a short bit how those sales now warrant a top 100 number but I would have thought this book could have done a little better. Writer, Peter Milligan has a decent audience and the book received a lot of press. I’m wondering if it was maybe a little under ordered, this seems unusually low for an Image launch with a verly well known writer attached.
Ray: Peter Milligan’s always been a bit of an acquired taste, telling challenging, often mature-readers stories that are not to everyone’s taste. This book is…definitely one of those, a strange sexual horror story. It was originally a Vertigo book that disappeared from their schedule and came back at Image. Given that, I think these numbers are about as good as could have been expected. Whether it continues that way, we’ll see, but these numbers aren’t unusually low for Image.
Glenn: I just thought given this books publicity it could mav achieved more. If this lands around this then it’ll be fine but then again, I suppose mature readers books are starting out with a handicap already.
Then we drop out of the top 100 with the 100th book being Image’s Huck selling just over 19.9k. Ray do you want to prepare the panic room or should I?
Ray: Oh, lord. Batten down the hatches. We’ve talked a lot about how Marvel’s sales are down, DC’s sales are down, but this is the first really scary indication we’ve seen of how the entire industry is struggling. For less than 100 books to sell over the all-important 20K line is disturbing. Of course, this is much more of an indication that DC and Marvel are struggling, because the number of non-big-two books that sell above 20K regularly is slim, but the industry is contracting, at least in the direct market. That affects everyone. It’s a huge irony that we’re seeing comics take over pop culture at the same time that the industry itself is cratering.
Glenn: We’ll probably see a brief injection of life in the charts once Rebirth starts but how lasting that will be outside of the top books remains to be seen. This is something you pointed out before we properly started and it unsettled me greatly. If the comic market was someone in hospital and we were doctors, we probably wouldn’t be giving our patient the best odds at recovery.
Ray: As DC marches towards Rebirth, they drop a major bomb out of the top 100 with Legends of Tomorrow #1. This book may have the branding of the TV show, but audiences weren’t fooled – this is actually an anthology repurposed from four cancelled miniseries starring Firestorm, Metamorpho, Metal Men, and Sugar and Spike. Audiences treated it with all the enthusiasm of Cancelled Comics Cavalcade, landing it at 105 with sales of around 18K.
Glenn: The logic behind the Legends comic is somewhat baffling. Would it have been so much of a hassle to have a similar idea but with…you know the actual cast of the show? I doubt it would have made TOO much of a difference but it couldn’t have been much worse. When you see books like this being green lit, you have to wonder if there’s something else perhaps in DC office’s water cooler.
Ray: We’re seeing a ton of Marvel books drop below the 20K range now, but it’s sad to see Vision wind up at #106, given how unique and acclaimed it is. Now that we know it’s a twelve-part series as King heads off to DC land, maybe more people are waiting for the trade.
Glenn: Given the acclaim its receiving, it could be a steady collection seller for years to come, especially if King goes on to become a superstar at DC which seems to be very much on the cards. At the moment, Marvel is keeping mum about continuing the series after King leaves but I don’t see that being a likelihood.
Ray: Catwoman’s big anniversary issue, despite sales boosts for all the other anniversaries, lands way down at 134 with sales of just over 14K. Given that, I suppose it’s not a surprise that this book isn’t going to be continuing in Rebirth. Green Arrow and Aquaman got minor boosts, but they were still doing much better than this.
Glenn: We’ve had a Catwoman ongoing pretty steadily now for 16 years so for it to survive this long and be one of the few New 52 books is saying something. However, the direction that the character has been taken in on her book has been pretty lack luster the last few years. The book has had some solid runs, even in its recent past but its also had more than its fair share of stinkers. Selena will find a place somewhere after Rebirth, even if its a return to an occasional supporting character in one of the Bat books but after 16 years, it seems that the audience is ready for a break from her own tales (no pun intended).
Ray: Mark Millar’s usually good for some pretty strong sales overall, so I’m suprised by just how hard Jupiter’s Circle has fallen from the main Jupiter’s Legacy mini. Only 13K in sales this month. The massive gaps between issues of the main mini – which seems to be relaunching in a few months with a new artist – probably didn’t help at all.
Glenn: I might be remembering wrong but I think in solicits, I did see Quitely returning to the book so that will undoubtedly help. Saying that, Millar’s comics seem to be more ‘crowd pleasers’ than this one. As I understand it, this is more of an intellectual work that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Given how many hits he has had with his creator owned works, everyone is allowed one that maybe doesn’t perform as well. He’ll no doubt be recovering swiftly with Empress and his book with Capullo.
