By the Numbers: January 2017
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’s wondering how the baby he room home six months ago got so big.
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. Currently Ray is promoting a new novel he wrote available under his pen name Ray Carmel available here! Check it out!
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!
Top 300 in full available here!
Glenn: Welcome back everyone to another look at the top 300 sales for the first month in 2017! This will give us a nice indication of where the companies sit at the start of the year but its hard to say if it sets the tone for the year. This time last year, DC comics were in a very different place than they are now so its unclear what the months ahead can bring. We can speculate though and some of these numbers don’t hold good indications for one company in particular.
Ray: I’ll put it this way about the overall sales – this is the most embarrassing month any comic company could possibly have while winning market share by 10%. Marvel got the numbers based on sheer output, mainly, but the actual sales painted a very different picture. The books that were supposed to do great, didn’t. The books that were supposed to do okay, did worse than expected with a few exceptions. And with a lot of the lower-selling titles, the protection of overshipping wore off, and the results were uglier than anyone could have guessed. We’ll talk about those more a lot later in the article.
Glenn: Its pretty grim for Marvel when you closely examine the numbers for say…two seconds. They’re bound to be placing a lot of chips on Secret Empire which…well…yeah
Lets kick off with the number one book of the month which is USAvengers which sells over 110.7k which on the surface doesn’t seem too bad. Now, this book had a major advantage as it had 52 variants (one for each American state) to help with its sales so taking that big sales initiative into account, you would have thought this book would have managed a lot more. In 2012, a new Justice League title did the same gimmick and managed sales of close to 500k or so. The market is probably in a different place now but still, this does not indicate good things. Even if we were perhaps being pessimistic, the second issue of the same book is at the same month. Who knows? Maybe we’re just being overly cautious and…oh wait its at 94 with sales of just over 29.5k. That makes an 81k drop in the same month for what is supposed to be one of the main titles of Marvel’s latest relaunch. They may win market share and get the top spot but the overall picture when it comes down to numbers isn’t pretty.
Ray: US Avengers was a title that looked intriguing, but didn’t have all that much hype or an a-list creative team. Given that, and the fact that it’s a spin-off of the low-selling New Avengers, I don’t think anyone was expecting all that much out of sales long-term. That being said, both of these numbers are much lower than expected. 110K is a healthy number, but not when you have 55 covers. And any time a book slides 80% in a single issue, that shows that virtually none of the first-issue interest was genuine, just a speculator boom. Given these trends, I expect the book will be hitting cancellation numbers less than a dozen issues in.
Glenn: Meanwhile at 2 and 3, Batman continues to be the most dominantly consistent book on the market with issues 14 and 15 refusing to drop to five figures and selling over 106.8k and 102.8k respectively. Will next month finally break the 68 six figure streak? Either way, like his Lego counterpart would say, its easy for DC to bet on black with Batman.
Ray: Batman continues to dominate. It’s dropping, but nothing is passing it – a pattern we’ll see a lot when it comes to the stronger Rebirth titles. For the Caped Crusader, once again…everything is awesome.
Glenn: Over the last few months DC has had a number of co-publishing projects with other companies to varying degrees of success. It seems the choice to team with Boom and do a Justice League/Power Rangers title is very much on the upper end of the success part of those arrangements with this issue selling just over 85.6k. Whether its the power of the League, how much of a success Boom has made of this franchise so far or hype for either teams movies is uncertain but this is a big success for both publishers. I would say that even sales at half these numbers would be a continued result but this book could manage more in its limited run.
Ray: This is frankly amazing numbers, close to the level of the massive success of the Batman/TMNT crossover last year. The Power Rangers have had a big resurgence in the last two years, with the Boom relaunch and the coming movie. We’ll see how it holds over the run, but DC is definitely going to keep finding new crossover opportunities with these numbers. I’m sure it didn’t hurt to have Batman vs. a pink dinosaur robot.
Glenn:I forgot to say that I’m extra glad for the first issue performance of JL/PR due to the artist Stephen Byrne also hailing from Ireland. There’s a lot of Irish talent in the charts lately and it makes my leprechaun heart grow three times larger.
At 5 is the markets second most consistent sales monster, the Walking Dead selling just over 85.3k. Over the last few years, Image has been a new home for creators who have had their time at Marvel and DC and want to do their own thing. No one has come close to replicating Walking Dead’s success but this is the book that showed that doing your own thing is a viable option for any creator.
Batman’s back again at 6 with the Scott Snyder vehicle All Star Batman selling just selling over 84.2k. The sales drops are slowing here and at 4.99 this is a great level by all accounts. The book could still manage to shed another 20k and be considered very healthy with its price and I doubt that’ll happen. There will be a price drop with All Star in the next few months so I’m curious to see how that effects its sales…if at all.
Ray: All-Star may not be doing the numbers of the main book anymore, but it’s still the #2 ongoing DC book, which is really about as good as could possibly be hoped for, especially with the price point. I’m not sure how long Snyder wants to stay on this book or if he has an end-point, but I’m sure DC will be backing up the truck to keep him on board as long as the numbers look like this.
Glenn: Yeah, Snyder could be worth his weight in gold and its hard at this point to not imagine him writing a Batman title, something he’s been doing since 2011.
Spot 7 is reserved for the start of the second month of the weekly Justice League vs Suicide Squad mini event with issue 3 charting just over 74.2 sales. Great numbers for a mini series that DC seems to have managed to gain interest in and end before people lose interest. Issues 4,5 and 6 also chart at 12, 13 and 14 showing remarkable consistency and even a slight sales bump for the final issue. The lowest the mini sold was 70.4 in its final chapter. For future crossovers like the Button and the Lazarus project, DC is taking an interesting strategy by doing them in the book themselves rather than a separate mini. Will this be an ongoing trend? The sales here indicate that there is interest if the properties are right.
Ray: The numbers on JLvsSS are certainly a far cry from what big event comics were doing in years past, but for a weekly, this is extremely strong. It had a huge opening due to variant covers, and then immediately settled down to a lower but still-strong level and just locked down there for the run. That’s a kind of consistency Marvel would kill for in their events.
