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 is currently published with Outre Press, Nemeses Studios and Alterna! He’s looking forward to spending Christmas with his newborn son and seeing Doctor Who back.
Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the death of Superman. He is a writer and editor for Grayhaven Comics and is working on his first novel. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekmom and they’re brilliantly entertaining. He’s looking forward to the greatest holiday tradition of all, Chinese buffet!
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!
Full top 300 for November available here!
Glenn: Welcome friends to the last By The Numbers for 2016! Of course we have one more month to come in terms of sales for both companies in 2016 but that won’t be until January! As we end the year, it seems that with the percentages and market share, Marvel has reclaimed the summit after DC’s Rebirth craze has settled down. However, while their market share victory is to be commended…closer inspection brings much concern.
Marvel may have won market share overall but DC takes the top two spots with the same book! The new Batman run by Tom King continues to impress as issues 10 and 11 of the series take spot one and two with sales of just over 120.9k and 116.6k respectively. For anyone keeping track, we’re now into 63 issues of Batman selling over 100k and the King run is still performing steadily. No matter what, DC can count on Batman for a few top ten spots (four this month) whereas it seems Marvel hasn’t had a consistent title in the top ten since Star Wars left these waters some months ago.
Ray: I think the first thing that really needs to be noted is that for the first time, Marvel’s new relaunch did not move the top of the charts at all. We saw success with Champions last month thanks to aggressive incentives, and Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme thanks to a promotion box (much more on those two later), but this month, nothing. Atop the charts we have the tenth and eleventh issue of an ongoing series, followed by the seventh issue of an event, in a month when several top-tier Marvel titles launched. There’s absolutely no way to spin this in a good way for Marvel (something I’ll say a lot this month), but it’s also a testament to the insane strength of the Batman title. It’s slowly sinking towards the 100K line, but it’ll be above it for a good while.
Glenn: Number 3 is Civil War II #7 which was originally supposed to be the finale but another issue was added, much like Secret Wars last year. While the sales of over 116.4 in themselves, comparing the book to its predecessor, against last year’s Secret Wars and as a book that is supposed to lift the line as a whole, Civil War fails in every regard. Still, these are good numbers if you look at it as an isolated mini. Marvel will miss these sales when it concludes as its replacement event(s) haven’t hit nearly as well (more on that in a bit).
Ray: The numbers for Civil War II are…acceptable. It’s far more in line with smaller events like Fear Itself than it is with super-events like Civil War or Secret Wars, but I think that’s just attrition taking effect. Marvel has four events currently in progress or announced. Something’s got to give.
Glenn: The delays with Civil War II has caused some serious delay overlap. Two years in a row, Marvel have had line spanning events and now, like you said they have Civil War II, IvX, Clone Conspiracy and Monsters Unleashed. It’s a lot to ask any fan. Choices will be made and people will only buy what they can afford and retailers will have an unenviable task trying to balance all this also. This is another major reason a lot of high profile launches from Marvel are finding it hard, they’re finding it hard to be heard amongst all the noise.
Here’s Batman again at number 4 with Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman selling, selling just a shade over 99k. Again, I think the price point is probably stopping it from being in the 6k club every month much like the main book. Still, 99k for a 4.99 monthly book is some serious business. The units may be lower than the main book but per issue, this book is going to be making DC far more money and as long as Snyder wants to do it, that won’t change.
Ray: I think this is Scott Snyder’s first Batman issue under 100K in over five years! That being said, given that this is a side title with a higher price point, DC has to consider this a massive success. It reminds me of when Marvel launched Wolverine: Weapon X with former Wolverine writer Jason Aaron on board, and it was treated as a second-tier book and bombed. DC has fully avoided that trap here, and they get to both have and eat their delicious, delicious Bat-cake.
Glenn: That’s a great point about the massive misfire on Weapon X a couple of years ago (arguably the Wolverine books never fully recovered). DC did take a risk here by removing Snyder off Batman, replacing him with someone completely new to DC and then placing him on a completely separate much more expensive Bat book. However, its worked spades for them. I don’t think any other major character from either company could manage this.
Number 5 proves a very important fact, don’t bet against Glenn! Myself and Ray debated how well the new Invincible Iron Man title starring new series protagonist Riri Williams would do. I speculated it wouldn’t manage 100k and it didn’t. True it wasn’t far off because it sold 97.7k which on the surface is great for a new character launching in their own book. Looking closer though, as we said last month with the launch of the Doctor Doom led Infamous Iron Man the previous volume of Invincible launched at around 250k and settled around 40k. Given that and how well Champions sold last month versus where it is this month (more on that later…a lot later) this is troubling. Marvel pushed this character and this book hard and it got outsold by the 10th and 11th issues of a book written by the guy they had on Vision. Much like the market share, the sales are great on this issue but the deeper underlying thread across the line is very concerning and we’ll be covering that a lot this month.
Ray: …I will bow to you here, Glenn. However, I will say this. My assumption was that this would be one of the highest-selling Marvel launches of the month, and it was in fact the highest. I just never imagined a world where the top-selling new Marvel #1 of the month did not crack 100K. That’s possibly the darkest omen for this relaunch possible. People are not buying into Marvel’s new direction, and given the hype for this issue’s #1, I think the sales slide here will be fast and harsh.
Glenn: A bit of a surprise on the sales of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows which launches just over 96k at 6. Great debut for a spin off of a Secret Wars mini which I’m sure sold better than anyone expected it too. Are people yearning for the Spider-marriage or much like Spider-Gwen, did something about this alternate take resonate with a larger audience than normal? I’m not expecting this book to be a top ten staple but with the regular book in a major crossover selling 63k (again…more on that later) if this book can be in the 45-55k range then Marvel will be thrilled. This is one that’s hard to judge on its long term success. If Marvel lets it be and doesn’t tinker with it too much they might have a great success from an unexpected source here.
Ray: This is definitely one of the few bright spots for Marvel here, and I think it’s entirely a grassroots success. It’s great to see Gerry Conway get a hit title again, and although I’m sad to see the title lose its quirky backups next month, the fact that it’s going down to $3.99 should help it keep its sales. I definitely think if Marvel lets it stay off in its own corner, it will be a success – let’s hope they don’t drag it into crossovers and relaunches like they did with Spider-Gwen. (Obligatory 616 Spider-Man better watch his back joke)
Glenn: It is really something to see Conway return to an ongoing Spider-Man title and it to sell this well. This was the second regular Amazing writer and 40 years later, he can still pull it off. Not many creators can return to a character multiple times, like Conway has and still be relevant.
Its unusual to find annuals in these waters but when it stars Batman, it helps. The Batman annual sold just over 91k giving it spot 7. Really impressive but with Tom King, David Finch, Scott Snyder, Paul Dini, Neil Adams and more on the line up, DC put a lot of effort into this one. Annuals are often seen as disposable but the talent here caused retailers to take note. There’s a few other annuals on the charts but this one I think should be a used as a model for any company that wants to do such things.
Ray: This is an incredible performance for an annual, and I put a lot of that on the fact that DC lined up a murderer’s row of creators on this book. The return of Paul Dini on Harley Quinn? That’s an event. And he’s writing her again in the DC Rebirth Holiday Special next month, so watch for that to surprise as well.
Glenn: Another surprise at 8 is the new Venom book which launches with sales just over 90k. This is well above any recent Venom launch in recent years and it seems that retailers are betting that fans of old school ‘eat your brains Venom’ will come out to buy. The reviews of the book haven’t been particularly strong and it doesn’t star Eddie Brock as everyone’s favorite deluded symbiote so it’ll be interesting to see where it lands. Given the pattern of similar books, the next month could see a hard fall.
Ray: …Yeah, look, I have absolutely no clue how this happened. This Venom series has no recognizable characters, no critical buzz, and a creative team that wouldn’t move sales on its own. Was there really that big an audience that wanted to see Venom eating people again? We’ll see how it holds up, but I’m betting this was a one-month blip. This is one of two books this month that did far stronger than I was expecting, actually.
