By The Numbers: February 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. Is wondering when podcasts about Spider-Man got so fashionable and is up to the challenge of not being able to be out quizzed on Spidey by ANYONE (except maybe Dan Slott).
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. After weeks of therapy, Ray has come to terms with the cancellation of Supergirl. To help him, we’re telling him that Scott Snyder is now writing Amazing Spider-Man, please don’t tell him any different.
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!
Glenn: Its the month of looove as we look back at February here at By The Numbers only there isn’t any feeling of looove here, only poor sales. With the absense of DC heavy hitters Doomsday Clock and Metal (kinda/sorta) while Marvel is just coasting along the sales for February weren’t the best. Only one book managed to get above 100k and only 16 above 50k. Grim times.
Ray: This was very much a down month, across the board. Still, there were a few small hits that buoyed the companies.
Glenn: Lets take a look and start right at the top with Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt which sells just over 101.3k. In the absence of a main Metal issue, this one shot serves as Metal 5.5 and features a lot of big name DC writers and artists including the big two return of Grant Morrison. Like most major Metal tie-ins it sells very well and its clear why Metal scribe Scott Snyder has already announced the Dark Knights will be sticking around post event, people seem to dig them. Very good performance for a one shot that was put together due to Metal needing an extra month to complete. Now if anyone could explain what this issue was about, that would be swell.
Ray: Metal, pretty clearly, is invincible. We’ve seen every single tie-in special do top ten numbers, I believe, and most of the tie-in issues of regular titles gained five-digit increases on their regular sales. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an event have effects of this kind, and even though Doomsday Clock itself is not having any tie-ins, we’ve seen similar effects for their side tie-ins like The Button and The Oz Effect. DC’s hit on something incredible here, and I think we’ll see a similar effect for No Justice.
Glenn: No Justice being a direct follow on for help and if the entry for the top ten remains at this level, all of the issues that are released that month will easily make the top ten
As we predicted from the sales of Phoenix Resurrection, X-Men Red launches big for Marvel selling over 98.4k on its first issue. Fans and retailers are buying into (adult) Jean Gray being back and even if sales drop by half, Marvel will have another solid performer. I’m not sure what effect ‘Fresh Start’ will have on the X-Men line but hopefully Marvel will realize the lines colour coded relaunch has actually not done too badly at all and leave well enough alone.
Ray: As always, this will take a heavy slide next issue like all Marvel books do, but there’s a decent chance this winds up being the top-selling X-book overall. It seems to be getting some major positive buzz, and as of today it’s been announced that it’ll be the place where Tom Taylor’s breakout character Gabby Kinney (and fellow breakout Jonathan the Wolverine) make their home after All-New Wolverine wraps in May.
Glenn: Its unclear if the not too long relaunched X-Men books will be getting the ‘Fresh Start’ treatment. Hopefully not because it could kill this books momentum such as the relaunch prior to the previous but before the last one did to Spider-Gwen
As is customary, Batman takes two spots in the top ten at 3 and 4 with the latest issues of the character selling over 95.5k for issue 40 and over 93.8k for issue 41. Usual amazing performance but the title will get some major boosts as we head towards the 50th issue and the upcoming Bat/Cat nuptials. If any book on the stand doesn’t need anything else than its title to see its this one but why not go for it anyway? Big risk and big reward and I would definitely bet on the latter.
Keeping a strong number of its anniversery sales, Walking Dead sells over 77.4k at 5. With everything else falling, Walking Dead’s insane stability will always give it an advantage in a ,market like this. While most books will launch big and then drop like a stone, Walking Dead shuffles along at around the same level and comes out ahead of the pack as a result.
Ray: Batman and Walking Dead are insanely steady, continuing to rise up the charts as everything else sinks. In event-less months, they could easily be topping the charts.
Glenn: Batman could have a number one in one of the Doomsday Clock skip months after Metal finishes but prior to Snyder’s Justice League for sure.
At 6 is the amazingly successful Batman: White Knight which sells over 77.3k. This out of continuity mini has been revealed as a trial book for DC’s upcoming Black Label imprint so if this is any indication, that line will be another big win for DC. Writer/artist Sean Murphy seems to want to only draw his own material from now on and if he can produce results like this, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t.
Ray: That’s another 4K increase in sales for White Knight, which I would say is unheard of…but it’s not. It’s a similar pattern we’ve seen on books like Mister Miracle and Supergirl in recent months. Retailers are starting to respond more aggressively to positive buzz, taking risks on increased orders midway through. And this effect so far only seems to happen for DC.
Glenn: Brace yourself for a big drop in sales as over 20k below the title above it, the 300th issue of Spectacular Spider-Man sells just over 56k at 7. Quite subdued for an anniversary issue, especially on a title that launched big. This is only like the 6th or 7th issue of the book though so that might have taken a lot of wind out of sails in regards to the enthusiasm the anniversary might have provided.
Ray: Yeah, the number definitely helped Spectacular more than double it’s usual issue sales, but this is just an oversized issue of the main series with a funny backup, not a big event. Legacy likely confused a lot of people. “#300? But I just started reading it! How did I miss 295 issues?”
Glenn: They’re probably going to be even more confused when the title gets a new number one soon too (this hasn’t been announced yet but wouldn’t make sense for it not to happen cause lolz)
Its not the force it once was (ha, get it? I said Force, me be funny) but Star Wars is still a strong performer for DC because its the highest selling title from the publisher this month that didn’t have a snazzy number 1 or anniversary number to help it along. Its at 8 with over 56k and even three years later, Marvel is still getting big returns on having this property under their umbrella.
Ray: Star Wars climbs back up as everything else falls for Marvel. They’ve be in such dire straits if it wasn’t for Disney helping them out.
