By The Numbers: May 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 had work published with Outre Press, Alterna Comics and Nemesis Studios. He didn’t get into the DC writer workshop sadly but that won’t stop him from stalking Scott Snyder by hiding in the mans trunk.
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 and has released his first novel. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekdad and they’re brilliantly entertaining. When asked for his thoughts on how Marvel Legacy changed the comic industry, Ray was only available for laugh track recordings.
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 friends to another exciting and slightly unusual sales glance where nothing is as it seeeeeeems. Its been a hell of a busy month with a bunch of new launches from Marvel…to less than stellar results and more ‘we ain’t moving till we’re forced to move!’ action from DC!
The book at the number one spot this month is the first real proper issue of Secret Empire, the megawatt Marvel event that asks ‘Do you want more fascism in your comics?’ It launches at sales over 157k and with all the hype, promotion and build up I might have expected more. It certainty seems like a muted debut with issues 2 and 3 of the event also charting in the top ten at spots 6 and 8 meaning the event is already selling below DC’s bulletproof Batman (more on that later) so even though 3 books in the top ten is commendable, these numbers don’t bode well for the event as a whole. Events live and die with regards to crossovers and how successful they are too so there’s a lot of steps to follow before we make a final judgement on Secret Empire but its not the most inspiring of starts as its selling already less than Civil War II. Issue 2 sold just over 100k and issue 3 sold over 91.6 k so they’re already out of the six figure club in the first month, eep.
In all actuality, Secret Empire wasn’t the top selling book of the month but more on that shortly.
Ray: Oh boy. Ohhhhhhhh boy. There’s a lot to break down this month, starting with Secret Empire. First up is the sales on Secret Empire #1 – which actually DROPPED 5K from the sales of the #0 issue last month. With the last two events, the sales close to doubled from #0 to #1 before then dropping hard. Maybe past of this is increased savviness on the part of retailers, realizing that the #0 issue is essential reading and ordering accordingly. However, the more important bit of information here is that SE #1 sold less than Inhumans vs. X-Men #1. That was a limited crossover between two lines, one popular, one…less so (more on them in a bit). This is being styled as Marvel’s next big event on the level of Civil War II. They’re staking their whole line on it for close to half the year (and it keeps getting longer). So, for all that, one month into the event and their #3 issue is selling 20K less than the final issue of Civil War II. And they’ve got four months of attrition to go. This is going to be very ugly by the time all is said and done.
And you know what? I’m going to break from professional sales guy here and say – good. For the last year, people have been rather aggressively telling Marvel that this direction was not acceptable. It’s been explained to them at length that this is an offensive direction that has a lot of people angry. Their response was “Well, we’re going to double down and give you all Nazi Cap, all the time”. And the result is exactly what you’d expect. This is what audience rejection, full stop, looks like. People aren’t buying what Marvel’s putting down, but they’ve gone all in on that direction. Expect a lot of them running back and forth going “It’s just a little fascist! It’s still good! It’s still good!” over the next few months.
Glenn: Civil War II did nothing for its tie-ins, unlike its predecessor and I would strongly suspect that Secret Empire will have the same (non) effect. Titles that are already doing fine (like Amazing) will continue to do so but Secret Empire will not seemingly influence a sales increase on the titles its meant to, we’ll already seeing that this month. As you mentioned, the confusing zero issue ploy has seemingly worn out its welcome also but now we have ‘Omega’ issues after the event which might as well be another part. Very puzzling.
I’m a Marvel guy (well until Rebirth kicked me firmly in the wallet) but their strategies lately have been really odd. They seem to be seeing a playing field that everyone outside the industry is missing. They are currently the market leaders through sheer force of volume but in terms of consistent sales success, DC and even Image to some degree are murdering them. They do seem to have an odd strategy of saying ‘Shut up! We’ll show you!’ and people don’t have patience with that, especially when characters they adore are being treated in…odd ways.
At number two this month (in strait sales anyway) in a surprise is Venom 150 which sells over 141.7k for not only the return to *coughs* original numbering but Eddie Brock to the role he’s best known for after being absent in over a decade! The fan response to the relaunched Venom series was muted and sales soon followed but Marvel seemed to listen to demand and its paid off in spades! Is this just a one issue bump? Probably but the title was seeing a noticeable improvement leading up to this so maybe this is a big win for Marvel. Even if it can manage 60-70k that would put it well above the majority of their books and make this book a massive success.
Ray: Of course, it’s not all bad news for Marvel this month, because these Venom sales are simply staggering. The numbers on this series have been all over the place, as we’ve talked about quite a bit, but this is on a totally different level. There seems to be genuine momentum here, and this title could easily settle around the same level as Marvel’s most consistent seller, Amazing Spider-Man. Who knew there was so much hunger to see Venom eat brains again? It’s one major bright spot in a sea of grim for them this month.
Glenn: Now we get to calculator time again with number 3, the highest selling comic of the month, Batman 22! The lenticular edition priced at 4.99 sold just over 114.1k which added on to the sales of the regular edition (over 72.7k at 11 on the charts) gives us a total of just under 187k, selling 30k more than Secret Empire 1! This brief storyline has been a huge hit for DC and shows massive interested to the overall Watchmen narrative that has been playing out since Rebirth. This bodes well for Doomsday Clock next year and shows that Rebirth still creates some serious momentum.
At 4 is the final part of the ‘Button’ crossover, Flash 22 the lenticular edition which sells just around 10k less than part 3 with sales over 104.2k but again adding on sales of the standard edition (spot 17 at just over 59.2k) you get 163k which is another victory over Secret Empire 1 for DC. The Flash went back to roughly where it was with issue 23 with sales of over 54.6k at 23 but still DC will be very happy. Even if its gone back to mid 50k, Flash is still one of the biggest winners from Rebirth as a whole and his connection to the overall mystery surrounding Doomsday Clock is a big reason why.
