By The Numbers: July 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. Is wondering where the first year of his sons life has gone and is wondering if Dr. Manhatten is responsible.
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. He recently wrote a stellar article on Geekdad about disibility representation that you should go read after you finish this first.
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: On the surface, July seems to have been a verly quiet month with most of the big stories carrying on and very huge big launches. As always though, the numbers tell a more interesting story at more than just first glance and that’s why we’re here once again to look over sales in July!
With nothing close to its prominence in its path, Dark Days: The Casting easily took the number one spot this month with sales of over 128.2k. Only selling around 2k less than last month’s the Forge is incredible stability and more positive news for Metal (releasing in 2 days at the time of this writing) which should do gangbusters for DC. There was an extra month of orders for anyone that missed the roll out but still a bit muted for something that was pushed as Metal 0.1 and 0.2. With the Forge picking up over 8.4k in reorders at 216 this month, you can expect the Casting to be back in the charts next month again. More good news for DC as Metal prepares to probably blow everything else out of the charts next month sales wise.
Ray: This is basically exactly even with last month’s results for Dark Days, down only 2K or so. That’s an amazing hold and shows the numbers last month weren’t inflated – in fact, they were likely deflated by ordering issues. Very good numbers, especially since DC didn’t go over the top with incentives or variant covers for these issues. I think the best thing to take from this is that if these two issues, which were underordered and announced with relatively short notice, can dominate the charts, we’re probably looking at utterly dominant numbers for Metal in the coming months. I wouldn’t be shocked to see it stay over 200K for the entire run, the way Secret Wars did.
Glenn: At 2 is another new X-Men title from Marvel in the form of Astonishing X-Men which sells over 122.2k. This title had megastar artist on Jim Cheung on board which no doubt helped move the needle but it seems that the X franchise seems to be regaining some interest. It isn’t the monster it was (nor probably ever will be again) but signs for X-Men: Blue and Gold show that there is some interest in the mutants (Gifted) part of the Marvel universe. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that the previous Astonishing X-Men was the mega watt series by Joss Whedon and John Cassidy, sometimes branding is all you need.
Ray: Nice debut numbers, in line with what we saw the first issues of the two main series do a few months back. Of course, with this title changing artists every issue, sales are going to be even more mutable than normal on a Marvel book. The last time a title tried an experiment like this, it was the low-profile Scarlet Witch, so this is obviously on a much bigger scale. We’ll see how it does next month, but if it can settle down to the same level as Gold or Blue, it should be a solid win for Marvel.
Glenn: I forgot Astonishing is going to be switching artists quickly. Its an interesting gamble but I don’t think it’ll pay off. People like to know whose going to be drawing their books and any buzz from Cheung’s involvement will evaporate unless Marvel can get someone around his level every issue which is a hard task for any company.
Carrying on life back in the 6 figure club through the War Of Jokes and Riddles is Batman with issues 26 and 27 at 3 and 4 respectively selling over 107k and 102.3k. Super solid as always. DC only had three comics in the top ten this month and they all featured Batman heavily. It is amusing to think however that issue 27 of Batman was the brilliant ‘Kite Man’ issue. Even when featuring a D list villain more than its main star, Batman can beat any book in the charts on its best day on a regular basis.
Ray: So Batman seems to have gotten a long-term boost for King’s first Joker arc. We’ll see if it holds when this book returns to the present, but the fallout from the Batposal should help there. Also, Kite-Man. Hell Yeah.
Glenn: Another double whammy next in Secret Empire at 5 and 6 selling over 85.8k and over 81.3k respectively showing that the controversial event has stabilized and should stay above 70k at the very least. Probably not what Marvel wanted out of the event as they took a huge gamble on the story. In itself its going to perform better than some lower key events like Fear Itself but nowhere near the monsters like Civil War and House Of M. I could say that its the market but Metal will probably show different. Even though its performing probably below expectations but still respectfully enough (story aside) it seems that Secret Empire is doing little to nothing for the Marvel books tied to it which we’ll talk about later….a good bit later.
Ray: Yeah, these are standard Marvel drops for Secret Empire. It’ll likely finish its run a bit above Inhumans vs. X-Men, but well below what we saw from the last line-wide crossover. It’s not an unmitigated disaster – it is beating the rest of the line handily right now – but this is probably the best they could expect from a big event spinning out of a poorly received status quo. Marvel’s bigger worry should be just how much this will blunt the sales for Legacy.
Glenn: At 7 is top ten staple Star Wars with sales just under 75k and this is essentially the rock solid title Marvel has that is closest in comparison to Batman that they have among their roster in terms of sales reliability. Top Marvel writer Jason Aaron will be leaving the galaxy far, far away soon for under projects but this title is probably going to see a minimal difference just due to what it is.
Ray: That’s a nice 5K bump for Star Wars for what I believe was a stand-alone issue focusing on Luke and Leia. With that, there’s a chance that next month this could be back to being the #1 Marvel book if Secret Empire keeps declining.
Glenn: At 8 is Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again, a sequel (?) mini by the same writer, Cullen Bunn debuting at just over 74k. Although he’s maybe over the main peak of his popularity for the time being, Deadpool can still perform a really good number considering this an out of continuity mini by someone who isn’t the main writer of his book. It’ll probably settle about 40k or so which would place it among Marvel’s upper tier which is great for a mini.