Glenn: At 9 we have the first issue of ‘event’ comic Infinity Countdown Prime which sells over 55.2k. Very subdued launch for a title Marvel had a lot of buzz about. Its not terrible if you compare it to where the book it replaced (Guardians) was but the company probably expected better. Likely its main reason for existing will be to have a collection that says ‘Infinity’ on it in time for a certain film coming out in just under 2 months.
Ray: Given that this is essentially a spin-off of Duggan’s Guardians run which sold relatively poorly, and that it’s only a prequel event to the real event starting around the time of Infinity War, I’d say a top ten debut is pretty healthy here.
Glenn: Wrapping up the top ten is Amazing Spider-Man issue 796 which sells over 55.1k which curiously outsells the proceeding issue which charts at 12 with sales over 52.8k. Its not a huge difference but a climb is a climb. Obviously the hype train is strong for Dan Slott’s final big Amazing Spider-Man story as people are in getting these issues hoping they’ll pay for their future homes in ten years or so. I do think in all seriousness, people are hyped for the end of Slott’s epic run and the numbers here will keep climbing until we get to 800.
Ray: Marvel is going to really miss the steady sales on this title in a half-year’s time. Almost as if they were repeatedly warned and this was completely avoidable. Most of the top twenty-five is dominated by steady favorites, including Darth Vader, more ASM, Detective Comics, Flash, and Justice League. We do have a few new debuts in this area, though, starting with Star Wars: Thrawn which sells 52K at #13. This is the Marvel Star Wars comics’ first attempt to bring the old expanded universe villain into the new Star Wars universe, so this is probably a but more of a niche product for the line. So on that level, this is a great number and shows how anything Star Wars will sell decently for Marvel.
Glenn: Yeah, Thrawn does have a big presence in the larger Star Wars community but to people who are only with the film portion of the Star Wars universe, they won’t know who he is and retailers were maybe a bit conservative because of that. Still, like you said its a solid launch considering that and will do well in book stores once collected because of the huge presence the character has among expanded Star Wars fans. They’ll maybe hope to get Disney to include him in a film if they show there’s an audience there. If we can make Doctor Aphra a toy we can do anything!
Ray: At #16 (the last book selling over 50K this month) we have the revival of Kick-Ass, featuring a new female lead. Good number, maybe a bit surprising and showing that the pull of Kick-Ass wasn’t really Dave? Interestingly, Hit-Girl is all the way down at #31 selling only 39K. Given that they’re both Millar books and Hit-Girl was the breakout character, that’s odd. Maybe it’s because Hit-Girl will become an anthology with Millar only on the first arc, or maybe it’s the pull of Romita? (Although that doesn’t seem to have helped his new DC title…)
Glenn: Kick-Ass might be seen as the ‘safer’ bet because of the films too? I’d say that probably Hit Girl is there more popular character but the Kick-Ass brand is stronger (even if its a new person under the mask). Still, pretty good sales for both and well within the usual range of Millarworld titles.
Ray: At #20 is the debut of The Terrifics, which is easily the best debut for one of these “New Age of DC Heroes” books for DC, selling 45K. Not a great debut given that it spins directly out of Metal, but when you consider that it stars Mr. Terrific (last solo series lasted 8 issues), Metamorpho (hasn’t sustained a solo series in decades), Plastic Man (popular but niche character) and Phantom Girl (second-tier team member on a team that hasn’t had a title in five years), it looks a lot more impressive. I put a lot of this down to the fact that
Jeff Lemire is one of the few writers who genuinely can sell anything. The news for the line as a whole is distinctly mixed, though.
Glenn: The sales are purely down to Lemire and Ivan Reis (although he’s leaving soon but is soon to be replaced by Doc Shaner which is nothing to be sneezed at) and given the characters, the number is amazing. This title as well as the Immortals and Challengers (downsized to a mini but still) were always going to be at the top end of how well these books could do and will likely be the only survivors long term. Interesting experiment by DC but it hasn’t worked overall but if they can get two more solid ongoing performers out of, it could be worse.
Ray: One interesting thing worth noting is that Action Comics and Superman are now selling roughly the same level, with all four issues being clustered in the #24-27 range. Given that Superman started out selling almost twice as much, this is impressive for Action and the pattern should likely continue when they’re written by the same man in a few months.
Glenn: Both Superman titles will get a big sales boost soon. Whether that stays will be interesting to see but given there is now one creative voice for both titles, the two will likely orbit each other for the foreseeable future.
Ray: At #28 we have the debut of Liam Sharp’s Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman, selling 42K. It really depends on how you look at this series – as a Wonder Woman series (which it seems to be more of), it sells 6K above the main series. Of course, when you consider that it has Batman on the cover and only sold 42K, it’s definitely not a series with the buzz of White Knight or Batman and the Signal (which stabilizes at #40 this month, selling 37K).
Glenn: Yeah, Brave and the Bold is an interesting one. Wonder Woman had a big year last year, Batman is the biggest commodity in the charts today and it has an a-list artist. Maybe people are just waiting for a super lovely collection on this one? If it can stabilize around this level or maybe even 10k later, its not going to be a complete waste but this is like a number we saw on Batman teaming with another companies character like Shadow or the Turtles rather than DC (and arguably comics) most iconic female hero.
Ray: Not looking much like an event is Doctor Strange: Damnation, which charts at #29 selling 41.5K. Donny Cates’ Doctor Strange run is great, but not a best-seller, and tying it in with Secret Empire and bringing that writer on board likely didn’t win many new fans. The much-hyped debut, combined with variant covers, only just barely edged out the latest issue of Mighty Thor (one of Marvel’s steadiest books) by 31 copies.