Glenn: At number 9 is Image’s crown jewel the Walking Dead selling just over 88.3k. This book is on issue 160 and outsells a lot of Marvel and DC noise, month in and month out. We say it every month but this is the book that all other books (not starring Batman) are jealous of and wants to hang out with.
Ray: Everyone wants to be Walking Dead! It’s such an outlier in terms of Image’s sales. It’s really the ultimate example of just how well a media property can impact a comic if the tie-ins are savvy enough.
Glenn: Last book in the top ten is the first (kinda) issue of new mega Marvel crossover Inhumans vs X-Men which sells just over 84k. Okay for a new event these numbers are somewhat dismal. For any other ongoing or whatnot, 84k would be great but this is supposed to be the big follow up to Civil War II. Now, this is a 0 issue and those often cause confusion with retailers, you would almost wonder what the point of them is because they never really perform as well as the ‘real’ number one book. The first ‘real’ issue will probably do a lot better but this isn’t a good indication of where the series goes from here. We’ve seen the Inhumans pushed time and time over again with middling results at best. I’m sure Marvel would have been much happier if it had even scraped over 100k but in relative terms, a troubling start. Of course we’re only at spot 10 here and the news only gets worse here for the biggest comic company in the world.
Ray: A zero issue is always going to be hard to gauge, but I’m looking at some long-term trends here, and to put it lightly, they’re not good. Civil War II also had this zero issue, and that one sold 177K to this event’s 84K. It then more than doubled those numbers to 381K the next month for #1 – only to shed over 60% of those sales the same month with #2. If I follow this pattern for IvX, next month’s #1 should do close to 180K, but then shed that entire gain and then some, with #2 coming in below the level of the #0 issue. We’ll see if the pattern plays out, but if it does, Marvel’s in for a rough few months as this event plays out.
Glenn: I would say it won’t do as well because try as they might, Marvel hasn’t caught people’s attention with the Inhumans. Civil War II had a big movie and was the sequel to the biggest event ever. Even if this is seen as a kind of successor to Avengers vs X-Men (which it isn’t) it’ll be probably lucky if it can manage 68-75k regularly. Hope I’m wrong for Marvel’s sake.
Ray: I never thought I would live to see the day a new Avengers #1 landed out of the top ten, especially not the flagship book, but here we are. Avengers #1 by Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo, the successor to All-New All-Different Avengers, is only able to land at #11 with sales of just under 82K. We’ll see how it holds from here, but the best case scenario is that retailers are just tired of relaunches and gave it a very small relaunch bounce, just treating it like another Avengers issue. If that’s the case, the attrition should be lessened. On the other hand, if it falls like other big Marvel launches did, this book could hit scary numbers soon.
Glenn: This is a huge surprise but I think it is relaunch overkill really hitting Marvel hard now. This is like the ninth of tenth Avenger’s relaunch in the last five years. I think its only (only he says) the fourth or so for the main book so yeah…its not a big deal any more. The last Marvel relaunch fest didn’t fare too great for All New All Different so hopefully there’s more of a hold here.
Ray: Both Justice League and Detective Comics land both their issues in the top twenty, with very gentle slides as they continue to find their level. For those keeping track, that’s eight books so far in the top 20 starring Batman. (They’re joined by Flash, the title whose fortunes have improved the most in Rebirth, with both issues in the top 20)
Glenn: Things have settled down as we said for DC but they’ve settled down at quite a respectable level. The big winners of Rebirth are the Superman line, Wonder Woman and Flash. That’s eight more books DC can count on to give them very solid sales, there are other books still performing admirably which we’ll get to later but these are the big winners. This is the pattern Marvel wants.
Ray: And speaking of Batman! The previous Batman/TMNT crossover was a smash hit, debuting in the top ten. I don’t think anyone was expecting the same performance out of the IDW sequel, Batman/TMNT Adventures, crossing over the animated series. However, its debut at #14 with sales of over 75K blew all the expectations out of the water, and might be one of IDW’s best sellers ever. For those keeping track, that’s nine comics in the top 20 featuring Batman. Has any character ever dominated the charts like this?
Glenn: Apart from Batman himself? Probably not. There’s obviously still a lot of fan for the animated versions of the characters depicted in this book but this is still a very nice surprise, especially for IDW. The mainline version of this team up was a great success so retailers probably ordered on the strength of that also. We’ve got a lot more DC intercompany crossovers coming and if they’re up for it (which they seem to be), smaller companies don’t seem to be only benefiting from the arrangement.
Ray: Star Wars hits #25 and celebrates its anniversary by…sliding 3K. Marvel didn’t really promote this double-sized issue all that much, and as such there’s no sales impact. Star Wars is still one of Marvel’s bright spots, but the impact is becoming less and less impressive with every month.
Glenn: Star Wars has settled into a comfortable role of an above average strong seller. Its’ not the unstoppable monster it was for the majority of its first two years but as long as Disney keeps cranking out new movies (which will probably be forever now), this will be a solid performer for Marvel. I’m surprised that with Rogue One coming out we’re not seeing them take advantage of that in the comics in some way but again, its probably not up to Marvel what Star Wars toys they do/do not (there is no try) toys they get to play with.
Ray: One of the stronger debuts for Marvel this month is Unworthy Thor, a five-issue miniseries from A-list Thor creative team Jason Aaron and Oliver Coipel (for now). I might have expected more from this series given how anticipated it was, but given how depressed all the Marvel sales seem to be right now, it’s pretty impressive. It sold a good 30K more than the most recent issue of The Mighty Thor this month, which is still in the top third of Marvel’s titles overall.
Glenn: I think also that female Thor has been such a hit that people are going to be more invested when classic Thor resumes the role ‘properly’ which will likely take place later this year. Hard to go wrong with this creative team but the changes and non changes have been…confusing. It’ll be interesting to see how retailers react to that. If this book can stay above the main book then it’ll be a good indicator of what business Thor can do once the Jane Foster era wraps up.
Ray: As we exit the top twenty, it feels worth noting that DC won the top 20 11-8-1 if you count the Batman/TMNT crossover as a win for DC. This was in the month that Marvel had their big relaunch unfolding.
Glenn: When you break it down like that, the overall trend is really telling. Yes, Marvel won market share but they release a lot more books at much higher prices so its not too difficult. If their goal is to win the market share game, they’ll never have too much of a problem but if they’re looking to sell comics, the trends are getting to the very troubling. Whenever Marvel has had these numbers given to them, certain staff members have reacted rather…aggressively. In my personal experience, you generally go on the defensive when you’re wounded, like an animal. There will be massive changes somewhere/somehow but its just a matter of when.
Ray: Speaking of annuals, the Star Wars annual, guest-written by Kelly Thompson, had a fairly strong showing with a Leia-centric story, selling 59K at #26. There were a lot of annuals this month, and quite a few exceeded expectations. Others…did what annuals normally do.
Glenn: I think last years Star Wars annual did a lot better (I should check…but I won’t). If it had been written by Jason Aaron or regular Star Wars mini writer Cullen Bunn it might have fared better. Still, its fine sales for a $4.99 annual.
Ray: We talked last month about how Clone Conspiracy didn’t sell what one might expect it to, and that continues this month with its second issue, which charts at #28 with sales of just under 59K – seven spots and 4K below Amazing Spider-Man. At this point, it seems pretty safe to say this is the result of retailers now knowing how to order this and not being fully aware that this is the main Spider-man book for the duration. As long as it stays relatively close to the main book – and there’ll be some course-correction, Marvel can’t be too upset, because these are still the top two non-#1 non-Civil War non-Star Wars books they have this month. Still, they probably need to get the word out much better next time.