Ray: As we head past the 150 mark, it’s just a cavalcade of cancelled and soon-to-be cancelled Marvel and DC books. Drax, Hercules, Illuminati, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, JL3K, etc. Both DC You and All-New All-Different Marvel Now have basically been a graveyard for oddball books, regardless of quality. Even Gotham Academy – a critically acclaimed fan-favorite – is lurking around this range, although hopefully the Rebirth relaunch will turn things around for this book a bit. And trade sales might help it as well.
Vampirella is the third female pulp hero to relaunch from Dynamite, with sales of 12K at 154. Higher than Dejah Thoris last month, lower than Red Sonja. About what I expected, and a middle-of-the-road debut for Dynamite.
Glenn: Same here. Vampirella has a bit more of a name recognition factor than Dejah but not nearly as much as Sonja so what you said makes perfect sense. I’m sure Dynamite wasn’t expecting much more out of the buxom vamp.
Ray: Two new all-ages books debut in this range as well – Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems from Boom, spinning off from the popular cartoon, and a Disney Princess cartoon book from little-known Joe Comics. Neither of these are really targeting the direct market, but these still aren’t bad numbers for this type of book.
Glenn: Always nice to see some kid friendly books chart, there aren’t enough in todays Market. It seems that Boom is thinking of building the next generation of fans which will pay off for them mostly outside the direct market. I see a lot of demand on social media for books like these but little that fit the bill from Marvel, DC or even Image. Even if we don’t see much benefit in these charts, Boom could be setting them a solid base elsewhere. Given the state of the market, that may not be the worst idea.
Ray: Hey, there’s Independence Day from Titan Comics, showing up at 174 with just under 10K sales. About what I’d expect from a spin-off to a 20-year-old movie trying to make a comeback, but I’m still happy to see this back! *pours one out for Randy Quaid, America’s greatest hero*
Glenn: I would have thought it would be smarter to wait until the launch of the movie to debut this title but what do I know? I guess nostalgia for this property isn’t as strong as Power Rangers or Back To The Future. Titan are now the kings of media tie ins and some will perform solidly and some won’t. This definitely seems to be in the latter category.
Just below Independence day is Red Wolf at 175 with sales just over 9.9k. This is one Marvel will be no doubt looking to forget rather swiftly.
Ray: Yeah, Red Wolf is just a complete disaster and will be going away fairly quickly. A definite bad result for a character Marvel seemed to be hyping a lot coming into ANAD. The 10K mark is pretty much the mark of “no hope” when it comes to big two books. Of course, at least it can say it’s not Starbrand/Nightmask, which landed at 223 with sales of 6.6K this month. And this is only issue #4. It’s solicited through #7, I believe, and there’s a chance that it could actually fall out of the top 300 by the end of that. A main-line Marvel book.
Glenn: When we did our sales predictions on this line a while back (man where we optimistic in terms of numbers but dead on in terms of landings), we both were like ‘but…why?’ with Red Wolf and Starbrand/Nightmask. It seems we weren’t the only ones.
There are a few deviations one shots from IDW featuring some of their books including Transformers, Ghostbusters, X-Files, GI Joe and TNMT. They range from 180 with Transformers at just over 9k to GI Joe at 202 with sales of over 7.8k. A quick Google tells me this was a 5 week event that was essentially a series of What If’s from the company. Universal branding has something that the market has leaned heavy on to sell books for over three decades now in order to get audiences to try books the companies want to give the impression that are all connected. With the lackluster performance of ANAD and attempts like this, it no longer seems to be a guarantee of success. Attempts like the upcoming Rebirth and Civil War will no doubt be a different story but after years and years and years of things like this, it seems that perhaps the audience is getting more selective of buying in to it, especially if its a smaller audience to start with. That being said, that Ghostbusters issue looks awesome.
Ray: TMNT Deviations seems to be far ahead of the rest of the pack, landing at 136, with sales 4K ahead of the next on the list, Transformers. Probably speaks to the strength of the books on average for IDW, as the Turtles seem to be having a bit of a moment. I think they’re probably pretty happy overall with the sales of these one-shots, so we may see a second wave down the line.
Glenn: The next new launch this month is Army Of Darkness: Furious Road which I’m going to assume is some sort of Evil Dead/Mad Max crossover because…80’s? Both the franchises have received a resurgence in popularity due to the TV show and the success of Fury Road last year but it doesn’t seem to be pulling people into comic stores to try out this book. It launches at 185 with sales of over 8.6k.