Ray: Yeah, Batman and Flash, the final two parts of The Button, are the winners of the month, and these total sales are amazing. This is a four-part crossover between two popular books, but it sold like an elite event comic all the way through. Sales on Batman, DC’s #1 book, essentially doubled for the event, and sales on Flash – a strong mid-level seller – essentially more than tripled. A huge win for DC, but here’s the crazy thing – this is just a limited prequel. Extrapolate from this success, and imagine what the sales on Metal are going to look like. Followed by Doomsday Clock. We may be seeing numbers for these big events unseen since the days of the original Civil War and Infinite Crisis when we get there, assuming Rebirth keeps its current momentum.
Glenn: In another massive suprise this month and a slight head scratcher is Guardians Of The Galaxy: Mass Breakout at 5 which sells over 104.2k. Now there is a LOT of Guardians stuff to go over this month due to the movie and yes, that will help but this is a throwaway one shot that promotes the new Disney L.A ride…so what’s it doing here? Did retailers want something one and done to sell to casuals? Is the ride some sort of factor? Was there some sort of loot crate type promotion? Its a fantastic number for a throwaway one shot but sort of makes you wonder…why didn’t the MAIN Guardians book do this well? More on that shortly.
Ray: This has to be some sort of promotion. Maybe Disney ordered some directly to distribute at the parks? Either way, a bright spot for Marvel, but a very odd one – this issue came and went without much notice, and the other Guardians books this month didn’t do remotely this well.
Glenn: At 7 is Batman 23 with sales of over 96.5k. The slight bump from the Button is gone but the title remains ridiculously dependable and miles ahead of any other ongoing. Expect a bump for issue 24 because of THAT cliffhanger and issue 25. This title is not leaving the top ten anytime soon…if ever.
Ray: I’m a bit sad Batman didn’t maintain any of its 90K or so new sales from The Button, especially since this was the amazing done-in-one “The Brave and the Mold”, but it’s hard to quibble with sales like this. It’s locked down as DC’s top ongoing, and it’s got several more major events coming next month. Batman’s epic top-ten streak will continue forever.
Glenn: Now we get to the new Guardians Of The Galaxy title with the new movie team and a new creative team also selling over 82.4k. Again I think this has to be seen as a little bit of a let down. I really thought this one could crack 100k without breaking a sweat but if doesn’t seem so. There’s been a lot of saturation of the Guardians since the first movie’s success and this could be the result. Its not a terrible number, don’t get me wrong but given Marvel’s patterns recently its concerning. The second issue this month charts at 26 selling over 51.8k and is already getting outsold by some of DC’s stronger players. If it can stabilize here, it’ll be fine but given that this had a movie backing it up and the success of the Mass Breakout one shot, its not great. It doesn’t get better for the Guardians later in the charts sadly. Let us all listen to ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ and remember some good times…
Ray: Oh, Guardians. Why do the good ones suffer? Jokes aside, this is what market rejection looks like when it hits a whole company. This title had everything going for it. A mega-popular movie coming out the same week. An artist who is extremely well-regarded for his Deadpool run. A popular artist coming over from DC. Fan favorite characters. Baby Groot! And yet, it couldn’t even come close to 100K, a mark that Marvel books used to vault over with ease every time there was a new #1. Those second issue numbers aren’t bad, though – any time a Marvel comic loses less than 50% with #2 is a good sign. So I think these bad first issue sales are more due to retailers not trusting Marvel #1s enough to order big anymore. The title as a whole will probably be okay, because Marvel has much bigger problems. And more on them later.
Glenn: Finally at 10 is Walking Dead. Yup, here it is again. The second most dependable ongoing on the charts today (although Venom could be a considerable challenger). Not much else I can say that hasn’t been said already about it.
Ray: Negan vs. Batman! The kings of stability! Whoever wins, the readers are the true victors. But jokes aside, this performance is incredible. No matter what enters the top ten, the zombies stay steady.
Glenn: Considering that Batman’s parents were playing by two Walking Dead actors in BvS, that’s a fight I’d want to see. ‘Father?’ *opens arms for hug and gets baseball bat to face*
Ray: Another new X-book, Jean Grey – which spins out of the recent All-New X-men title and features the return of the Phoenix – has a healthy-looking debut at #13 with 70K. However, first issue numbers are deceiving, and the title immediately sheds over 60% of its first issue sales and drops all the way down to #84 with sales of 29K. This title’s looking like it’s in immediate trouble. The x-line has a few new hits, but it doesn’t seem healthy enough to sustain spin-offs right now.
Glenn: Same pattern for Jean Gray as most Marvel titles, a very respectable and even great launch number (its Jean Gray for crying out loud) but then dismal second issue drops. In the most recent solicitations, we’ve seen quite a few verly new books whisked away into the night that did around the same or even slightly better so Jean Gray fans should not get attached.
Ray: At #14, we’ve got the launch of new Star Wars crossover “The Screaming Citadel“, which sells less than 2K below the main Star Wars title with sales of 69K. Essentially, it seems like retailers treated this crossover with Doctor Aphra as another Star Wars issue, which is a good sign. For the record, Doctor Aphra got a 3K bump from last issue this month, landing at #36 with sales of 43K. That’s still a 27K difference between the two titles crossing over, though.
Glenn: It seems like Aprha is now gaining some popularity outside of comics, winning a competition to become a proper Star Wars action figure recently but she still doesn’t have the ‘name’ factor that appeals to casuals. Its still a very succesful book all things considered and something Kieran Gillan should be very proud of. We’re likely going to see the new Vader book become the new 2nd best selling Star Wars title when it launches though.
Ray: The leveling off continues to be incredibly smooth for the top-selling DC Rebirth books. Both All-Star Batman (#15) and Detective Comics (#19-#20) slip less than 1K from issue to issue, remaining among DC’s healthiest books this month. And it’s worth noting that Detective has now surpassed Justice League (#21-22) in sales this month, making it DC’s #3 ongoing, #2 once Snyder concludes his run on All-Star Batman in September.
Glenn: I’m sad All Star is ending but DC has a lot of interesting stuff coming up in the next few months. I doubt any of them will perform as well as All Star has but Detective is very much holding its own regardless.
