By The Numbers: January 2018
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’s seen the pencils for the much delayed Sparks: The Way I Was by Katie Fleming and they look super awesome and can’t wait to show you all!
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 contacted about his thoughts on Supergirl being cancelled (announced after the typing of what you will read below) it is said that Ray walked into the distance with the sad music from the Hulk TV show mysteriously playing in the air…
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! We talk about these very sales numbers in the most recent episode here…but read this first so Bret doesn’t hurt us.
Top 300 in full available here!
Note: This article was written previously to Marvel announcing their all new all different ultimate stupendous spectacular relaunch. Yes it really is that time of year again.
Glenn: Its a new year for sales and in January we get the first impression of what the year will bring for all our favorite titles and comic companies respectively. Market share and units sold were split between Marvel and DC respectively which essentially means that Marvel made more money but DC sold more comics. Its a very steady even race between the two now as Marvel continues its slow slide and DC continues its slow rise. It was considered another poor month in sales overall but lets take a closer look and find out for ourselves.
Ray: As I recall, this is the first time in a while we’ve seen real movement in the market share portion of the charts. DC seems to be pretty consistently gaining, and this is before Marvel cancels a large segment of their line. They’ll lose a lot of raw sales, which may just allow DC to surpass them in unit sales as well.
Glenn: For the third month in a row, DC juggernaut Doomsday Clock topped the charts with over 157.7k which is a very, very minimal drop from last month. There are also reorders for the previous two issues which we’ll talk about later but if sales have stabilized this fast, its a great sign for the title. Again, I might have expected more overall for the sequel to Watchmen but I still would say that’s the market, not the book. Of course, the title is about to hit some big delays the issue after next so we’ll see how that effects things. It didn’t seem to impact Dark Knight III too much so I wouldn’t expect it to here.
At the second place in the podium is DC’s other juggernaut event (they’re just being greedy) issue 5 of the ridiculously successful Metal which sells just over 149k. There could be an argument that since Metal has tie ins and is a bigger scale than Doomsday Clock, its going to be seen as more of a success. Everything this tie-in has remotely brushed against has benefited and even though there have been some delays on the main mini, DC has capitalized with some very well selling tie-ins and one shots. The event is money and now is going to spin off into a Justice League run which will make the company even more money. People say the market is tired of events but DC has proved with Metal that when they’re done right, the market will respond.
Ray: Both Doomsday Clock and Metal seem to have pulled off a near impossible feat of holding almost steady or in some cases increasing from month to month. Compare this to recent Marvel events where we saw huge slides in sales mid-run. Delays are never good for a comic, of course, but we saw Dark Knight III weather massive delays with little to no slide in sales, and Doomsday Clock is actually relevant to the overall picture of the DCU, so I imagine the same effect will happen here.
Glenn: At 3 and 4 is the latest issues of Batman selling over 98.4k and 94.3k respectively. The ongoing that sells like an event book just keeps on trucking as we build towards the only superhero wedding this year that’ll matter.
Ray: Now that we know Batman #50 will feature the Bat-wedding (supposedly) and the return of the Joker, I could see that issue going over 200K and topping the month.
Glenn: 200k is a lofty call but its possible. We’ll definitely see it above the 150k range for sure. I would say the title will probably continue its slide down from that higher point rather than going back to previous levels as that’s been its pattern for a few years.
Walking Dead returns to the top ten at 5 with an anniversary issue in 175, a new story and a new villain which is enough to send its sales up to over 82.3k. It doesn’t take much to get people interested in Walking Dead again as it repeats its eternal pattern of great sales, very slow slide until they get great sales again. Rinse and repeat. When your little black and white indie comic is taking second place to Batman as the most consistent title on the charts, you don’t have much to worry about.
In an interesting experiment, Avengers 675 lands at 6 on the charts. So this is an anniversary issue which hasn’t really helped Marvel the last few months but mainly the increased sales of just under 80k is due to the much hyped ‘No Surrender’ storyline and the swapping of the title to weekly as all the other Avenger’s books under one banner. Marvel did the same thing a few years ago with Amazing Spider-Man to great success and it seems initially to pay off. Initially anyway. With it being a weekly we see immediately how this has performed and its not encouraging. Issue 676 is at 36 with sales under 40k, 677 is at 40 with sales over 38.4k and 678 is at 42 with sales over 37.4k. So its not a complete disaster by any means and the entire Avengers line is better off with the sales being a bit better than what the main title was doing prior to this, never mind how its performing versus how the secondary ones like Uncanny were doing. In that way, its a success so far but I’m sure Marvel were hoping for a little better. Next month if it stays around here, Marvel will have a decent weekly performer which is nothing to sneeze at but they were probably hoping for a top ten staple from this experiment and that is definitely not something on the cards here.