Just below that is another sub standard number for a Vertigo launch from DC in Suiciders: King Of Hell which charts at 186 with sales of 8.5k. I think saying anything else about what Vertigo has been managing to put out in terms of sales would be just cruel at this point. With the announcement of the Young Animal line which seems to be very reminiscent of the early (much more succesful) Vertigo days I wonder if this is perhaps the end of an imprint that has lasted more than 30 years at DC outside of a healthy back catalog.
Ray: Suiciders lost Lee Bermejo on art on this second volume, although he remains on writing. His status as writer/artist and his gorgeous art was a big selling point for the first volume, and from reading the first issue this seems to have a very different cast and plot, making it feel more like a spin-off than a continuation of the first volume. That probably contributed a good deal to the drop in sales. Vertigo will likely stick around with a select few books, but this 12-book roll-out that they just delivered isn’t going to happen again. A full three of the new Vertigo titles (Slash and Burn, New Romancer, Last Gang in Town) are all out of the top 300 already, with Red Thorn likely to join them next month. Ouch.
Glenn: Its sad to see Vertigo go this way, they are putting out some very good books but no one seems particularly bothered.
(Note: This was written prior to the dismissal of Shelly Bond. We’re currently starting a pool of how long Vertigo will now last. Get your guesses in now.)
Angel and Faith ends its current run at 187 with sales of 8.5k. The time of the Buffyverse performing top ten or twenty or 100 sales are long gone now as only the die hard fans remain. The next relaunch will no doubt grab a boost in sales but short of the return of Joss Whedon on a regular basis the days this franchise is a steady performer from the fledgling Dark Horse seems to be done.
Ray: The heyday of the Buffy franchise is certainly over, but at the same time – it’s the fifth-highest selling Dark Horse book this month! The top four are a limited series by an a-list novelist, a first issue of a Predator miniseries, the main Hellboy/BPRD series, and the other Buffy book. So I think these numbers are more a demonstration of just how grim things have gotten for Dark Horse. Buffy is still definitely one of their anchors and they’ll keep it going as long as the creators want it – they’ve got very little else.
Glenn: Yeah, Dark Horse needs to clutch close to them anything that still gives them somewhat of a presence. This year marks their 30th anniversary but sadly, they don’t have much to celebrate. What is the answer for them to last another 30 years…or even 10? Its hard to say.
Next launch is a book you talked about on the comics countdown, Another Castle from Oni which sells just over 8.3k at 191. That’s pretty much a standard launch for Oni for a book that has a really interesting sounding concept. Given their place in the market and their current output, I’d say they were pleased with that.
Another new launch from Image this month is Circuit Breaker which charts at 192 with sales of over 8,3k. This seems to be another kid friendly title that seems to be more orientated towards the female market. Bit of a surprising number considering how well known the artist of the series, Kyle Baker is.
Ray: Looking at Another Castle and Circuit Breaker together, I’m kind of startled by who won this battle. Another Castle is a fantasy book with no name creators attached, published by Oni, which rarely has strong placings on the chart. Circuit Breaker has Kyle Baker art and was heavily promoted by Image Comics. The fact that Another Castle debuted higher is really impressive, and an Image book with a name-creator attached barely making the top 200 is startling. A lot of reviews said Circuit Breaker was very derivative, so I’m wondering if bad buzz spread and dropped the numbers.
Glenn: When you look at it that way, you’re right. Both are aimed at the same audience and Oni managed to out do Image on this one. I think from premise alone, Another Castle has more legs in it too. This could be the next franchise to really hit it off in other media.
Ray: There were a couple of licensed minis like Mars Attacks: Occupation from IDW and Tarzan spin-off Lords of the Jungle from Dynamite that delivered predictably low numbers in the 6K range. No big surprise from these two companies, which struggle outside of a select few properties.
Glenn: With the movie coming, I would have thought there might have been more interest in Tarzan but this is of course, a franchise that’s been done to death. These are pretty standard numbers from these kind of tie ins from the smaller companies these days. These numbers do however, really do underline how spectacular Power Rangers did for Boom this month though.
Ray: I was puzzled by exactly what “Irwin Allen: Lost in Space” from American Gothic Press is, landing at #229, and it seems it’s the adaptation of the lost episodes of Lost in Space from the ’60s. Oldest-skewing comic of the month?
There’s a really low Image debut this month, Power Lines by Jimmie Robinson. at 242 with just under 6K. This was a challenging book about race issues and superpowers, and one of my favorite #1s last month. Robinson’s been working for Image for a while, with great books like Bomb Queen and Five Weapons, but he’s never quite gotten any sales traction. These numbers are sort of depressing, but I hope it finds an audience at some point.