Ray: We’ve got another new X-book debuting, Cable, which lands with sales of 60K at #16. Decent numbers for a Cable title, but it’s likely to have a fairly harsh slide next month, and like Jean Grey could find itself in the danger zone quickly.
Glenn: Its interesting to note that the writer of Cable, James Robinson has recently been announced as taking over Wonder Woman. I don’t believe he’s Marvel exclusive but its rare to see writers working for both companies these days. Is this a sign that he’s jumping off the book or there might not be a book to jump from? Time will tell but I wouldn’t be surprised if the book gets relaunched back to original numbering around the time of Deadpool 2 regardless (although that’s still more than a year away).
Ray: The X-men books are in their second month now, and the slides are nowhere near as smooth there. Both X-Men Gold (#18, #24) and X-Men Blue (#29, #33) slip about 5K between issues this month, with the former selling in the low 50K range and the latter in the mid-40K range. Strong debut numbers last month, but it’s already wearing off. The question is really more what IS working for Marvel right now? And the answer is…not much.
Glenn: The X-Men numbers last month were very encouraging and if (our favorite word for Marvel) they can stabelize, they’d be doing the same as DC’s mid-tier. Not great considering the push these new X-Men books got from Marvel but it could be worse (more on that later). The hard reality it that just south of 60k and around 50k is actually considered very good for Marvel these days and that’s really worrying.
Ray: A VERY harsh fall for ol’ dependable Amazing Spider-Man this month, as it loses 11K in sales from #26 to #27. Its only issue this month, and this was mid-storyline, so I’m not sure exactly what went on here – but it’s a very ill omen that Marvel’s most consistent book is suddenly sliding hard. The run continues to be well-regarded and there’s been a lot of odd hiccups over the last few months, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it rebounds next month – but 51K at ##27 is not what ASM should be selling by any stretch.
Glenn: That is really weird and out of nowhere. I would like to think its a mistake. This is one book that might benefit from its Secret Empire tie-in (more so because Slott and Doctor Octopus=$$$$$ more than anything Hydra related) so it should rebound in a few months.
Ray: Another increase for Old Man Logan as Lemire gets ready to wrap up his run, with the title ticking up another 2K to #30 and 46K. Impressive, and may be genuine. Marvel’s going to miss Lemire – one of their most consistent sellers.
Glenn: Old Man Logan has been a great success for Marvel and I think the entire line is going to miss the consistency that Lemire generally brings. New writer Ed Brisson is still relatively untested but top Marvel artist Mike Deodato might be able to help with the transition even if according to Marvel he doesn’t move the needle (#neverforget)
Ray: Generation X, a revival of the 90s young mutants property by Christina Strain, had a weak debut with #1 selling 45K at #32. The issue wasn’t received particularly well, and #2 crashed the same month, all the way down to #80 with sales of 30K. If you’re not a flagship book from the X-line right now, you’re in trouble.
Glenn:I remember Generation X from the 90’s and this is an odd revival from a new writer that Marvel is taking a gamble on. Despite Blue and Gold getting some buzz, this is not the market where Marvel could sell multiple X-Men books at huge numbers. This is another one that likely won’t last.
Ray: The non-Rebirth titles out of DC in recent months have been struggling, but a slight exception may be Bane Conquest, which reunites the brawny Bat-villain with his 1990s creators, Dixon and Nolan. It debuts at #42 with sales of 41.7K, a healthy number for a book with a distinctly retro vibe. This didn’t seem to have a lot of incentives or variants, so it might stand a decent chance of holding well over its 12-issue run.
Glenn: Bane got a huge push from the recent Batman storylines and there are a lot of fans nostalgic for Knightfall out there. Its nothing to throw a parade over but considering what it is, who its by and who its for this is a very good number.
Ray: DC had a small-scale crossover this month between the Titans line and Deathstroke, called “The Lazarus Contract”. It got strong reviews, and seems to have paid off for all titles involved. The one-shot/annual that wrapped it up charts at #49 with sales of 38K, strong for an annual. Meanwhile, all titles involved got significant boosts. Titans (#31, 45K) increased 5K, Teen Titans (#38, 43K) got a boost of 7K, and Deathstroke (#62, 34K) increased a whopping 11K from its last issue! Clearly, DC is mastering the art of the small-scale event that lifts all comers.
Glenn: Obviously not the success of the Button but still, as we mentioned the test of a crossover is to increase sales for every title involved and Lazarus experiment certainty did that. We’ll see if the momentum continues next month but its another strong performance from DC.
Speaking of Crossovers and how they’re judged by the sales on tie-ins and spin off books, that brings us neatly to 53 on the charts, Secret Empire Uprising which sells over 37.2k. This is a side book to the main event, an anthology that delves deeper into the mind set of some side characters. Its not disastrous but it does give an indication that not many people are interested in anything related to this event and does not bode well for the tie-ins we have coming up from Marvel over the next few months.
Ray: There’s a lot of Secret Empire tie-ins like this – anthologies or one-shots focusing on some element of the resistance. To me, they’re a bit hard to distinguish from each other. I imagine they’ll all be ordered somewhat similarly this one, which is a modest but not disastrous number. It’ll be more interesting to see the impact on the ongoing series tying in, for good or bad.
Glenn: The Wonder Woman annual sells about 6k less than the issues of her main title this month at 56 with sales over 36.4k which is another commendable performance for a DC annual. The hype from the movie hasn’t hit the charts yet it seems and it might not. More than likely, Wonder Woman collections will see the benefit from the adoration the movie has received. Still this is a strong performance from an annual that is likely attributed to Wonder Woman being one of DC’s stronger books and the creators of said book being involved.
Ray: This Wonder Woman annual featured a Rucka/Scott story and was released right before the movie. In the vein of the Batman annual and the DC Holiday Special, it’s another success of this new anthology format for DC.