Glenn: At 8 is the second mega Marvel crossover going on right now with the start of Monsters Unleashed selling just over 74.1k Given the amount of talent involved here and the hype train Marvel had for this book, the sales are a bit underwhelming. Getting beat by various DC ongoings and the third issue of a DC event mini is not a good start. Retailers are reporting that they ordered conservatively with this book and still found a lack of interest. Whether its the story itself that people aren’t interested or a problem with Marvel at large is something to consider but we have plenty of evidence to indicate one line of thinking over another.
Ray: Marvel events tend to have massively inflated first issues, as we saw with Civil War II and IvX (more about that in a bit). So given that, these numbers are especially grim. This event doesn’t seem to be centered around many a-list characters, so it’s not a big surprise the numbers weren’t amazing – but a Marvel event with a lot of hype and variant covers coming in below multiple sub-100K non-event books is still surprising. It’ll be interesting to see just how low it sinks over the course of its run, and how the tie-ins do. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the spin-off ongoing dialed back to a mini before release much like Bullseye.
Glenn: I forgot about the spin off book. The sales of this mini don’t have a strong indication for its success. Perhaps the event wasn’t as hyped as IvX or Secret Empire is getting but Marvel threw some big names at it both on the writing and artist side. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference either way.
At 9 is Marvel’s MVP, Amazing Spider-Man selling over 73.7 which is another Clone Conspiracy tie in that sells well above the sales of the main mini (spot 25 at sales just under 55k for that book). Its great that Amazing can still manage these sales despite being a part of a story that apparently roughly 20k aren’t reading the other part of. This issue had a focus on the Gwen Stacy clone so maybe it picked up some residue Spider-Gwen character related goodwill.
Ray: ASM has had some really odd fluctuations over the last few months, hasn’t it? We’ll see how the title settles down in coming months with the return of Norman Osborn and Stuart Immonen as the new artist, but what is clear is that like Batman, this is Marvel’s bulletproof line-leader.
Glenn: Issue 25 will see a big sales spike and after it’ll likely return to business as usual for the title. Nothing to sneeze at as it usually ranges around 70-80k. It’ll be interesting when the new recently announced Spectacular launches as it’ll be the first ‘b-list’ ongoing Spider-Man title to star Peter Parker since Brand New Day started. We know Batman can help out his spin off books so can Marvel expect the same of Spidey? Time will tell.
Final book in the top 10 is Justice League which sells just over 70.4k. Its certainty not the hit it was under Johns but its another solid performer and that seems to have been the main benefit of Rebirth, DC has a lot more consistent ongoing books that sell at a level that is seen as good in the current market. For the record this is the 6th out of 10 books Batman features in that made the top ten.
Ray: The power of Batman! JL has also been amazingly stable over its run so far, dropping slowly but surely. It’s not Batman, sure, but the franchise has a lot of power behind it. It’ll be interesting to see how Justice League of America fares next month, and indicators on that are a bit mixed so far (more on that later).
Glenn: It’ll probably sell well (its got Batman and the name factor) but a team full of b-listers won’t help. I do think it’ll find itself a comfortable level among DC’s upper mid tier if not slightly higher. I am expecting it to out sell all of the Avenger’s books but we’ll see.
Ray: Star Wars is still rock solid, selling 72K at #11. It’s sank a lot since its market-dominating days, clearly, but it’s still selling more than any Marvel ongoing save ASM some months, although its effect doesn’t seem to be reaching all of its spinoffs anymore. There’s no Darth Vader to go side-by-side with this book anymore, just some smaller franchises.
Glenn: The hype around the franchise has gone down a bit for sure but still impressive sales for the main book. Again, Marvel is surely grateful this one landed in their lap.
Ray: Detective Comics continues its hot streak, locking down at the #3 DC ongoing. There’s a fairly sizable 3K drop between issues this month, but it should rebound next month with the oversized #950 issue. Also worth noting – this month was the two Batwoman issues setting up next month’s Batwoman: Rebirth. This doesn’t seem to have affected the sales, because it was ordered like a standard issue.
Glenn: The 950 number should get Detective a top ten spot next month I’d say. Consistency is key in today’s Market and Detective like many of DC’s books has it in spades.
Ray: The most shocking news of the month, undoubtedly, is the placement of Marvel’s main event at the moment, Inhumans vs. X-Men. #1 narrowly missed the top of the charts with 167K last month – and then the next two issues slide over 100K to #17 and #18, both in the 61-62K range. Needless to say, this is not where a major Marvel event should be selling. This may not be a Civil War/Secret Invasion-scale event, but it’s certainly on the level of, say, Fear Itself or World War Hulk. By comparison, these sales are incredibly anemic. Maybe people are tired of hero vs. hero events after the poorly-received CWII. Maybe people are tired of events as a whole. But either way, this bodes terribly for the rest of the event, and for Secret Empire come summer.
Glenn: The lack of interest in IvX could be a mix of things. The Inhumans aren’t hitting the market like Marvel wants and the X-Men’s premier sales power is for the moment, not where it has been. The market could be sending Marvel a message with their constant battle themed events. They seem to be increasing the amount of events also with three going at once (if you count Clone Conspiracy) but I’d say they’ll push sole focus on Secret Empire in the summer but they’ll have Snyder/Capullo to face off against it seems.
Ray: After two issues apiece of Flash and Superman, still strong, one of the most puzzling stories of the month is the performance of Venom at #24, selling just over 55K. For those who recall, #1 sold close to 100K and was the month’s biggest surprise in November. Then #2 crashed all the way down to 38K last month – and now we have an inexplicable 17K jump, the weird kind of numbers usually reserved for Deadpool. It even beat the 4th issue of Clone Conspiracy, which sells 20K below its parent title ASM this month. The Spider-man line has some odd juju going on right now. It does not seem like there was any reorder for #2, so it’s unlikely this was genuine interest going up. Our first evidence this month of Marvel shipping games?
Glenn: I noticed that about Venom too and thought it was odd. Maybe this is something to do with the news involving Eddie Brock returning to the role? I think that news hit after orders were cut off though so its unclear. It could be sales tampering, its hard to say because there are other books further down that could have used that too that clearly didn’t get it. The sales of this book are almost immaterial until they go back to ‘original numbering’ and Eddie returns to the role in a few months in any case.