Glenn: Yeah, there was a lot of confusion here. It was very heavily promoted within the books themselves but I don’t really remember a big roll out for Clone Conspiracy apart from Dan Slott running around reminding people they should really order it. With Amazing serving as a tie-in book, its puzzling to see it out sell the main crossover book. Slott also tried to get word out that retailers will really, really want to order more of issue 3 for reasons we won’t spoil here (go to Rabbitt Stew for more!). We’ll see if he managed to get word out and if there is a bump next month. I don’t expect it to be a long standing effect however but I don’t imagine it having another severe drop much less than this.
Ray: Books like Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Trinity, Harley Quinn, and Nightwing continue their current pattern – they’re slowly sliding month by month, but their general spots on the chart are staying similar. They’re all still firmly ensconced in the top 40, which means that DC continues to dominate the top fifty overall. Rebirth hasn’t found its level yet, per se, but its slide seems to coincide with attrition in the market as a whole. That’s really good news for DC as a whole, but they’re going to have some trouble spots further down the line.
Glenn: This is the midcard for DC which is better than Marvel’s regular midcard and on par with Image’s higher selling offerings that aren’t the Walking Dead. All very good news for them so far.
Ray: The mid-thirties is where we see some more Marvel debuts, and the results are mixed based on which book it is. Ghost Rider at #32 with sales of 57K? That’s a huge surprise given that the previous run by this creative team hit cancellation numbers very quickly. Could it be Agents of Shield moving the needle this much? Would be a surprise, if so. I expect next month’s numbers to tell the tale pretty quickly about if this is a real surge in interest or just some sort of speculator bump.
Glenn: Ghost Rider has always been a character that finds it hard to get traction (pun intended). Agents Of SHIELD will help because retailers will hope that some casuals may watch the show and come in pick up the book starring the focus of the latest series (to date anyway). Will it continue? I don’t think so. Ghost Rider has always been a hard sell but maybe he can manage slightly better than some DC books like Cyborg which might be good enough.
Ray: On the other hand, #33 with sales of 57K is NOT quite so good news for Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1, given the massive initial sales of the parent book and the fact that this has two NY Times Bestselling authors on the writing team. Much like with Dr. Strange, it seems Marvel needs to be very cautious about trying to turn smash hit books into franchises too quickly.
Glenn: This book screams of trying to go to the well too quickly once its been full to the top. The regular book (selling 56 with just over 43.4k) is an insane success for a character who has never had numbers like that on a regular basis. The last thing Marvel wants to do is to test this new interest. I don’t think the main book will be negatively effected but I don’t see World Of Wakanda lasting more than 12 issues. Perhaps Marvel is looking to get grease from the squeaky wheel but they have to think of tomorrow rather than today.
Ray: A few slots below them at #36 with sales of 54K is the debut of Thanos by Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato. I’m not sure a Thanos book could be expected to do any higher than this, even with the character’s prominence in the movies and the top-tier creative team. I think this is this wave’s top contender to be a critically acclaimed 12-issue maxiseries, a la Vision.
Glenn: Yeah, I doubt anyone could have done much better either. Thanos was only used sparingly prior to the MCU casting him in such a prominent role and since then, Marvel’s been pushing him hard. Villain books are always a tough sell so this is a very good start and if it can land in the 30-35k range or so that would be great. If it does around 25k or less than yeah, like you said it’ll probably be next years Vision.
Ray: Further ill omens for IvX next month – Death of X limps to a finish with #3 selling 53K at #38, and #4 wrapping up at #45 with sales of just over 50K. Not terrible numbers, but definitely not the event numbers Marvel was hoping for given that it’s a direct prequel and has a huge story reveal for the coming event.
Glenn: Lead in stories to big events are always a mixed bag. Sometimes they can gain genuine interest but this one while decent hasn’t set the world on fire. The X-Men line isn’t the unstoppable force it was and hasn’t been for years so unlike Spider-Man, mini’s starring them are going to probably perform around here at best no matter what they’re building up to. In a few months all the X books will be relaunching (again) so lets see if they can grab a few new fans on the way.
Ray: Teen Titans seems to have stabilized at #40 with sales of 52K, just above sister book Titans. That’s a fairly gentle slide from its second #1 issue last month, which might indicate DC finally has a popular take on this property for the first time since 19-Dickety-Six. We had to use the word Dickety in those days because Scott Lobdell had stolen our word zero and turned it into a time-travelling serial killer, you see
Glenn: Considering the damage Teen Titans has suffered over the last ten years or more, the sales here are somewhat miraculous. Its interesting that the two books are so close together given Titans started first. Featuring Damien Wayne probably helped here but fans (like Ray) have probably been chomping for a half decent Titans book for years so the demand was there. Even if it loses around 20k that would still be very respectful.
Ray: The Amazing Spider-Man annual sells 52K at #42, owing primarily to the strength of this franchise title. The actual comic was a series of anthology stories without much story relevance to them, albeit with a guest writer named Wayne Brady. Not much to say here, except listen to Rabbitt Stew Comics to hear Glenn’s brilliant rant on this issue!
Glenn: *bangs head on table* Spider-Man is Marvel’s Batman but on a much smaller scale. Put his name on something and it’ll perform respectfully (much like Deadpool). Given that this annual is entirely passable in every sense story wise, I wonder if again, Marvel is getting a quick win over long term gain. I would buy another Batman annual tomorrow given how good that was but these passable and (being nice) below average Spider-Man throwaways will diminish confidence in buying the next Spidey ‘extra’ Marvel tries to put out.
Ray: Meanwhile, the Superman annual comes in with sales of 49.7K at #46, just in between the two issues of Action Comics this month. Although the writing team of Superman was on this issue, it didn’t have the same sales success. However, selling on the same level as the lower-selling Superman book is a pretty decent number overall, so DC’s first experiment with annuals in the Rebirth era has to be called a success.
Glenn: That’s quite a bit lower than the books parent title but annuals (apart from Batman apparently) are what they are. These sales are fine by annual standards. By delivering a story by the regular team, at least DC is keeping good will for the people that did buy it.
Ray: You know, for all the mediocre-to-bad news for Marvel this month, nothing made my head spin quite as much as the placement of Champions on the chart. For the record, last month, Champions sold 328K, and looked like potentially Marvel’s first successful new franchise launch in a while. The idea of a real Marvel version of the Teen Titans featuring all their most popular young legacy characters was kind of brilliant, and it had an a-list creative team and great reviews. Then this month, it loses over 80% of those sales right away and craters to #47, with sales of only 49K. This may be the best indication yet that Marvel has lost the trust of the comic-buying public due to their constant relaunches and flooding of the market. If the second issue of Marvel’s most-hyped new ongoing spinning out of Avengers can barely beat the 10th issue of Green Lanterns, what is going to turn this around for them?
Glenn: Yes, this is the reason that we’re really running around with our hands in the air screaming like the sky is falling. Some of the sales we’ve talked about earlier are worrying but this…this is something else entirely. IF Marvel hadn’t pushed this title so hard and IF sales on issue one had been about 80k I would probably be feeling pretty okay as long as the sales quickly stabilized. Losing 80% of your audience in one issue though…is not good and this was on a book Marvel was really counting on. If this drop is a general indicator of where the much lower debits go next month then there won’t be any Christmas cheer for Marvel.
The latest Millarworld book from Mark Millar and artist superstar Greg Capullo Reborn has its second issue chart at 61 with sales of just over 41.4k. I may have expected more with Capullo on board but this is still Image’s third highest selling book this month and for a book outside the big two, over 40k is not to be sneezed at. I doubt the book will fall much further than this too so it will perform most admirably in its limited run and have a very long and happy collection afterlife. Another happy story from Image.
Ray: Yeah, coming in only behind the long-standing megahits Walking Dead and Saga is a pretty great place for Reborn. Millar hasn’t had a megahit in quite some time, since the original Jupiter’s Legacy run, but almost all of his new properties are consistently strong (besides, ironically, the recent runs of Jupiter’s Legacy).