Glenn: Was this supposed to be a thing? I definitely missed the memo on that if that’s the case. Yeah, its an underwhelming performance for sure if it was supposed to be a big deal. Follow on mini’s from big events have never done particularly well for Marvel in recent years. Maybe they should have a think about that one.
Ray: Avengers has leveled out quickly, selling four issues in the 38-39K range, with sales actually jumping a bit at the end of the month for the return of Hulk. Landing in the thirties isn’t great for Avengers, but given that it’s selling four issues roughly on the level of Waid’s former Avengers title, that’s definitely an improvement overall.
Glenn: Yeah so doing the ‘Brand New Day’ strategy for Avenger’s has worked a treat for the overall sales of the Avenger’s line but the title itself isn’t really a heavy hitter. Still, constancy on a weekly is great to see and Jason Aaron will be riding in to help with that pesky sales issue soon enough.
Ray: At #39 is the Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock special, which sells 38K. This was more of an offbeat side story, complete with Mike Allred art. Selling roughly 60% compared to the much more mainstream Infinity Countdown: Prime is probably a pretty good sign for overall interest in the event.
Glenn: Back in the day, the ‘outer space’ stuff from Abbett and Lanning had a really respectful dedicated audience that made everything they did in the cosmic Marvel universe a success so there seems to still be some hunger for that.
Ray: We’ve got two titles, Captain America and Marvel Two-in-One at #43/44, which have leveled off extremely quickly from Marvel’s new wave. Captain America sheds less than 1K from last month (although the run is ending soon), and Marvel Two-in-One actually increases 3K from last month. Roughly 36K isn’t great, but for Marvel these days, it’s a good sign for these books overall. No wonder Marvel showed enough faith in Zdarsky to give him an exclusive.
A surprisingly strong debut for Mera: Queen of Atlantis at #45 with 35.7K. This is more than 10K above the sales of Aquaman this month, and roughly in the same range as this month’s issues of Wonder Woman. Some hidden interest in the character? Either way, I bet we’ll be seeing her used more prominently in the DCU if these sales don’t collapse after the first issue.
Glenn: That’s a surprising number for a Mera mini. Maybe its a show that people DO want female led books in some cases? We’ll see how the rest of the mini performs but definitely first issue sales that are worth not ignoring.
Ray: The other new launch for New Age of DC Heroes, Sideways, lands at #48 with sales of 35K. This is marginally lower than Damage last month, but a good deal higher than Silencer. Not terrible for a title that’s basically best described as “What if Blue Beetle, but with the powers of The Spot“, but this line has to be a bit of a disappointment for DC. We’ll see how the month two books stabilized a little further down, but there isn’t all that much breathing room with launches like this.
Glenn: This is the character that explores the DC multi-verse yes? Maybe some DC fans are hoping to see some of the work Morrison has laid down in that regard be explored here? Hard to say but yeah, halfway decent for a first issue but I doubt this one will be anything to write home about sales wise long term.
Ray: One DC book that definitely exceeded expectations was Batman: Sins of the Father at #52. Selling 32.4K, this is a spinoff of the Telltale series with Batman dealing with the fallout from revelations about how the Wayne fortune was built. This is a lot higher than we usually see digital-first books sell. There’s often harsh falls with the second issue, but I think we can chalk this up to the power of Batman.
Glenn: Maybe ordered as a normal Batman mini than a telltale tie in? Then again all those Arkham game mini’s haven’t done too badly in the past. There’s no stopping the Batman in any media.
Ray: Supergirl has another unexpected jump of over 5K this month to land at #56 with sales of 31.6K. This title continues to have one of the most unexpected resurgences in recent memory, and the issue that came out as we’re writing this column (with a different guest cowriter, Vita Ayala) is getting an enormous amount of buzz. So given all that…it’s kind of puzzling that it’s getting cancelled because Bendis. I understand that he wants the entire Super-family under his hand, but Supergirl is a hit character in her own right with a strong series and a TV show. She deserves her own book. She’s outselling Harley Quinn now!
Glenn: Yeah, I really hope that DC have the sense to course correct here. Can they (or any company) afford to ditch a book that is gaining momentum like this? I mean unless you’re Batman or Walking Dead or a Tom King rein-visioning of a c list character, your sales don’t tend to rise just for no reason but here it is. I doubt Bendis came in and went ‘You cancel Supergirl now, grrrr’ I mean if the Batfamily can show up in Detective and some of them have their own books too, can’t Supergirl have her own title as well as show up in a Superman book?
Ray: One interesting subplot of this month is just how many strong-selling titles are getting cancelled by DC for story reasons. They include Titans, Super-Sons, Teen Titans, and Justice League of America, all selling above 25K (with Supergirl being the highest), not counting the Justice League title which is getting relaunched with Snyder. That’s six mid-level hit titles that DC is ready to say goodbye to simply to advance the universe’s plot. Marvel would kill for books as stable as these!
Glenn: I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that DC is cooking plans with the Super Sons and Teen Titans but yeah, its a puzzling move. Hopefully it’ll be for the greater good.
Ray: I don’t think anything sums up the poor state of Marvel Comics proper right now than the two comics at 60/61. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, an original Star Wars title featuring a spinoff character, outsells Iron Man only a few issues into the relaunch bringing back Tony Stark, with neither getting much above 30K.
Glenn: Yeah, that comparison sells volumes. I mean Aphra is literally a character that only exists in comics form (and a toy the majority of ‘casual’ Star Wars fans won’t have a clue about) and Iron Man is now celebrating ten years as a media icon thanks to the first MCU movie onwards. The direction Marvel has been in for the same amount of time has put them in a position that has left them very weak. They survive on pure power of volume, going back to the relaunch wall repeatedly and a handful of great runs. Will Fresh Start be the thing that magically fixes all things and make life sunny and happy again? In the case of the last few reboots, for a select few books that are lucky then sure but across the board? No, no it will not.
