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 just read DC Rebirth an hour ago and is still trying to form coherent words in his mind.
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. When he told me that Rebirth’s implications were crazier than crazy, I laughed at him, laughed I say! He’s currently visiting me every Thursday in Arkham Asylum cause Wednesdays are for comics.
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 April available here!
Glenn: Greetings sales trackers! Remember when Christmas was only like yesterday? Well we’re already on April sales charts! Marvel new releases have slowed down and Rebirth is still not here but is on the Horizon but it seems that April still had more than a few talking points and surprises.
Lets start off with the title that grabbed the top spot and this is one we were told was a big success by its publisher a few months ago. Never one to hold back on a chance to tout their success, Marvel stated they received a massive number for Black Panther which is indeed the case as it lands at number one with sales over 253k. This means that Black Panther was the second highest selling ANAD Marvel relaunch, just selling a shade less than Invincible Iron Man.
This is a fantastic number for Black Panther who historically has never been a good seller. The last regular Black Panther book would sell around 25k on a very, very good day but usually was in the 10-15k range and that was when the market was in a much healthier state than it is now.
The issue got a bunch of promotion, has Black Panther receive more exposure due to Secret War, a mainstream best selling author, answering a call for more diversity and oh yeah, a big part in that little known film, Civil War. Really you couldn’t ask for better press and the results speak for themselves. Will it stay around this level? Likely not but myself and Ray estimate a fall to around 40-50k which is where most of the higher selling ANAD Marvel Now books (outside of Amazing and Deadpool) are. This would be brilliant for a Black Panther title and would insure it a long and healthy print run. Great to see!
Ray: Black Panther is indeed an unprecedented sales success, although the projections came in quite a bit under original estimates. 300K would have been a world-breaker. This, though, still amazing that it beat Amazing Spider-Man’s relaunch and came within a hair of the first Bendis Iron Man issue. You mentioned a lot of the factors that led to its success, but this is what it looks like when you have a perfect storm of promotion and interest in a character, combined with a creative team with genuine mainstream appeal. I think it’ll fall hard, like every book has, of course, but I think it’ll end in the same range you do – which would put it in the top ten regular selling Marvel books. Amazing for a hero who hadn’t had a solo title for the last decade almost, but the same could be said for Dr. Strange. This is how you actually capitalize on movie attention – a fresh start with stories worth telling.
Glenn: Next up is the first issue of another title from the most consistently powerful entity in the charts, Star Wars. This month alone the Star Wars line has more titles in the top ten than anyone else. After a year of their launch there is no stopping them and they land another best seller in the first issue of Poe Dameron at 2 with sales a shade over 175k. This is the first comic being done in the new Force Awakens era so there was naturally going to be a lot of interest. This was also the character that probably got the least screen time out of the new main cast introduced in Force Awakens so people will be interested in reading more about him. I can see this book being another tip ten staple for Marvel as it essentially replaces Darth Vader on the schedule in a few months (more on that in a second).
Sticking with Star Wars for the time being, the next book the line has in the charts is the C-3PO one shot explaining the origins of his red arm in Force Awakens. Selling just under 121k this is a great number for a book about a bunch of newly introduced droids. As friend of the article Brandon James pointed out, I guess a lot of people wanted to find out how he got that red arm.
Ray: Again, the sales on Poe Dameron were a bit down from the initial estimates. I wonder what went on there. This is still a massive success, though, and Star Wars seems to be able to do no wrong. Coming off the direct success of TFA, this was always going to be a smash hit.
The C3PO special may be even more impressive, though. This book was delayed for months and stars a popular but very much side character from the series. Still, it came close to Poe Dameron. I think this proves that anything directly associated with the movies is going to be gigantic for Marvel – but it’s more complicated, as we saw by the sudden cancellation of the Rogue One miniseries just a few days ago. As big as these comics are for Marvel, they’re peanuts for LucasFilm/Disney, and they’ll shut them down quickly if they’re worried. This makes me think the comics may stick more with the original trilogy timeline…
Glenn: I remember seeing about the Rogue One comic and yes, I suppose you’re right. If Disney doesn’t think that telling the stories in this form will warrant the attention they want, they’ll pull the plug. I am curious though how long Marvel can churn out stories between New Hope and Jedi.
Speaking of which, the regular two Star Wars books, Star Wars and Darth Vader take the 7th and 8th spots selling just under 99k and 80k respectfully. The first book, the main one in the line continues its slow descend with no real need for concern. Even though Vader is a good shade under it now, its still a great stable seller and I don’t doubt Marvel saying it is merely ending due to story reasons and Kieran Gillans departure from Marvel come its 25th issue in a few months. We can expect another ‘Dark Side’ book likely replacing it, maybe around the release of Rogue One, time will tell.
All in all its just another month of Star Wars dominance. When Rebirth hits, there will be some shuffling of their consistent top ten force choke hold but when all that hoopla settles down, I have a feeling the Star Wars line will be back in its currently immovably strong position.