Glenn: Decent drop from Batman Beyond to 62 with sales just over 41.3k. The last iteration of this book had mixed reviews at best so people are clearly happy to see Terry back. This book will have a good bit of rope but if it follows the pattern of other Rebirth books in the ‘middle’ of the line then it’ll probably settle around 30k which would be very good for a title completely separate from the rest of the line.
Ray: Batman Beyond is another example of how Rebirth had really lifted all boats (with one exception, as we’ll talk about later). Any title that relaunched with Rebirth is still doing consistently better than it was before, and Batman Beyond has had one of the most dramatic turnarounds. I’m not sure if it’s the return of Terry McGinnis, the Rebirth branding, or the use of the Joker, but something is working.
Glenn: At 62 is another Avengers launch in the ‘Point’ miniseries by regular Avengers writer Mark Waid. This is a mini set in the past during the second Avenger’s line up which is also known as ‘Cap’s Kooky Quartet.’ Although Avenger’s events are a regular event at Marvel, mini series aren’t too regular with the last one I really remember being ‘Avengers: Prime‘ a number of years ago. With sales of of just 41.2k there’s a few ways to look at this. This story is set in the past and seems to be just a vehicle for Waid to write one particular period he wanted to write. If that’s the case, these sales aren’t too bad. The Avengers name not being able to get sales much higher though is telling of the franchises overall current ‘pull’ however. Hard to tell what Marvel expected out of this book, I would have thought more but given what their output is and how their marketing generally is, they’ve created an audience that wasn’t going to care very much about an Avenger’s line up from close to 50 years ago.
Ray: I think the .1 branding from Marvel has really become associated with “irrelevant side story”, and that’s probably the biggest impact here. Overall, though, this is the third bit of bad news for Waid’s Avengers run this month, and that was one of the healthier lines going into this latest relaunch. We’ve got the two major companies going in distinctly opposite directions right now, and this is a good indication.
Glenn: To further the point that Avenger’s 1.1 was kinda of an ‘eh’ launch was that it barely outsold an entirely new property coming from DC’s new Young Animal line in the form of Mother Panic which sells just under 41k at 63. This is a really good debut for a new property in a specialist line but is no doubt helped by the fact that its set in Gotham. The Young Animal line has been a real solid edition to the DC publishing line, if you imagine this book debuting at Vertigo it would be a much different story. It also outsold the second issue of a new Iron Man title, how about that?
Ray: Mother Panic is well below the debut of Doom Patrol, but well above the debuts of Shade and Cave Carson. I’m going to attribute this at least partially to the Batman cameo and the Gotham setting, but overall DC has clearly managed to make Young Animal a successful new brand. It really reminds me in a way of the early days of the Marvel Knights line, when there was real buzz circling around a small group of books that felt very different from the rest of the line.
Glenn: The comparison between Young Animal and Marvel Knights is an interesting one. Marvel Knight books were in continuity but were designed to be more mature and have a different voice than the rest of the line and renewed long fledging properties like Daredevil. We’ve speculated about Young Animal being a replacement for Vertigo but this comparison is much more accurate.
Speaking of said Iron Man title, Infamous Iron Man is at 64k at 40k. Much better than the disastrous International Iron Man but not great from a book Marvel pushed so heavily. If the drops stop here, then fine, it’ll be selling around the same as the previous volume of Invincible Iron Man but it doesn’t have the rope the book above it will have.
Ray: It’s going to be interesting to see how the sales of Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man perform opposite each other, but the first month sales were not impressive for either of them and this drop is even more worrisome.
Glenn: We’re not done with mediocre sales on new books in the Avenger’s brand just yet! At 73 is Occupy Avengers which sells just over 38k. Unlike the point Avenger’s book, this is supposed to be an ongoing so this is even further indication that the Avenger’s aren’t the high selling gig in town any more. Now, the roll out for this book was very strange which may have helped it. Fans didn’t respond well to what Marvel sold the series as but the comic produced seemed to be very different but no one was told that. So either rush changes were made about what the book was or someone in the soliciting department got the wrong idea entirely. Either way, a rather auspicious start for a new Avenger’s book which better hope it stabilizes fast.
Ray: This book was doomed once Marvel gave it an odd, off-putting promotional campaign that made it seem like Hawkeye was going to be going after his fellow superheroes as some sort of “defender of the common man”. Needless to say, that was not a popular concept, and this book – really a generic road trip adventure with Hawkeye and Red Wolf – never had a chance. This is feeling like a miniseries to me.
Glenn: Supergirl after a crazy success with the Rebirth and issue one sales is settling in at around 37k at 75. Not the lowest selling Super family book…or even the second lowest but still far removed from the two Superman titles way up at the top. The last Supergirl book would average about 12k lower so this is an impressive amount of add on. If the book can settle here then DC will be happy enough but given the lift the main Superman books have gotten and the impressive ratings the TV show manages, you would have thought it could at least crack 40k.
Ray: Yeah, I’m kind of puzzled by Supergirl’s performance. Long wait between this and her last title, a TV series to raise her profile, a high-profile acclaimed creative team, and great initial sales. So what went wrong? These numbers are still acceptable, but I would have placed it a good 10-15K higher right now. I’m wondering if the attempt to expand the Superman line so much with Rebirth may be hurting it a bit? It’s the highest of the spin-off titles, but they may all be cannibalizing each other a bit. More on the latter two later.
Glenn: Supergirl has never been a particularly high seller apart from when Jeph Loeb revitalized the character roughly ten years ago. I would say it is the case of the Superfamily ‘side’ books not seen as important as the main two. Compared to the other two in the line (which like you say, we’ll get to) Supergirl compares very favourably. I would say it’ll just be stable and that seems to be a key thing in the current market.
Second issue of Jessica Jones lands at 78 with sales of over 36.8k. It loses half its issue one sales roughly but these are numbers the Alias series could only dream about. If this can continue around this level, it’ll have a very long life as long as Bendis/Gaydos want to put it out. Even if it drops another 10k or so, it can be seen as a decent low tier seller. It just depends what Marvel expected from it, I doubt they could have thought this would do much better.
Ray: These are solid numbers from Jessica Jones, and it’s pretty much amazing that it’s right in line with Infamous Iron Man right now. This is probably one of the brighter spots of the relaunch so far, and Marvel will need more of those.
Glenn: Another annual, this time its the Uncanny X-Men annual at 82 with sales just over 35.3k. This one is a lot closer to its parent title which is at 77k with sales just under 37k. Not too bad at all in terms of how annuals perform.
Ray: The Uncanny X-Men Annual is mainly significant for being the Marvel debut of Iceman writer Sina Grace, and that book’s creative team was announced after its arrival, so there was no real hype behind this book. Not a big surprise it underperformed.
Glenn: Not really an Avenger’s book but certainty in the same vein, Ultimates 2 launches at 84 with sales just over 34.6k. From what I know, this book is essentially a continuation of the last volume so there’s likely going to be minimal effect from the relaunch, much like the main Avengers book. There’s still some launches to come from Marvel so buckle in from here keeping in mind this was supposed to be their new line with all new exciting directions.
Ray: Yeah, same writer and same storyline. Ultimates was a low-selling title already, and while the #1 issue doubled the sales of the last run, that won’t hold. By #3 it’ll likely be below the level of where it was selling before the relaunch.
Glenn: Selling a good bit higher than most of those aforementioned launches is the first issue of Valiant’s Harbinger Renegade which is at 89 with sales just over 33.1k. Very impressive from Valiant who continue to have these stealth successes from their relatively small line. When you’re outselling new Marvel titles that are being given huge promotion and incentives a company like Valiant could only dream of you’re absolutely doing very well. It’ll probably join the rest of its Valiant ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ at around the same level they all seem to do but still a very respectful launch.