Glenn: Next new launch from Marvel at 57 is Black Bolt selling over 37.3k which is a very good number for the leader of the Inhumans, a property Marvel has been trying to bump up for years now. Under the view of where Marvel would like the Inhumans to be, these sales are substandard but in the realistic real world view, they’re very good. It doesn’t give it much room to fall though and given how other launches have performed this month with their second issue, it could be that we’re not talking about Black Bolt for much longer.
Ray: That’s actually only 4k below the debut of flagship Inhumans book Royals last month, so in terms of the franchise that’s not bad at all. A lot of that is probably due to the presence of writer Saladin Ahmed, who has a mainstream profile. This feels like a limited book anyway, due to the specific concept (Black Bolt locked up in a secret alien prison), so while the second-issue drop will likely be significant, the best case scenario here is a run like Vision or Thanos, where it levels off quickly. Marvel will probably let Ahmed finish his story and shuffle this book off.
Mired in the middle of the big crossover it spins out of, Captain America: Steve Rogers manages to…shed another 2K copies and sell 35K at #59. Womp womp.
Glenn: A very good drop from Batman/The Shadow selling just under 35k at 61. Given how obscure the Shadow is, I think this another DC company crossover win and its all down to the strength of the creative team. Don’t expect DC to stop doing these crossovers anytime soon, the majority of them have turned up gangbusters for them.
Ray: Batman in a crossover of any sort will always sell, but I also put some of this success on the top-tier creative team and the fact that it actually has ties to DC continuity – the villain was first teased in the Batman Annual. Another win for DC.
Glenn: Glad to see this villain showing up again, interesting that its here of all places but with wedding plans and all, Batman won’t have time to deal with new villains so might as well have them show up here!
At 66 is the launch of Luke Cage by previous Power Man and Iron Fist writer, David Walker selling just over 34k. Again, given how strongly Iron fist did on its first issue, you would have thought that Luke Cage could get some of that interest also but seemingly not. Again, the sales are fine for a launch but this is another one where the second issue drop could be a concern.
Ray: Assuming a standard 50% drop for Luke Cage, this takes the title into the danger zone very quickly. This is a spin-off of the just-ended Power Man and Iron Fist by the same writer, which had poor numbers by the end, so not a huge surprise. But this is once again an example of how characters who should be able to sustain titles for Marvel can’t, because they’ve burned the audience so many times with relaunches and poorly-received events.
Glenn: Same again for I Am Groot at 71 with sales just over 32.2k. Now…this is an interesting one for a few reasons. It follows the same pattern of ‘good, not great’ with the potential of a second issue drop that leaves it on the cancellation floor before it gets going but this title stars Baby Groot. The breakout star of Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, the character that is selling merchandise by the truckload and everyone out there can’t help but look at and go ‘gawwwwww’. This is not a book that launches this low, its genuinely puzzling to me why its down here. I really pegged this as a top 10 or top 20 at least given the movie and the cuteness factor alone. Maybe if it had been called ‘Baby Groot’? Still, this has to be seen as a really disappointing launch all things considered.
Ray: Poor Baby Groot. But then, did anyone really think Groot could sustain his own series? He only says three words! This feels like a character who works perfectly in a team book, but as a lead? Not so much. And yet, still not the worst news for a Guardians character this month. I think we can basically put the nail in the coffin of the Guardians as a multi-book franchise, after this, Gamora, Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket’s last series (more on that in a bit). Cause of death as a franchise? Overuse. Good jorb, Marvel. The difference between the MCU and the comics has never been more stark.
Glenn: Groot might be an odd pick for an ongoing but you would have thought with Baby Groot’s popularity, it would be money in the bank despite this but it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Ray: Doctor Strange kicks off a new creative team with #21 (although #20 didn’t come out til June) as Dennis Hopeless comes on for a Secret Empire tie-in. Sales had already dropped a lot under Aaron, and the drop this month of about 1K (it comes in at #73 with sales of 32K) isn’t really distinguishable from standard attrition. Maybe the tie-in made retailers keep their orders steady for a month. We’ll see if it holds next month or if this title starts dropping hard. But really, even successful books like Thor and ASM are dropping pretty consistently, so it seems like this is a line-wide problem.
Probably the most shockingly bad debut of the month is Secret Warriors, which launches at #75 with sales of only 31K. This is a post-IvX Inhumans launch, a Secret Empire tie-in, and stars one of Marvel’s few breakout characters in recent years, Ms. Marvel. The name also has connotations from Hickman’s era and Agents of Shield. And all that amounts to nothing, with #2 the same month dropping to 23K and #110. This book is likely done already. I don’t know if it makes it past one arc after the tie-in.
Glenn: Terrible debut from Secret Warriors and it just seems to be down to lack of interest despite everything you mentioned it has going for it. Gone and forgotten rather swiftly I’d wager.
Ray: Avengers at #7 is selling less than the 23rd issue of the secondary Green Lantern title. I just want everyone to roll that idea around in their heads for a while, and realize just how bad things have gotten for Marvel.
Glenn: Avengers heyday is long gone. Usually franchises all get their time in the sun and currently for Marvel it seems to be its…Star Wars of all things. Without that franchise, the overall market picture would likely be very different.
Ray: Batwoman is still leveling off, losing another 4K from last month to land at #81 with sales of 29K, but that still likely puts it about books like Batgirl and Supergirl in the long run. We’ll see how it does when Epting leaves after the first arc, but this looks like a lower-tier survivor for DC.
Glenn: I might have expected better due to the connections of the amazingly successful Detective but Batwoman is a character that doesn’t have much presence outside of comics. This is probably what the hardcore Batman fanbase looks like. Still miles better than some of the lower selling Marvel books.
Ray: Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider sheds almost 50% of its first issue sales from its debut, selling 29K at #83. We’re likely looking at a 2099-level performance out of this book in the long run, which may be enough to last for a while. Marvel has bigger problems than this book.
Glenn: Clone Conspiracy seems to have done little to no good for the spider books. Like you said, this will essentially take the place of 2099 on the charts but that book lasted a few years before recently being shuffled off.