Ray: Deadpool Kills… did ship its second issue this month, landing at #31 with sales of 42K! So that’s basically exactly what you said. Glenn the prophet! It’s definitely not the Deadpool mania numbers of the past, but it’s still a great number for a side miniseries in an alternate continuity.
Glenn: Another month I missed a second issue in the same month, curse Marvel and their double shipping! At least I was right in one respect. Most of these mini’s will be off to fill all the collection walls in the world when Deadpool 2 comes out anyway.
Its a relatively quiet month for debut and when things are quiet it means that Walking Dead gets a chance to move up in the chart rankings due to its ‘hail, rain or snow’ performance. Its at 9 with over 67.9k. A verly lower than average number for the title but it always drops down a little then bounces up again. No concerns ever here.
Final place in the top ten is Spider-Men II, the sequel to Spider-Men which saw the first team up between regular Spider-Man, Peter Parker and his Ultimate counterpart, Miles Morales. Back when the initial mini was published the crossover was a big deal but since the destruction of the Ultimate Universe, team ups between Peter and Miles aren’t so special. It sells just under 68k probably due to the curiosity revolving around the cliffhanger about the ‘other’ Miles Morales at the end of the previous team and the strength of the creative team. Based on the creative team alone however, this book should have done a lot better but its like them doing a Human Torch and Thing miniseries. The creators can only drum up so much interest, if people are seeing Peter and Miles together all the time in their respective titles it makes a separate mini like this one feel less special.
Ray: Yeah, these numbers aren’t terrible, but I don’t think a comic starring two Spider-man written by arguably Marvel’s top writer just barely squeaking into the top ten is anything to write home about. This seems like it’ll probably settle down to close to the level of Miles’ solo series, maybe a bit higher. Definitely not an event like it used to be in any way.
Glenn: This is the lowest entry point for the top ten in quite some time but again…its a very quiet month, I’d say things will be relatively back to normal next month.
Ray:You’re right, a lot of titles climbed the rankings this month, just based on the lack of new competition. Favorite standbys like All-Star Batman, Star Wars side books (Vader, Maul), Amazing Spider-Man, Detective Comics, and Flash all take up residence between 10 and 20 as always, losing only modest numbers from their last issue.
At #17 this month we have the second issue of Peter Parker: Spider-Man, which sells 54K. That’s an over 75% drop, as was made likely by the massive Collector’s Corps boost last month, but this still immediately takes its second issue below Amazing Spider-Man. That doesn’t sound good for long-term stability. If Zdarsky is on this title for the long haul, it’s likely to stabilize, but if it becomes an anthology like so many other secondary books, it could run into trouble. I think the main lesson here is that all new Marvel books are struggling a bit due to issues with the company as a whole.
Glenn: That’s a better drop than I expected for Peter Parker: Spider-Man. If it settles around 40-45k that would be better than most of their characters can manage on their main titles, never mind a ‘b’ title. e.
Ray: Some odd sales patterns for X-Men Gold, which jumps 5K to land at #20 with sales of 53K – and the loses 7K the same month to take it below last month’s sales. This is the second month this has happened, with a biweekly book leaping for the first issue of the month, and then crashing with the second. Blue follows a similar pattern, although both issues are down from last month. Both of these were Secret Empire tie-ins for the record, but I’m not sure how much impact that had.
Glenn:It does seem to have settles around a better number than the recent relaunches have managed and that could be due to Secret Empire or just general reinterest in the X-Men themselves. Double shipping might be helping but its hard to tell. I think these two books are going to be quite radically overhauled following Legacy so I’m not sure how that’ll effect things. The strategy with Legacy makes it hard to gage a lot of numbers because they could all look very different for better or worse afterwards.
Ray: Edge of Venomverse’s massive first-issue numbers featuring Venom-23 were apparently a fluke, as issues 2 (Gvenompool) and 3 (Venom Rider) didn’t show much momentum, with #2 losing almost 50% of its sales to land at #24 (50K) followed by a further tumble to #33 (42K). The main series should get a big boost when it debuts next month, though.
Glenn: I’d still say those Edge Of Venomverse numbers are still very good for a lead in to an event that’s being done cause 90’s. Its a nice bonus that Marvel probably weren’t expecting and that’s something they need in spades.
Ray: This is the section of the chart where it’s basically the usual suspects every month. There’s a lot of DC (Justice League, Superman, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, Harley, Titans, Suicide Squad), with some Marvel sneaking in (X-Men books, Old Man Logan, Thor, Deadpool, Doctor Aphra), plus the little book that could, Saga. These are the healthy regulars of the charts, and most are long-time books that have already stabilized. Without any major launches this month, they’re all able to lock down in the top 50.
Glenn: Should be noted that Old Man Logan has really stabelized after losing Lemire. That’s a big win for new relatively untested Ed Brisson. Is this due to the Logan movie or Mike Deodato or just genuine interest? No matter what the reason, its starting to become one of Marvel’s most solid performers.
Ray: Captain America: Steve Rogers continues to slide down the charts, losing 2K in sales even as it gains 4 actual spaces due to the lack of competition. Nothing related to Secret Empire seems to have any real momentum – nor does the main series, for that matter. The final issue of Metal will likely outsell the top-selling issue of SE.