Ray: This Avengers book essentially replaces Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and US Avengers, and the following issues after the first-issue jump are essentially doing what the Waid Avengers book had been doing post-Legacy. So Marvel replaced one decently selling book and two poorly-selling ones with four decently selling books, and they have to be at least somewhat happy with that. It’s not any sort of big hit, but it stops the bleeding a bit for now on a title that they need to be able to sell decently.
Glenn: At 7 is the surprise success of the DC line, Batman: White Knight which has a small increase this month to sales over 73k. This is performing like a much smaller scale Dark Knight III which is probably surprising everyone involved. Big props to writer/artist Sean Murphy and a huge pat on the back to DC for managing to find another steady seller that has surpassed expectations.
Ray: White Knight is the little Bat-book that could. A title consistently increasing in sales and rank like this is…well, actually a lot less rare than it used to be for DC, with books like Mister Miracle and Supergirl. This is very impressive, and I expect we’re going to see more curated Bat-projects like this in the future – elite creators given free reign to tell their own odd Elseworlds take on Batman.
Glenn: Batman makes money, DC knows this and giving high profile creators free reign over the character can only help their monthly performance as well as getting more collections out to earn money off for years to come too.
In the finale of Venom Inc, Venom Inc Omega sells over 63.3k at 8 on the charts. Decent number for the finale here, not too much lower than the Alpha issue last month. This crossover was not as good as some of the ones Slott has masterminded in the past for the title but it was still enjoyable in a Saturday Morning Cartoon way and delivered good sales for these book ends and the Amazing issues it tied into. All eyes on the countdown towards Slott leaving the title which we’ll talk about below but Amazing is probably going to be seeing some sharp sales increases as we get closer to issue 800.
Ray: Interesting that Venom Inc. sold above the levels of both books for the finale. This is a pretty traditional crossover, going chapter by chapter between the books. Either way, it’s clear Slott can still drive an event, and Marvel is definitely going to miss him on one of their last reliable franchises. We’ll see if his sales pull extends to Iron Man soon.
Glenn: I think moving Slott to Iron Man is a solid move, he’s a proven creator who can hold steady sales and get people talking about his books. He may not be at the forefront like some other creators all the time but he brings stability which this market and Marvel in particular needs in spades. I’m more curious how Amazing will perform without him, Marvel are still very quiet about future plans there.
Great numbers for the first issue of three part mini, Batman and the Signal which sells over 62.3k. Its a Metal tie-in so that will help but it also has Scott Snyder’s name on the cover which will really, really help. This will doubtlessly be a decent little performer as its going to be over with before we realize.
Ray: Scott Snyder and Batman undoubtedly drew sales here, but this is essentially a Duke Thomas solo comic written by a new creator, so on that note, DC has to be thrilled here. Without proper branding and Snyder on plot, a Duke Thomas title could have followed in the footsteps of other positively reviewed books that didn’t find an audience, but now 62K people just got introduced to the character’s first big adventure.
Glenn: If we compare it to Duke’s previous ‘We Are Robin‘ book, it is in a completely different league sales wise, that’s for sure.
Last spot in the top ten is the first part of the twelve issue maxi series, Old Man Hawkeye which sells over 57.4k. This a prequel to the extremely popular and best selling Old Man Logan story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven from a number of years ago so people are probably excited to return to this world which seemed interesting but we didn’t see very much of. Neither Millar (who is living it up in Indie land counting his Netflix money) or McNiven (who is…somewhere?) are back so sales are a but lower than maybe I would have expected. Still, a decent launch for an out of continuity mini that no matter what story its connected to is still starring Hawkeye. Not sure how this will go but anywhere in the usual high tier Marvel range of 30k-40k will serve it fine.
Ray: Given that this is a Hawkeye comic by a first-time Marvel author, a top ten debut is incredible. I’m not sure what’s driving sales for this alternate universe so much, but clearly people want to see more from this world. This reminds me of Iron Fist a bit, in terms of just how out of nowhere its massive success is.
Glenn: Another very low entry point for the top ten with a good bit under 60k this month. Ray, would you say its time to panic, crack each others heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Ray: Of course, massive success is in the eye of the beholder, as you pointed out about the entry point to the top ten. Very, very low. The time is absolutely right to eat brains. Braaaaaaaaaaaains.
*wipes away brains and composes self* Out of the top ten, this is where we see the mainstays, as most of the top ten is dominated by Star Wars, Darth Vader, Detective Comics, and Flash. These are the few titles that can consistently stay above or close to the 50K mark, and they’re the company’s bread and butter. But note that for one company, those characters are their top heroes, and for the other it’s an imported film franchise…
We saw shocking numbers for the debut of Phoenix Resurrection last month, and we predicted it wouldn’t last. We r smrt. It didn’t. The title lost about 2/3rds of its sales from the first issue, with the next four issues landing at 17, 20, 24, 23 (with a slight bump for the finale) and selling between 51-46K. Not terrible for a Jean Grey miniseries by any stretch, but clearly more of a limited scale character event than the first issue sales indicated. Marvel can get those early sales going, but they can’t keep them.