Ray: Yeah, the original books are still going strong. There hasn’t been a dud in the Star Wars line yet, sales-wise. The closest was Kanan, and that still did better than an animated tie-in would be expected to. So there will be no shortage of new SW books coming our way.
Star Wars had more titles in the top ten this month than either DC or Marvel. That’s just surreal.
Glenn: From Marvel’s most dependable line over to DC’s as we move back up the chart to the number 3 spot which has the fourth issue of Dark Knight III which sells just over 143k. A great, solid performance for the premier format title which has suffered marginal delays. Batman is where DC stands tall at the moment and this title in particular is one that people seem to be interested in due to its connection to Frank Millers original classic and is own potential future place in comics history. With Rebirth around the corner, DC could potentially gain a strong position in the charts but books like this one are worth their weight in gold to the publisher currently.
Ray: I mean, for all the controversy over these high-profile sequels to classic comics without the original creative team fully involved, they sell. They sell like crazy. So I expect we’ll see more sequels like this, but it’ll be hard to top a Batman one. And reception to TDKIII has been much warmer than I expected. It looks good compared to the second one, so that probably helps. It’s clear now that this will be dominant on the charts until it finishes it run.
Glenn: Speaking of the Dark Knight’s strong outings, the final issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s modern classic Batman run ends this month with sales just under 102k at 5. They did it! Every issue over 100k! Something that we may never see again in our lifetime with the market in its current state and something that DC will solely miss in its calendar. With either the new Batman title or Scott Snyder’s All Star Batman title be able to match its consistently? Time will tell. With this being the end to such a popular run and a one shot to boot, I’m surprised sales weren’t higher. Perhaps retailers think that the next issue being written by new Detective writer James Tynion was the final issue of this creative teams run? It’ll be interesting to see how issue 52 performs next month.
Ray: As I’ve said before, I don’t know if we’ll ever see a success on this level for the Big Two again. 51 issues, all by the same creative team (with a few guest issues), all over 100K. It’s amazing. I think the sales drop this month is because a lot of people thought last month’s epic #50 issue was the finale. As for its successors, I do think All-Star Batman will probably hold over 100K for its run, assuming people don’t think it’s about Batman making Robin eat rats. The King/Finch/Janin biweekly Batman won’t hold these numbers, but I do think it can wind up around the same numbers as ASM consistently, which would be a big win for DC.
Glenn: Prior to its ending/unending absence, All Star Batman was still quite a sales draw despite its…oddities. Its a weird brand to bring back after all this time but with the creative teams they have, I have no doubt it’ll be another solid performer for DC.
At number 6 we have Gwenpool selling over 100.8k. Gwenpool. I think I’ll let Ray sort this out while I get back to you know…respectable comics.
Ray: *sigh* Gwenpool. This comic is hard to analyze sales-wise. Partially because my eyes are rolling back in my head as I speak in tongues when I think about how much I hated that first issue, but also partially because this character was marketed as the next extension of the Gwen Stacy crazy when in fact she is nothing of the sort. She’s an original character who seems to be more DC’s Harley Quinn than anything. Needless to say, this novelty meme character will not hold these numbers. She started high, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her at Hellcat numbers in six months‘ time.
Glenn: I’m hoping Marvel don’t overindulge too much and ruin what has people interested in Spider-Gwen. Then again, we’ve just learned that Gwenverine is going to be a thing soon too so that ship might have sailed.
Another DC comic in the top ten is the Harley Quinn April Fools Special which hits 9 on the chart and sells just over 75k. On the surface, that’s a decent number for a Harley Quinn one shot and within the usual range for her usual brand of one shots but this one was quite a bit different.
Although it wasn’t marketed as such, this issue was the first glimpse of the post Rebirth DCU, was the first issue by the new creative team and had Jim Lee on art. Like many fans and retailers, I assumed this was another one shot by the regular Harley Quinn creative team in the spirit of their previous holiday themed one shots and didn’t know any different until a week previous. This could be one that is heavily reordered when people realize its significance. The other possibility is that retailers knew exactly what it was and ordered it in decent but unspectacular numbers which is…unsettling.
Ray: Yeah, I’d say DC missed a big opportunity with this Harley Quinn special. I was taken aback as I read it, going “Hey, this is actually a really important book”. We’ve said this before, but this should have been the Free Comic Book Day issue. A current book, that serves to promote both the upcoming Suicide Squad movie and Rebirth? A slam dunk. Instead, it sort of slipped under the radar, but that was still good for about 75K sales, so no one’s crying.
Glenn: Lastly in the top ten is Marvel’s biggest consistent selling superhero in Amazing Spider-Man which sells just over 73.6k. It seems like that mysterious bump last month was just a fluke. We’re now moving dangerously close to the possibility of all none number one of Star Wars Marvel books selling below 70k which would be troubling. Fortunately for Amazing, Dead No More is coming and that’ll no doubt bump it up at least 10-15k or so during its duration. The rest of the line has got Civil War to bump it up so right now, in the short term (where Marvel lives) there’s nothing to panic about.