Glenn: Considering that its the same writer on both books and you’d therefore assume that Cap: Steve Roger’s was one of the key tie-ins it definitely shows a large disinterest in the story outside of the main mini. When Legacy rolls around, Captain America will be in a very different place under the eye of Waid and Samnee so its sales right now are irrelevant long term cause in 4-6 months or so the table is entirely getting turned over.
Ray: Defenders #3 lands at #48 with sales of 35K, another harsh drop from the second issue. Much like with Peter Parker: Spider-Man, this is a title that should probably be doing better – Bendis writing four popular street-level heroes, three who he’s considered to be the iconic writer for – but Marvel as a whole is dragging even their winners down. More on that later (or laytor, for Rabbit Stew fans. Gong!)
Glenn: Slides are better than what we’ve seen from Marvel in recent times but still not great. It seems most of the bigger titles losing 20k+ from issue to issue are over…at least with the key books. Some aren’t so lucky as Defenders.
Ray: Justice League of America seems to be settling into the same sales range as books like Nightwing, Teen Titans, and Super-Sons. These are all definitely the b-list DC books, but they’re still stable above the majority of Marvel books right now. They’re all in roughly the 35K range from 50-60, which isn’t great, but again, nothing’s rising above them, is it?
A bit surprised to see Venom sinking so low to #55, at 34K. The book seemed to have some real momentum with Eddie Brock’s return, but it’s mostly disappeared. Venomverse should give the book a solid boost next month, though. It’s just above All-New Wolverine and Avengers (which really, is the saddest thing on these charts).
Glenn: After seeming like a breakaway hit, Venom is settling back to numbers that make a little more sense. This is still a good 15-20k better than the last Flash Thompson Venom run which is good news. It doesn’t seem that the Legacy renumbering here has really made much impact but its hard to tell whether the slightly better sales are because of the number on the book or Eddie returning. I know where my money would be if I was a betting man.
Again a Secret Empire in Avengers doesn’t seem to be making much difference. All signs point towards Jason Aaron taking over the franchise sooner than later and that is really the best possible move Marvel could make with their current talent pool. Things are not great for Avenger’s but Aaron taking over does imply a light at the end of the tunnel.
Another title that is a little depressing to look at is the new Guardians book at 75 with sales just under 28.5k. The relaunch boost is all gone and over-saturation with the characters has killed all the momentum this book had. From what I hear of the books quality, it deserves a lot better. This was a top ten franchise not that long ago. The news isn’t much better for Guardian side books but that’s pretty normal these days. The next issue also charts this month at 95 with sales over 23.2k so this is likely the last we’ll see of it in the top 100 for the time being. I’m not sure how Marvel will be able to right the ship on this one.
Ray: The numbers for Guardians are easily the most disturbing subplot on the charts this month, because this is a title that’s doing everything right. It’s got a popular, established writer (a multi-year run on Deadpool), a hot artist recently poached from DC, and a popular franchise team represented faithfully to their movie versions. Yet, it’s crashing. It’s likely a combination of Guardians fatigue due to Marvel’s obsessive desire to make this a multi-book franchise, plus the general loss of audience faith Marvel is suffering due to, well…everything. If this book can’t even have halfway decent sales, what hope does any other new book?
Glenn: At 78 is a special $1 True Believers reprint of Amazing Fantasy 15 and the Vulture story from Amazing Spider-Man 2 selling just under 27.5k. Perfectly fine numbers for what is essentially a promotion comic collecting two stories that have already been collected to death.
It manages to outsell the newest issue of Champions which is just one spot below it. I don’t really want to say more about that…
Ray: The long-term sales on Champions are a disaster. And another SE tie-in with no impact or actual decrease in sales, I should add.
Glenn: The throwaway one shot Spider-Man: Master Plan sells over 26.8k at 82. It also has a reprint of the first appearance of the Vulture from Amazing Spider-Man 2 (no, really). I’d say this is good enough for a one off story that doesn’t have much to do with anything and is likely to be just as remembered as past Spidey one shots like ‘Black & Blue & Read all over‘ and ‘The Short Halloween‘. Google them, they existed.
Ray: As this was essentially a lost issue of the Robbie Thompson series “Spidey“, these are definitely decent sales, well above what the series was selling by its end.
Glenn: A new Power Rangers title from BOOM! at 86 ‘Go, Go, Power Rangers‘ which chronicles the stories of the season 1 cast of the TV show from the 90’s sells over 26.1k. Again, I’d say that’s a good number for something that is going to aimed at the really hardcore/nostalgic Power Rangers crowd. I’d say it’ll be considered a good performer if it can manage half these sales regularly.
Ray: Power Rangers seems to be BOOM!’s one powerhouse franchise right now (no offense to the WWE, but they don’t seem to have a built-in comic fanbase), so this was clearly Boom’s attempt to test if they’re strong enough to support a spinoff. While the numbers won’t blow anyone away, by Boom’s standard it can definitely be considered a hit.
Glenn: As I said last month, people watching WWE are not likely to be hard pressed to go out and buy a comic based on the product but even then, Boom is doing better numbers with a comic starring their wrestlers than any other company I remember (it sells over 6.5k at 254 this month, for the record) but yeah, Power Rangers is much more attuned to getting existing fans wanting more material starring their favorite multicolored Kaiju teen fighting team.