Ray: That’s probably about double the numbers your average Valiant #1 does, so that’s really impressive. The property’s been gone for a while, so I’m not sure why it over-performed like this. Could it be the presence of long-time fan favorite artist Darick Robertson, who’s been on a lot of very popular runs over the years?
Glenn: Robertson has been a lot of really high performing creator owned books (The Boys was his last I think?) so yeah, I think his presence will help. It’s probably just that Valiant can create a little bit of interest on specific books, probably something they can manage to do better than most companies that are much larger than them.
The second issue of Marvel’s newest Inhuman superstar Mosiac sells just under 32k at 93. We’re probably going to see this one drop out of the top 100 next month unless it stops right about here, this book won’t be around for long. We’re seeing Marvel using top tier Inhuman characters like Black Bolt as the basis for new ongoings, I’ll be curious if they fare much better than the new characters in that group tend to perform.
Ray: That’s actually a fairly decent hold for Mosaic, keeping about 75% of its modest first-issue sales. It could hold here, or this could be a momentary blip because Marvel often offers incentives to retailers that result in bounces like this.
Glenn: A big surprise at 95 with AD: After Death Book 1 selling just over 30.6k which has the creative team of Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, you would have thought it would be a lot higher than this. There are a few factors to consider here however as the book was meant to be a graphic novel then was changed, has a hefty price attached and is in an unusual format. Doing something different is to be commended for the book but it could also make retailers and potential buyers wary. I would say that a lot of people are going to be waiting for the collection because that’s what they were already mentally associating this book with. Still, for a 5.99 book 30k ain’t too shabby and I wouldn’t be surprised if parts 2 and 3 perform nearly identically. After this, the series will have a long life in collections for Image, long after the majority of the books being published by the big two are long forgotten.
Ray: Seeing AD down this low really surprised me, because these are arguably the two most bankable creators in the industry right now.That being said, this is a very unusual distribution model, and it’s possible that this is a bit of the Clone Conspiracy effect, with retailers sort of missing the boat. If the first issue is any indication, though, buzz is going to spread fast about this book. Watch for it to potentially appear on the charts with reorders in coming months.
Glenn: The size of it might have put retailers off too. If a retailer has limited shelf space then putting this book means taking 3 books off to make room for it. Retailers will be like ‘Do I want to sell a few of this 5.99 book or lots of these 2.99/3.99 books?’ Maybe it didn’t matter but it could have had an effect. I would expect it to do handsomely on reorders also.
Ray: Well, looks like I have to give you yet another win this month. You were skeptical of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme last month, despite its top ten debut. We all knew it would take a hefty fall, especially as part of its huge debut was a Collectors Corps tie-in – but I don’t think any of us called it plummeting all the way down to #99 and losing over 75% of its sales. Needless to say, this is a book that might have a lot to worry about if it doesn’t stabilize and fast.
Glenn: Yeah, it seems much like the number one book last month, this book had its sales inflated by an incentive fan crate. This also explains the odd blip one issue of Amazing Spider-Man had a few months ago. It’s something we’ll have to be noteful of in future articles. The result is a seemingly sharp drop but given how Doctor Strange has only operated in the land of the mini for the past number of decades its no big surprise, even with the movie out. This is another 12 issue mini it looks like.
Ray: Much like Mosaic, Great Lakes Avengers has a fairly gentle slide of roughly 25% to land at #100 with sales of 29K. Could we be seeing a new trend of retailers not buying into Marvel’s huge incentives to get big first-issue sales? That could account for better second-issue holds.
Glenn: 29k is a lot better than you would expect for a GLA book. It could survive here if it holds.
Ray: It’s time to look at the bottom of the Rebirth rankings this month, and the only books this time that land out of the top 100 are Hellblazer, two issues of Cyborg, New Super-Man, and Blue Beetle. For Hellblazer, this isn’t a big surprise. New Super-Man is a new character, so it’s also not shocking. For Cyborg and Blue Beetle, though, it feels like DC is attempting to give another chance to characters that, unfortunately, have flopped in direct market sales every time an ongoing with them is tried. Cyborg has already been dialed back to monthly, which may slow the bleeding starting in January, but it’s probably too late. As for Blue Beetle, it’s already monthly and four issues in it’s the lowest-selling title, so it’s in big trouble. Maybe a major role for the character in YJ S3 will help, but the book might be gone by then.
Glenn: Fans just don’t seem to be interested in either Cyborg or Blue Beetle in terms of their own solo series. Neither have a history of strong ongoings but like you say, DC seems determined not to give up. I would say that these books will be quietly cancelled, both characters moved onto other books (well Cyborg is obviously still in Justice League) and we’ll see something else replace them before so long.
Ray: Then we come to the lowest-selling of Marvel’s misguided ongoing attempts – Foolkiller #1, which charts at #105 with sales of 28K. This is basically an exact mirror of Solo‘s performance last month (more on him later), and I expect Slapstick to do the same next month. This is actually a shame, because I’ve found both issues of Foolkiller to be surprisingly clever and compelling, but this is a title that was doomed from the moment it was announced.
Glenn: These books were Marvel just testing to see if one could maybe land. The answer it seems, is no. Back to Mercs With A Mouth for all involved and these books never to be mentioned again.
Ray: I would like to point out that Spider-Gwen is beating Gwenpool this month, edging it out by 11 spots and 4k. Even though both of them are out of the top 100 now, I think this has to be considered a win for the world.
Glenn: We have to take small wins where we can. It’ll be interesting to see how the crossover with Spider-Man effects Spider-Gwen (if at all). The last crossover she was involved in seems to have done more harm than good.
Ray: The weirdest comic of the month, Catwoman: Election Night, manages 23K at #116, which isn’t all that bad considering this is a political inventory story and a short Prez sequel. The real puzzle is why DC thought a $4.99 comic that seemed designed to anger both sides of the election was going to do any better.
Glenn: Oh man this book. Given how much of an odd ball it was, they can’t have expected much less. You have to feel sorry for Prez fans who were promised a proper continuation and had to go out and buy this comic. Maybe starring in this is what really motivated Selena to kill all those people?
Ray: Serenity: No Power in the Verse manages to be the top-selling Dark Horse title for the second month in a row, selling 24K at #113. That’s a pretty decent hold, and just goes to show how the property still has a seriously active fanbase over a decade later.
Cage has one of the bigger slides of the new Marvel lineup, not a big surprise given how out of step it was with the rest of the line. It loses about 50% of its sales to land at #118 with sales of 22K.
Glenn: Not a big surprise for Cage, even when it was first announced it was going to be a specialized item. 10 years ago it might have done line 10k more but Marvel’s probably just happy to get it out the door.
Ray: All-ages books don’t usually do that well in single issues, so the debut of Super Powers for DC has got to be considered a win. 22K at #121. Baltazar and Franco have a long-running fanbase from their Tiny Titans days, and it’s paid off here.
To put the debut of Super Powers into perspective, it outsold the latest issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson, but I think that says more about the way this current Cap relaunch has been received than anything else.
Both the lower-selling Young Animal books hold decently in their second month, with Cave Carson and Shade staying around the 20K line. That’s not necessarily a recipe for long-term success, but it does seem like all the Young Animal books are getting some eyes on them and people are liking what they see.
Glenn: You’d have to expect these books would be around the 8k mark or so under other circumstances. Its all relative so when it comes to outside the box properties, the Young Animal line seems to have managed to be able to let them find an audience, hopefully it continues.
Ray: It’s been months since the debut of Betty and Veronica by Adam Hughes, and while the first issue had a strong debut thanks to a literal cavalcade of variant covers, the second issue loses all that momentum and freefalls down to #133 with sales of 19.7K. Despite the long-term success of Archie and Jughead’s titles, it seems like the rest of the line might struggle a little bit.
Glenn: From what I hear from yourself, the other Archie books seem out of step with what Mark Waid is doing. This is still better than anything Archie could have dreamed of a few years ago so they’re probably happy. I don’t think it’ll be too long before the book goes on hiatus in any case.