Ray: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra has a healthy slide to #31, selling just over 48K this month. That’s a relatively gentle slide from its first month’s issues which sold 99K and 61K. It seems there’s some genuine interest in this character, and the creative team will likely place it above the other Star Wars satellite books unless something unusual happens.
Glenn: Couldn’t have expected much better from Aphra who is an original character and doesn’t have a huge flock of film fans to turn out to buy her book. Her success vs the other books are probably due to Gillan’s continued involvement and it being a spin off from the wildly successful Vader book. This one will stick around as long as Gillan wants to write it I’d say.
Ray: Right below it at #32 is The Mighty Captain Marvel #1, which sells 48K, only 5K less than it did with its #0 issue last month. So it seems like Marvel’s gambit to essentially have 2 launch issues just like many DC books did with their Rebirth issue paid off, as retailers ordered both like debuts. I think this is likely to just make next month’s fall all the harsher, though, as retailers will have two months to gauge interest.
Glenn: Not disastrous but not brilliant for Captain Marvel. Her last relaunches don’t give the greatest hope for the title’s long term success but who knows, perhaps relaunch number 6 (I think) will be the charm.
Ray: This is the section of the chart where it’s pretty much business as usual for the most part. We’ve got a lot of DC books (Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Trinity, Titans, Nightwing, Harley Quinn) that aren’t lighting the sales charts on fire but are holding their own in a crowded market, with slow but steady attrition. This is also where we see a lot of Marvel’s upper-mid level books, like the two Thor books – probably Marvel’s healthiest franchise besides Spider-man.
Monsters Unleashed has quite a few tie-ins coming, and the best-selling of them is Spider-Man/Deadpool1.MU, which sells only 1K under the parent title at #42. I don’t think this can be attributed to any real strength for the event as a whole, so much as retailers knowing there’s a certain number of fans who will buy any issue with Deadpool in it. He’s become one of Marvel’s few bulletproof franchise characters at the moment.
Glenn: Spider-Man will help too, him being Deadpool’s true love or whatever and all.
Ray: Reality does ensue for quite a few Marvel books this month – case in point, Invincible Iron Man. Marvel quite clearly fudged the second-issue sales to give Riri a boost, as she kept more than 80% of her first issue sales. This month, it’s a crash, as the title goes from 81K to 44K and lands at #46. Not a healthy number.
Glenn: Not healthy but again compared to some other Marvel books, not terrible. Its middle of the pack but there was a lot of hype around the character and with one of Marvel’s biggest names at the helm it’ll definitely be seen as probably a disappointment. Still, this is around the level that Iron Man would usually sell at with Tony under the suit.
Ray: The same could be said for Avengers, which sheds 20K this month and lands at #45 with sales of around 44K. This is not what the main Avengers book should be doing. This is certainly not what the chart’s top Avengers book should be doing.
Glenn: The effect of constant reboots or a general lack of interest? Its difficult to tell what is the cause of the bleeding with some of Marvel’s books. This is supposed to be one of their top books and its getting beaten quite handily by the likes of Harley Quinn. I would almost think that there are just too many Avenger’s books but Batman can star in like 10 books and they’re all fine. Just a problem with the overall landscape it seems.
Ray: Captain America: Steve Rogers ticks up a bit this month, going from 38K last month to 42K this month and charting at #49. It then ships another issue this month, which loses 2K and charts at #58. An improvement – and close to double what its brother title featuring Sam Wilson does – but does anyone think these sales are a good omen for centering a three-month line-wide event around this status quo? IvX is a canary in a coal mine here – if you spin a big event out of a story in a book people aren’t enthusiastic about, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Glenn: The logic of spinning the next big event out of these books is quite something. If you look at Clone Conspiracy which is a spin off of the much better selling Amazing Spider-Man, that should be a warning sign also. True, Marvel is Marketing Secret Empire as something akin to Civil War or some such but its much closer in similarity to Clone Conspiracy where its a mini spinning out of an ongoing plot in the main title. All signs point to grim projections for Secret Empire but who knows? A lot can change in the next few months.
Hitting a big anniversary number always helps sales, even if you’re priced at $2 more than normal and your title is Deadpool. Selling at 51 with sales of over 42.4k, the Marc With A Mouth is being used to help sell some high priced comics and its a strategy that so far, is working. In a few months we’ll be getting the fourth (to my memory) Deadpool issue priced 9.99, the previous ones of which have sold very well. Proof that if Marvel can get away with it, they’ll do it.
Ray: I believe this Deadpool issue was the conclusion of the well-received Deadpool 2099 crossover, which ties into the main book. This is roughly a 10% bounce from the last month’s issues despite the price jump, so Marvel has to be encouraged to keep doing oversized Deadpool issues. Sadly for our pockets.
Glenn: New launch from the House Of Ideas with Unstoppable Wasp, spinning out of the aforementioned Avenger’s title of middling sales fame. This launch starring an original character taking up an old mantle sells just over 37.4k at 65. Decent sales for a Wasp book, especially not one starring Janet but somewhat underwhelming for another book that had the hype train behind it and spun out of Avengers. Given the usual sales patterns we’ve seen we might get a drop down to 20k if the book is lucky. Not the best start.
Ray: Impossible Wasp is going to need some help and soon. Given the way Marvel books are ordered, this is not a sustainable number for a launch, as books immediately drop close to 50% the next issue, which takes this to near cancellation numbers already. It’s another case of Marvel trying to make a character a thing when there’s no organic support yet – this character has had less than ten comic appearances so far. Thus, these numbers aren’t a surprise.
Glenn: Right below it at 66 with sales just over 37k is Civil War II: The Oath which is essentially the epilogue to Marvel’s recent big event and somewhat of a prelude to the next one. After the first Civil War, a similar one shot was released called ‘The Confession’ which sold either six figures or close to it back in the day. Of course the sequel to one of the best selling comic events of all time was not the same sales success so the wrap up wasn’t bound to sell as well but considering this also serves as a prelude to Secret Empire, those are some pretty underwhelming numbers. None of the other Civil War II spin off one shots sold particularly well so it might just be the final underline that this was an event that could not get interest in its tie ins.
Ray: This is a perfectly fitting capstone to the mediocrity of Civil War II, and an ill omen for Secret Empire at the same time. Marvel’s getting a lot of warning signs that their current direction isn’t working, but they don’t seem to be all that concerned at the moment.