Ray: The Trinity annual lands at #87 with sales of 28K. That’s only 6K below the main series, despite the issue being by a different creative team setting things up in another book. The main title has sunk a lot in sales too, likely due to the frequent creative team changes, but DC seems to have made annuals relevant again based on these sales.
Speaking of bad Guardians news, at #90 we’ve got the debut of Rocket, selling in the 27K range. And this one hurts, because this was one of the best first issues I’ve read out of Marvel in a while. It was like a film noir filtered through a combination of Star Wars and The Dark Crystal...and no one cared, because Marvel’s burned through people’s tolerance for relaunches and spin-offs already. This launched just one month after the last Rocket series ended, and that one only lasted one arc. This will likely follow, sadly. Rocket deserves better.
Glenn: This is the third Rocket ‘ongoing’ in recent memory and yeah, it just isn’t working. The title will be at cancellation numbers very soon, this debut is not inspiring at all. Its probably best for the Guardians just to stay in the team book before the performance of these spin off books ruins the little sales pull they still have.
Ray: The incredible stability of Thanos continues, as it sheds less than 1.5K this month to land just outside of the top 100 with sales of 25.9K. Lemire’s confirmed that this book – his last Marvel work – will wrap up with 12, and like Vision and Moon Knight before it, it should end well above the levels of a lot of recent Marvel books.
Glenn: Great performance to Thanos and Lemire continues to be a sales MVP all around. As you mentioned, this is someone Marvel will miss.
Ray: We’ve got two 90’s superhero revivals side by side at #103-104. The Wild Storm seems to be leveling off nicely, as Warren Ellis‘ reinvention sells 25.5K this month, down only 2K from last month. Right below it with sales of 24.6K is Image’s reinvention of Youngblood, which doesn’t seem to have the same critical buzz and will likely drop off fast, despite a popular writing team from the X-Men ’92 series.
Glenn:Youngblood will be for the 90’s fans in all of us and not really catch many (or any) new readers attention. This is probably the best it could have hoped for and might be able to survive a decent run at around 15k or so for the books loyalists.
Ray: DC’s put a lot of promotional push behind the launch of Injustice 2, and it pays off with a debut of 24.3K at #107. Given that this is a digital-first book that does a lot of its sales there, this is very good. #2 has a pretty hefty fall, though, selling 13.5K all the way down at #170, but again, the metrics are different for digital-first books.
Glenn: This is a video game tie-in also so expectations have to be adjusted there. The initial Injustice got a lot of critical buzz before gradually dropping off after Tom Taylor left the book but now he’s back, there seems to be enough goodwill left. This will be a decent performing book for what it is.
Ray: Remember Spawn? He’s back in 25th anniversary director’s cut format! Apparently the hero who built Image still has some fans, as this reissue has decent sales of 23.6K at #111.
Glenn: Spawn used to be the thing that kept the lights on at Image but the publishers identity has completely changed. This will be for fans that have been there from the start and likely the same audience that picked up Youngblood. Its also 4.99 for material that’s over 25 years old so that’s very good I’d say.
Ray: It’s night and day between the smash hit Mission Breakout, and the other stand-alone Guardians project of the month. The weekly Alan Davis miniseries “Mother Entropy” has a poor debut with the first issue selling 22K at #119 – just below the third issue of Iron Fist – and the other issues charting at 132, 139, 142, and 150, shedding over 6K along the way. Davis’ work tends to appeal to an old-school audience, and retailers probably ordered cautiously.
Glenn: As we discussed on Rabbit Stew (dong!) the age of the weeklies seems to be over. DC launched a bunch of them at once recently and the only one that did remotely well was Batman Eternal and its subsequent sequel and that’s because that franchise is bullet proof. Its a trying time for retailers and its asking a lot for them to invest in an entire series at once so yeah,caution abounds here.
Ray: After a long delay, we’ve got the final issue of AD: After Death selling 20K at #122. That’s barely dropped at all from the last issue, which shows it kept some real momentum. Off it goes to the realm of collected editions and movie adaptations, where it’ll be very happy.
Glenn: A.D was sensational and was never intended to be montly so this is just bonus. It now heads off to collection heaven where it’ll do gangbusters and will be looked back on as a classic in years and decades to come.
Ray: A very solid drop-off for Donny Cates’ Redneck, which drops just 2K from its debut and lands at #124 with sales just under 20K. That’s a few spots below the penultimate issue of Cates’ God Country. Image has a genuine sensation on their hands with this guy. It’ll be interesting to see how his Aftershock title, Babyteeth, does next month.
Glenn: To my knowledge, Cates hasn’t done any big two work or very little at least so all this success he’s having is driven by quality which is a rarity in the market. He could very well live a happy life in indie land without ever going to Marvel or DC for a high profile run but the race might be on to get this guy who is looking like the next Snyder, King, Williamson or Lemire.
Ray: The latest Young Animal title, “Bug: The Adventures of Forager“, debuts with 182K in sales at #132. I expected a little more, given the involvement of the Allreds, but I wonder if it was hurt by the fact that…well, no one really knows this character. It’s an obscure property, but as it’s only a miniseries, it should be fine. And it’s amazing and you should all be reading.
Glenn: The New Gods stuff despite their legacy always falters a bit, they’re very akin in profile to how the Inhumans are in Marvel. My only knowledge of Bug is a cameo in the exceptional Justice League cartoon of yesteryear so this will be for hardcore fans or fans of the Allred’s specifically. Still decent enough for a miniseries about a very obscure character as you mention.
Ray: If you want evidence of how stable DC Rebirth is, it’s a year in and it only has five titles selling under 20K in sales – Hellblazer, Superwoman, New Superman, Blue Beetle, and Cyborg. Worth noting that this month, Cyborg finally slips below Blue Beetle to become the lowest rung on the Rebirth totem pole.
Glenn:Most of the books you mentioned are the ones that (generously) get the most polarizing reviews so this seems to be reflected sales wise. Still, even these are doing better than a lot of Marvel books and have been all announced at launching new stories in the recent solicitations so DC don’t seem concerned.