Selling incredibly well for a 7.99 one shot is the Swamp Thing: Winter Special which charts at 64 with sales over 29.7k. The power of Tom King getting people interested in third tier characters continues but also have to give a lot of credit to top DC artist Jason Fabok also. This was also contained the last work of Swamp Thing’s creator, Len Wein and I’m sure people that have been fans of his over his historic career wanted to have his last work in their collection. Its always sad to lose any creator but Wein contributed so many great characters and concepts to comics, the industry is a less special place without him. I hope these sales also mean that DC will give King/Fabok a Swamp Thing season special for the upcoming year, it would make me so very happy.
Ray: Despite the high price tag, that’s really impressive. This is a testament to the strength of all the creators involved, and I imagine it’ll get some pretty decent reorders given the critical buzz.
Glenn: At 67 is the end of the Deadpool vs Old Man Logan mini which sells over 29.3k and only around 300 units less than the main Deadpool title, very impressive. We’re not going to see a slow down of Deadpool mini’s anytime soon.
The second issue of Damage sells over 27k which is not too far below the previous issues sales. Its at 75 so still in the top 100 (Remember when 27k wouldn’t get you in the top 200? Rabbitt Stew farm remembers) and this relatively calm drop could be the book and this entire line of DC books saving grace but we’ll see how we do next month and how it does after losing its a-list artist in a few issues.
Ray: That’s actually a pretty decent slide for Damage, losing less than 25% from its first month sales. I think this shows that the main problem with this line was in advance hype. Retailers didn’t feel this line was anything to really commit to in big numbers, since it’s almost entirely based around original characters. If it can continue leveling out, though, this title could survive for a while.
Glenn: Part of the uber weird Milk Wars which is going to relaunch the Young Animal line, Batman/Mother Panic sells over 26.1k at 80 as the power of Batman makes this the best selling tie-in this month. As stated last month, these books are not really performing any bigger than the previous Young Animal books would have so this renewing of focus on the line and bringing in main DC characters maybe hasn’t gotten the result that may have been wanted. Although it shows stability in the line and in this market as its been proven time and again, a stable seller is worth its weight in gold.
Ray: Overall, all of the Milk Wars tie-ins this month got much more significant bounces than the launch issue did last month. That’s mainly because the other titles sell much less regularly than Doom Patrol (thanks to the built-in fanbase of Gerard Way). It’s no surprise that Batman outsold Wonder Woman who outsold Swamp Thing, but I’m hoping that all three of these books keep some of those new eyes on the title when they come back with relaunched #1s next month.
Glenn: The 25th issue of Justice League Of America received no special sales bump cause of the number on the front. It sells just over 25.3k at 82 with the previous issue selling over 26.5k at 78. It matters little as Snyder is coming in to revitalize the Justice League line. I wonder who he’ll have to help him on that one *googles and spits out coffee he’s not drinking* erm yeah, I think DC has this one covered…
Another Milk Wars special at 96 with sales over 23.3k with JLA/Doom Patrol. See comments above for Batman/Mother Panic pretty much.
Second issue of the Rogue/Gambit mini sells 22.2k at 100 on the charts. Quite a drop from the launch last month but nothing too disastrous for a mini that is essentially built for old school X-Men fans it seems.
Ray: Yeah, that seems to be another one of those puzzling first-issue bounces like Iron Fist had, but for a miniseries Rogue and Gambit should be fine. The rumor is that this may be a test run of sorts for Kelly Thompson to take over an X-book.
Glenn: At 101 go back for more Milk with Shade The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman tie in which sells over 21.6k, See above.
An odd batch of reorders for the first issue of *deep breath* Phoenix Resurrection Return Of (Adult) Jean Gray which picks up another additional 21.6+ sales at 102. Its a few months since this issue was originally out so reorders at this level is brilliant. In likelihood retailers had a lot of interest in X-Men: Red and likely wanted to give customers who wanted that book who maybe missed out on this mini a chance to catch up. Good stuff.
Ray: That is a really impressive reorder number, given that the title didn’t seem to have all that much buzz. Credit to Marvel – they somehow managed to make this one-month miniseries bringing back a confusing character into a bigger event than their last line-wide event!
Glenn: Another not too terrible drop for another new age of heroes title in Silencer at 104 with sales over 21k, Again considering the talent here DC probably expected better and superstar artist John Romita JR is leaving very soon so the title could see another big dip in its future. There are exceptions of course but I just don’t think the market wants to see original characters from the big two at the moment. They’ll take existing c or d listers in a new light like with Terrifics sure but new characters must stay over there because of stranger danger and such.
Ray: Silencer lost almost 1/3rd of its sales from its first month, so that’s steeper. I’m not sure what went wrong with this title, given that it has an a-list artist and got teased in Metal, but this is one I wouldn’t get too attached to – I have a feeling it’ll finish out its planned storyarc and head off to supporting-character-land.
Glenn: Supporting character land is pretty sweet though. That’s where Solo hangs out and where he is, terror dies.
At 105 is the Black Panther annual selling just under 21k. This one had three legendary Black Panther writers returning for new stories and you’d think the hype and massive success of the new film would have helped this one a little more. One of the writers that returned was Reggie Hudlin who despite writing Black Panther for years had a run that had middling success at best so maybe retailers had memories of many copies of unsold Black Panther comics from way back when? Even the power of career phoenix Christopher Priest couldn’t counter that. Its only around 8k behind the current book so it could be worse but if any month were to have a success for a Black Panther comic that people didn’t have to worry too much about the larger goings ons of issues past it was this one.