Glenn: They seem to have the current strategy of ‘keep going until it starts working’. Its a risky one for sure.
With the sales tampering seemingly at an end we see Champions sell just under 35k at 72. Follows the same pattern of not great but not terrible that is becoming the usual for Marvel’s top tier books. This is another Avenger’s spin off that had major hype behind it and while it can probably live decently at this level, you’d have to imagine the company wanted more.
Ray: Consistently disappointing numbers for Champions after that amazing debut figure. This is a title with popular characters, an a-list creative team, and filling the niche of the popular Young Avengers franchise. It struggling like this is puzzling. Maybe Marvel just can’t launch new franchises right now? There have been a lot of books recently – this, Black Panther – that started out impressively and crashed down to Earth for no obvious reason.
Glenn: At 73 is Deadpool the duck with sales over 34.8k. I’m honestly not sure what to say about this one. It performs a lot better than most of the Mercs For Money spin offs so there’s that.
Ray:...Look, I’ll just say that the fact that this book managed to sell roughly 35K despite being about Deadpool and Howard the Duck getting caught in the plot of The Fly is a testament to the insane strength of Deadpool. Groot help us.
Glenn: After a surprising top ten debut last month the Jennifer Walter’s led Hulk sells over 32.5k at 83 which makes a lot more sense. This is actually really good when you take into consideration what Jennifer’s previous books have sold. Its not great sales for a Hulk book but for a She-Hulk title with the She part missing? That’s very good.
Ray: This is roughly what I’d expect for second-issue sales for a She-Hulk book. To put this into perspective, this is about 6K in sales above where Charles Soule’s She-Hulk series sold for its second issue, but that one didn’t have an event platform to launch from. We’ll see how it drops in coming months, but this isn’t a secure platform yet.
Glenn: No, that’s true. I’m maybe trying to be optimistic about at least one thing Marvel related but historical precedence doesn’t warrant that.
Next Monsters Universe tie in is the Avengers at 88 with sales just over 30.4k which is quite a distance between it and the Spidey/Deadpool one. These tie-ins were loose at best so Marvel is likely just getting what they can out of this oddball event.
Ray: Like I suspected, the Spidey/Deadpool one sold on the strength of that title, not the event. This is probably the best number Marvel can hope for when it comes to the rest of these $4.99 specials.
Glenn: Surprisingly low sales for the Killer Frost one shot that leads into the launch of the new Justice League title. It sells under 30k at 89 which caught me by surprise. Given that the other ones sold pretty well and that Killer Frost/Caitlin Snow are featured on mega popular show the Flash, I would have thought there would be a lot of interest. Maybe the Flash show did help as the other League lead in one shots performed worse with Atom selling just over 29.6k at 93, Vixen selling 29.4k at 95 and the Ray selling over 27.7k at 100. Very surprised there wasn’t more interest here given they were all written or co-written by JLA writer, Steve Orlando. Hopefully this is just an indication that most customers/retailers saw these one shots as skipable and not a bad omen for Justice League next month.
Ray: Those numbers are surprisingly low, given that several of these characters were teased in major events or even in DC Rebirth. It seems like there’s a lot of hype building for this JLoA book, and I expect to see the Rebirth/#1 issues top the charts next month. However, none of these characters have any name pull on their own without Batman, and I don’t think retailers really knew how to order them. I would say these are prime candidates for some heavy reorders in months to come.
Glenn: The collection might do well also, that’s what I was personally waiting on rather that paying out for extra 5 comics to read a new bi-weekly.
Ray: A bit of good news is that Supergirl seems to have stabilized, losing only about 2K in sales from month to month. This is a decent if not extremely healthy place for the character on the charts, and it doesn’t seem like it will be falling into the danger zone any time soon – unlike other books in the Super-family.
Glenn: Traditionally, this is a good number for Supergirl. In a few months it’ll be tying into the Superman Rebirth mini event which might give it a bit of a bump. As Orlando’s star rises at DC, this could be a title that either becomes incredibly consistent or even starts to gain small numbers (dare to dream).
Ray: A rough fall for Hawkeye this month, which sold an impressive 70K last month and promptly craters to 27K and #102. This is a book that was well-received, so it’s just another example of how Marvel is not producing a single new hit out of this relaunch. All boats are sinking, good and bad. It needs to stabilize quickly from here if it wants to get past 12.
An equally harsh drop for Gamora, which loses close to 2/3rds of its sales from its 65K debut and only charts 24K at #108. Much like the other new Guardians books, this feels more like a miniseries now.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda has crashed pretty hard as well, selling 25K at #107. The original writer is leaving with #5, #6 has a guest artist, and there’s no sign of a solicit for #7, so it looks like the market can’t support three Black Panther books at the moment. We’ll see if The Crew, starring Black Panther himself (unlike this book) will be more sustainable.
DC’s digital-first miniseries “Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77”, a time-hopping adventure crossing over these two popular old TV shows, has a decent debut at 23K at #112. Digital-first books are always a little hard to gauge based on the hidden sales, but this is comparably healthy to similar books.
Glenn: The retro TV tie in that is Wonder Woman/Batman is also a mini too. It’ll end before sales get too bad and since DC keep producing these books, they seem to think they do well in one form or another so considering the retro TV shows have cult followings anyway, you can’t expect much better. I wonder if we’ll get another mini with these two and either George or Christopher Reeves Superman?
Ray: Two spots and about a hundred copies below is one of DC’s more unusual projects, the reboot of Kamandi Challenge by some of their top creative teams each continuing each other’s story. For an anthology of sorts, and with a higher price point, these aren’t bad numbers, but it continues to show how DC’s Rebirth titles and everything else are in a different galaxy.
Glenn: The Kumandi challenge was something that was only ever going to have a niche appeal despite the creators involved. Its a property that had its heyday 50 years ago and isn’t in continuity and is 4.99. Considering all that, I don’t think these sales are too bad and it could stabilize quickly. Once DC releases a nice hardcover of it, it could perform handsomely in collections.
Ray: Further emphasizing the galaxy point, the Wonder Woman prequel book Odyssey of the Amazons has a muted debut at #126, selling just over 21K. Given that this had no familiar characters (even Hippolyta isn’t a major character) and no a-list creators, I’m not sure what DC was really expecting. Should have greenlit Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 2!