Ray: If you want to see just how bad things are going to be for the new Marvel titles that are underperforming from the start, look at Prowler, which started at #82 last month, but promptly loses over half these sales and plummets to #142 with sales of 17K, which is near cancellation level. To put this into perspective, that’s only a few slots above the fourteenth issue of Carnage‘s solo title. We’ll get to another title that’s much, much worse later on.
Glenn: Launching as part of a major storyline just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. You’d have to imagine the title would be doing worse though if it was just asked to stand on its own. I think Hobie will go back to his more usual role as a supporting character and this book will not be mentioned again. We saw a similar pattern with Morbius a few years ago which launched alongside Superior Spider-Man. Another example of lessons not being learned.
Ray: Empress wraps up its run at #158 with sales of 14.8K. Probably the best sales Icon has had in a while, but then we have to ask ourselves – how would be a big Millar/Immonen space opera have done at Image?
Glenn: Empress hasn’t been terrible but not where his books usually sell. This is probably due to the fact that Empress had to be published through Marvel’s Icon imprint which won’t have the strength on the creator owned scene that Image does. It shouldn’t feel bad about that, no one has the indie pull Image does, Empress likely would have sold the same with IDW, BOOM!, Dark Horse or anyone else.
Ray: The #2 Dark Horse book of the month is Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #1, which only manages to pull 14.8K at #160. It’s pretty clear that this franchise’s best days are well behind it, because it was barely able to get a minor jump out of the start of a new season – and came in 8K behind the second issue of Whedon’s less-known property.
Glenn: I remember when Season 8 launched at the very top of the charts but that was with Whedon writing it and before he nearly burnt the house down at the end of that story. I think we’re only seeing the dedicated remain or sticking to trades. I’m sure Dark Horse is glad to have the sales that they can somewhat count on. It’ll be interesting to see how Angel launches without being paired with Faith this time.
Ray: Frank Barbiere’s Violent Love is one of those Image titles that doesn’t get all that much hype going in, but it manages to pull a fairly decent debut of 14K at #162. Certainly not spectacular, but well in line with the sales of the mid-tier of Image. It’s also a great book, so hopefully more people will check this book out! (Official By The Numbers Recommendation!)
We’ve talked before about the insane stability of Black Hammer, which only slides a modest 300 copies from November’s issue at #169. It’s basically locked down at the 12K+ range, which is great for a Dark Horse original property in its 5th issue.
The first issue of BOOM!’s new WWE series debuts at #171 with sales of 12.9K. However, I think this is actually a preview issue with the subtitle “Then. Now. Forever”, so the actual #1 may do better next month.
Glenn: WWE comics never really perform really well. Its hard to do a comic about the lives of characters that are there to help you get excited about seeing them beat each other up. The fight scenes in the comic won’t have the same effect so you have this odd blend of fiction and reality. Also, WWE is a company that changes so fast with stars leaving, getting injured or losing favour with the company it’ll be near impossible for any comic to keep up.
Ray: Speaking of bad news for Marvel, let’s check in on Solo! Last month it did just over 30K. This month, it slides all the way down to 12.7K at #173. Needless to say, this is gone after one arc and will probably not be alone. To put this into perspective, the second issue of the first-cancelled All-New All-Different Marvel Now book last year, Black Knight, sold 22K with its final issue, so just how ugly are these numbers going to be by the end of this run?
Glenn: Wow that is pretty jarring when you lay it out like that. My only memory of Solo is his role in Revenge Of The Sinister Six from like 20 years ago where he just seemed like a lame Punisher rip off. Again I’m sure the logic here was cause of Mercs For Money but as we mentioned last month, the reason that book performs respectfully (107 this month with sales over 26.5k) is cause of Deadpool. You could put him in a book with a tree (not Groot, just a tree) and it would sell, it doesn’t mean I want to read a book about said tree. Yes I just compared Solo to a tree, largely cause of all the ones being killed to publish this comic that not many people care about.
(Note: Solo was missing from the most recent Marvel solicitations so consider it a goner)
Ray: The DC New Talent Showcase, a $7.99 anthology volume showing off the graduates of the first DC Writers’ Workshop, sold 12.4K at #174. Not great numbers, clearly, but I don’t think DC really expected much more from an $8 comic without any big names attached by design.
Glenn: This is DC just looking to get some money on the investment and maybe test the waters for some of the characters involved in the book. It was always going to be disposable so I think only people curious about what could be DC’s next generation of writers had to offer being interested. Ironically, the Millarworld annual which featured people even less well known did a good bit better, albeit it was a lot cheaper.
Another annual, this time its Injustice Gods Among Us Year 5 (where does the time go?) at 176 with sales just over 12.2k. Blah, blah game tie in, blah, blah.
Ray: Injustice is relaunching in a few months with original series writer Tom Taylor on board, so we’ll see if that gives the franchise a boost. Otherwise, not bad for a digital-first tie-in annual.
Glenn: It seems Taylor isn’t sticking around. The series will probably just sell what it always does. A steady but low selling game adaption is better than nothing.
Talking of Archie spin offs, here’s Josie and the Pussycats second issue selling at 177 with sales also just over 12.2k. Still better than probably would of happened to the book in years past but there’s a clear divide between the main two books and everything else. The clear star of the show is the main book is Archie which is to be understandable as it has the most hype around it. Hopefully Archie doesn’t continue testing their luck and lose some of the buzz they’ve managed to gain.
Ray: That’s a pretty sharp fall for Josie, much more than any of their other books. It would be nice if Archie focused on their strongest properties – but instead they’re giving us spin-offs for The Archies and Werewolf Jughead in March as part of a “pilot season” event.
Glenn: Now that you mention it, there are some odd books coming from the company. Maybe they’re trying more of their old style books on the new audience? Don’t think it’ll float but that’s why you test the waters with a ‘pilot season’ I guess
There’s a new Matt Kindt book from Dark Horse at 179 with sales just over 11.9. This is just the average Dark Horse launch with a fairly well known name these days. This underscores how well Black Hammer is doing of course. Kindt is an acquired taste but has his loyal fans, this is one book I don’t think would have done much more business at Image. It’ll probably have a relatively small drop off.
Ray: I think this is actually slightly higher than Kindt’s last new creator-owned book for Dark Horse, Dept. H. Slowly but surely, Kindt is building his brand at Dark Horse and they probably weren’t expecting much more out of this. He’s a cult creator.
Glenn: Startling numbers for the first issue of the Serenity mini with sales of just under 11.6k at 181. That’s some serious dedication for such a long cancelled property and a Dark Horse book also. Like you said earlier Ray, fans are perhaps few for this property but are still deeply as passionate as ever about it.
Ray: This is a reprint of the first issue of Serenity, so these are actually great numbers. Dark Horse has a genuine hit on their hands with this mini, so I’d be surprised if we didn’t get a Serenity ongoing after this, if Whedon is allowing it.
Glenn: Motor Girl is the newest book from Terry Moore and its at 182 selling over 11.5k. Decent launch for Moore’s publishing line. His books tend to do small but reliable numbers with a good business in trades also. Like Image books from Hickman and Brubaker, retailers probably know who is going to be coming in looking for the new Terry Moore comic.
Ray: Given that Moore publishes out of a small independent publishing house without the reach of the big companies, this is definitely a big win for him. I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about this book, too, so it might hold these numbers better than Rachel Rising, which finished out of the top 300.
Glenn: A new Hellboy title Hellboy and the BPRD 1954 Black Sun launches at 186 at 11.1k. Again, retailers also probably know who is going to be buying Hellboy at this stage and aren’t going to order too heavily on the character. He’d a cult favorite, not a bad thing mind but this is what Dark Horse will expect from one of their oldest creator owned properties at this stage.