The Weapon Mass Destruction story in Totally Awesome Hulk seems to have slowed its drops but doesn’t cause an increase. Its at 96 with sales just under 23k. There’s less than 200 copies between last issue and this probably due to the crossover but if the hope was a massive increase instead of a small decrease then there isn’t much else to say here.
Ray: This was a crossover between two moderately popular books that doesn’t seem to affect anything else. Sales were never going to be great here, but Totally Awesome Hulk stabilizing makes sense, as it normally sells much lower than Weapon X.
Glenn: The book that seems to be breaking from the slight stability the other X books are experiencing Generation X is at 99 with sales over 22.4k. It’ll be another out of the top 100 in all likelihood next month, don’t get attached folks.
Dynamite launches a comic about pin up icon Bettie Page which sells just under 21.3k Its Bettie Page so I’d completely and honestly consider this a spectacular launch. Expect it to be about 11 or 10k shortly but…yeah there ya go, proof that there can be interest in anything.
Ray: “Bettie Page’s secret comic book adventures” is a phrase I never thought I’d hear. Dynamite put some massive promotion into this book, and had a ton of variant covers, and these are pretty strong numbers. Shall we await a Bettie Page/Three Stooges crossover anytime soon?
Right below Bettie Page at #106 is the debut of a new Image title, Sacred Creatures, by comic art veterans Klaus Janson and Pablo Raimondi. While neither one is a household name, the book was launched as a massively oversized first issue for only $4.99, and that was good enough for sales of over 21K. Definitely a healthy launch for a new Image book, but this was a quiet month for Image – this is only their fourth book on the charts and their top launch of the month.
Glenn: There’s no disputing that Klaus Jansen is a legend in comics but his presence on a book doesn’t tend to do much for sales either way. Despite his impressive resume he seems to have the same sales pull any other inker in the industry has. Still its a decent launch like you said for an Image book. Well above their level of ‘unknown/new talent books’ which will give it a decent shelf life
Ray: Most of the Secret Empire tie-ins were in existing titles that saw little or no impact, but the spin-off minis have essentially been disasters. Both of this month’s issues of “Brave New World“, the regular anthology series sell well out of the top 100, landing at #116 and #123 in the 18-16K range. That’s roughly at the same level of the ending Captain America: Sam Wilson. Womp womp.
Glenn: I would say that the era of mini’s/one shots linking to events selling well (like Civil War: Front Line and such) is over but I’m pretty sure those Metal one shots will say different
Ray: There’s a new Rick and Morty miniseries, Pocket Like You Stole It, at #125 with sales of 16.5K. Rick and Morty is the closest thing to a hit franchise for Oni, and spin-offs are always good for reliable numbers. The fact that it’s this high up on the chart is mainly due to just how quiet this month was, though – there were a lot of books that were in the top 100 that normally don’t make it.
Glenn: Rick and Morty have a big cult following too and that seems to follow things like this into comics. Fans of the bizarre cartoon want to see more of them in any format and a monthly comic will keep them appeased between seasons. Its not going to be have a massive following but it’ll deliver solidly from a group of loyal fans so good for Oni for landing the licence.
Ray: Batman #24, the famous Batposal issue, charts again with extremely strong reorders of 15.9K, at #128. This shows some massive interest in this story – and was enough to outsell both the long-delayed final issue of Jupiter’s Legacy and the third issue of Iceman in the next two slots.
Glenn:Those reorders on Batman are really impressive. Not surprising since many retailers likely didn’t know what was going to happen in the issue and it got a LOT of interest. Earlier, I credited Batman rejoining the six figure club to the War Of Jokes and Riddles but this story could have brought back the extra 5k or so of people to land it there as they wait to see how far the idea goes.
Ray: Another Image debut at #131, the quirky monster romance comic Moonstruck. We talked about this one on the Rabbitt Stew (Dong!) and we both agreed this sounded a lot more like a Boom comic than an Image one. I’m not sure the regular Image market turned out for this, and retailers were likely a bit cautious as a result, even with former Marvel writer Kate Leth on the creative team.
Glenn: Still slightly higher than the average ‘untested writer’ waters that Image manages. The oddness of the concept may have caught some attention. It shows that Image is still willing to try out new genres and quirky ideas which is super cool.
Ray: The Allreds deliver a Batman ’66 one-shot with Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes, which lands at #134 with sales of 15.3K. Given that this was a spin-off of a digital-first title, these numbers are about what I’d expect. Great issue, though.
Glenn: The Legion have yet to make an official full return in the DCU and Batman 66 is a niche book with a specific fan base so like you say, good enough for a combination of both. I would say the Allred’s were the real driving factor in the sales more than who was involved.
Ray: Another Image debut with moderate numbers is Generation Gone, Ales Kot’s latest complex conspiracy thriller. Kot is one of those creators with a small but devoted cult audience, so sales of 15.2K is probably not bad for this issue. Definitely no breakouts from Image this month, though.
After a long hiatus, Descender returns, not missing a beat with sales just over 15K for issue #22 at #137. Jeff Lemire’s books tend to stabilize very quickly and have a loyal audience, so the time off for the artist to get ahead doesn’t seem to have hurt it a bit.