Glenn: If the upcoming X-Men: Red can sell in this range that would put that book among one of Marvel’s most successful. It’s a slightly different ball game though as this mini was hyped like a mini event and was released quickly where Red has all the potential pitfalls of any other regular monthly book. Still on paper this is an encouraging sign for that book for sure.
Ray: Amid mainstays like Superman and Justice League, we see two DC annuals selling fairly strong numbers. Flash Annual and Detective Comics Annual land at 27 and 28 with sales just under 45K. Flash, being a lead-in to the title’s next big event, sells very close to the main title’s numbers, only 3K below. Detective, meanwhile, was an origin flashback for Clayface and there’s a bigger delta of about 8K. Still, both of these books are holding fairly close to the main title and another sign of just how successful these books are for DC.
Guardians of the Galaxy closes out its run with an oversized issue that charts at #30, selling 42K, which is more than a 100% jump from last issue. As we all know, this title has been cancelled and will be replaced with a summer Infinity Stones event. There’s clearly still an audience for these characters, but something went wrong with the last incarnation.
Glenn: I think of overexposure and being relaunched amid a line wide relaunch that stumbled out of the gate overall really hurt Guardians. Hopefully the rebranding and bigger spotlight can garner some interest back in the characters again.
Ray: At #31, we’ve got the one-shot for Star Wars character DJ, which sells 42K. These numbers are fairly similar to what we saw for the Storms of Crait one-shot last month, about 7K lower. There’s a bit of attrition with these Star Wars spin-offs, but they reach numbers that few other Marvel books do anyway.
Glenn: Nearly 3 or 4 years on and Star Wars titles still perform anywhere from great to very good no matter the character or era. The franchise coming back to cinemas have revitalized its popularity and Marvel are definitely getting the full benefit
Ray: At #35, selling just over 40K, we’ve got the miniseries “Rise of the Black Panther“. This is being billed as the definitive origin story for the character, and it has Coates collaborating with an acclaimed young writer named Evan Narcisse. Definitely a success. Hm, I wonder if there’s a reason Marvel might be putting out a lot of Black Panther content at the moment…
Glenn: I have no clue why we’re seeing so much Black Panther stuff, maybe its worth a google? Since we had the retelling of the Panther’s Origin by Reggie Hudlin and John Romita JR roughly 15 years ago, I doubt many will mind a repeat, especially since the character is going to get the biggest spotlight he’s ever received.
Ray: Selling 38.6K at #37, this is a healthy debut for Rogue & Gambit, a romantic comedy miniseries from newly exclusive Marvel writer Kelly Thompson. It did a lot better than another niche X-book spinoff this month, so maybe this is Thompson building a brand, or maybe it’s some nostalgia for Rogue and Gambit, but for a miniseries this is pretty strong.
Glenn: Very respectable for a mini and I would say that’s pure 90’s nostalgia and how popular this pairing is. Maybe Marvel should have announced them getting married instead?
Ray: The climb continues for Mister Miracle, as it lands at #38 this month and gains another 1K to sell 38.6K. Has there ever been a title that consistently performed like this? We’re seeing a word of mouth sensation here.
Glenn: Next year: King and Gerards make Wild Dog sell! Is there nothing they can’t do?!
Ray: A very rare case of an annual outperforming the main title, we’ve got the X-Men Blue annual at #39, selling 38.5K. This was the start of a crossover with Venom spinning out of the Venomverse story, and it outperforms the main X-Men Blue issues this month by 5-6K. It seems like Venom lifts anything it touches, even if the main Venom title isn’t a powerhouse. (It’s two slots below this issue.)
Glenn: This renewed interest in Venom is pretty crazy to watch and Marvel is taking full advantage of it as he’s showing up everywhere. It’ll be handy for them to have loads on Venom orientated collections on shelves for people that go to see the Venom movie and either want something that actually features the character or it makes them want to find out more.
Ray: A bit of good news for Marvel – Captain America seems to have leveled out very quickly, losing only 1.8K sales from last month with its third issue. It’s selling 37K this month at #43, and is settling in the top tier of Marvel’s superhero comics. So one franchise that seemed to be damaged severely is recovering. Let’s hope another, bigger one doesn’t wind up in the same fix soon…
Glenn: After a long journey, Captain America has found its way back to where it was roughly when Remender was writing it. It turns out when you write Captain America in a traditional, character consistent way, it works! Crazy times.
Ray: Bad news for DC for a change, as their new line “The New Age of DC Heroes” lands with a shocking thud. To be fair, their two debuts this month didn’t have the most buzz behind them, but these numbers are still depressing. Their Hulk pastiche, Damage, by Robert Venditti and Tony Daniel, lands at #44 with a 37K debut, while assassin/mom thriller Silencer by Dan Abnett and John Romita Jr. lands at #62, selling 30K. Given that there’s usually a big slide after the first issue, this is…not good. The fact that the big-name artists, who are a huge part of the draw here, are gone after issue #3, is…very not good. We’ll likely see higher numbers for books like The Terrifics, which is Jeff Lemire’s return to the DCU, but this is a big warning sign for DC on this new line. Even they can’t bring original characters to huge numbers, no matter what a sales hit Legacy has been.