Ray: Interesting that the annual sold just about as much as the second issue of the Panther’s latest origin miniseries, and the requisite Ralph Macchio one-shot for the casuals. Did Marvel not hype it up enough? I’d think that the return of two of Panther’s most legendary writers, Priest and McGregor, would have brought in more eyes. I expected this to at least sell on the level of the main series.
Glenn: At 115 is the conclusion of Wonder Woman/Conan which wraps with a respectful sales over just under 19k. Now that Conan is heading back to Marvel, we’ll likely never see these characters team again in the near future so there will no be sequel series here. Another solid performer from the somewhat regular DC character/other company character here crossovers we’ve been treated to the last few years. Why we haven’t had Flash on the Planet Of The Apes and think its just gorilla city is anyone’s guess (copyright Glenn Matchett, I’m watching you DC…)
Ray: DC’s had a lot of success overall with their crossovers recently. I think they’ll keep going. I’m kind of surprised we haven’t seen a Buffy crossover unless Whedon won’t have it. I highly endorse Flash on the Planet of the Apes.
Glenn: From recent solicits, it reads like the Buffy comics are wrapping up but a throwaway mini series starring Spike and Constantine battling over who gets the last cig from the packet is just money waiting to be printed.
At 118 is the launch of new Dynamite book, Dejah Thoris which sells over 18.5k which is astonishingly high for a new Dynamite number 1, especially starring a character I’ve literally never heard of. I’m sure Ray will fill you in here *pushes all responsibility on Ray and runs away*
Ray: Well, it’s not quite a mop and it’s not quite a puppet. It’s something about a princess of Mars? It’s by Amy Chu and had a 25-cent preview issue, which undoubtedly drove up initial sales. This might be Dynamite’s cheap-zero-issue experiment paying off.
At #119 selling 18.4K, we’ve got Si Spurrier’s reinvention of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, with a 19th-century story fetus for Boom, so they have to be really happy with this. I wonder if David Bowie’s passing has helped drum up a bit more business and interest here.
Glenn: It could have done. These might do well in trade form once nostalgia really kicks in for Hensen properties once Netlfix releases their Dark Crystal series.
Ray: #120 brings us the top non-Millar Image debut of the month in Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribic’s VS. Otherwise known as the book that took Ribic off Avengers, it sells just a hair under 18K, a respectable debut for this future-set combat/sports drama. But roughly 1/10 of what that Avengers book would have sold! I kid, I kid…
At #125 we find Invincible #144, the conclusion to the decade-plus-long creative run by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley. It sells 16.8, an almost 50% increase from the last issue two months ago. So there was some pretty healthy interest in the end of this series, even as the majority of readers migrated to collections long ago.
Glenn: *weeps for Invincible* this book never sold as well as it deserved but will have a long life in collection form. I am still very much in the denial phase where I hope that Kirkman brings it back in the future. I am very excited that Ottely is drawing Amazing now, that could possibly be Marvel’s biggest talent grab in years. That book will look pretty if nothing else.
Ray: Speaking of impressive reorders, we’ve got an additional 16.7K of last month’s issue of Dark Knights: Metal charting at #127. This book is unstoppable.
Gwenpool also gains about 3K in sales for its final issue, landing at #130 with sales of 16.3K. Gwenpool…will not be remembered like Invincible.
Glenn: I’m wondering if this is due to sales or the fact that editor (and possibly real life Gwenpool) Heather Antos left the company. I don’t ever recall an editor being so personally invested in a book before and even if Gwenpool is never referenced again, that is something that I’d lose to see more of from all editorial staff so kudos and best luck.
Ray: Down at #139 we have the debut of Lockjaw by Daniel Kibblesmith, selling 14.4K. I don’t think anyone was expecting the adventures of the Inhumans’ dog and D-Man to be a big direct market hit, but this oddball, hilarious book seems to have received strong reviews and will likely find a big audience in collections as a new all-ages book. Kibblesmith has a huge audience outside comics, as well.
The fact that Ms. Marvel (#140, 14.2K) is barely outselling Deadman (#142, 14K) is yet another testament to how badly Marvel’s hurt their position in the direct market. This is one of their longstanding hits with a ton of audience goodwill. And they both outsell Legion (#143), 13.7K) and Runaways (#144, 13.6K), which are coming off hit TV series!
Glenn: Poor Kamala deserves better than this. I doubt she’ll be going anywhere but her existence in comics is now playing second fiddle to the larger world she has been introduced to through merchandise, cartoons and the like.
Ray: Down at #146 we’ve got the $9.99 anthology Young Monsters in Love, which combined some top creators (including Paul Dini, Tim Seeley, and Steve Orlando) with a selection of oddball DC horror characters. Given the price and the obscure characters involved, it selling 13.2K has to be considered a big win for DC, as they continue to have a strong streak with their anthologies.
Glenn: This anthology definitely had some obscure characters compared to past offerings. I wasn’t sure who some of them where but all the stories included were very good and this is a decent number for this type of thing at this price tag. This could very well become a yearly thing like the DC holiday special.
Ray: I would have hoped for more for the rebranding of New Super-Man and the Justice League of China, which only gains about 1.5K in sales to land at #152 with sales of 11.9K. This is a cult book that’s still one of the lowest-selling DC titles, but DC’s showed some faith in it. It might be finding the Ms. Marvel effect where it’s getting a big audience in unconventional ways. It’s a book they’d be wise to invest in and expand to other forms of media.
Glenn: I wouldn’t be surprised to see these characters show up on the new Young Justice season. The characters seem to be well thought of and could appeal to a wider audience for sure.