Glenn: Descender is doing a self contained one book event which is an interesting idea for a creator owned book and something Walking Dead excels at. It hasn’t let the excellent title pick up any new fans but its not at any risk at all of disappointing its publisher or creators either as its as stable as something that usually houses a horse.
Glenn: It should be noted at 140 that Spider-Man 2099 ended its run with 25 with sales over 14.7k. A good long run for this book and a decent number to end on. Considering he was a cult favorite from the 90’s, Miguel outlasted a lot of series starring characters much better known than him. This is likely due to a loyal audience his creator, Peter David brings more than anything and Scarlet Spider will probably be replacing it not only in terms of creative team but in sales equivalent also. Will it last as long? Time will tell.
Ray: 2099 is probably the type of book that wouldn’t last this long in the current market. Marvel’s blown their goodwill to the point that a spinoff title like this would struggle out of the gate. So in retrospect, this is a pretty impressive run.
A very healthy hold for Shirtless Bear Fighter at #143, selling over 14.4K. Despite this book not having any name creators and an…offbeat concept, it seems like a genuine word of mouth hit for Image.
The TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo one-shot, written and drawn by legendary creator Stan Sakai, charts at #145 with sales of just over 14K. That’s about 2K above the sales of the main TMNT ongoing this month, and given that this was priced at $7.99, that’s a really good number.
Glenn: I would say Sakai returning to these characters drummed up a decent amount of interest. Both franchises also have a very dedicated core fanbase and this book was obviously for them rather than casuals. Anything at this level or above with that price is great as you say.
Ray: Benitez Productions seems to land a book fairly high up on the charts once in a while, and this month it’s Lady Mechanika: Clockwork Assassin with sales of 14K at #147. To be honest, I don’t even know what this is, but the company knows how to get sales for their #1s.
Speaking of low sales for Guardians of the Galaxy, the Telltale Series spinoff debuts at #151 with sales of 13.4K. Given that this is both a digital-first series and a video game spinoff, I can’t imagine Marvel was expecting too much more here.
Glenn: Considering its selling only about 10k less than the actual, real Guardians book I’d say that’s a very good number for the Telltale Guardians. This is really only a comic for hardcore Guardian fans and those who play the game and maybe want to pick up a Guardians comic as a result without having to dive into the proper series.
Another True Believers one-shot, this one of the first issue of Miles Morales’ new series, lands at #153 with sales of 13.3K. Not bad for what’s essentially a promotional comic for Marvel.
Ray: Cullen Bunn’s new Aftershock comic, the Medieval horror book Unholy Grail, charts at #156 with exactly three copies under 13K. This seems to be the level of Aftershock books without megawatt creative teams attached, and I’m expecting similar numbers for his Biblical horror story Dark Ark in a few months.
Vertigo books are few and far between on the charts these days, but there’s a new #1 in the form of The American Way: Those Above and Those Below. This is a sequel to the cult-hit civil rights-themed superhero story by Hollywood writer John Ridley. It sells 12.5K at #160, and given how long it’s been since the first volume, those numbers are pretty decent. But this is clearly a book that will sell MUCH better in collections for years to come, just like the original.
Glenn: Ridley won an Oscar so that likely gave the book a little advantage over the average Vertigo title. I’ve actually not heard of this book before so if it can come back and sell a decent Vertigo offering after many, many years away it shows that there’s still a dedicated fan base there.
Ray: Speaking of long-missing titles, at #169 we have the #0 issue of Mage: The Hero Denied, which sells 11.7K. We’re talking about essentially a generation since the last installment of this series, so it must have been very hard to order. Much like with Cerebus, this is naturally a cult book with a limited audience in singles.
Glenn: Mage is another one that doesn’t ring a bell with me. As you said on the Stew (dong!) this will be one retailers may have ordered cautiously on since they didn’t know if old fans will be back. Like Cerebus, if it keeps coming out and makes it to trades it’ll probably perform better outside the direct market, internationally and other such places.
Ray: Just like the last few months, Cyborg is the lowest-selling Rebirth title at #171, with sales of 11.5K. That’s only down about five hundred copies from last month, though, so it seems like the natural stability of Rebirth goes from top to bottom.
Glenn: Justice League movie is only a few months away and Cyborg is in a different league (I’m here all week, try the shrimp) compared to his other teammates. Will DC give him a relaunch come November? I think it might be better to exclude him to League and other such team books, hopefully DC will learn from Marvel that movie exposure doesn’t always translate to sales.
Ray: Archie #22, which featured a massive status quo change for one of the core four, takes another uptick in sales as it lands at #173 with sales of just over 11K. The title had sunk below 10K as the Over the Edge story begins, so Archie taking risks is paying off, it seems. And keep an eye on GeekDad next week as yours truly breaks down the next issue in a special column! (Dong!)
Glenn: Sad times for Time & Vine, I know that was one you really liked. If you’re reading this and you enjoyed it, the fact that it missed the top 300 should prompt you to try and get more eyes on the book.
Greg Rucka’s Lazarus returns this month from Image at 178 with sales just under 11k in the form of a six part mini. Its been a while since this book was last seen so its a decent performance for anyone sticking around. Not sure where the series left off but this number gives me the impression that retailers ordered it as if the series never stopped.
A new Valiant mini debuts below that at 179 with Secret Weapons which sells just a shade over 10.9k. Standard stuff for the average Valiant book despite having an Oscar nominated writer at the helm. As usual, the dedication of their fanbase is unwavering by and large, many companies would love that dependability in their readers.