Ray: Yeah, ASM is holding very well. This is where we see the top titles for both companies that seem to have stabilized in a very healthy position. Justice League is going to wrap up the only other run the same length as Snyder on Batman in May, and it’s stayed healthy throughout. The Darkseid War Special loses a good 10K in sales, but that’s still a very healthy number for an event tie-in. Walking Dead and Deadpool both seem to have stabilized in the mid-60K range as well, with the former being Image’s flagship book and Deadpool having firmly ensconced himself as Marvel’s #2 hero. I’m not sure why Deadpool #10 got a 7K bounce over #9, though. Deadpool and his weird math!
Glenn: Considering how much lower the Darkseid War special sold under the main Justice League’s regular numbers (roughly 11k difference) the reasoning for having the special is puzzling. It could possibly be just so Johns does end his run at 50 on the dot but its not as if ending on 51 hurt the sales on Batman much. Its not a huge loss but 11k is 11k.
Ray: Spider-Gwen got a very nice 10K bounce over her sales last month at #18. I would estimate that this is because of the Spider-Women crossover, except that Gwen did 10K over the event kickoff, Spider-Women Alpha, and roughly 20K over the Silk and Spider-Woman chapters. I’m always puzzled by how retailers order hard crossovers like this. You can’t just read the issues you want here, it’s a straight narrative. Either way, good to see Spider-Gwen rebound a bit. I wonder if she’ll be above Gwenpool by next month.
Glenn: Maybe retailers treated this as the ‘real’ first part of the crossover? It is a puzzling one but yes, nice to see the book rebound either way.
Ray: The latest incarnation of Moon Knight, by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood, landed at #17 with 60K sales. I was worried that the sheer number of attempts at Moon Knight revivals would blunt this one’s sales, but the critical reception was excellent and this book seems to have gained some buzz. I’m not sure how long this creative team will stay on board, because it seems to be a very specific and finite story they’re telling, but I think it can probably hold on to about half these sales, which is healthy for a Moon Knight title.
Glenn: Moon Knight needs to settle itself quickly to justify its existence but it might just do that, especially if Lemire intends to stick around a little. The character has had a lot of stop and starts in recent years and a consistent, well received creative team would do him the world of good. I say this will end up being a middle of the ground respectful 40-45k seller.
Ray: Two titles, Spider-Man and Old Man Logan, seem to be selling about the exact same amount this month, but there’s a rather big difference between the two. OML holds at around 58-59K with issues 4-5. That’s after the initial three-month blind order, which means the book’s probably found it’s level. Spider-Man is only at issue three, which mean’s next month’s sales are the ones to watch.
Glenn: Those are solid numbers for a Wolverine title, if it can stay around that I’m sure everyone involved will be well pleased. Spider-Man might be more of a crapshoot but given these books and roughly about 70 trillion others are tying into Civil War in a few months, the numbers are going to go haywire across the board none the less.
Ray: Hey, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers holds at 59K with issue two, at #22! That’s pretty impressive for a licensed Boom comic. No wonder there’s a spin-off and an annual coming! Don’t pull a Dynamite Pulp Heroes, Boom, but this is a very strong start.
Glenn: I’m sure Boom is thrilled with that, that’s by far the biggest seller they’ve ever had. If it stays around this level, it’ll be outselling a lot of Marvel books which could be argued have more of a modern day audience. Who knew that Power Rangers was still a thing? Hopefully they don’t get overconfident and flood us with Power Rangers comics but if they play it right with the movie coming up, they could have their own franchise to keep the lights on.
Ray: Mark Millar’s latest creator-owned book, this one with Stuart Immonen, Empress, has a healthy debut at #26 with 55K. The difference is, this one is at Icon instead of Image. This shows that creators can still get some buzz for this small imprint, although I wonder what it would have sold with Image behind it. Everyone involved has to be happy, though.
Glenn: I’m sure retailers treated Empress for all intents and purposes as an Image book because if it wasn’t for Immonen’s contract it would be. The Icon imprint has mainly survived to publish POWERS but this is a nice bonus for Marvel to have something like this which will fare very well collection wise once the movie is out.
Ray: Harley Quinn and the latest spin-off, Harley Quinn and the Gang of Harleys, do essentially identical numbers at #27-28. At this point, I wonder if retailers are just treating most of the spin-offs with the regular creative team involved as extra issues of this title? Harley seems to be very consistent.
Glenn: Harley can do no wrong since her solo series comeback a number of years ago. I think this shows that she can handle a bi-monthly book with no problems. The market and fans love her and DC is sensible enough (on this book anyway) not to mess with what works.
Ray: Thor and Dr. Strange, as we’ve talked about, are consistently some of Marvel’s stronger sellers, but I’m surprised to see Daredevil holding in there at #37 with 48K sales with issue six. This is stronger than the Waid run had been selling for a while, but the title seems to be gaining some buzz. Netflix bump?