Glenn: We were both big fans of Five Weapons and Robinson is a talented writer/artist who for some reason doesn’t grab much of an audience. Most of his books have been released through Image’s ‘Shadowline’ imprint so I’m not sure if expectations are lower there or how this might do in trade. Given how successful similar sounding books like Black were on Kickstarter (raising over 90k!!!!) maybe Robinson would be better taking his projects that way? Creators like Sean Murphy and Gail Simone have had very successful runs with their Kickstarter books so Robinson could find it more worth his time to go down that route.
Ray: As we reach the bottom of the charts, this is where we see some of those creator-owned series that arrived with no name creators, no built-in fanbase, and little promotion. Boom’s post-alien invasion cop drama Turncoat at #250 and Dark Horse’s fantasy Shadow Glass at #277. There’s always some comics like this that just slip through the cracks, and there might even be a few under the 300 mark that we don’t see.
Glenn: Making into the top 300 with all the disadvantages you mention is probably a big deal for these creators. If I saw any of my books at 300 I’d probably be running through the streets shouting at everyone who would listen until they dragged me away. How long each of these books last will likely be down to the creators but if you were one of the few that picked them up and you want to keep having the book, share the word about it. Even one more person reading who then spreads it on to more people could make all the difference.
Ray: I’m amused that two issues of something called “Zombie Tramp” made the chart this month, somehow.
Glenn: Guess zombies are still an easy sell. Given the title there, I can only imagine what the book is about so whoever is behind this is probably thrilled. It also seems to be that their book has now hit the 20’s, who knew?!
They both outsold a Marvel book with Ultimate Spider-Man: Contest Of Champions which starts off at 258 with sales of over 5.4k. Its a media tie in, true but its a Spider-Man one so you knew…oh dear. No doubt it’ll be something that kids will go bananas for outside the direct market…I can only assume?
Ray: Yeah, the Marvel animated tie-ins never do any real sales in the direct market. This comic is actually an adaptation of a TV episode, so no surprise. Still, Spider-Man being outsold by Zombie Tramp is…surprising.
Glenn: Speaking of poor Dark Horse, there’s a new debut from them, Shadow Glass landing at 277 with sales of over 4.9k. I don’t recognize the name but the Dark Horse branding used to mean so much more than this in the market. I don’t mean to rag on Dark Horse every month, I’m more concerned than anything. I love the industry and I love comics, seeing one of the oldest comic companies in the world struggle so significantly I just find unsettling.
I spot Wyonna Earp just below it at 278 with sales of 4.8k. I’d never heard of this book until I heard of the TV show that is coming. The TV show might help the book a little but the creators are probably jumping up and down that their book got an adaption so fast. If the show is a hit then they just might end of up doing the comic on the side for fun.
I see a comic called Evil Dead 2: Revenge Of Hitler at 290 with sales of 4.5 and I wonder if maybe if I could afford to get into diamond some of my books might have a chance after all. No offence to the creators of the book of course, all credit in the world to them for getting a book that has Hitler’s name in the title to chart in 2016.
I think Hitler is a good note to end this month on, I can’t wait to have to highlight that name because yes, technically he is a comic book character. All in all there’s some cause for celebration in the top 50 and then it gets pretty grim, pretty quickly. I’m expecting this is just the world we’ll be living in until Rebirth and later on, Civil War starts. Whether those will cause a genuine long term resurgence or just be another plaster with a smiley face on it over a large wound that is gushing blood remains to be seen.
Ray: April isn’t the busiest month, but there’s still quite a few notable debuts, especially from Marvel. The top two books of the month are likely to be Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther, which sold over 300K, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron, which broke 200K. Beyond that, there’s the launch of Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight, the launch of the Spider-Women event, and Millar and Immonen’s new creator-owned comic Empress. And then there’s Gwenpool #1. That’s a thing.
DC’s got a pretty quiet month, keeping time till Rebirth. There’s a Justice League special, a very significant Superman crossover, and two new Harley Quinn comics, a miniseries focusing on the Gang of Harleys and a one-shot by the Rebirth creative team. There’s also the revival of Bloodlines, the ’90s alien horror comic. That’s likely a strong contender for Doomed/Klarion numbers.
Image has a few new launches too, but it’s kind of a laid-back month for them too. Brian Wood is back to Vikings with Black Road, and Criminal is back with a one-shot magazine. I’m more excited about some of the launches from other companies, including haunted house horror comic House of Penance from Dark Horse, which is also giving us Matt Kindt’s new sci-fi adventure Dept. H. Then there’s teen sleuth adventure Goldie Vance from Boom, and futuristic sci-fi adventure comic Joyride. These are all books with a good amount of advance buzz, which could surprise us on the charts next month.
Until next month, then! The calm before the storm, when Rebirth and Civil War start coming down the pipe.