Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money! What does your money tell them? What does it tell us as fans? What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out? What are the trends? What looks good? What looks rough?
All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.
Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor. He’s worked in the industry for 6 years but grew up reading comics. He’s had work published with Outre Press, Alterna Comics and Nemesis Studios. He’s currently battling against a crippling fear of failure on some comic pitches he really should have sent by now. He’s also hoping those cookies he sent as bribes to get into the DC writers workshop survive being in the post…
Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the death of Superman. He is a writer and editor and has released his first novel. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekdad and they’re brilliantly entertaining. He recently got approved for a pro pass at NYCC and will be on hand to ask when they’re bringing back the Young Justice comic back at every panel, especially the non DC ones.
We also do a podcast together with longtime buddy, Brandon James on iTunes with Rabbitt Stew or at the link here! Don’t ask, I didn’t pick the name. If you’d like to hear what me and Ray sound like, give it a listen!
Top 300 in full available here!
Glenn: Sales charts are here for March and even though we’re a good ways off the big events of Secret Empire and the recently announced, Batman Metal it seems the early part of the year still can hold a few surprises. DC took the lead on unit share this month and starts to chip away at Marvel’s precious market share but falls short due to a number of factors which will soon present themselves from the top spot onwards.
Ray: It’s worth noting that DC won unit share this month, while Marvel handily won dollar share. Selling the most copies of a $9.99 comic is undoubtedly going to help with that, although it does go to show how strong DC’s overall performance has been over the last year. They’re moving more comics than Marvel despite a gap of about 20 comics a month released by Marvel.
Glenn: Marvel’s most consistent selling superhero title, Amazing Spider-Man tops the charts this month on its 25th issue with sales just under 114k. Big leap up for the title which has been selling in the 60-70k range for a while, especially when this is an anniversary issue priced at $9.99. This is yet another $9.99 oversized issue that Marvel’s seen a big return on so don’t expect them to slow down on those anytime soon. The explanation for Amazing’s bump could be numerous. This is the 25th issue and numerals of 25 do seem to attract attention in general when it comes to comics. The issue also saw the return of major Spider-Man for, Norman Osborn and the addition of Stuart Immonen to the title. Given that Immonen has had a pretty high profile at Marvel at recent years, his name could very much have influenced the success here. You could almost say Immonen…moved the needle. Great success for Marvel’s most dependable superhero title which will hope to keep some of this rise next month.
Ray: Strong numbers for ASM, although there’s a lot of x-factors that would help it. The return of one of Spider-man’s most iconic artists, the return of his most iconic villain, a big anniversary number (I guess 25 is what passes for an anniversary for Marvel, until they head back to legacy numbers this summer). All in all, strong, and the murderer’s row of creators on board – including the Marvel debut of an extremely popular Spider-man fan-artist with tens of thousands of online followers – certainly helped as well. That being said, this is one of the lowest #1 numbers since Rebirth hit.
Glenn: We also forgot the return of the Amazing Spider-Aunt, surely no one pulls in sales like the Spider-Aunt!
We get DC’s MVP following Marvel’s this month with Dark Knight III taking the number 2 spot with sales over 107.8k. This prestige mini priced at 5.99 has had many delays and a mixed reception but been a major success for DC when it has come out. This book has been a big win and could have easily gone the other way. It’ll be headed off to a very long and lucrative life in collection land soon so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more projects like this in the future from DC. There’s still one more issue to go so I would expect to see it finish well into six figures for the whole run, an impressive feat.
Ray: The schedule is still really unpredictable, but with one issue to go, DKIII seems likely to finish above the 100K mark on its way to endless collected edition sales. In fact, if it manages to get its final issue out before Dark Nights: Metal begins, it may land the #1 book of the month for its final issue.
Glenn: Losing out his usual spots to…himself (only Batman can beat himself) is Batman at 3 and 4 with sales over 98k and 97.5k respectively. Still spectacularly successful and dropping at a snails pace with nothing regular overtaking it at this point. Next month’s Button tie in will definitely give it a six figure order but this is the title that really is peerless in the charts today.
Ray: A book at this level dropping only 500 copies between issues is amazing. Batman continues to be the picture of stability, a performance generally shared by its line partners. They’re all locked down into their slots on the chart right now.
Glenn: In a huge surprise to both myself and Ray, Iron Fist‘s new book is at 5 with sales over 89.6k which is spectacular for not only an Iron Fist title but a Marvel launch in general outside of their major franchises. I don’t expect the book to hold anything close to this but this is still unusually high for a character like Iron Fist, the only explanation I can think of is the Netflix show. If it can even keep half the numbers that would be quite a commendable performance.
Ray: Honestly, I’m just as puzzled by Iron Fist’s performance as you are. Not only is this an abnormally high number for a Marvel debut not featuring an A-lister, but this book was launched with very little fanfare, being brought in to replace the seemingly cancelled Iron Fists book by Kaare Andrews. And it just sold more than the majority of Marvel debuts from the new wave, including the latest Avengers book. Puzzling, and we’ll see next month if it has any sort of hold. I’m expecting a 2/3rds fall within months, but that may be enough to keep it safe for the run, with the way these numbers are shaking out.