Glenn: Daredevil is a big surprise and I’m sure a very pleasant one for Marvel. This could be because of Netflix or people being genuinely excited for Soule or *gasps* a relaunch actually benefiting a title. This is the best Daredevil’s sold in quite some time and could end up being a surprise solid performer for Marvel at over 10k where it used to be.
Ray: The conclusion of Avengers: Standoff landed at #35 with sales under 50K. Definitely not the sort of event numbers Marvel was hoping for. This is going to be forgotten quickly as Marvel heads towards Civil War II.
Glenn: The main point of this mini event seems to have been to get Steve Roger’s back in costume. With the Captain America movie, you thought there would be more interest but perhaps it got drowned out with the oncoming flood of Civil War on the horizon. We’ve discussed how Cap’s book has struggled sales wise since the departure of Ed Brubaker but Marvel is making a big push on the latest book so, we’ll see but yeah, this little story will be seen as nothing more than a footnote at best.
The Doctor Strange: Last Days Of Magic one shot which ties into the story going on in the main book sells 10k less than the main title at 48. It seems to have been treated as an optional tie in to the overall story but then again, since it was priced at 5.99 (!!!!!!!) I doubt anyone at Marvel cares that it sold that much less than the main Doctor Strange book. To be frank, a loose non essential tie in priced at 5.99 is quite an achievement. You can look for more at these type of things from Marvel if they can shift them at this volume.
Ray: Last Days of Magic was an anthology, more than 40 pages of story (which makes $5.99 not unreasonable…for Marvel), but only a short segment was written by Jason Aaron. Given that, I think these numbers are a pretty big success. It goes to show how Marvel has really made Dr. Strange a powerhouse again, and given this current storyline the vibe of an event in and of itself. Wondering how Deadpool: Last Days of Magic will do next month. Probably even better, because Deadpool!
Glenn: People love their Deadpool, he’s not getting a third ongoing (counting his book with that guy…whatshisname…Spider-Guy) for no reason!
Both Batgirl and Flash get good bumps on their 50th issues selling just over 35 and 34,6 k at spots 51 and 52 on the charts. While Batgirl has been a critical darling for the latter half of its run, sales have been ebbing away so I’m sure DC will be glad to see a resurgance just prior to Rebirth. Flash hasn’t been the superstar performer that the Batman titles have been but its been a solid middle tier performer throughout its whole New 52 run. In a world where books end and relaunch all the time and sales go up and down like a yo-yo, solid mid 30k sellers can be a publishers bread and butter. It’ll be interesting to see how well Flash comes out of Rebirth with exceptionally talented indie writer Josh Williamson coming on board.
Ray: That’s definitely one of the bigger sale bumps for #50 issues for Batgirl. I’m a bit surprised, given that it was just a regular oversized issue with no guest creators. Same for Flash, although the bump was smaller there. Except for Catwoman (which got virtually no boost) and Batman (which got a huge one) all of these titles seem to have gotten a standard bump that goes away very quickly – Batgirl #51 is back to the standard level the same month.
Glenn: I’ll wonder if they’ll get another brief bump for the 52nd issue or at that point, all eyes will be on Rebirth. These are some popular runs ending on various books so retailers might order a few more due to that more than the numbering.
After a respectful but unspectacular debut, Black Widow lands at 54 with sales of just over 34k. That’s really good for her book historically so as long as it stays here, this can be seen as another relaunch win for Marvel. The reception to the first issue seemed to be lukewarm at best so hopefully people will continue picking it up on the strength of the creative team. This is where Waid and Samnee usually had their Daredevil run at which previous to the latest relaunch was standard but Black Widow at this level would be seen as a respectful success.
Ray: Yeah, I expect after about six months or so, Black Widow will be down to the 25K range at most. Enough to stay alive as long as Waid and Samnee want it, but not that much above the title’s previous level with Edmondson/Noto. Some heroes just struggle with solo titles.
Glenn: Black Widow, Green Arrow, Punisher are just three characters that struggle in sales regularly despite all three having huge other media presences currently. If Black Widow can keep its creative team and they can recapture the critical acclaim they got for their Daredevil run, it’ll keep the book around. Marvel probably expected more I would say but at least its not selling less than the previous run…
X-Men 92 and Mockingbird’s second issue sold just under Widow at 55 and 56 with sales under 34 and 33k respectfully. These titles are both in the same boat as Widow, if they maintain this level then it can be seen as a big win. I have more confidence in X-Men 92’s long term performance over Mockingbird but you never know, I expected a much sharper decline for her. We’ll see what the next few months bring.
Ray: A bit surprised Mockingbird held so well, given its low first-issue sales. Apparently Marvel increased orders for the second and third issue, which might explain it. X-Men ’92 probably has a loyal but small audience that will keep it healthy enough for a while.
Glenn: I didn’t know Mockingbird got increased orders. It’ll be interesting to see where 4 lands then.
However, given Power Man and Iron Fist received another sharp drop on their third issue doesn’t inspire confidence. It goes down to 71 with sales over 24k which is starting to push the difference between an acceptable Heroes For Hire number and troublesome waters. This is another one that is confusing me, the market is becoming increasingly hard to predict.