Glenn: The new Nick Fury book drops to sales over 16.6k at 144 this month and I can’t say I’m surprised. This isn’t the classic Nick Fury and even he hasn’t been able to support a comic on his own since the 80’s. Marvel continues to just throw stuff at the wall that slides down leaving a nasty stain.
There’s Monsters Unleashed again! Issue 2 reorders at 157 with sales over 15.3k. Again, this is not the new ongoing, this seems to be the ‘event’ issues from earlier this year. Odd, odd, odd.
What’s not an odd reorder is the Flash 21, part 2 of The Button picking up reorders of over 14.3k. We’ve talked how successful this storyline was and the reorders tell the tale. People are excited for anything to do with this Watchmen plot.
Ray: All the issues of The Button might very well wind up over 200K in sales when reorders are counted. That’s rarified air that few comics reach, and DC has to be thrilled here. And this is just the prelude!
Some rare good news for a Marvel book this month is that Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has a pretty huge jump of of over 4K, landing at #163 with sales of 14.4K. Might be incentives or freebies from Marvel, or their faith in the property may be finally paying off a bit.
Glenn: New event from Valient in the form of Rapture selling just under 14k at 167. Pretty standard for Valient as their consistency remains month after month. They’re not getting any bigger (apart from the amazingly successful X-O Manowar) but they’re not getting any smaller either. Its a tough market so it could be a lot worse for sure.
Ray: One thing that I notice with Valiant is that Matt Kindt has really become their go-to guy. Besides Jeff Lemire, he’s the writer doing most of their big storylines, and he’s had some success with this, Divinity, and of course X-O Manowar. His mainstream work for DC and Marvel didn’t really work out, but he’s having a great run here.
Glenn: Kieran Gillon’s Wicked and The Devine delivers a one shot at 168 with sales over 13.7k. Not sure if the series co-creator Jamie McKelvie was involved and I think if memory serves this sold around about where the series usually dos. Seems to have a dedicated audience and its been going on a verly stable basis for a few years, good for them.
Ray: The Wicked and the Divine seems to do these time-hopping one-shots in between arcs, and Gillen is always involved at least as co-writer. As such, retailers mainly seem to treat them as just another issue of the series.
Glenn: The second issue of Meredith Finch’s Rose from issue falls to 172 with sales over 13.4k. This is higher than the usual non big name Image books do but still a fair bit away from the upper tier where Kirkman and BKV books live. Given that Finch’s run on Wonder Woman was rather lukewarmly received I think this is a very good number.
Ray: That’s about a 1/3rd drop from the first issue, which isn’t terrible at all. This book hasn’t gotten much hype, but it does seem to have a reader-friendly concept that works in its favor.
Glenn: At 175 its Elektra selling over 13k at 175. This one has already been cancelled along with Kingpin to no one’s surprise.
Ray: I can’t say enough about what a misfire this odd attempt at three Daredevil spinoffs was. There was branding that made it look like an event, but there was no event. None of them got past #5. One was actually cancelled from an ongoing before it launched! Of all of Marvel’s oddball attempts at franchising, this is up there with solo titles for three of the Mercs for Money. And Elektra was actually the highest-selling of the three! (Kingpin is a few spots below, Bullseye even lower)
Glenn: With the Daredevil spinoffs, it seems that Marvel is cancelling them before they get to the level of the Deadpool spin offs which were at a lot lower than these books in most cases. Better to cancel the title while there is a dab of credibility left.
Two new (one brand new and one on its second issue) Image books at at 181 and 182 respectively. At 181 with sales of over 12.7 is Plastic, the bizarre dark comedy about a murderer and his…sex doll. This is only a mini so this is pretty great numbers, again this is above the level of the lower end Image books so it seems this one will have some good sales before going to collection land. Eternal Empire at 182 is the new project from the Luna brothers who have had great success in the past with books like Girls. Not a terrible start but I thought it might have done a little better. Perhaps they’re seen as having only a specific audience?
Ray: Plastic is holding really well, for such an odd concept. And it should, because it’s great! Eternal Empire is a surprisingly low debut, but the Luna brothers have always been seen as cult creators. I imagine retailers ordered semi-cautiously as a result, and we may see great holds or reorders next month. This book is getting some great early reviews.
Licensed properties are still Dark Horse’s bread and butter, and they have a new Predator miniseries debuting at #188 with sales of 12K. That’s good enough for their third-highest selling book of the month, below American Gods and James Stokoe’s Aliens mini, and just above the rock-solid Black Hammer.
Glenn: Despite their hated rivals the Xenamorph’s having a high(ish) profile movie, the Predators still show they have chops. These franchises are still what is likely to keep the pain from peeling at Dark Horse apart from the few creator owned properties they have working for them. I wouldn’t be surprised that with the success of Fight Club 2 and now American Gods that Dark Horse may invest more time into book adaptions or continuations.
Ray: Jim Mahfood’s cult Image series “Grrl Scouts” returns with a new miniseries titled, oddly, “Magic Socks“. It sells 11.9K at #191, perfectly good numbers for a property we haven’t seen in years.
Royal City continues to slide, losing another 2K in sales down to 11.7K at #192. I’m not sure what’s making this not sell – maybe Lemire’s art is still seen as non-mainstream – but this is a passion project for Lemire and he brings so much sales power to any company he works for that a cult project like this will be fine indefinitely.
Glenn: I wager Royal City will do better in collections. Lemire is doing enough successful books that he can keep this as a passion project for as long as he wants much as the way Kirkman probably keeps the lights on with Invincible (for now, sniff) due to Walking Dead’s mega watt performance.
Ray: IDW put a lot of hype into its Next-Gen Star Trek alternate universe comic “Mirror Broken“, including an FCBD preview. It debuts this month with 11.3K at #197, maybe a bit lower than they were hoping. Expect it to possibly hold well as the core Star Trek audience turns out, through.