Glenn: So yeah, this isn’t a good sign. It could be that these two books don’t maybe have as much buzz but they still have two very big creative teams and DC has really pushed the hype machine on these titles hard. They also were marketed as spinning out of Metal (kinda/sorta) and its not made much impact at all. Of course, further solicitations have shown the all star artists on these titles seem to be leaving quickly and considering that’s what the branding of these books were built around, that can’t mean good things. I suppose in a way, its comforting to know that a part of DC will always act like its 2011.
Ray: The X-Men Gold annual, which was a team-up with the characters of Excalibur, sells extremely close to the main issues of X-Men: Gold this month, only 2K lower at #52. Sales of 34K is pretty strong for an annual featuring cult characters, but then the sales on the main title are no great shakes.
Glenn: Maybe some nostalgia for Excalibur? Hey the nostalgia parade is making Venom a thing again so you never know.
Ray: Whole lotta Harley in this range this month, as the character claims four slots between #54-60. The conclusion of the Palmiotti/Conner run lands 33.2K sales, and then the first two issues of Frank Tieri’s run don’t slide much and sell 32K and 31.6K. Sandwiched in between them is the reprint of the Loot Crate exclusive “Be Careful What You Wish For“, where Harley irritates a genie. Strong showing for a random reprint that many people got already in the crate or in the HC.
Glenn: Even though the contribution of Pilmioti/Connor and co to Harley’s current status is immeasurable, she’s at a position now that titles involving her will sell regardless of who the creative team is. Who thought that a character that started off as a one off would rise to be one of DC’s most popular? Just goes to show.
Ray: Marvel Two-in-One loses about 50% of its impressive first issue sales to land at #56 with sales of 32K. Not terrible, but it’s been a while since there was a Fantastic Four book, and this isn’t making the case that there was a massive untapped audience. Or maybe Marvel just has trouble selling anything lately.
Glenn: Probably down to your latter point. If it can stay here or around 25k at the lowest, it won’t be doing any worse than anything else. If Marvel are using this title as a form of testing waters for a Fantastic Four title return, its not the most encouraging sign for sure.
Second issue of X-Men: Grand Design sells over 28.8k at 69 losing roughly 9k from its first issue sales. Still very impressive performance for an unconventional specialty title that’s priced 5.99. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these unique projects with a specific vision get green lit at Marvel if they can get the right creators involved.
Ray: Grand Design is clearly designed for the collected edition, so this is just icing on the cake for Marvel, but it’s clear that there’s a market for these creator-driven takes on iconic characters like this and White Knight. As the market continues to shift around, I think a bigger spotlight for writer-artists like this on mainstream properties is a great move.
Glenn: A new Raven mini series written by her co-creator, Marv Wolfman debuts at 81 with sales over 26.1k. I think if memory serves this is around where the last Raven mini sold and someone at DC was clearly happy with that to green light this. With the Titans show coming, DC might be wanting to raise Raven’s profile along with her team mates but there seems to be a respectful dedicated audience for her.
Ray: There were a lot of smaller-scale minis recently starring magic-based characters, and most of them started well below Raven’s. Wolfman still has some fanbase, it seems, and Raven will always have a big audience from the TT cartoon. This is a twelve-issue miniseries, though, so it could still sink pretty low by the end of that run.
Glenn: Another mark in the ‘bad news’ portion for DC who were probably hoping for more out of the JLA/Doom Patrol one shot which sold just over 25k at 91. This crossover is aimed to get the Young Animal books a higher profile but doesn’t seem to work at all in regards to that. This was another one DC hyped to death and while its not terrible, all they’ve managed is to sell 10k better than this months Doom Patrol issue (133 with over 15.5k) so the aim of expanding the audience doesn’t seem to have worked. I mean we got much better sales out of the JLA/Power Rangers crossover. Still, nothing ventured and all that and it could have fallen flat on its face, which I wouldn’t say it has. I would just say there’s a certain ceiling for these Young Animal books and DC need to figure out if that’s acceptable or not.
Ray: Milk Wars is…aggressively weird, and it’s definitely dominated by the Young Animal characters. So I think retailers were cautious here, treating it more like a bigger version of the Doom Patrol title with a-list guest stars. Young Animal as a whole seems to be geared more towards trade audiences as a whole, and Milk Wars will likely all be packaged together in one volume. There’s four more specials coming next month, for the rest of the books plus a finale.
Glenn: Another new X-Men mini from Marvel this month is Legion which sells over 22.7k at 100. It doesn’t compare too favorably with the Rogue and Gambit series which was announced at the same time but this character hasn’t really been in the limelight comics wise for like 2 decades so I’m not sure Marvel could have expected any better. The TV show is there of course but I doubt that will have much impact on this. Probably will be back to limbo for Legion after this one wraps.