Ray: The critical acclaim for Power Man and Iron Fist made me think it might have legs, but this is disappointing. From top ten to #71 in three issues is rough, but at the same time, it’s selling above quite a few other Marvel books like Rocket Raccoon and Groot, that one would expect to be selling much better. This might just be all books that aren’t the A-team finding their new level.
Glenn: All New Hawkeye ends with issue 6 even though no one knew this was going to be the last issue. It sells at 98 with sales over 21k. If Marvel had made it known that this was the last issue of the series for now, it might have got a few k more but then Marvel would have had to admit that they essentially had Lemire on one Hawkeye book that relaunched into an ‘ongoing’ that only lasted 6 issues. My head hurts.
Ray: There’s apparently a new Hawkeye title coming after Civil War II: Minority Report. Rumor is Kate Bishop in the lead. We’ll see how it does based on the creative team and status quo.
IDW has a pretty decent launch with Micronauts at #75, selling about 25K. It had Cullen Bunn on writing and a ton of variants, but critical reception wasn’t great, so I expect it to drop down to the level of most licensed books soon.
104 is the cutoff point for books selling over 20K this month, a little better than last month, but still fairly grim.
Glenn: The chart will see an overall uplift come the Rebirth/Civil War II Summer whirlwind. We’ll have to see how we fare towards the end of the year when all that has died down. DC will probably be in a moderately better position, Marvel will just be on the build for next years event which following their current pattern might be anything between Atlantis Attacks…Again or Super Maximum Security
Ray: The last volume of Divinity from Valiant was critically acclaimed, so it’s not a surprise to see the second volume launch with strong (for Valiant) sales of 19.6K at 105. Valiant’s new books seem to be getting a bit of buzz, and we’ll see how their latest event, 4001 AD, does next month.
Glenn: Again, Valiant seem to be the dark horses (not the publisher) of the current market. Marvel, DC and Image get more headlines but they’re keeping their pace at a more than respectful level.
Ray: In a fairly shocking debut (in a good way), upstart publisher Black Mask lands a book pretty high on the charts with the critically acclaimed kid-criminal noir “4 Kids Walk into a Bank“. 17K sales is about what most Image books with no A-list names attached get, so that’s really impressive.
Glenn: Good for Black Mask who I’ve seen garner a lot of buzz recently. I think it was also recently announced they’re going to be publishing the Kickstarter mega success ‘Black‘ which will probably get a lot of sales and critical attention. New blood is what will keep the industry going and its great to see new publishers among the bigger dogs.
Ray: To illustrate how well 4 Kids did, there’s Brian Wood’s new Viking noir Black Road, three spots below with 16.5K in sales. I would have expected more from a new Image book from Wood.
Glenn: Sometimes a premise, no matter who is creatively involved doesn’t seem to catch on. Like all the rest of Image’s line, it’ll likely last as long as Wood can keep it going. If it settles around this figure, it could last a respectable length. It sold more than Chew’s Chicken Poyo one shot (184 with sales just over 10.4k) and Chew is seen as a solid performer for Image that will see its 60 issue run through. It’ll all depend on trade sales too of course.
Ray: We’ve talked to no end about Dark Horse’s struggles on the sales charts as of late, and their top-selling book this month is Aliens: Defiance, with sales of just over 16K. This is a #1, though, and last month’s Predator #1 lots a third of its sales in its sophomore outing.
Glenn: Just read their VP is leaving. In ten years time, Dark Horse could be an unfortunate note in comic history as a company that was irrevocably damaged by the loss of their biggest property. I would have thought with it being Aliens 30th anniversary, they might have managed to get a little interest because it worked for Back To The Future but seemingly not.
Ray: Surprising absolutely no one, Hyperion is down to cancellation numbers with #2, selling 16K in sales. You just can’t do spinoffs when the parent title is barely holding on to its sales.
Glenn: Civil War will keep it tricking along (I think its tying in…everything else is) but I don’t see it lasting long after that.
Ray: New Image comedy crime book The Fix sold just under 15K at #140. I would have expected more given that this is written by a Marvel writer who has recently been given the key to one of their top franchises, but then those books have been underperforming for him as well.
Glenn: Nick Spencer of course is best known for Morning Glories which performs well in trades and is seen as a solid Image performer. Outside of that, I can’t think of too many books he’s partook in that have exactly set the sales charts on fire. He keeps getting verly high profile gigs and seems to be well thought of so he must be making someone happy.
Ray: Oh, look, there’s Bloodlines, DC’s attempt to revive their 90s alien spinal-tap thriller as a modern teen horror drama. Just under 15K in sales is about what I’d expect here. 90s nostalgia is all well and good, as we see with Power Rangers, but there has to be some actual nostalgia for the property.
Glenn: I don’t know what Bloodlines is…it seems not many other people do either
Ray: Speaking of 90s nostalgia, the latest X-Files relaunch doesn’t seem to have gotten a big boost from the recent TV revival. 14.7K sales at #142.