Ray: That’s a roughly 2K bump for Moon Girl for the start of its new “Smartest One There Is” storyline, which got a lot of hype. Needless to say, not a game-changer and the bounce will wear off as soon as next issue. Marvel’s clearly seeing something here that we’re not, but I’m guessing the character’s ongoing will run out of time when she moves over to Secret Warriors after the conclusion of IvX.
Glenn: Second issue of KISS still manages to pull out five digits with sales just over 11k at 188. Those are some dedicated rock fans out there, I doubt there’s any band in the world that could manage sales like this, they are what the are.
By the way, sandwiched between these two is Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. I don’t know what’s keeping it around but when you’re below a new Hellboy book and just above a KISS comic you’re clearly doing your business somewhere else.
The second issue of Vertigo’s Lost Boys is at 190 with sales just over 11k. Better than the average Vertigo book by quite some bit, maybe they should think about turning this line into continuing cult favorites rather than creator owned ventures?
Ray: Bring on miniseries for Pumpkinhead, Gremlins, and The Frighteners! I would actually read all of these.
Glenn: A new five issue mini from Image called Mayday debuts at 191 with sales over 10.7k. It’s a mini so it won’t drop too much before we’re at the end. The name of the writer rings a bell but I don’t think he’s exactly someone huge so this is an average ‘below the radar’ Image launch. Probably a portfolio builder for bigger things for all involved down the line (see also: Severed, Existence 2.0, Battlepope, etc)
Ray: This is by Alex De Campi, who’s been in Image comics for some time – she’s the author of No Mercy – so they may have been hoping for a bit more here, but given that it’s a Cold-War era spy comedy with tons of nudity and sex, it’s pretty clearly a niche book. This is on the low end of where a main-line Image book will launch these days, but still well above Top Cow’s usual.
Glenn: I’ve never quite understood the point of ‘Director’s Cut’ in comic but with Batman involved its still good for 10.3k sales at 192. Impressive given the cover price and how many orders/reorders the book has already gotten.
A new month, a new Transformers launch from IDW. This time its Transformers: Till All Are One but this is just a one shot tying into the companies Revolution story. It sells just over 10.2k at 194 making it the highest selling one shot of the crossover, no surprise since due to the recent films it has the most exposure in todays media and the insane amount of Transformers books that IDW indicates that there is a verly dedicated audience that will buy them regardless.
The next Revolution one shot is from GI Joe which is at 199 with sales of 9.6k. I would say this is from people interested in the crossover more than people interested in GI Joe. The property was at its peak 20 years ago and the sales show.
At 200 is what appears to be a new MASK book from IDW who seemed to pick up every popular boys action figure franchise in a garage sale somewhere. This sells just over 9.6k too, just below GI Joe which is popular around the same time with the same audience. Not sure what else they could have expected, this is something only long time fans will be after. Perhaps IDW were hoping for another surprise hit like Power Rangers? Odd to see so many old ‘one hit wonder’ properties come out from one particular company.
Ray: Those Transformers, GI Joe, and MASK numbers are about what I’d expect from IDW. They do a decent if not spectacular business with 80’s nostalgia properties, and it seems to be their company’s bread and butter, aside from the prestige collections they release. What’s interesting is that they have a rather heavy output, putting out more books per month than any company besides the big three. It might be that they’re succeeding by attrition more than anything – their books have a loyal audience, and the more they put out, the bigger their market share.
Glenn: Last month both myself were puzzled by the performance of Green Valley from Image. The book manages to just over 9.7k at 198 with two well known creators attached. This is a number I would expect from someone relatively new so I’m not sure what happened here. Maybe people are waiting for the trade?
Ray: Selling even lower than Moon Girl is the twelfth issue of Patsy Walker: Hellcat, which does just over 9K. Again, Marvel must be seeing something here we’re not, but I expect time will run out for this book soon enough. Marvel doesn’t seem to have given it much promotional attention, unlike Moon Girl.
Glenn: As of recent solicitations, Patsy is still going. It seems that the female led books get a bit more rope at Marvel. How long that can sustain itself however…
Ray: After an unusually long wait between issues, the second issue of Joe Books’ Frozen comic lands at #210 with sales of just under 9K. That’s a hefty drop, but it’s still miles ahead of anything else Joe Books puts out. When you have the license for a genuine phenomenon like this on your hands, you should take care to not lose the fans, so hopefully the rest of the run will stay on schedule.
Glenn: The delay may have hurt it as Frozen crazy fans may have just not bothered returning when the second issue was delayed. Still, like you say the 9k is still very impressive and if the company can keep a steady schedule, they’ll benefit hugely when the sequel is released.
Ray: The debut of Valiant’s latest experimental property, Savage, lands at #211 with sales of 8.9K. A title best described as Kid Tarzan on Jurassic World, it doesn’t appear to have any real ties to the Valiant Universe, same as Brittania (which has its third issue seven spots lower) and Valiant’s core audience doesn’t seem to be particularly interested. I salute Valiant for attempting to broaden their line and explore other genres, but they have a very effective brand on a small line, and their attempts to step outside it don’t seem to be paying off.
Glenn: Pretty much ditto on my side. Valiant may feel like they should be trying to do new things but what they do with the majority of their line works incredibly well. Due to their size, they might be best focusing on their connecting books and building themselves up like they are there before trying to diversify their brand.
Ray: As always, there’s a few oddball books sprinkled in here, like a Vampire Hunter D book and a Dark Souls spin-off, at 231 and 233 respectively. Both books do about 7K, and it seems likely that both were ordered for a specific small fanbase, likely based off actual requests from readers – especially in the case of the former.
Glenn: Vampire Hunter D is a cult anime and Dark Souls is a game for hardcore gamers who love to have their games make them cry so yes, both will have a very select group of fans. It really is true what they say though, there is a comic out there for everyone.
Ray: It’s been well over a year, but Mark Waid and JG Jones’ controversial miniseries Strange Fruit from BOOM! wraps up with sales of just over 7K at #237. I think the long wait between issues probably killed the momentum here a lot.
Glenn: I don’t even know what this is! The delay must be to blame as both are very big names. JG Jones isn’t known for his speed so I’ll be curious how many companies give him projects now without lots of lead time, could be a while before we see his name again. This one might do well for BOOM! though in trade because in trade, the waiting game doesn’t matter.
Ray: One of the most unexpected returns to comics in a long time is Dave Sims Cerebus, which makes its re-entry with Cerebus in Hell #0. 6.8K at #241 is not a huge number for any book, but given that this is a privately published black-and-white comic reviving a cult property that’s been gone for twenty years, these numbers are fine. Cerebus‘ audience will find it. I’m more amused that this comic is $4, not $3.99. Dave Sim always liked to do things differently.
Glenn: Yeah, Cerebrus has its set amount of fans and although it never had a huge appeal, these will be the people coming back to check it out. There won’t be many new fans coming in to buy Rebirth or any new Marvel book that will pick this up on a whim. I would say this could be quite stable and if nothing else, will maybe cause some cross promotion in Indie comics that Sims was very much passionate about the first time around.
Ray: Champions #1 charts again with re-orders of 6.7K at #244. This title had an amazing debut last month, but obviously seems to be running into some trouble this month. These reorders are a nice boost, but don’t address the overall issue for the book.
BOOM! continues to have trouble launching original properties, as their roller derby drama Slam is only able to do 6.5K at #250. This is a book that got a lot of promotion and fits nicely in with their female-centric line of books like Lumberjanes, Goldie Vance, and Giant Days, despite being for a slightly older audience, so I’m surprised this didn’t break out a bit. Not the most shocking Boom debut of the month, though.
Glenn: Roller derby seems very ‘in’ at the moment so yeah, I would have thought that it could have caught a little more interest. I wouldn’t have imagined it doing much better unless it has something else to it though like Paper Girls for example. Asking people to come back month after month to read about something that is obviously a very physical sport and the impact can’t be felt on the page is a big ask without another interesting hook.