Glenn: Definitely seems like they took the choice to produce the book that had the lesser potential. Legend Of Wonder Woman had its own audience, starred the title character and did a healthy first run. This book has none of those things and will probably be one that gets to pretty low levels as it plays itself out and is then quietly forgotten. This is proof that DC can still misfire with the best of them.
Ray: The impressive first-issue numbers for Ghost Rider have completely worn off, with the title cratering at #122 with sales of only 22K. This title has already apparently been whisked away into the night with the most recent solicits, so it seems Marvel is getting quicker with the hook.
Glenn: There is definitely no room for dust on some of the new launches that aren’t performing. I just hope they don’t just do another relaunch of some of these books (most likely following Secret Empire) but I’d say that’s the most likely scenario, Marvel won’t like that these cancellations mean their line is thinning.
Ray: Similar numbers one spot below for Rocket Raccoon’s latest title, which sheds almost 60% of its sales from its decent debut. As we discuss the sales for #2 of this relaunch of Rocket Raccoon, the next relaunch has already been solicited. Oh Marvel, you so crazy.
Glenn: At least the new launch is around the new movie, which makes a lot more sense. Given how quick the turnover on this title has been, you’d have thought that Marvel could have just waited a few months and given this book a better launch pad. I guess stuff like that makes too much sense.
Ray: The launch of Boom’s new WWE series has a decent debut, selling just over 20K at #129. I might have expected a bit more given the sheer number of covers this book had, but given how Boom’s #1s usually chart, this is undoubtedly a healthy number and a potential new property for them. Countdown to the first DC/WWE crossover?
Glenn: I would say there are probably a lot of comics fans who are also wrestling fans but I doubt the massive WWE audience that don’t read comics are not going to make the extra effort to read this. Wrestling comics always struggle so 20k isn’t too bad but given this is the third time (or so) that WWE has tried to launch a new comic in the last few years, it may have a hard road ahead.
Ray: Dynamite relaunches Red Sonja with a new creative team once again, this time resulting in sales of 18.7K at #139. Dynamite seems to have hit on a strategy of relaunching most books with every new arc or creative team, so they keep renewing the sales on their current franchises. Not much different than what Marvel seems to be doing, but the effect hasn’t worn off nearly as much for this smaller publisher.
Glenn: Most Dynamite properties have a pretty dedicated fan base that will likely just treat this as a continuation of any previous series thather than using a relaunch as an excuse to potentially hop off. Retailers will know what interest they can get out of a new Red Sonja book where its much more of a guessing game with some new Marvel launches, especially on the newer characters that don’t have a film or TV presence.
Ray: “Rebirth-Adjacent” miniseries The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom has the weakest debut of any of the new DC books this month, failing to break 20K and charting at #140 with sales of just over 18K. There just seems to be no real interest in the character, as he last played a major role in a short New 52 series and clearly has been overshadowed by the presence of his analogue Doctor Manhattan in the DCU right now.
Glenn: Yeah, without the involvement in a larger title (like the JLOA members), Captain Atom isn’t a character that tend to gather much interest. This seems like something DC has had in the drawers for a while and they want to get it out before Dr. Manhatten makes a full appearance and reduces the value of Captain Atom completely.
Ray: The top new Image book of the month is Curse Words, by Marvel mainstay Charles Soule. This offbeat evil-sorcerer comic has a healthy debut of 18.1K at #145, which is in the range I would expect for a title without a megawatt creator attached. Soule’s creator-owned books have always been cult properties, so I think this title will find its footing and be healthy at this level for a while.
The bottom rung of the Rebirth books right now is Blue Beetle, which has fallen to just over 18K at #146. Solicits have made it sound like that will be the first book whisked away into the night from Rebirth soon. It’s joined in the sub-20K club with Cyborg and New Super-Man. Out of all of those, only New Super-Man has some critical buzz behind it and may get a little more rope.
Glenn: New Super-Man might have less expectations as its a new character where both Cyborg and Blue Beetle are far more established. These are characters that have always struggled on their own and are bound to careers as members of team books only (there’s nothing wrong with that, mind). The trouble with Cyborg is that DC probably feel obligated to give him more of a solo presence due to his upcoming (as of this typing) movie
Ray: A bit below Curse Words at #161 is another new Image title, God Country. This supernatural rural thriller about a God’s weapon being found by an old man with Alzheimer’s doesn’t have any big names attached. What it does have, though, is universal critical acclaim right out of the gate. Thus, while 14.3K may be a more modest debut number, I think it’s a good sign for this title and it’ll be able to level out quickly and hook its audience.
Glenn: You talked up God Country a good bit on the Stew (dong!) so if it catches the attention of its readers then it could have a good life ahead. If it manages around the 10k mark and does well in trade then it’ll be performing the same as a lot of non-big name Image books do that seem to live long, healthy lives.
Around this level you have Marvel books like Scarlet Witch, Prowler and Great Lake Avengers with the highest selling (Scarlet Witch) selling over 14.3k at 160. That title has been surviving at this level for a while so could remain to do so but it doesn’t look as promising for the other two titles that are only a few issues into their runs.
Ray: Scarlet Witch just ended with #15 this week, actually. It started at a much higher level and dropped more slowly than these newer books, so they’re probably unlikely to get to such a high number.
Glenn: I didn’t realize it was ending and to be fair, when you’re getting ongoings canned two issues in, the number 15 could be the new 100.
Also around this level are a few of the Young Animal books like Cave Carson and Shade The Changing Girl at over 14k at 163 and 169 with over 13.5k. Not great but probably a lot better than they would be doing without the Young Animal branding and they’re still miles ahead of anything Vertigo puts out. These books have great critical buzz and will be doubtlessly handsome performers with trades. Given that another Young Animal book starring obscure Fourth World character Bug has been given the green light, it seems on the surface that DC is happy with how the line is doing.
Ray: Doom Patrol seems like it’s going to wind up a good 10K above the rest of the Young Animal line (Mother Panic didn’t ship this month, it seems, and we have yet to see where it settles down to), but these numbers are healthy, if unimpressive. Certainly well above Vertigo, which has no books above 10K anymore, I believe.