Glenn: X-Files has resurfaced as a TV juggernaut but while it has had a lot of merchandise, spin offs and whatnot, its not the type of thing that fans for to see more of elsewhere. They want more episodes of the show but aren’t willing to settle for pseudo episodes in comic or novel form and that seems to be the way its always been for the property. It’ll probably settle down to about 7 or 8k and maybe earn IDW some money through main book shops.
Ray: Marvel’s doing a series of one-shot anthology stories, “A Year of Marvels“, focusing on different months of the year, with more volumes coming throughout the year. It seems to have completely slipped under the radar, with sales of 12.7K at 161. But hey, it outsold Hellcat, Moon Girl, and Weirdworld!
Glenn: I honestly thought you were joking until I double checked. Not sure what they expected out of this, I’m not quite sure what a book like this will be able to achieve. It doesn’t seem to be for kids and since I’ve never heard of it, can’t have been spouted too heavily. Pure head scratcher this one.
Ray: Former Catwoman writer Genvieve Valentine is writing a Xena relaunch comic from Dynamite, and I expected it to at least do the same numbers as Red Sonja given the fanbase of the series. Surprisingly, not even close, with sales of 11.3K at #176. That has to be seriously disappointing for Dynamite.
Glenn: There’s been a lot of talk about some sort of reboot of Xena which has garnered a little interest. Maybe Dynamite should have held their water? Its another under performing TV tie in that has a market currently full of them in short. Given how prominent Valentine was at DC last year, I hope she manages to rebound from this.
Ray: Matt Kindt has a new #1 from Dark Horse, the deep-sea murder mystery Dept. H. This had months of hype, tons of promotions, and rapturous critical acclaim…only to sell 9.3K and barely make the top 200. I don’t know why Dark Horse can’t get momentum for their creator-owned books, because they have a bunch of great talent turning out a few incredible books, but it’s depressing. Makes me wonder what the fate of Jeff Lemire’s much-delayed Black Hammer will be when it arrives. And I hope Dept. H. does well in reorders and trades. For the record, this was Dark Horse’s fifth-highest selling comic of the month.
Glenn: I think its just Dark Horse’s position more than anything. Given how high Lemire’s star has risen, Black Hammer could buck the trend but if they can only do these numbers with a well known creator, you have to wonder what they are planning to do to turn things around. Even if Lemire’s book sells amazingly well, the whole company cannot float on one book. Dark Horse has been around longer than Image, has held their own for the madness that was the 90’s. Can they rise up like a phoenix? It doesn’t seem likely.
Titan releases the first issue of another Doctor Who mini, this time focusing on the Ninth Doctor played by Christopher Eccleson when the super popular sci-fi show made its return in 2005. Given that most fans now are more familiar with Tennant, Smith and Capaldi, a lot of people have a fondness for Ecclesons tenure. It lands with sales just over 10.5k at 183 which is decent enough for the Doctor that is often overlooked in favour of his successors.
Ray: Titan seems to have carved out a nice little niche for itself with tie-ins to media properties, with Doctor Who being the most successful of them. As our resident Doctor Who expert, you would know that these are pretty impressive numbers, and those Dark Souls numbers aren’t very bad either. I’m a bit surprised not to see their Independence Day series on the charts this month – probably bad timing, as it would have sold much more once the sequel is released.
Glenn: They’re probably thinking it might be better to get the collection out in time for the movie. I doubt many people are wanting more stories set in that world though (does I mean the movie, comic or both? YOU DECIDE!)
Another debut from IDW in Strawberry Shortcake hits at just over 10k at 187. Considering I’ve never heard of it and it seems to be by names I don’t recognize, that’s not too bad. It’ll probably not last long in the top 300 though.
Ray: Strawberry Shortcake? They’re really reviving every 80’s nostalgia property, aren’t they? These numbers are nothing special, but I assume they’re not going for the direct market here, instead marketing this in toy stores and the like.
I’m not sure if Star Wars resurgence has made everyone raid they catalog to see what else they might have that people might still be interested in but there are a lot of nostalgia books on the market currently. Some companies like Boom are winning out on doing this while most just seem to be misfires.
Glenn: We also have Grizzly Shark, the silly ott comic from Ryan Ottely, artist of Invincible. It sells just over 10k at 188 as well which is what you would expect for a book that just seems to be a bit of fun for the creator. This book sells roughly what Invincible would I think so its likely a lot of overflow here due to Ottely’s art.
Ray: I remember when Grizzly Shark debuted, paired with Sea Bear. Those are fairly decent numbers for what is essentially a novelty comedy property, yeah. Definitely enough to keep going at Image.
Glenn: Rough Riders from new (?) publisher Aftershock debuts at just 8k. That’s pretty damn good for a new publisher I’ve never heard of. I would say that most of the units can be accounted for the fact that longtime Marvel/DC workhorse, Pat Olliffe is on art. Olliffe has never been a big draw but he’s always solid and might be enough to get people to check out this book. The 1.99 price point probably helped it to land a spot at 203
Just below it at 204 is a new Star Trek mini bridging the gap between the previous movie and the one out in a few weeks that is definitely coming out, even if it doesn’t seem to be garnering that much buzz. It sells just over 8.5k. Star Trek has seemingly firmly lost in the great battle with Star Wars in terms of comics anyway. We have the movie this year and a show coming next year but I doubt it’ll do much to draw up major interest in the franchise like the Force Awakens did for Star Wars.