Ray: I’m really surprised Legion barely squeaked into the top 100, given the TV series and a semi-popular run for the character in X-Men: Legacy a few years back. This is only a five issue miniseries, and these numbers are likely to get much, much lower by the end of the run.
Glenn: At 102 is some reorders for Hawkman Found as we add over 22.2k to its title. Metal: the event so strong it can give Hawkman reorders.
Ray: That’s some huge reorders for Hawkman: Found, which cracked the top ten last month but sold well below the rest of the major Metal books. No Batman in the title probably caused retailers to back off a little bit, but everything Metal is gold, and we’ll likely see more reorders for this in coming months, on a smaller scale.
Glenn: The experiment in regards to the Inhumans ends with not a bang but a whimper as Inhumans: Judgement Day sells just under 18k at 120. Now we can all move on with our lives and never speak of it again.
Ray: That’s about the level that Royals had been selling, a bit higher, so retailers clearly treated it just like the next issue of that storyline. Save Ms. Marvel, rumor is that the entire line is getting canned (Royals and Secret Warriors are over, Black Bolt is getting to the close of a year-long run). Experiment…failed.
Glenn: The Deathstroke annual sells about 2k lower that its main title counterpart at 129 with sales over 16.3k. Around 2k less seems to be the average for DC annual sales, not bad at all. Of course, Deathstroke is experiencing an all time great run and the people who read the main title won’t want to miss anything Priest has to say in regards to the character here.
Ray: Deathstroke was one of those annuals that was a hard chapter of the main book, concluding the major storyline that had been going on for the better part of a year. Given that, the two books staying very close makes sense.
Glenn: At 135 is the first of many ‘Forces Of Destiny’ Star Wars one shots from IDW, each focusing on a different female character from the Star Wars saga and they sell pretty much like a one month mini with Leia selling the most with under 15k, Rey (not our Ray) selling over 13.5k at 139, Ahsoka and Padme selling over 12.4k at 147, Hera selling over 12.2k at 149 with Rose and Paige coming in last at 155 with sales over 11.7k. If this was Marvel, I’d be predicting a problem but its IDW and this is pretty good for them and will undoubtedly do gangbusters once its collected and available at your local Disney outlets, especially when the cartoon starts rolling.
Ray: The only thing that surprises me with these sales is that Rose and Paige sold the least. I would have expected the characters introduced in the recent megahit film to outsell the prequel-era comic or the one starring a supporting character from a somewhat successful cartoon. Maybe retailers were worried about Last Jedi backlash and ordered light? Either way, these sold right around the range of this month’s issue of Star Wars adventures, which is at #142 with sales of 13.3K, and are six of IDW’s seven top selling comics this month (with TMNT sneaking in there), so it’s overall a hit experiment for IDW.
Glenn: I get what you mean about Rose and Paige but it just seems this was ordered as a regularly numbered mini rather than who the specific character being featured was. Then again, Rose is a character that’s only been known to a large audience for 2 or 3 months so she hasn’t had as much time to pick up momentum like the other characters who have had years or even decades.
Ray: Now here’s something completely strange out of nowhere – we saw Supergirl #16 take a pretty hefty fall last month, down to 28K copies (it sells 26K this month) – but this month, it picks up huge reorders of 17.6K at #123, almost an additional 40% in sales. What’s going on here? I don’t know, but it’s very good for the Girl of Steel. We might see something like this again next month. For the record, the reorders for Supergirl this month land in between new issues of Jessica Jones and Batwoman.
Glenn: Supergirl is a puzzle and all I can think of is a) people are digging the book and its gaining momentum through word of mouth or b) there was an error in ordering last month and here’s the correction. Either way, great news for the title that will likely have it secure in its current direction for years to come.
Note: As mentioned above, since writing this Supergirl has been cancelled cause Bendis.
Ray: Monstress, the Marjorie Liu/Sana Takeda Image series, returns from a lengthy hiatus to sales of 15K at #134. The delays don’t seem to have hurt it much, as it’s actually the sixth-highest selling Image book this month and even outsells Marvel books like Ms. Marvel and Runaways. I suspect the trade sales are helping here, as Monstress may have picked up quite a few new fans during its hiatus.
Doomsday Clock #2 picks up an additional 13.3K in sales at #141, proving once again that DC’s latest events are monsters that drive sales like nothing we’ve seen in the industry in years.
Glenn: We also see the first issue get some decent reorders two months later at 242 with over 6.2k. Getting reorders is impressive but its rare to see a title still get reorders more than a month later. Its definitely something DC have been benefiting from since Rebirth and a lot with Metal and now with this. Impressive beyond words.
Ray: Similar to Monstress, Southern Bastards returns from hiatus (extended due to family tragedies for the creative team) to sales of 12.4K at #146. Given that this is a mature readers title without the YA audience of Monstress, it was always a harder sell, but this is another one of Image’s strongest books when it’s shipping.