Ray: The second issue of Secret Weapons also ships this month, and sells just under 8K at #224. Like you said, standard numbers for one of the more popular Valiant books. They’re a brand, and that brand gives most of their core titles solid numbers.
Glenn: Rising star Donny Cates and his Aftershock book Babyteeth has its second issue at 180 selling 10.7k. Pretty harsh fall from last month but still better than most Aftershock second issues. I would say that given his upcoming time at Marvel coming up, a lot of companies are going to be glad to be able to have some of his work in trade form in a few months and Aftershock will be right there with them.
Ray: I believe that still puts Babyteeth as the highest selling Aftershock title by a fair margin, so even if the first issue numbers were unsustainable, Cates seems to have genuine pull as a writer right now.
Glenn: Not sure why Zombies Assemble is listed as a zero issue in their third month but it sells over 10.7k too at 181 which means it was basically ordered like the third issue. I have no clue what the story is here, Marvel and their confusing numbering also hits the world of zombies too it seems.
About a 50% fall for Gail Simone’s Crosswind from Image landing at 185 with sales over 10.2k. Decent enough for your standard Image book, again I’d have expected more given Gail’s involvement but her time doing some smaller company work may have diminished her star power somewhat. I doubt this title will move much from here however and that will let it run as long as she wants.
I think that’s the final issue of Occupy Avenger’s at 191 with sales just over 10k. Who could have predicted it?!?!?! Oh wait…we did.
Ray: Between the terrible promotional campaign and the fact that it was essentially a stealth sequel to Red Wolf and Nighthawk, I don’t know what Marvel was expecting here, but off it goes to hang out with Black Knight.
Glenn: Similar to the True Believers books, DC delivers a ‘Justice League Essentials‘ reprint of Batman Rebirth 1 which sells over 9.9k at 193, I’d say thats very good considering it was only released around a year ago
Ever wondered what the origins were behind Rabbit Stew and By The Numbers unofficial mascot, Zombie Tramp? Now you can with Zombie Tramp origins which sells over 9.8k at 193! Given that this title is regular at the very bottom of the charts or even misses it entirely, I’d say this flashback book sales are the cause of celebration for their small publisher. We like to think we helped but we probably didn’t.
Ray: We’re totally the power behind the scenes of Zombie Tramp’s rise on the charts.
Glenn: An MCU prelude book in Thor: Ragnorak which I believes retells the entirety of the Incredible Hulk movie sells over 9.7k at 195. This is for the die hards only and for those wondering in from the cinema raiding the $1 bins in a few months.
Ray: I fell for these “prelude” issues a few times, but not anymore. They used to be original stories, like the Dr. Strange prelude, but now they’re essentially just reprints. I think the majority of these sales are to completists and suckers.
Glenn: Another BPRD book from Dark Horse sells over 9.6k at 197. Standard stuff from this franchise and the fourth highest selling title from Dark Horse this month. This is why they keep doing BPRD material, it pays the bills.
The uber controversial Divided States of Hysteria’s second issue lands at 201 with sales 9.3k which is pretty standard for an Image book by a creator with only a cult hardcore following. I think next issue was the big controversial one so we’ll see if that gives it a bump in sales, I would say it will.
Ray:Given that the cover in question was pulled and retailers aren’t likely to boycott the series anymore, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s an effect. They say no publicity is bad publicity, but I don’t know if that’s true here.
At #202, we have the debut of Ducktales (Woo hoo!) #0. While this is obviously a title designed to promote the new series, the first issue felt more like an adaptation of the original series. Still, 9.2K isn’t bad for a title that’s clearly going to do most of its sales outside of the direct market.
Glenn: It should be noted also that Ducktails was from IDW, the massive Disney machine continues to spread the love when it comes to companies and their properties
Ray: BOOM! has another debut in the form of the noir crime comic Sisters of Sorrow, which is co-written by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. That probably helped get it to the strong-for-Boom sales of 9K at #205, although given that it came and went with no real hype, those sales might not hold.
A great debut for Black Mask at #208 with Calexit, which sells 8.7K and immediately sold out. It’s probably their top-selling book that isn’t written by in-house star writer Matthew Rosenberg, who’s since broken into the mainstream. They have to be really happy with this.
Glenn: Calexit got some buzz because its a concept that people can get behind given the political scene in America. It might not hold but it managed to generate some interest out of the gate.
Ray: Another of these DC Justice League Essentials issues at #210, reprinting the debut of Flash: Rebirth for a dollar. DC won’t be mad with 8.7K additional sales, that’s for sure.
Glenn: Again, the issue is just a year old so no, they won’t be bothered.
Ray: A Rom vs. Transformers miniseries at #214 with 8.6K. Pretty standard numbers for IDW’s toy tie-ins, which sell to a loyal core audience.
Hey, there’s Dark Days: The Forge again at #216! You mentioned this earlier in the column, and it sells roughly in the same area as first-run DC book Shade the Changing Girl. Some real heat for this event.
Glenn: I suspect that Metal will see some serious reorders much like Rebirth did once it gets going properly. We saw Rebirth show up in the charts 2-3 months after it ended with solid numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Metal can pull that off too.