Ray: I thought Star Trek might get a boost in sales from the recent GL crossover, but it seems not, despite a new series teased in the finale of that series. It’s always been a bit more of a niche property than Star Wars.
Glenn: The first issue of the newest Dark Tower mini kicks off at 210 with sales just over 8k. There was a time, many moons ago when this book was a best seller but those days are long past. I would say the collections do decent enough business to continue the book. I still wonder if Marvel intends on adapting all the books because, if they do then they might just run out readers before all is said and done. The movie starring Idris Elba will help shift a few collections at least.
Ray: I had honestly forgotten Marvel was even putting out these Dark Tower minis. They always do far, far better in collections than in singles, so I imagine the same will continue here.
Glenn: Based off the mega difficult video game, Dark Souls 1 debuts just below that at 211 at just over 8k too. This is a video game that it famous for not pandering to a general audience and unless it stars Batman, video game adaptions don’t tend to set the chart on fire.
Ray: This is where we see the grimmest numbers for Marvel and DC books, with both Omega Men and Red Wolf hanging on outside the top 200 as they wrap up their runs. Of course, they sell about the same numbers, and Red Wolf is on issue #5 while Omega Men is on #11, so that’s especially grim for Marvel’s entry. And then well below it, you have Starbrand and Nightmask at #256 with 5.6K sales. The way some of these Marvel books are sinking at record speed is really shocking.
Glenn: Those sales are crazy, have we ever seen sales that low for a Marvel book since we’ve been doing this? I’m not sure what else they could have expected though from books starring little known characters that were thrown out with a bunch of other stuff. Hopefully with rumblings of yet another relaunch (please no, please) after Civil War, Marvel will make better decisions with the characters that get assigned books.
Update: Yes there’s another relaunch coming. Huzzah.
Ray: Looks like it’s time to shake our heads at Dark Horse’s misfortune again! House of Penance, their much-hyped historical horror title by DC Comics creator Pete Tomasi was only able to muster 7.7K sales at #221. Grim. There’s not much more to say here, especially as both this and Dept. H were high-quality titles with a lot of promise.
Glenn: Tomasi has had some high profile gigs in the recent past and is now at part of DC’s big Rebirth relaunch and its like watching a tumbleweed blow past. Sad times.
Ray: This is where we start to see a lot of creator-owned titles without big names attached that try to find their way in the market. At 223, we have Oni’s heart-transplant crime thriller Heartthrob, which sold 7.4K, a decent debut. Four spots lower is Boom’s much-hyped teen detective period piece Goldie Vance, which I expected a bit more out of given the previews and acclaim. This will make its money in bookstores, though. And at #235, selling just under 6.8K, we have post-apocalyptic teen adventure Joyride from Boom, which is written by part of the Batman and Robin Eternal creative team and drawn by Marcus To. Given that creative wattage, I really expected it to be higher. Boom puts out a ton of quality content, but they still have a bit of trouble getting retailers to buy in.
Glenn: Booms getting there slowly but surly but space in shops in precious and with so many things being thrown out from Marvel, DC and yes, even Image it does mean that some of the other publishers will suffer. On paper, Joyride sounds like it should be doing a lot better but when retailers have a choice of selling this over a book that might be more creatively devoid but is an easy sell, they have to go with the title that has more odds of them letting them keep the lights on. Its a sad affair and its like seeing a Michael Bay movie beat out something with a million times more quality just cause explosions. Hopefully Boom keeps playing the long game and can hang in there, they seem to have a strong presence in the collection market which is how Image built up its current position over time.
Ray: Dynamite’s latest attempt to make the Gold Key characters sell, Gold Key Alliance, lands with a thud at 244, with sales of 6.5K. Given that it turned out to be out of continuity with their last take on the characters a year or two back, I can’t say I’m surprised. If they want the benefits of a shared universe, they need to commit to it. Better yet, Valiant should make them an offer.
Glenn: If you try, try again to get a property to work and it just isn’t, its not out of the question for a company to consider selling on and cutting its losses.
Ray: Image just announced that their reboot of the Witchblade franchise, Switch, would be coming to an end in August. Given these sales of just over 6K with issue #3, I can’t say I’m surprised.
…Oh, hey, there’s a Three Stooges comic at #259. That’s interesting, and sales of just under 6K are about what I’d expect for a franchise that had its heyday seventy years ago.
Glenn: They failed to move those copies, chowderhead. I wonder if when this property was up for grabs how one could imagine making a company think they might get any sort of fanbase for it. Next up, Laurel and Hardy!
Ray: In the oddest crossover of the year, Dynamite has a crossover between Twilight zone and The Shadow, which sells 5.2K at #273. Dynamite’s “Something’s gotta work” strategy continues to have mixed results.