Ray: In the latest edition of “comparisons that make Marvel look horrible”, the 22nd issue of edgelord Scooby Doo remake Scooby Apocalypse (#155, 11.6K) outsells the fifth issue of the latest issue of Marvel-declared flagship title Captain Marvel (#156, 11.4K). You know, the Captain Marvel that has a movie coming in a few months. It might be time for Marvel to admit that the character just isn’t happening – and they should hope that only applies to the comics.
Glenn: Don’t fear Ray, Captain Marvel is getting another relaunch in ‘fresh start’ by…the same writer. Okay, maybe fear a little.
Ray: I didn’t see it coming, but Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast is sticking around the charts, selling another 11.4K at #157. That’s actually up about 500 copies from its last issue. An 80s metal band only missed outselling Captain Marvel by 89 copies.
Glenn: Iron Maiden merch will still be selling long after we’re dead for they likely have some sort of deal where immortality and souls are involved. I’m sure our children Jack and Wednesday (yup I named your future child) will still be talking about it in their version of By The Numbers, coming exclusively to Graphic Policy 2033ish.
Ray: I’m hoping Wednesday wasn’t named Wednesday because they were born on Wednesday! That might derail me getting my comics! Eh, I’m sure my wife will understand.
Glenn: She’s named in honour of New Comic Day of course!
Ray: The Mignolaverse continues to be Dark Horse’s bread-and-butter at the moment, as a new one-shot teaming Hellboy and the BPRD sells 10.5K at #164. And it outsells the fifth issue of Falcon right below it. Another popular MCU character with zero presence in the comic market. This guy was Captain America a half-year ago!
Glenn:I hope Mignola enjoys those muffin baskets that Dark Horse should totally be sending him.
Ray: At #167 is the debut of Deathbed, Josh Williamson and Riley Rossmo’s latest Vertigo series. This high-adventure mystery sells 10.2K, and for Vertigo that’s a decent number. Really, that imprint has massive problems and the vast majority of the sales will come from collections, so we’re just seeing a fragment of the whole picture here. Over six issues, it should hold a decent portion of these sales.
Glenn: It’ll sell well in collections. If this had been Image, you thought it would do over 25k. It seems that daddy has to come home in the form of Neil Gaiman to save Vertigo and to be honest…that’s not a bad idea.
Ray: #173 brings us the debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles, a new miniseries where the de-aged Giles goes undercover in school. Despite the return of Joss Whedon as co-writer, it only sells 9.7K, which makes me think you’re right in your suspicions that the Buffy comics may be wrapping up after the next season.
Glenn: Yeah, I think the property has had its day in the comics world. Whedon writing comics has lost its special feeling (see also: Kevin Smith) and the property is slowly fading away to a point that the Angel series just can’t hold its own weight anymore.
Ray: A book I would have expected a little more for is the Mister Miracle Director’s Cut, which contained an original eight-page story from King and Mike Norton reinventing the title character’s origin. The series took a month off due to personal (and happy) events for Mitch Gerads, and this filled the gap to the tune of 9K at #182. Given that it’s mostly a reprint, that’s fine, but given the white-hot reception of the series, I assumed it would have landed a bit higher. Maybe DC didn’t publicize the original content quite well enough.
Glenn: The reprint is for a comic not that old so yes, not too bad at all. I would say some fans who bought it the first time round would be miffed to learn they have to spend another $6 plus tax for something they already own for a little short story so that could have been a factor too.
More reorders from the Batman Who Laughs at 191 who chuckles up additional sales of over 8.1k. Yeah, there’s no question that this guy isn’t going anywhere and will be around to haunt our dreams for decades to come (sob).
The second issue of Snagglepuss just under 8k at 198 which is really stable after its debut last month. This is one of the more obscure Hanna Barbera characters and a very odd take on him so retailers likely had a rough idea who the audience was here. These types of projects from DC will likely continue now and then.
Ray: Mark Russell seems to have carved out his odd little niche in the Market right now with things like Prez, Flintstones, and Snagglepuss. Despite none of them selling too much more than this level, DC seems to be ready for more from him. I’m glad – variety is a good thing for a company, and DC’s current dominance allows them room to experiment.
Glenn: At 202, Xena the 90’s TV icon is back, in comic form and sells over 7.9k. The TV show has been off the air for like close to two decades so this is probably one for the hardcore Xena fans still out there. The only time I’ve really seen anything of Xena was the brilliant Treehouse Of Horror episode where we learned she can’t fly but Lucy Lawless can.
Despite being missing a new issue, Doomsday Clock appears on the charts anyway with the third issue picking up reorders of over 7.8k at 204. The book has its detractors for sure but it doesn’t seem to have an effect on the interest it continues to drum up.
KISS is back on the charts again and this time they’re teaming up with…Ash from the Army Of Darkness…k. As we’ve seen above with Iron Maiden there seems to be a bizarre spot in the market for these types of things. It sells at 209 with sales under 7.7k
Where’s the Beef I hear you ask? The new Image book is at 214 on the charts selling just over 7.1k! This is a mini with an odd premise where the only name I know is letterer, Richard Starking. The result could be worse considering all the words I just typed.
Ray: The Beef mainly seemed to appeal to fans of Starkings’ last work, Elephantmen. That makes this a pretty clear cult property, and for a miniseries Image has to be fine for these numbers.
Glenn: Heavy Metal’s iconic (or so the description reads) female warrior Taarna debuts on the charts at 215 with sales over 7k. Alex De Campi is involved here but I have a feeling that this book is for an audience that is not your conventional comic book reader. It could have stable sales if retailers are pretty certain who they can sell it to.
IDW debut’s a comic called Punks Not Dead which has a fun premise but only sells a bit above 7k at 220. We’ve said here a few times that IDW have a hard time with creator owned stuff but I think this comic has an interesting enough premise that it could gain a cult following fast.