Glenn: It does very well in collections too so fans won’t have to worry. This title will stick around until it reaches its conclusion.
Ray: One amusing juxtaposition I found is at #150/151, where we have Captain Marvel and Scooby Apocalypse, selling 12.2K and 12K respectively. Marvel’s highest-profile female hero at the moment who has a much-anticipated movie in the works is selling the same as DC’s grim-and-gritty Scooby Doo/Walking Dead pastiche. I wonder which company is in healthier shape at the moment…
Glenn: Poor Carol, its going to be a long year while she waits for the movie to help her out
Ray: At #161, we have Superwoman wrapping its run with sales of 10.9K. It wasn’t the lowest-selling DC book – there’s three ongoings below it, with one since cancelled and another cancelled then revived – but it didn’t really have any buzz or media push behind it.
Glenn: Superwoman was created purely as a Jiminez vehicle and when he left, the title didn’t have a purpose but stumbled along anyway. It was likely green lit to keep a top creator under the DC umbrella and will fade into obscurity.
Ray: After a whole host of lower-selling DC and Marvel books that are either cancelled or likely to be soon enough, plus a few licensed books, we come to #163, where we have Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles selling 10.9K. This is clearly one of the oddest properties DC has put out in some time – a Red Scare-set comic starring a gay talking cat – and these numbers are fairly in line with what we saw for similar property Ruff & Reddy a few months back. Bring on Top Cat, I guess?
Glenn: These more ‘serious’ takes on Loony Toons characters all sell about the same and Snagglepuss isn’t exactly as popular as say your Scooby Doo or Flintstones so yeah, this one was always going to be niche. I’m sure DC will be happy with whatever they can get out of it. I do hope that Top Cat is a hard boiled gangster who brutally slays his rivals while keeping his gang in line through cat nip drugs and officer Dibble is a Marv like anti-hero who wants to take him down with brutal violence as his only ally.
Ray: At #168, we’ve got the Strangers in Paradise 25th anniversary revival comic, selling 10.2K. Terry Moore’s got a small but devoted audience, and this is by far his most iconic property. Abstract Studio is a fairly rare presence on the top ten, so this is clearly a testament to just how beloved this comic still is, years after it put Moore on the map.
Glenn: Strangers In Paradise is one of the comics to read, even if you’re not a comics fan and its had many successful collected runs to build up a new audience. Its likely this new book will see most of its money made from that same format but retailers have likely made a good bit of money from the franchise over the years and thought that some people would be interested in getting smaller portions of the story but faster.
Ray: At #170, we’ve got the debut of Ales Kot’s latest Image book, Days of Hate. It sells 10.1K, and this is his most politically charged series yet, so retailers are likely ordering for an established audience here.
New Super-Man stays just above the 10K mark at #171 for its final issue before a rebranding next month. This was a fill-in issue, so retailers may have ordered a bit lighter.
At #173, we’ve got the latest Vertigo launch, the sci-fi bounty hunter thriller Motherlands, which sells 9.7K. Unlike Imaginary Fiends and the upcoming Deathbed, this one doesn’t have a big-name DC writer on board, so I don’t think DC was expecting big numbers here. Still, these numbers likely would have been a bit higher at Image.
Glenn: I really thought Vertigo would have grinded to a halt by now. Still miles away from the force of nature it used to be, DC still seems to have some faith in it. I suppose you never know where your next surprise hit can come from and they’re keeping their lines and thereby their options open.
Ray: At #180, Marvel sells 9.4K of a two-years-late adaptation of Captain America: Civil War that they called Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War Prelude. Because some people still don’t know what these things are. Suckered once. Never again!
Glenn: These comics are easy wins for Marvel and as long as people keep buying, they’ll keep doing them.
At 182 is Ice Cream Man, a new Image book that at first glance you’d think has a link to DC’s Milk Wars but it doesn’t. It debuts with sales over 9.4k. It doesn’t have any big names attached and the concept sounds super duper weird so this is the usual result from Image when you combine those two things. I’m sure the creators are thrilled.
Ray: This was an aggressively weird comic, one of the most offbeat Image has put out in a long time. Given that, I think it can safely be called a success.
Glenn: Pretty average drop for the second issue of Barberella which sells over 9.2k at 184. I’d say this is actually pretty good since Dynamite don’t have a large piece of the market and its a very specialist property. If it can stay around here or the 7k level, Dynamite will likely be thrilled.
Ray: Barbarella may not be a character with much of a market presence anymore, but Mike Carey still has some pull as a writer, which probably keeps this a bit above the line for your average Dynamite book.
Glenn: The 50th issue of the long running Astro City sells over 9.1k at 186. This property has been going forever and has hopped between several companies and has a set dedicated audience that will likely not change at this point. The interesting thing is here is that this will be the final single issue of Astro City as moves exclusively to graphic novels in the future. This likely indicates that this is where the titles core audience is but is also writer Kurt Busiek seeing that graphic novels and book stores are how the market is going and wants to move the book to that format to keep it going. At this point, Astro City isn’t going to end until Busiek wants it to and will continue evolving and changing to keep itself going, an admirable feat for a title that’s been going so long that a lot of the other books on the market could learn from.