Glenn: I swear we talked about the Hellboy Winder Special last month so if these are reorders of over 12.6k at 171 then that’s very impressive. Otherwise this is pretty standard for a Hellboy related special.
Not sure what Dollface is but good for small publisher Action Labs cracking the top 200 with it at 177 with over 11.6k. This is outselling a lot of books by much bigger publishers and while it may not continue to do that, this is a cause for celebration for such a small company.
Right below it at 178 is the second issue of Motor Crush by the former Burnside Batgirl creative team selling 11.4k which is a pretty good level for a book by a creative team that seemed to set up a cult following at DC. This is one I could see performing at this level and well in trades for a good while.
Ray: Any Image book without A-list talent that stays above 10K with its second issue is probably safe for a while. This isn’t a fantastic number, but it’s one that the team will certainly be happy with.
Glenn: Without Marvel playing the sales game, Mosiac shows off how it can do on its own and its…not good. Selling just over 11k at 180 pretty much seals the fate of the book on the cancellation pile sooner than later. No one seems to care much about these new Inhuman characters….like at all.
Ray: That drop is…even harsher than I expected for Mosaic. That’s not much above the level of the Mercs for Money titles. Marvel seemed to believe that this was a character who had promise, but in the end, the public just isn’t interested in random new Inhumans. With the title selling roughly the same number as the 15th issue of Moon Girl and lacking its kid-friendly appeal, this book’s time is likely drawing close.
Glenn: Next up is another new Image launch called Loose Ends which sells at 182 with sales of over 10.8k. Given this is from the writer of Spider-Gwen (who also serves as artist on Image hit Southern Bastards) I would have thought there might have been more interest. Its only a four issue mini though so perhaps those who are fans of Latour are trade waiting.
It does manage to outsell the second issue of Slapstick which is one spot lower at 183 with sales also around the 10.8k mark. If memory serves this is the only Mercs With A Mouth spin off that is still going but I don’t expect that to be the case much longer with numbers like these.
Ray: Slapstick is digital-first, so that probably helps it a bit. It seems like Marvel is going to continue this book going until 8 or so, but with it sinking into the four-digit range next month, I can’t see them having all that much patience.
Glenn: At 185 is KISS Demon selling over 10.6k. I guess one recent comic starring a seemingly immortal rock band wasn’t enough. This one will have its finite audience and that’s it. I can’t wait for my Metallica comic though.
Another Image launch in the form of Maxi series The Few at 187 with sales over 10.5k. I don’t know the names involved so this is just standard Image. Its presence here just makes me more puzzled that Latour’s book wasn’t that far above it
Ray: Both Loose Ends and The Few are dark, complex Image books without a clear genre, so I’m not surprised they were ordered a little lower. Latour is one of those up-and-coming talents that doesn’t quite have a big profile on his own yet – Spider-Gwen was lightning in a bottle, but it hasn’t translated to his other projects yet. These are okay numbers all around, especially as both are limited series.
Glenn: The new critical hit from Dark Horse, Black Hammer delivers an annual this month at 10.3k sales at number 188 which is pretty great for a creator owned property very early in its run and asking for 5.99. This book is making the sales chart explode but it has two things Dark Horse needs more of these days and that’s consistency and critical acclaim.
Ray: Black Hammer is rock-solid. No regular issue this month, but this oversized, higher-priced issue still manages to land relatively close to the main series. That’s genuine strength, and this should remain healthy for Dark Horse for quite some time.
Glenn: The already cancelled Foolkiller is nearly at 4 figures on its third issue at 190 with sales just over 10.2k. This is pretty bad for a main Marvel book but the worse news is that there is a book lower down in that vein.
Ray: Foolkiller…I got nothing. These books were doomed from the start, and yet I think this might be the best of the three sales-wise. Slapstick will clearly be below this level next month. And then there’s Solo…
Glenn: Okay, I honestly made that Metalica comment without knowing Slayer: Relentless at 191 with sales also around 10.2k which is a comic based on the heavy metal band Slayer. I just…don’t know anymore…
Ray: So comics starring old rock bands are the hottest thing right now. Can’t wait for Kiss vs. Ozzy Osbourne: Dawn of Hair in a few months. (I would read this, I really would)
Gotham Academy: Second Semester (#197, 9.4K) slides into single issues, which makes me sad. It may also make me want to burn things just like the lead character.
Glenn: Unlike my tiny Simpsons counter-part, I am going to encourage you not to burn things. It still baffles me that Gotham Academy didn’t get a Rebirth label, it could have kept it at the same level as say, Blue Beetle at least you would think.
Ray: One of the most disappointing numbers of the month has to be the start of Angel Season 11, from Dark Horse, which lands at #199 with sales of 9.3K. This used to be one of Dark Horse’s top franchises, but maybe the absence of Faith from the title has hurt it. However, it’s only 2K below Buffy this month, so it may just be rough seas for the franchise as a whole.
Glenn: Those Angel numbers do surprise me, the lack of Faith might put some fans of the former series off but maybe this book/line doesn’t feel special anymore. The official continuation was a big deal a few years ago but that’s pretty common place now. Given that Buffy ended nearly 14 years ago (!!!!!) and so many shows have picked up its baton to deliver shows of a similar ‘feel’ then the need for these comics will only be required by the most die hard of fans. Don’t expect Dark Horse to get rid of it of course, its one of their strongest overall franchises they have left. Better they get these sales than someone else.
Ray: The new IDW event spinoff, Revolutionaries, has a decent debut of 8.8K at #201. Not bad for a comic starring a crossover of old 80s toy characters. We’ve talked a bit about how IDW seems to run on consistency and quantity, rather than any single hits. This is a good example of that.
A couple of mid-level books have spinoffs this month. Animosity, one of Aftershock’s more successful titles, has a one-shot, “The Rise” this month, that lands roughly around the level of the main title, selling 8.4K at #204. Meanwhile, Dynamite spins Bond ally Felix Leiter into his own miniseries to the tune of 8.2K at #208. Dynamite is never shy about spinning their franchises off – remember the days of six different Shadow books? – but these numbers are decent for an Ian Fleming side character.