Right below it at 221 selling 7k on the button is Death Of Love from Image. This is another mini from writer Justin Jordan and personally friend of myself and Ray, Donal Delay. Its premise is offbeat but I think it’ll do well in collections. I’m really pleased for Donal who has always been a nice guy and super talented, I’m sure his name will come up on these charts in the future for years to come.
Ray: Donal’s new to the big leagues, but he has a great career in front of him. Justin Jordan, despite being a mainstay of the big two for years, doesn’t seem to have really found a big audience for his creator-owned work yet, but he’s a cult creator with a loyal audience, so this might level off quickly and get some reorders, hopefully.
Glenn: A comic based on real life spy, Mata Hari comes from Dark Horse at 223 with sales over 6.9k. This is another Berger books offering that doesn’t seem to have caught much interest. The link to a real person is certainty interesting but these type of things can really be 50/50 in terms of success and I think this title has landed on the wrong side of that.
Ray: Thus far, none of the Berger books have really caught on. They have some big names like Anthony Bourdain attached, but they’re all concepts that don’t lend themselves to the direct market at all. If quality turns out to be strong, they might do well in collections, especially one of them (more on that in a bit).
Glenn: A new Red Sonja book from Dynamite launches at 224 with sales over 6.8k. This is Red Sonja and the people buying this book will be the same that have bought her book for the last 10-15 years so retailers ordered appropriately. Unless someone like Jason Aaron or Scott Snyder wanted to write her, Red Sonja is the type of character who has a set dependible audience that is unlikely to shift much these days. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this market though.
Ray: Not just Red Sonja – Steampunk alternate universe Red Sonja! Given that, I don’t think they were expecting all that much out of this.
Glenn: Verly soft drop for Kochchei the Deathless on its second issue selling over 6.8k at 226. Typical performance for a Dark Horse title these days that isn’t based on a property or has Mignola or Lemire involved.
Notoriously hard as nails video game, Bloodborne gets a comic spin off selling over 6.7k at 227. These things always tend to sell low numbers as again, the audience that will be interested are likely to get the issue another way.
More Metal reorders, this time its the nearly 8 month old (or so) Dark Knights Metal 2 which sells another 6.6k at 231 all this time later. DC won’t know why, DC won’t care why. No wonder they threw Justice League at Snyder after him giving them this.
At 232 is the second issue of Ninjak vs Vu which sells 6.6k and pretty much within that set Valient range that the majority of the companies books seem to live at.
Sales this month being down across the board means By The Numbers and Rabbitt Stew unofficial sponsor Zombie Tramp is all the way up at 233 with sales over 6.5k. You go tramp!
Ray: Zombie Tramp keeps on rising…but maybe not for long! Apparently The Death of Zombie Tramp is just around the corner, per Danger Zone. I’m excited for the polybagged bleeding g-string collectible issue.
Glenn: I expect it to have people lining up at their LCS to buy a copy ala Death Of Superman
At 240 is a Krusty The Clown one shot (no seriously) it sells 6,3k. I tried to get my brain to think about analyzing what this could mean sales wise but instead, I’m going to clown college.
Ray: It really is impressive how Bongo has managed to carve a twenty-year-plus existence as a comic company out of one property. Now, where’s my Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel megaseries?
Glenn: They said no to my pitch on that but are coming back to me on ‘Choo-choose me train: Mass murderer’
Ray: You never know what property is going to get a revival in comics these days. Now Cullen Bunn, or one of his twenty comic-writing clones are doing a Pumpkinhead comic for Dynamite. Pumpkinhead’s last movie was in 2007, with the last theatrical release in 1994. Still, it’s a cult favorite with a unique monster, so that’s good enough for 6.4K at #242. Bunn will write all the things!
Glenn: He had like one hour allocated to sleep and decided to do this instead. Also the news of newish Pumpkinhead movies has blown me away.
Ray: IDW is going to cross over all your childhood faves! Next up, GI Joe vs Six Million Dollar Man selling 6K at #244. I’m sure all those 80s kids are thrilled. IDW continues to win their game of quantity, as it’s worth noting that they’re pretty firmly ensconced as the #4 comic company on the market.
Speaking of IDW, right below at #245 is the first issue of their new miniseries based on Tangled: the Series selling 6K. This is not likely geared towards the direct market, as it’ll make a very nice trade with ten individual stories for kids. Still, this is more evidence of IDW’s cozy relationship with Disney, maybe the most interesting subplot in the market right now.
Glenn: Marvel can’t come to the IDW/Disney picnics.
Ray: After a long break, Calexit returns with its second issue at #248, selling 5.8K. This controversial title does seem to have gotten people talking about Black Mask, but it’ll need to find some sort of regular shipping schedule to maintain any momentum. This isn’t DKIII.
Glenn: Or Doomsday Clock or Metal or…
Ray: There’s Zombie Tramp again at #249. It’s the earlier of the two issues this month, which shows this title keeps on growing. It’ll get to the top ten sooner or later! Just in time for the ZTCU to destroy the box office.
A modest 5.7K in reorders for the kickoff of Avengers: No Surrender at #250…but that outsells a first-run issue of Monsters Unleashed right below it. Woof. That experiment is over with next month.
Glenn: Monsters Unleashed is really the Mercs With The Mouth spin off for the modern By The Numbers Reader
Ray: Christopher Sebela and Hayden Sherman’s new Aftershock series Cold War debuts at #255 with sales of 5.5K. Clearly on the low end of Aftershock debuts, but this is one of their most experimental titles so far. If it’s going to find a bigger audience, it’ll likely be in collections.
The James Bond: M One-Shot from Dynamite sells 5.4K at #258. This is one of Dynamite’s most popular franchises, and doing these one-shots seems to be working out for the company – instead of attrition over a miniseries, they just spotlight different characters and get #1 numbers for each installment.