As we head outside of the top 200 (#203), we’ve got the start of the major new Archie storyline “Over the Edge”, centering around a tragic drag race accident that threatens the life of an Archie mainstay. The hype for this story is enough to give it a bump in sales of approximately 100 copies, stopping attrition in its tracks at above the 10K mark for the month. Look for more drama and tragedy in classic kids’ comics. Watch your back, Richie Rich.
Glenn: Mark Waid has brought Archie up to a level never before dreamed of prior to its relaunch a number of years ago. The title is selling much better than it would have done but it does seem to have hit the ceiling in terms of getting any new long term readers. Its stable which is the best way to be in this market.
Ray: Oni’s reissuing the original run of The Damned, by the 6th Gun creative team of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt. The first issue was only a dollar, and sells 10.1K at #217. For a reprint, even a dollar one, this is extremely strong and is going to get one of the best comics of the last decade in more people’s hands.
Glenn: *immediatly googles the damned*
Ray: There were some decent reorders for both flagship X-men books, with X-Men blue (the lower-selling originally) selling an additional 10.7K at #204, while X-men Gold sells 9.8K at #220. Some genuine momentum for the X-line again?
Glenn: Reorders are always nice and if (the Marvel magic word) they can remain at roughly the levels they are next month, Marvel should definitely take it as a win. Probably not the win they hoped for but definitely on the right side of things.
Ray: Definitely one of the oddest projects of the month was the Funko Universe specials from IDW, which recast their fan-favorite characters as Funko Pops. They did…decently for weird one-offs like this, with the highest-selling being TMNT at #221 with sales of 9.8K. Ghostbusters landed 34 spots below with 7.2K, and X-Files was 48 spots below with 6.5K in sales, roughly proportional to the sales of their regular books.
Glenn: Pops are insanely popular, especially to the casual market because they have everything in them. People could just pick this up for the lolz factor and couldn’t have expected much better. A few months ago we were nearly mutually driven insane by Marvel Tsum Tsum and joked about a TT vs Funko mega crossover and now we edge ever closer to that reality.
Ray: IDW is the only company Disney/Marvel is semi-friendly with, so it might be possible…
Note: By The Numbers and Graphic Policy accepts no liability if this comes to pass.
There’s a Street Fighter vs. Darkstalkers title from Udon at #222 (9.6K), and my inner childhood is alive and very happy.
Glenn: I don’t know what Darkstalkers is but I’m glad you’re happy!
Ray: After a massive, 1.5-year delay, Jonathan Hickman’s Greatest Generation thriller The Dying and the Dead returns with sales of 9.6K at #223. Clearly a lot lower than a lot of his other books, but after the huge delay, retailers were cautious. Lots of Image books have been hit by big delays recently, and almost all of them suffer in sales when they come back, from a-listers like Jupiter’s Legacy to smaller titles like Copperhead.
Glenn: I don’t even remember this book and some who were reading it may not have noticed its return. Delays are common in the world of self publishing and people just don’t have the patience they used to because of all the content available.
Ray: Shade the Changing Girl is the first Young Animal book to slip under the 10K line and that makes me sad. It charts at #227 this month with 9.3K in sales, just 38 copies above the ever-stable Astro City. Shame, because this is maybe the best of the line – but it’s also the only one without a well-known creator or a Gotham City setting.
Glenn: Still better than it would have been if it had been a Vertigo book I expect. We’ll see how trade sales are on Young Animal books but I would still call this solid enough to keep it ticking along for now. Again, what DC was expecting out of this imprint is unknown in terms of sales.
Ray: Two oddball books from Image debut with modest numbers. First up is Kaare Andrews’ ultraviolent Occupy fantasy “Renato Jones“, which comes back for volume two. 20 copies below it, with both selling 8.9K, is Dustin Weaver’s writer-artist anthology Paklis. Kind of low sales, but for a strange sci-fi anthology with a $5.99 price tag (for almost 50 pages of story) these numbers aren’t terrible. Image wasn’t likely expecting either of these to light up the sales charts.
Another 8.8K in sales for part one of The Button as well, at #235.
Glenn: Its interesting that the Flash part of the crossover (which was the second part) picked up so many reorders. Perhaps retailers underestimated how much demand there would be for the crossover outside of the fight part?
Ray: Video game comics are having a bit of a resurgence this month, with a Tekken comic from Titan selling 8.6K at #237. There’s a new game coming out to tie in with. Me, I won’t be satisfied until I get my Primal Rage game.
Glenn: Video game tie-ins are always a wash and Tekken is an odd franchise so this is about as good as it gets.
Ray: Frank Tieri’s medieval zombie thriller Pestilence has a decent debut from Aftershock with sales of 8.5K at #238. This is roughly where the other Aftershock books without a-list creators tended to debut. It’ll be interesting to see how Cullen Bunn’s two debuts fare in coming months.
Glenn: Its been a while since Tieri was working with either of the big two and even there, he never hit the upper tier so his name drawing power will have waned. Zombie comics are all the rage due to the success of Walking Dead and this just seems to be another one for the slow, groaning, brain eating crowd of books in a similar vain.
Ray: Another 8.4K sales for the first issue of Seven to Eternity, which is re-released in a $1 format called Image Firsts. Icing on the cake for one of Image’s best books.
Spinning out of the modestly-selling “Eden’s Fall” event from Top Cow is a new book called Samaritan: Veritas, focusing on the super-hacker from the Tithe. It sells 7.8K at #246, which is a…not terrible number for a line that hasn’t had a real hit in years?
Glenn: We’ll call it a win for Top Cow because we’re not mean (all the time) go Top Cow!
Ray: Archie’s been cutting back a lot in recent months, with only two books (Archie and Riverdale, plus some digests) solicited for September. Sales like the ones on the delayed Archies one-shot (which had Matthew Rosenberg on board) would explain that. 7.7K at #248. Archie’s resurgence when its relaunch started seems a while away now, but they’re still in better shape in the direct market than they were a few years ago.