Glenn: Felix is an incredibly obscure character and hasn’t appeared in the movies since the lukewarm received Quantum Of Solice so I’d say those numbers are close to amazing.
Ray: Oh, Solo. Just barely over 8K at #212. We haven’t seen numbers like this for a mainstream Marvel ongoing since the days of Starbrand and Nightmask. It’ll end its short run still in the top 300. Will Mosaic or Slapstick find even lower lows?
Glenn: I think I’ve run out of jokes for Solo (while Solo lives, jokes die). I’d hope that Marvel will learn but seeing some of the books they have coming, they clearly haven’t.
Ray: A bit surprised by the crash in sales for Divinity III: Stalinverse, which loses over half its first issue sales to land at #215 with sales of 7.8K.Valient didn’t really promote this event like an event, and it’s showing. This month’s tie-in, Divinity III: Aric, sells 400 copies and four spots lower.
Glenn: Promotion is still a big thing to retailers, its why Marvel’s number one game still kinda/sorta works and Rebirth was/is such a big success. I very much doubt Valient has the same marketing budget but they need to get the word out if they want to reach outside their small but dedicated fan base.
Ray: The top-selling Vertigo book of the month, Lucifer #14, only manages 7.4K. Oof. This line…we’ve said enough about the rough state it’s in. But at least this book is consistent – it’s passed Lost Boys this month to reclaim the top spot until Astro City returns next month
Glenn: A lot of the new Vertigo books are ending so the line will probably serve to exist to simply turn out the collections of its yesteryear hits and the occasional Sandman story when Neil Gaiman feels like it. You have to credit DC for trying to make it fresh again but the comic book world has moved beyond the need that Vertigo used to satisfy.
Ray: Speaking of odd spin-offs, in case you wanted a Biff Tannen spin-off for Back to the Future, IDW has you covered! This does 6.7K at #227, which isn’t amazing numbers, but you really couldn’t expect much more for a niche book like this.
Glenn: Maybe people are into the parallels between alternative 1985 Biff and current politics? I’d say Biff is a pretty iconic villain given the franchise he’s in so there will be a little interest for him, sure but I wouldn’t expect to see too many Back To The Future spin offs staring George McFly or whatnot.
Ray: It’s been consistent, and there’s not much to say as it nears the end of its run (next week, crying forever), but I’m amused that Nailbiter #28 sells exactly 6,666 copies this month. How sinister. Also, this book deserves to sell ten times this much.
Glenn: *shares tissues with Ray* I’m hoping it finds a new audience in years to come when the inevitable TV adaption comes to life. Maybe we can live in hope of some sort of spin off? One can dare to dream but this has been an amazing series.
Ray: Titan’s got two new Doctor Who books, apparently one for the 10th Doctor and one for the 11th. They’re both subtitled “Year Three” and both debut 7 copies apart at 6.5K, taking over the 234 and 235 spots. I don’t really know what these series are about, so I’ll turn it over to Glenn!
Glenn: Yearly relaunch starring two of the Doctor’s regeneration and…that’s it. All these books have their set audience and Titan keep making more of them so they must be happy enough. They’ll have another one soon when we get the next Doctor in 2018.
Ray: Black Mask, a relatively new publisher, lands its newest title, “The Dregs” on the charts at #246 with sales of 5.9K. Not great numbers, but this seems to be roughly where Black Mask books without a big creative pedigree land. Matt Rosenberg, now at Marvel, was responsible for this company’s biggest hits, and without him at the helm books start a lot lower.
Glenn: At least they’re here which is probably making them feel very proud. Hopefully they’ll continue to manage to build themselves up, all companies have to start somewhere after all.
Ray: It’s not that the sales are so much interesting as that it’s cool to see Simpsons Comics on the chart at issue #236! How many books get to those numbers these days? Very few. Considering how long it’s been going, without many sales-boosting stunts to speak of, its sales of just under 5.8K at #251 are pretty impressive. This is likely due to a steady all-ages market and the fact that Simpsons is a genuinely universal property. To put this into perspective, this sold less than 100 copies less than the fifth issue of Fables spin-off Everafter (my comparison to AfterMASH stands).
Glenn: This comic is sold a bunch of places that most comics aren’t and have a wider mass appeal than I would say even the higher DC/Marvel books do. Given what a money making machine the Simpsons is, even beyond the show this comic could easily run at a loss and it not matter too much. I am sad though that Futurama comics are becoming digital only, I always thought it was the superior show overall but never reached a quarter of the iconic status that the Simpsons have.
Another Hellboy one shot at 252 in the form of Lobster Johnston Garden Of Bones with sales over 5.7k. I guess this is fine for a cult character spun off from another cult character. I’m sure retailers know by now who Hellboy fans are and are ordering very little extra copies.
I’d say the Komandi Challenge Special at 255 with sales also in the 5.7k range aren’t too shabby. This is a 7.99 one shot reprinting material from five decades ago. Its essentially supposed to go alongside the modern Kumandi challenge so interest will be minimal as most Kirby fans probably have this stuff as its been reprinted multiple times already.
Ray: Really, any time the company prints a reprint like this one – especially one that is this expensive – charting at all is a victory. I wonder if the confusing similar name to the new volume drove numbers up, but either way, this is all gravy for DC. And I’d like to point out that this outsold a first-run DC comic further down the list.
Glenn: Second issue of Archie’s Reggie and Me sells just over 5.6k at 257. The main book is still miles ahead of the rest of the line and this seems to be where the spin off books reside now. This is probably still better than they had done prior to the relaunch but Archie should probably be more careful about overstretching themselves.
Ray: This is the lowest an Archie book has sold yet for this new wave, I believe. I don’t think there was really a market for a Reggie solo ongoing – the character is getting explored in the main two books – so this seems like a bit of a misfire. I’m sure they’ll learn and – *is buried under an avalanche of Archie one-shots*
Glenn: The Archie pilot season does indicate a Ray killing amount of titles are still to come. Hopefully this isn’t a judgement in error by the company as they push their luck.
IDW releases a new Dungeons and Dragons comic subtitled Frost Giants Fury which sells at 262 with sales over 5.3k. Much like I said with WWE fans earlier, I doubt those not already reading comics will make an extra effort to pick up a D and D comic. The role play game has a massive fan base across the world but most of them are too busy experiencing their own adventures and don’t have much interest in stories set in the world that don’t involve themselves.