Ray: I think there’s a lot of similarity between Astro City and Strangers in Paradise at this point, in that they’ve both been published for over twenty years. You’ve got a hardcore audience of loyal fans, so there’s a stability guaranteed there. I think transitioning to OGNs will probably ensure it keeps going for longer, as Vertigo’s future is uncertain right now.
Glenn: At 190 is Ninjak vs Vu from Valient which sells just over 8.9k. Its not too far from the main Ninjak title which is at 183 selling over 9.3k so I’d say Valient is pretty happy with this number. Over the last few months, Valient has had a few breakouts but this is still within their normal average of sales they usually get from their set audience.
Its this months Hellboy title in Koshchei the Deathless at sales over 8.9k at 191. A little lower than the usual Hellboy stuff but that’s probably because the characters name oddly isn’t in the title. Pretty standard fare from Dark Horse.
At 192 we have more DC reorders in the form of the second Batman annual which pick up over 8.8 in additional sales. This is great stuff for the company and yeah, there are going to be a lot of reorders for them from here on out. Here at By The Numbers, we advise you not to turn this into a drinking game. You have been warned.
At 197 and 198 respectfully are Blue Beetle and Cyborg, the lowest rungs on the DC Rebirth ladder. They sell over 8.7 and 8,6k a piece and the latter has already been cancelled but has found a mysterious salvation. These titles will not continue for much longer, even if one has been temporarily saved but both characters will continue to have prominent places elsewhere in the universe.
Ray: Cyborg’s upcoming revival with Marv Wolfman may be only one issue, or it may be an ongoing, but we’ll see. The character’s struggled for a long time under multiple creative teams. Blue Beetle, on the other hand, is probably just not meant for a solo series unless a big-name creator wants a go.
Glenn: There’s more of those reorders we were talking about for DC and its White Knight issue 3 picking up another 8.4ishk sales at 203. Don’t expect DC to be letting this Murphy guy go anywhere.
After being missing from the charts last month even though its only its second issue, Star Trek: Discovery sells just over 8k at 212. It hasn’t been on long enough to build an audience anywhere outside of the core show so this is probably the best IDW can hope for now. People looking for Star Trek in their comics will probably prefer to invest in an adaption of something that’s actually you know…Star Trek.
A new Image title with a slightly unconventional premise, Dissonence debuts 216 with over 7.5k in sales. Another title with no major creators but probably below the usual Image launch level. I guess it seemed more bizarre than the comic about the Ice Cream Man and the psychedelic cold delights he sells.
Ray: Dissonance did fairly standard numbers for a Top Cow series, I think. This is apparently the third part of a franchise along with God Complex and Bonehead, but they don’t seem exactly connected yet.
Glenn: At 217 we have Battlestar Gallactica vs…Battlestar Gallactica as the two different version of the franchise face off. It sells over 7.4k and I’m not that surprised. The rebooted BSG is one of the best tv shows ever but I think you have to be a fan of both shows and a really, really dedicated one at that to be interested in this title even though it is written by the always dependable Peter David. One for the really, really, REALLy hardcore fans of both and it sells appropriately.
Ray: This is the very definition of a cult book, as neither Battlestar Galactica franchise quite broke out into the mainstream. Peter David being attached likely helped it quite a bit, but it’ll need to stabilize quickly from here.
Glenn: Another debut at Dark Horse with Hungry Ghosts which sells over 7.3k at 220. This is another book with a super weird concept that is going to be a hard sell but since its not Image it does a good bit less business. This is one of the new line of Berger books and it doesn’t seem to have made that big of a difference to the numbers. Karen Berger was the figurehead of Vertigo for years and was involved in the books that basically validates that lines existence today so I guess Dark Horse will hope that her involvement will give them some success in the trade market.
Glenn: This also had global superstar chef Anthony Bourdain attached as co-writer, but it didn’t seem to help. This also got pretty poor reviews. I’m not sure if any of the Berger Books will really find much of a footing on the charts. The next month’s installments are a sequel to an acclaimed decade-plus-old book, and a Russian history comic. This doesn’t feel like a line geared for your average comic book shop.
Ray: More reorders for DC for Metal issue two which is like five months old or so. Selling over 6.8k at 225, the fact that this issue is several months old but still pulling in interest is insane.
Glenn: The first issue of mini series, The Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson from Image sells just over 6.8k at 226. Unlike the other debuts from Image, this is by creators that are verly well known and has a decent premise that is easy to digest so not sure why this one didn’t do better. This one might not last in the top 300 for its full run but that bar is very low these days.
Ray: This is very much on the low end of Image debuts and the title oddly made me wonder if it was a sequel at first. Given that, low orders for it makes sense, but it could hold steady or even increase from here. Still, it barely beat the later-issue sales of mid-level books like Port of Earth or Extremity.