The two editions combined, the Criminal 10th anniversary magazine sells about 15K, with 10K from the regular edition and 5K from the standard edition. That’s not bad for a book that’s been gone for quite a while as the creative team worked on other properties.
Glenn: Criminal’s creative team of Ed Brubacker and Sean Phillips have their own very dedicated audience. This is a respectable number on one of their older properties in an unusual format. I’d say that the new Image book they’re doing that was in the most recent solits will become another one of Image’s healthy performers.
Ray: Long-time Image property Hawaiian Dick makes a comeback with a new mini, selling just over 5K at #277. These cult-favorite Image books often struggle on the charts, but I’m guessing that’s because retailers know exactly who’s buying it by now and don’t over-order.
Vertigo’s fast slide off the charts continues this month, with Red Thorn joining the rest in the sub-300 category, Survivor’s Club looking to join them next month, and miniseries The Dark and The Bloody getting close to the danger zone as well. Aside from Lucifer and Astro City, the line doesn’t have any properties selling over 7K anymore, as even Gail Simone and Tom King dip below that mark.
Glenn: You might think its the last days of Vertigo but as we discussed in our podcast, Rabbitt Stew (bong!), they’re still announcing books. DC may have tainted Vertigo for a while with the dismissal of Shelly Bond who was one of the lines original editors. If the Young Animal relaunch goes well, we might see what would have been Vertigo books under that banner instead. The most basic marketing premise is if an item isn’t working, the first thing you do is change the name. Vertigo books might find new life under a new banner.
As we reach the bottom the charts there’s one more launch from IDW in Hot Damn at 287 with sales just over 4.6k. Looks like an oddball title from the same creative team that did another IDW creator owned booked called ‘D4ve‘ which I’ve only learned the existence of. Not expecting to see this one next month in the top 300.
Its another pretty standard month with a few causes for celebration and much call for sadness. Next month looks to be more of the same with nothing really major
AHHHHHHHHHHH *gets attacked by power of Rebirth and Civil War II combined*
Ray: *quickly digs Glenn out from event comic attack*
Yeah, all in all, this coming month is not that filled with new releases – with two BIG exceptions. Clearly topping the charts will be DC Universe Rebirth #1, which is the launching point for the future of the DCU, is priced at $2.99 for 80 pages of story, and yet may be under-ordered given massive spoilers that will be widely known by the time this article goes live. Spoilers such as the return of [CENSORED], the true identity of [CENSORED], that big reveal about [CENSORED], and of course, the truth about [CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED]. I could easily see this going to 500K copies or higher. That’s really DC’s only debut of note this month, although I’d be interested to see how JL #50 and Superman #52 do, given that they lead directly into Rebirth. From the fringes of DC, we’ll also see how the first of the Hanna-Barberra titles, Future Quest and Scooby Apocalypse, fare in the direct market.
Nothing will compete with Rebirth, but I expect a healthy debut as well for Civil War #0, which will easily take the #2 slot. I am wondering, however, how big it will be given the very odd release style of this story. This issue takes place before the events of the Civil War FCBD issue, with Civil War II #1 officially launching the event next month, but all the issues are by the main creative team. Will retailers treat the #0 issue as the official start of the event, or will we see smaller-than expected numbers followed by a huge debut for #1?
Besides the big gun, Marvel does have a few interesting debuts this month, including a new Punisher series by Cloonan and Dillon, a Deadpool one-shot tying in to Doctor Strange, another likely doomed Squadron Supreme spin-off in Nighthawk, a new Daredevil/Punisher mini, the official return of Steve Rogers to the Captain America title, and a new Thunderbolts title that has gotten mixed reviews. We’ll see how they do, but I’m expecting mixed results. Except for Deadpool.
From indie books, there’s a few interesting launches. Brian Azzarello attempts to turn a Beer tie-in into an Image book with 3 Floyds: Alpha Kings, Simon Spurrier launches spider-themed crime comic Weavers from Boom (which is completely non-Spider-Man related), and Oni launches the only sci-fi cooking competition comic on the stands with Space Battle Lunchtime.
Besides DC and Marvel’s big debuts, the company that seems primed for a big month is Valiant, launching their next big event comic 4001 AD. Their last event, the Book of Death, was a huge hit, and that’s a high bar for this one to reach, but early reviews have been excellent.
That’s about it for May. The calm before the storm, when Rebirth officially hits in June and the Civil War II tie-ins start rolling out in earnest.
Glenn: That’s a lot of censorship, here at By The Numbers we think about our readers delicate ears…I mean eyes.
Rebirth is essentially a promotion comic with a huge comic length with some of DC’s top talent all for 2.99, the numbers are going to be insane. They may have phoned it in on FCBD but they look to be making it up in spades here.
Its going to be a crazy month but nothing compared to what we have coming up. Lets just say, if we turned this article into a drinking game of new DC books and Civil War Tie Ins, our readers would be very drunk…more so than usual.