Ray: Ash vs. the Army of Darkness had a $1 #0 issue last month, and sold decently, but the #1 issue this month sheds the majority of those sales to sell 8.3K at #219. That’s a pretty standard pattern with Dynamite, as the promotional issues get eyes but they don’t necessarily stick around.
Faith and the Future Force returns with sales of 7.8K at #225. On the surface, this is a weak debut, but I think retailers were just treating this as Faith #13, which would give it a nice bump from the previous volume. This is a bit more of a cult hit than some of Valiant’s bigger names, but it has its audience.
A new James Bond mini from Dynamite at #230, with sales of 7.6K. This seems to be Dynamite’s most reliable franchise at the moment.
There’s the Street Fighter Swimsuit Special from Udon at #231! I know it’s probably mostly cheesecake shots of Chun-Li and Cammi, but I hope Blanka and Dhalsim had a great day at the beach and didn’t let anyone body shame them. Good for just under 7.6K sales. Okay.
Glenn: Our time machine brings us back to the 90’s with this swimsuit whatsit. I’d say these are damn good numbers for a cult game adaption that doesn’t feature any story. Of course I now want the publisher to pay me for all the visions of red trunk Bison I now have in my mind.
Ray: And it manages to outsell Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, one spot below! It’s clear that single issue sales mean nothing to this title at this point, but I do wonder when Marvel will decide they’re not worth it and shift it fully to affordable trades for the bookstore market.
The Bloodshot one-shot “Bloodshot’s Day Off” sells just under 7.5K at #234. Given that this wasn’t by the regular creative team, and wasn’t hyped extensively, that’s not bad. Another case of Valiant’s rock-solid floor on main-line books.
Boom’s prequel mini for War of the Planet of the Apes lands at #239 with sales of 7.2K. This was released around the same time as the movie, and probably benefited from that, but I don’t know if the Apes have all that much sales pull in the comic book world.
Glenn:The Planet Of The Apes franchise never really had the mass appeal other major movie franchises do and this will people wanting a bit more of the story. I think the direction the relaunched movie franchise has given the property is one of the best revitalization we’ve seen in recent times but people still want their apes on the big screen or on the home viewing platform of their choosing.
Ray: Lot of reprints in this segment of the chart, including Justice League, Peter Parker Spider-Man (the old one), and a Brand New Day reprint, all selling around 7K or a bit under in the space between 239 and 250. We know Marvel does these every time there’s a movie, but I guess DC decided the time was right to get some new fans on board!
The 1966 version of Green Hornet meets the Spirit in an intra-company crossover for Dynamite. Neither franchise is a huge hit, so these sales of 6.7K at #248 are pretty standard.
Dark Horse drops a new Groo miniseries, “Play of the Gods“, to sales of 6.6K at #249, which is typical for Groo. This is a franchise that’s been plugging along for decades now intermittently, so retailers undoubtedly know exactly what they’re doing.
Glenn: Groo has been going forever and has an established audience that at this point will never go up or down. I wonder how many retailers ordered it misreading it as a new ‘Groot‘ title.
Ray: At #252 with sales of 6.5K is one of the oddest comics of the month, Skin & Earth. This was an experimental comic tying into a concept album by an alternative musician. I’m still not sure what it’s about, but apparently 6.5K people do?
Glenn: I used to be cool but they changed what cool was? This is an odd sounding book that seems to not be for the average comic fan but I’m not sure the bands fans will be interested either by and large. This almost seems like a Kickstarter book by the band or an official licencing by the band to launch a kickstarter that found its way into the charts without said Kickstarter. Hard to judge the numbers because its not really the norm.
The Ennis title from Aftershock Jimmy’s Bastards (sorry Mum) has a decent hold at 255 with over 6.4k. This is going to be for Ennis loyalists and will probably do well in collection form like his other smaller press projects like the Boys for years to come.
At 259 is the oddest comic on the chart possibly (that’s saying something this month) in the form of Centipede from Dynamite selling over 6.2k. This is based of the classic computer game where you had a centipede go round the screen eating things without hitting the sides. Not sure how it became a comic and likely retailers ordered cautiously while they tried to figure it out too.
Ray: Centipede was just as weird as it sounds, an experimental book about a dude who may be the last living person fighting the Centipede monsters from the game. Given that…these numbers are fine? I can’t believe Dynamite put out a one-man show about loneliness driving someone insane, based on an old video game.
Glenn: Harsh drop for Gwar Orgasmageddon (sorry mum) as it clocks in at 261 with over 6.1k. This is the comic that probably makes people wish they were seen reading Sex Criminals over this so yeah…not a surprise given its title.
A pretty solid hold (around 2k) for Briggs Land Lone Wolves this month as it charts at 262 with sales also around the 6.1k mark. This is from Brian Wood so he’s got his own set fanbase and seems to be a continuation of a long running series so that’s probably why it seems to have stabilized very quickly. Pretty good for Dark Horse these days.
One of Aftershock’s best performing books, Aminosity relaunched last month and continues with the second issue charting 265 with sales just under 6k. Its starting to drop to the lower dreggs of the chart but the book seems to have developed a strong following among fans. I’m sure Aftershock are happy enough to have a franchise that seems to have got a fanbase around it of some description.
Ray: This is actually a spin-off for Animosity, set in the immediate aftermath of “the wake”, so that’s pretty decent. This is Aftershock’s first two-book franchise, I think.