Glenn: Cool note that this was set in Belfast by two Irish creators! Apparently it did some good business here so there you go.
Ray: Speaking of Zombie Tramp, the latest addition to the Zombie Tramp Universe, Black Betty, debuts at #259 with sales of 5.4K. God bless ’em, someone’s buying these books and they’re buying a lot of them, because it keeps on growing! Next up, Baby Badass, who is way too close to Boss Baby for my tastes.
Glenn: I can’t honestly tell if you’re joking or not.
Ray: At #261 is another Black Mask title, The Wilds #1 written by Vita Ayala – who just had a career breakout moment as cowriter on DC’s Supergirl. 5.4K isn’t the best Black Mask’s titles have done, but this one seemed to get a bit more mainstream attention than their usual edgy fare.
Glenn: Maybe the title might get a good stabilization or an increase over the buzz on her Supergirl issue? We’ll see next month.
Ray: At #264 is the debut of the third Berger Book, Incognegro: Renaissance. This is the lowest debut by a wide margin, but it also may be the book in the best shape. This is a sequel/prequel to a very well-regarded series from ten years ago, and 90% of people familiar with it read it in collected form. These 5.2K are not at all representative of its audience – it’s going to finish its run, get collected, and go right next to the first volume on the bookshelf.
Glenn: Ten years is a long time for a fellow up in indie land so the fact that it made the top 300 is something but yeah…fans of the original series will want that super nice collection
Ray: Armstrong and the Vault of Spirits, the latest Archer and Armstrong one-shot from Fred Van Lente, doesn’t find a big audience at #271, selling only 5K. Still, this is a long-post-cancellation sequel to a cult series, without much hype. I get the feeling these one-shots are really just the company letting a creator they have a good relationship with keep telling these stories when he gets an idea, and I fully support that.
The Optimus Prime Annual, one of a cavalcade of comics based on 80s toys from IDW, lands at #276 with sales of 4.8K. IDW knows who’s buying these by now, I think.
One of the biggest disappointments of the month has got to be Twisted Romance, the weekly anthology from Image written by Alex De Campi with art and backup stories from a group of indie artists and cartoonists. More of an experimental comic, Image probably wasn’t expecting big numbers – but I was still shocked to see the first issue down at #280 selling 4.7K, with all the other issues out of the top 300. The latter two issues had some great stories, but it seems not too many people saw them. $20 for a month of unknown stories may have been too high an ask for retailers and readers.
Glenn: Good for Image for trying something different but this isn’t the market to roll the dice in.
Ray: It’s rare you see us really stumped here at By the Numbers, but #285 has done it. That’s Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows, which sells a shockingly low 4.5K for a Black Hammer spin-off. This would be horrible news – except that Doctor Star didn’t come out in February. It shipped in the first week of March, alongside Lemire’s other creator-owned launch, Gideon Falls. So then what’s this? Ghost comic, wooooooooo. My guess is it was an odd advance ship that snuck in, and to see the real level for this comic we probably have to add these sales to next month’s additional orders. But that’s math…
Glenn: Pft, math. Numbers are dumb…wait, what are we called? Yeah this reads like some shops maybe got some Black Hammer material early, lucky sods.
Ray: At #289 we’ve got Walt Disney Showcase, a collection of old Disney comics from IDW. The numbers of 4.4K are small, but IDW’s very quickly becoming Disney’s go-to publisher, and that’s more valuable than any sales.
Batman: White Knight sneaks into the top 300 again with an additional 4.2K in orders for the third issue at #294. It’s just going to keep building momentum, and you know Murphy can write his own ticket at DC now – along with his own comics.
#295 has the launch of Lucas Stand: Inner Demons from Boom. This is a sequel miniseries to the horror comic by the creator of Sons of Anarchy. The original series was more of a cult book, and the sales here of just under 4.4K indicate that’s not changing.
Taking the #300 position this month is the latest issue of Multiple Warheads, Brandon Graham’s offbeat Image anthology comic. Given its erratic schedule and the fact that it’s spinning out of oversized Image anthology Island, I imagine it’s just happy to be here.
Glenn: Its a low entry point to the charts these days so we’re bound to see some randomers.
Ray: Looking ahead to next month, it’s sort of a quiet launch month for the big two, although DC will have both their big events – Metal concludes, and Doomsday Clock wraps up act one, so those should pretty easily take the top two slots. DC will also be dropping the relaunches of three Young Animal titles, as well as new #1 Eternity Girl. There is an issue of Supergirl getting some massive buzz that could boost the title even more, as well.
Marvel is still playing out the string on Legacy before Fresh Start, which will be followed in six months by “C’mon, give ol’ Gil a chance!”. But they do have a few launches this month, including the proper launch of Infinity Countdown, the New Mutants mini that was supposed to be a movie tie-in but isn’t, and the Weapon H spinoff comic featuring Hulkverine. ‘Kay.
It’s actually the indies who shine this month, as Jeff Lemire and Robert Kirkman launch a-list new independent comics from Image, Cyber-Force gets a new relaunch, and one of the most acclaimed creative teams of all time, Mike Carey and Peter Gross, return with a new original property from IDW, The Highest House. We could see some big breakout hits from these independents as the big two give them a bit of a break.
What will rise? What will fall? How high will Zombie Tramp go? Find out next month on By the Numbers!
Glenn: I’m going to bet on a top ten number for Gideon Falls, if I’m wrong, I will Jeff Lemire a massage…no don’t warn him he’ll be fine with it I’m sure.
Liked what you read or have any questions, comments or concerns then let us know here or on Twitter via @glenn_matchett and @raygoldfield!