A pretty big drop from Sovereigns #0, which was only $1. The full-priced #1 issue sells 7.4K at #251. Dynamite is doing a lot of these incentive-priced issues, but we’ll see if any of them bring real sales to the main title. (Buy Swordquest, people!)
Glenn: Dynamite continues to launch a bunch of new books and are willing to seemingly take some losses so people read them. Not a great number of course here but it could be worse.
Another new book from Valient in the form of Eternal Warrior Awakening at 253 with sales at 7.3k. This is a follow up from a Valient book that ended last year and is around what they would do normally so again, no surprises.
Ray: This was also a one-shot, one of a couple starring the Anni-Padda brothers in some form. Valiant’s experimenting with a lot of different story formats, but their main series seem to remain the most popular.
Glenn: A lot of buzz around new Image book Redneck which picks up reorders of over 7.2k at 257. That is pretty damn good for an Image book on a reorder and shows that Donny Cates is going to be their next MVP.
Ray: Let’s hope Image is able to keep him around! Marvel seems to be making a play for him with him co-writing an issue of Hydra Cap last week.
Glenn: Oh hey, there’s POWERS from Marvel’s ICON imprint at 272 with sales just over 6.4k. I honestly thought this series was over. Only the real dedicated readers are likely still around after all this time.Ray: I’m surprised Bendis had time to write this with his five Marvel books monthly. Especially with the TV show cancelled.
Glenn: New Mass Effect book from Dark Horse debuts at over 6.3k at 274. This is a series with a pretty dedicated fanbase but given the lackluster reception to the last game, I’m not surprised the numbers are below par for even a video game comic.
Right below it is Dynamite’s James Bond Service Special which sells at over 6.1K and that’s not too shabby given its 7.99. It seems that Dynamite is really investing a lot in this property.
There’s also some reorders of Secret Empire 0 at 280 with sales over 6k. It seems to be the month of the reorder, we’ll see if Secret Empire number 1 makes it back next month too.
Ray: Additional orders are never a bad thing, but this certainly doesn’t show any hidden momentum for Secret Empire, especially given the numbers we saw on the #1-3 issues this month. Yet another ill omen for this long-running event over the coming months.
Glenn: A new BOOM title, Misfit City debuts at 282 with sales just under 6k. A new mini which essentially seems to be the Goonies…but with girls. No big names attached so pretty standard for an all-ages BOOM title with that in mind.
Ray: Misfit City had the writers of Legally Blonde on board, and they may be very talented, but they’re definitely not household names in the comic industry. This is right in line with the disastrous numbers of Backstagers and Namesake, both of which had a-list writers on board, so Boom clearly still has some issues in the single-issue market. I’m guessing the play here is for collections.
Glenn: Right below it is a new version of Underdog (Underdogggggg) selling also just under 6k at 283. Given that its you know…Underdog…that’s not too shabby.
More reorders! This time from Valient in their mega successful XO Manowar book picks up another 5.6k and change of sales at 290. This is the title that is really bucking the Valient trend and getting reorders like this even after a few months is very impressive.
Hey, Mosiac survived the top 300 and ends with sales over 5.5k at 295! Clap hands for Mosiac and then let us never speak of him again.
Ray: Ah, Mosaic. Well, it didn’t fall out of the top 300 like Slapstick did, so…win?
Glenn: Seemingly tying in with their cartoon resurgence, IDW brings out a new Powerpuff Girls comic which debuts at 296 with sales over 5.4k. The franchise is well past its peak and retailers are likely just ordering it for the odd customer who might buy it for their child on a whim. Of course, todays children will want Plastic but they’ll get Powerpuff Girls!
At 300 we have a tie! Both Copperhead and Josie and the Pussycats oddly enough sell just over 5.2k Will either one remain in the charts next month? Most likely not. As Ray mentioned, outside of Archie the books from that publisher are floundering poorly and will likely all get cancelled apart from Jughead which will get a reprieve due to Waid taking over. (Note: Jughead has too been given the heave ho) With Copperhead, its a case of a book being delayed too long and the audience moving on. Its a shame because I think its a great book but I wouldn’t be surprised if writer Jay Faerber rides it off into the sunset and hopes for better from his next Image book coming out shortly.
Ray: 5.2 is actually a pretty high bar for the #300 book, so that’s kind of a good sign for the market overall. Copperhead seems to be wrapping up again after this arc, with a new arc in question. Josie hasn’t been solicited this month. So you’re probably right that both will be going away. Their biggest sin, though? Pushing poor Zombie Tramp out of the top 300!
Glenn: Next month, we all go Loony!
Ray: Indeed! The biggest event of the month has got to be the DC vs. Looney Tunes event. They’ve got some a-list characters and creators on board. Could Tom King’s Batman vs. Elmer Fudd break into the top ten? I think it’s possible. Besides that, it’s a big month for Batman with the Bat-proposal in #24 followed by the start of the War of Jokes and Riddles at #25. And that’s just one of seven books to hit the #25 mark with oversized issues in June, so it should be a strong month for DC.
For Marvel, it’s…Secret Empire! Secret Empire everywhere! There’ll be two more issues of the main event, along with a bunch of tie-ins with similar name. This is where we’ll really start to see just how ugly the numbers will get for the main event. There’s also going to be a few stand-alone series debuting this month, with the headliner being Chip Zdarsky’s Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, which should lock down a top ten spot. Bendis’ Defenders should also have a solid start. Iceman...less so. There’s also a preview issue of Marvel’s next event, Edge of Venomverse. The likely #1 book of the month, though? Darth Vader’s new series. It’s the calm before the storm of Legacy, which will certainly fix everything!
Quite a few interesting Image debuts, including new titles from Howard Chaykin, Gail Simone, and Steve Niles, plus Greek thriller Kill the Minotaur, and the one, the only…Shirtless Bear Fighter! Aftershock is bringing us a new title from Boys creative team Garth Ennis and Russ Braun, and a supernatural thriller from Donny Cates. And Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer makes his Valiant debut with Secret Weapons.
Looking like an exciting month up ahead!
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