At 267 is reorders for Batman 25 at over 5.9k for the start of the War Of Jokes and Riddles. A new story line featuring two iconic Batman villains, an anniversary number and the possible continuation of the Batproposal from 24 seems to have gotten retailers interested in ordering more of what is already an incredible selling title.
Priced at 9.99 the 25th anniversary 225th issue of Savage Dragon manages sales over 5.6k at 272. Asking to pay 9.99 for any comic is a big ask but managing this number and on a title that is now 25 years old is a respectable feat. It seems that creator Erik Larson has no intention of stopping now and still manages to do his own book the exact way he wants without having to worry about anyone or anything else. A very rare position to have in the industry.
Right below it at 273 is the second issue of Clue selling over 5.5k. Pretty standard stuff from IDW for a property with no notable creators and a quirky atmosphere.
Speaking of IDW they launch a new title in the form of Dread Gods which is the first part of a mini that in itself with will be the first in a trilogy (got that? Great) by some recognizable people like Ron Marz and Bart Sears. It manages to chart at 276 with sales over 5.4k. None of the people involved have done anything of note for a long time and IDW are better suited for licenced stuff rather than creator owned. If they are planning a trilogy here then it might be rough going before it concludes if this is where we’re starting.
Ray: IDW’s long had trouble with creator-owned books, and this Kirby-inspired fantasy-superhero pastiche didn’t seem to have much in the way of promotion. Not a big surprise.
Glenn: Another part of the ‘major’ Jem and the holograms ‘event’ comes in the form of Jem and the Misfits Infinite charting at 281 selling over 5.1k. I’m sure Jem fans are genuinely excited about this but if IDW hoped a bit of extra hype would give the franchise some new interest outside its existing fan base, I think they’re not living in the same world you and I am.
At 284, Archie goes old school with ‘Your Pal Archie‘ selling over 5k. This is new Archie stories in a more traditional style than the successful Waid led reboot. This is about how Archie would have performed before said Reboot so its pretty standard stuff.
Ray: My assumption is that Archie is still aiming this book for the newsstand market, so given that, the standard direct market numbers won’t bother them at all. Decent debut for the Archie where nothing horrible ever happens to anyone.
Glenn: I think 287 wins ‘best title of the month’ which comes from Dark Horse in the form of Zodiac Starforce Cries Of Fire Prince which might be the most 80/90’s cartoon sounding thing ever. The title sells just under 5k and after a quick Google that seems to be what it is! I’m not familiar with this property but much like Jem proves, it’ll have someone out there somewhere dying for this.
Ray: Zodiac Starforce is essentially an edgier, action-packed take on the “magical girl” genre. The first was critically acclaimed but never quite took off, so this is about what I’d expect here.
Glenn: The awesomely named Space Goat publishing releases a book called the Howling which sells over 4.5k at 294. Again given that they’re probably a very small company, they’re probably thrilled just to be on the charts.
A second Casper book from a different company launches at 299 with sales over 4.4k this month. Since the market can barely sustain two titles for the majority of its most iconic heroes, I doubt anyone was asking for another Casper comic…even if its by someone else.
Ray: The rights situation with the Harvey characters is apparently very odd. The previous relaunch, by Joe Books, had much better sales and quite a few name creators on board, while this one was very old school and featured quite a few reprints. I don’t think either comic has released a second issue so far, either.
Glenn: Finally at 300 is issue 6 of Shadows On The Grave selling around 4.4k also. Richard Corben has a very specific fanbase and it shows, this title will likely be gone from the charts from next month, never to return. Oooooo spooky.
Ray: Looking ahead, it’s a pretty big month for DC in particular. Of course, there’s a little book called Metal, which should absolutely dominate the top of the charts with sales in excess of 300K. Big Bang Comics has said this is selling like nothing they’ve seen in years, maybe decades. I doubt it’ll approach the orders of black swan events like Star Wars #1 or Obama Meets Spider-Man, but we could be looking at the biggest event since Civil War.
It’s also Jack Kirby month at DC, with five one-shots featuring some of his famous creations, and the start of the twelve-issue Mister Miracle, the latest dark superhero reimagining from Tom King, which has gotten some of the best reviews in years. There’s also the dark alternate reality “Nightwing: The New Order“, where Dick Grayson declares war on superheroes.
For Marvel, the headliner is clearly the first five Generations one-shots. These are the ones focusing on Hulk, Jean Grey, Thor, Wolverine, and Hawkeye. It’ll be interesting to see if retailers treat these as an event or a side story. I’m guessing the latter. We’ll also be getting two more issues of Secret Empire, a Mace Windu miniseries, and a new Inhumans mini by Chris Priest.
There’s quite a few new Image launches this month as well, including witch horror Redlands, hard-boiled crime thriller The Hard Place, Amelia Earhart adventure Elsewhere, and Spy Seal. Featuring a seal who’s a spy. Or is it a spy who’s a seal?
And over in indieland, it’s time for the comic everyone’s waiting for…Garfield Meets Grumpy Cat! Move over, Metal. There’s also a five-part TMNT miniseries shipping this month, the launch of Turok from Dynamite, and plenty of other small-press books that will be fighting for a spot on the charts. What will make it? Wait and see!
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