A whole host of reorders for Batman: Metal-related issues, including the first and third issues of the main series plus The Red Death, The Dawnbreaker, and The Murder Machine, all chart again with sales in the 6K range. Doomsday Clock #1 shows up again in the same range again, for its third month on the charts. The Merciless, The Drowned, and Batman Lost are a little further down, in the 5K range. The last time we saw numbers like this was the Rebirth special, which showed up on the charts for half a year. This indicates an ongoing interest in these events that we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Glenn: Its no surprise that Metal writer Scott Snyder said we’ll be seeing more of these characters in the future. More Batmen=more money
Ray: At #237, there’s Secret Weapons #0, which is the first in a series of one-shots giving us the origins of the characters from Eric Heisserer’s miniseries. There’ll be a second miniseries at some point, but this special holds pretty close to the numbers from the end of the original miniseries.
At #241, we’ve got Monsters Unleashed, which is now selling 6.2K. The series is finally ending with the next issue, I believe, and it seems like it might have all been an elaborate game of chicken between Marvel and Monster Energy Drink. I think it still hasn’t sunk as low as Solo and Slapstick did, though.
Glenn: We got a letter from Marvel not to remind people of those things Ray.
Ray: There’s quite a lot of new licensed properties launching in this range. At #247, we’ve got a one-shot for James Bond titled The Body, and just below we’ve got Transformers vs. The Visionaries, both selling 5.9K. Down at #252 selling 4.7K we’ve got a solo miniseries for Planet of the Apes villain Ursus, and at #264 selling 5.3K we’ve got a rare entry from Udon Comics, Mega Man Mastermix. These are all fairly niche comics, often spinning out of better-selling books.
At #268 is the debut of acclaimed novelist Saladin Ahmed’s new creator-owned comic Abbott, which is a supernatural detective period piece from Boom. 5.1K is pretty low for a debut by a writer of this level, but we saw the same for writers like Steve Orlando and James Tynion. This is a miniseries, so I have a feeling it won’t matter in the long end – Ahmed’s fans will find this in the bookstore, where it’ll sell a lot better for a lot longer.
#274 brings us the oddball new Dark Horse miniseries Vinegar Teeth, about a hard-boiled detective whose new partner on the force is a shape-shifting eldritch abomination. Given just how aggressively strange this book is, and how it has no actual connection to any franchise, I think it’s probably just happy to be in the top 300 and we’re all rooting for it.
Glenn: Such an odd title too. It sounds like a fun concept though, might find a good audience in trades.
Ray: Marvel gets in on the reorder game at #284, as X-Men: Grand Design sells another 4.6K. More evidence that this is a rare buzz-worthy book for Marvel, and retailers will likely order heavier on the second round later this year.
Glenn: Yeah, we’re definitely going to see more of these sooner than later.
Ray: There’s a Gears of War tie-in book at #285, selling 4.5K. These are usually primarily sold to video game stores, so there’s a market here that doesn’t get reflected on the charts.
Who lives at the bottom of the charts at #300? Spongebob Squarepants! I didn’t even know this comic was still coming out, but it makes a rare appearance on the charts with sales of 4.2K, which is a VERY low bar for entering the top 300. Basically, it seems like comics as a whole are struggling even as we have more top-tier content than ever before. The market’s in a transition period right now, and we’ll see which can find a new way to deliver their content.
Glenn: The bar to enter the market is so low is that comics like the one here starring Mr. Squarepants can sneak in even though these type of books don’t make their money in comic shops. Low bar for the top 300 is again another indication that things are far from peachy keen.
Ray: And on that cheery note, let’s look ahead to next month! As always, it’ll be a big month for DC, with two new debuts from The New Age of DC Heroes. Teen teleporter adventure Sideways should do similar numbers to this month, but Jeff Lemire-helmed The Terrifics should be the first test of this line’s true strength. Alongside issues of mainstays like Batman, Doomsday Clock, and Metal 5.5 Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, we’ve got a few new miniseries including Liam Sharp’s Batman/Wonder Woman team-up, the later issues of Milk Wars, and Josh Williamson’s new Vertigo series Deathbed.
Marvel is giving us the launches of two new mini events – the Dr. Strange/Secret Empire follow-up Damnation, and the Guardians of the Galaxy spin-off Infinity Countdown. I’m guessing muted debuts for both. We’ve also got top-tier Black Panther and Amazing Spider-Man annuals, but Marvel’s best two bets for a top ten spot this month.
Image has a good chance at locking down three spots in the top ten next month, as they’re giving us not only Walking Dead as usual, but the debuts of both Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl’s new series. Beyond that, their highest-profile debut may be VS, by Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribic. And if you want an underdog book to root for, there’s Death of Love, the man vs. cupid horror-comedy by Justin Jordan and indie artist Donal DeLay making his Image debut.
What will rise to the top? We’ll see next month on…By the Numbers!