Ray: In another case of “Year Too Early Comics”, Titan has a new book based on Hammer Horror’s The Mummy. Clearly Titan wants this to capitalize on the new Tom Cruise movie, but it doesn’t seem to have worked – 6.3K at #254. No one’s all that hyped for The Mummy yet, if they ever will be.
Glenn: I was talking to my brother that I don’t think this latest Mummy will do that great. Are comics an indication of such things? Well Marvel’s Star Wars was huge a few months before Force Awakens was released and some other tie ins and such can create indications but there’s no set rule. I just think that there are so many Mummy’s and similar creatures in comics already that its not as if anyone is crying out for a book that’s all about them.
Ray: Frozen ships its third issue this month as well, selling only 6.2K at #256 and dropping 2.5K from its second. The delays have to be taking their toll here for Joe Books, as the title’s already sank below their successful Disney Princess franchise, which is ten spots above this.
Little-known publisher Papercutz managed to get their hands on the Tales from the Crypt franchise rights, and this title’s debut manages to sell 6K at #260. Really, though, any time a small company gets into the top 300 is a victory for them, especially with an ’80s property like this.
Glenn: The name will have its fans, there’s a lot of nostalgia for this series. Props to such a small company being able to land a cult series like this, all it takes is one book to get you on the map.
Ray: A comic that’s had an interesting journey to get here is IDW’s Comic Book Comics, which has been through several different publishers and this reprint manages to sell 5.5K at #274. I’m not sure if this cartoon history of comics is still in print in any other format, but this is a seminal work in the field and I’m glad to see it finding new audiences.
Glenn: Considering this isn’t original material and is already out there in multiple formats, that’s very good for IDW. This will be cheap for them to produce so even though the sales aren’t particular strong its still something that will likely have a very healthy return.
Ray: Hands down the most shocking numbers of the month go to Namesake #1, from BOOM!, which pulls 5.4K at #277. Why is this so disturbing? Because the writer of this creator-owned dimension-hopping adventure is none other than Steve Orlando, the hottest rising writer at DC at the moment. This reminds me a lot of The Backstagers, James Tynion’s offbeat theater adventure, which debuted extremely low and has disappeared from the top 300. Boom gets top-tier talent on board and delivers incredible stories – but somewhere, something’s not clicking. Retailers aren’t ordering, and I don’t know why. So once again, I will put the call out for our readers to try a Boom book this month!
Glenn: I would say both Tom King and Orlando are DC’s biggest new names but yes, this one is puzzling. All I can assume as like we’ve discussed before, Boom doesn’t seem to have the marketing power that many of its competitors do. Fans that read their books seem to greatly enjoy them but retailers have to have faith too otherwise there’s nothing there for people to read and enjoy and its hard (if not impossible) to build up a brand. I would say this is something Boom is very aware of and something they’re working on, they don’t want to seem less favorable than a smaller company like Aftershock or such would be.
Another creator owned launch by James Robinson comes from Dynamite in the form of Grand Passion which gets over 5.3k sales at 279. James Robinson is still a well known name and has had many critically acclaimed runs in the past so I would have expected more. This is likely just due to Diamond’s size more than anything but still, I would say that’s on the low side.
Ray: Grand Passion got virtually zero hype from Dynamite, as I only found out about it when it was time to order the books. I think this is Robinson’s first creator-owned work since the utterly bizarre Airboy, though. The fact that Namesake just barely outsold this goes to show exactly how much work BOOM! has to do to raise their profile.
Glenn: Vertigo’s Sheriff Of Babylon ends at 283 with sales over 5.2k. Not great at all but this is what you have to expect from Vertigo these days. Unlike many other of the titles it launched near, it managed its entire run in the top 300 which is something. I doubt though that sales are the primary reason its being brought back for a second volume. I doubt there will be much more interest on a launch but DC is likely thinking long term with trade sales and keeping the writer of their top selling book happy.
Ray: The numbers were certainly lower than Vision, mainly because it’s Vertigo, but we saw a similar effect to that title on Sheriff of Babylon. It held onto the bottom of the top 300 with the edge of its nails these last few months, and managed to finish it out respectably. This is obviously yet another example of Vertigo’s major problems right now, but it’s also a good example of how Tom King still has some pull. Like Vision and Omega Men, I expect this to become a classic in collections.
Glenn: Paul Jenkin’s Alters from Aftershock lands its second issue at 284 with sales of 5.2k. Pretty standard for what Aftershock does, especially by a creator like Jenkins who is been out of the limelight for some time.
At 287 is a Sonic one shot from Archie which sells just under 5100 which is very close to the main book so I guess this is what the audience is for comics starring the fastest/coolest hedgehog alive. Like we’ve said in the past, video game tie ins aren’t usually worth much but there seems to be a small but dedicated audience supporting comics starring Sonic.
Ray: It’s kind of amazing just how long Archie has been putting out Sonic books. That being considered, yeah, this is very much a niche comic that is likely being ordered exactly as it’s going to sell.
Black Mask gets another new launch in the top 300 at 291 with No Angel with sales over 4.5k. They might be breaking sales records but with a company of their scale, 2016 could be looked back as a turning point where the company started to get noticed. I expect we’ll be seeing them a lot more in charts in the years to come.
Glenn: No Angel is actually written by the Palicki siblings, including Adrianne “Was Almost Wonder Woman” Palicki. I’m surprised it didn’t do a little better, given that. Black Mask is a company that’s rising, but some of their creator-owned books debut much higher than others.
Glenn: Lets finish up with another random Disney cartoon tie in from IDW. This time its Donald Quest which sells just over 4.8k at 298. Disney properties seem to be all over the place and these will be nice earners for IDW at places outside the direct market I’d say. Having anything remotely associated with Disney these days is a good investment, even if direct market sales don’t indicate as such.
Ray: Like you said, Disney is all over the place, spread out over at least three companies. IDW is going for the most old-school audience with the classic characters, and a lot of these books are actually reprints of classic stories. Given that, IDW has to be happy with sneaking into the top 300.
Looking ahead to December, it’ll be a pretty big month for both DC and Marvel. DC’s launching the first event of the Rebirth era, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad. With a top-tier creative team and major implications for the Rebirth status quo – not to mention a weekly schedule – I’m guessing DC is expecting a lot here. We’ve also got the $9.99 DC Rebirth Holiday Special, which will test the power of Paul Dini writing Harley Quinn, and a duo of oddball crossovers published by other companies – Wonder Woman ’77/Bionic Woman, and Star Trek/Green Lantern 2. Plus, there’ll be prestige format Supergirl miniseries “Being Super“, which is described as DC’s attempt to gear the character for the YA audience.
Meanwhile, over at Marvel, we’ll see how Inhumans vs. X-Men makes its proper debut. Can it beat the final issue of Civil War II? We shall see. There’s also the tricky Star Wars spin-off Doctor Aphra, which will try to make the breakout original of the books a solo character. And it’s also time to see how the rest of Marvel Now shakes up sales-style. Can any of Nova, Slapstick, Hawkeye, Star-Lord, Gamora, Mighty Captain Marvel, Rocket Raccoon, and the new, angrier She-Hulk have a chance at sales success? Outlook…cloudy. Hawkeye probably has the best odds.
The big two are clearly dominating the sales, but there’s some interesting debuts from outside the big two as well. Image is bringing us the racing thriller Motor Crush from the former creative team of Batgirl, as well as the Joe Harris rock-horror book Rockstars. Valiant is launching its own House of M with Divinity III: Stalinverse and a related Bloodshot spin-off. Boom is giving us a new Klaus one-shot just in time for the holiday season, as well as an oversized Steven Universe one-shot, while Archie attempts to make the villainous Reggie a solo character, and IDW spins a new GI Joe book out of Revolution. We’ll see which of these are able to make an impact in the market!
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