Ray: IDW has had the Dungeons and Dragons license for a while, and it seems to be a good fit for them – it’s a pure cult comic with a loyal audience. IDW relies on nostalgia buys, to a large extent, and this may be one of the more limited-appeal books, but it’ll probably stay pretty steady.
Glenn: Issue 2 of Dark Horse’s Shadows Of The Grave sells over 5.2k at 264. It looks like an odd book with a niche audience so these numbers are probably as much as you could expect.
Another Dark Horse title, the Call Of Duties Zombies comic charts its second issue at just under 5k. Call Of Duty is mega popular and so are zombies but in a genre where Walking Dead is king, everyone else exploring that is going to be fighting for scraps, even with a mega popular game as window dressing.
Its not often that Zenescope charts with a second issue but Grimm Fairy Tales manages at 272 also under 5k. The company doesn’t show up much in the charts so they’re probably happy here. It’ll be interesting how a company with this song playing in the lobby will continue to fare in upcoming issues.
Ray: Oh, Rachel Bloom. Will you ever stop making us laugh? Anyway, that’s all that needs to be said about that one…
Glenn: Another thing Boom seems to want to be known for along with young readers material is female led titles which is where Ladycastle falls. The first of this four issue mini sells at 273 with sales just over 4.9k. Its just a four issue mini so it’ll probably finish up its run in top 300, I don’t recognize the names of the creators involved so that’s not too bad. Much like Valient, I’m sure Boom could have more of their titles higher up the charts because if Ray is to be believed (never!) they’re putting out some great stuff.
Ray: Boom struggles across the board, except when it comes to their name franchises, sadly. Especially in the direct market. If books from A-list writers like James Tynion and Steve Orlando could only do similar numbers, this was never going to get outside the bottom fifty, sadly. This is only a four-issue miniseries, so Boom was probably expecting this.
Justice League/Suicide Squad #1 charts again with sales of 4.8K at #276. Small numbers in the big scheme of things, but it shows there’s some real heat behind this event. No reorders for Inhumans vs. X-Men. The second issue does similar numbers eight spots down.
Glenn: Reorders are always an indication you had something that garnered interest. Given that DC’s next mini crossover the Button is likely to be a rather unstoppable force, they’ll probably get a repeat performance there at least.
Ray: Hey, you know, we’ve beat up a lot on Solo and Mosaic this month, but at least they’re not Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard-Travelin’ Heroez. This misbegotten ersatz DC comic finishes out its run at #280, selling 4.7K. This is a mainstream DC book, so this is shocking – albeit not all that shocking for a comic that had John Constantine and a sentient pile of organs in a…relationship.
Glenn: This may have just been green lit to keep good relations with Garth Ennis more than anything. I can’t honestly think of any other reason they would have given this a thumbs up.
Ray: With one issue to go, it looks like Revival will finish its run out in the top 300. #46 charts at #281 with sales of 4.6K. Not great, but it’s a long-running series and will likely do great business in trades.
Glenn: Usually these cult series get a bit of a bump on the final issue so good for them. Its not been one of the series from Image that gets a lot of press but it’ll definitely be a healthy addition to their back catalog.
Ray: Another Titan adaptation, this time of the BBC’s Sherlock. Adapting the Blind Banker story, it sells 4.6K at #283. Business as usual for Titan, really.
Glenn: This is also a reprinting of Manga material that probably did very well in Japan so this is just for die hard fans of the show who want the episodes in another format.
Ray: The new Titan book, Assignment, which appears to be a Hitman comic, sells 4.3K at #292. Titan puts out a lot of books, but few of them seem to be really performing at a high level except a few top franchises.
Glenn: I’m surprised Assignment didn’t come with the Hitman branding. Its one of the oldest gaming franchises out there and has some recognizably outside of the gaming market. It probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference in sales but its a curious omission.
Ray: Sadly, it looks like the great Dark Horse book Dept. H will likely be making its exit from the top 300 soon, as it lands at #295 with sales of 4.2K. It deserves so much more.
Glenn: Matt Kindt’s brand of comics are not everyone’s cup of tea. They may be great but I imagine they’re a hard sell to people just coming in for their weekly superhero fix.
Ray: This month, it’s Tomb Raider #12 that rounds out the top 300. However, I notice that the bottom three books this month sell under 4K. That’s a really low level, and it’s happened the last two months. Before that, it hadn’t happened since February 2016.
Glenn: Now that Gail Simone has long gone, I doubt there’s much Tomb Raider demand. Maybe it’ll get a second life when the new movie comes out but that’s still a good way away.
The numbers at the bottom aren’t encouraging. It makes it easier for lower selling books to make the chart but it indicates everything is down overall. We’ll have to see if it is a continuing trend but its not a good way for the industry to start 2017.
Ray: Looking ahead, it’s a pretty exciting month. DC has been business as usual for a few months, but that changes now as their Wave Two titles hit. We’ve got Justice League of America, Super-Sons, Batwoman, and the launch of Warren Ellis‘ new book, The Wild Storm. Detective Comics has a double-sized anniversary issue and should land in the top ten, as well. There’s also Savage Things, the new Vertigo series from Justin Jordan. And one more crossover – when Green Lanterns meet the Planet of the Apes, will sales follow?
Marvel, by contrast, is cooling off a little bit – as much as any company with two events running simultaneously can be. They’ve got three new Daredevil spin-offs, a bunch of new .MU tie-ins, and my pick for the top Marvel book of the month – Star Wars: Darth Maul #1. Still, the main sport with Marvel will be continuing to see how far and how fast these books can crash.
Image will be shaking up the top of the charts, as they land 25-cent issues of Robert Kirkman’s three books. These can essentially be treated as promotional issues and should sell anywhere from 150K to 1M copies, depending on the books. In the middle of all that, we’ve got some new launches, including Greg Rucka’s The Old Guard, horror one-shot The Belfry, the return of sci-fi adventure Planetoid, and the reprint of offbeat indie anthology Sun Bakery.
Glenn: I expect big things from Justice League next month, the rest are more unpredictable though. Its going to be interesting how these all place and how much those Kirkman Image books are going to mess up things.
See you all then!
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