Glenn: To underline how well Iron Fist did, it outsold the much more high profile X-Men Prime at 6 which sells over 83.6k. The X-Men books have been in an odd place for years sales wise but this is very good. Keeping the momentum will be key of course but this is the most decent start they’ve had in quite some time.
Ray: That’s an acceptable number for X-Men Prime. These one-shots are often tricky, because retailers are ordering them blind and are combining interest for three books into one. However, it shows some heat for the X-Men line, at least in terms of retailer curiosity. We’ll see how it bears out when the three new books launch next month – a certain controversy aside.
Glenn: Taking up its usual place in the top ten is Star Wars at 7 with sales over 72k. Settling back into where it was prior to the bump at the start of the newest arc, the title is still a huge success of course. Given that its sister (father?) title Darth Vader is getting a new number one in a few months and there’s a new ‘Episode’ Star Wars movie this year, I wonder if this title could be heading for a relaunch also?
Ray: The Star Wars book keeps getting closer and closer to the events of Empire, so you may be on to something there. A relaunch shifting it to the post-Jedi era, now that we know how things turned out in Ep. VII, may easily push this back up to the top of the charts. Around the time of The Last Jedi, perhaps?
Glenn: I’m thinking its more likely that they move to post Empire but then, the only story there really is ‘Lets go get Han back!’ which might be good for a 12 issue set up but when you’re not really getting the conclusion in the book itself, that could be tricky. I still think the books will not be able to leap too close to the current post Force Awakens time but maybe some post Jedi stuff that doesn’t involve the main 3 characters could be done.
Another top ten regular, All-Star Batman is close on Star Wars heels with sales over 71.8k. Although not the success of Snyder‘s Batman run, this is a $4.99 title that DC can really count on so they won’t be concerned. Snyder is still worth his writing weight in gold and the upcoming Metal event book with Capullo is destined to be huge. In the meantime, All Star will probably continue its very, very slow slide down but like the parent title, there’s nothing regular overtaking it.
Ray: Snyder has recently confirmed that All-Star Batman will be continuing with him at the helm until at least #20, through and beyond Metal. So this shouldn’t be leaving the top ten any time soon.
Glenn: At 9 its Walking Dead with sales of over 70k. Blah, blah, blah, consistent, blah, blah, blah, money, blah, blah, Kirkman bought a new mansion
Final spot in the top ten is Bryan Hitch’s Justice League book with sales over 62.5 k with the following issue at 11 with sales over 61k. Its following the pattern of the majority of DC books where there is a slow slide down but there is nothing constant that is making its lose roughly where it is at the charts month in and month out. I think Hitch’s League title has been at the bottom of the top ten for quite a few months more often than not. Its on the low end for the ‘main’ Justice League book historically but still performing very well in regards to everything else.
Ray: Hitch’s name still has some significant pull, plus there’s the presence of the big five franchises in this book which has locked it down as one of DC’s top books. As we see this month, it’s already consistently pulled ahead of the new Justice League of America title.
Glenn: It is a very low entry point for the top ten this month, lowest in a few months. There is plenty of room at the top for new contenders in the months ahead.
Ray: Speaking of huge upsets, Valiant’s massive roll-out for the new X-O Manowar relaunch pays dividends bigger than I could have predicted. #12 with sales of over 60K. That’s one of Valiant’s best numbers ever, if not the best. A lot of this is probably the sheer number of incentives, but this title is coming out of the gate with a lot of positive buzz. This could be Valiant’s moment for a massive breakout hit with space Conan.
Glenn: That’s a spectacular number for Valiant and I think this is definitely their best selling book by quite a fair margin. I’m not sure what they did to get some hype going on this book but it really worked. This is a major accomplishment for them, even if Manowar can do half these sales when things settle down it would still be far and away the biggest hit the companies ever seen. Could this be a major turning point for the small but cult favorite publisher?
Ray: Darth Maul holds very well, losing less than half of its first issue sales and selling over 60K at #13. The force is strong with the Sith, and Star Wars continues to be bulletproof. But then, Maul has always had a strong fanbase, especially given his appearances in Rebels recently.
Glenn: It shows you that if you make a character seem awesome enough, he really can take on a life of his own despite having next to no dialogue and starring in probably the least popular Star Wars movie. If Vader wasn’t coming back, Maul would be a candidate for a ‘dark side’ ongoing with numbers like these but I still wouldn’t count out a follow up mini of some description.
Ray: DC then reels off 8 books in a row to close out the top 20 with 14, to four for Marvel and one each for Image and Valiant. Most of them are the regular hits of Detective Comics, Superman, and Flash, but notable is the debut of Batwoman #1. As expected, the second #1 for the title actually increases from the Rebirth issue, going up 2K to land at #19 with sales of 54K. We’ll have to see where it stabilizes from here – remember, Supergirl was in the top ten for two issues in a row before the #1 boost wore off – but this is undeniably a strong debut.
Glenn: A good start for Batwoman but like you said, the real test will come when that nice shiny 1 is gone from the cover. Given how strong the bat family books are overall and that it has an artist like Steve Epting (moving the needle), I think it’ll deliver healthy numbers. Sales of anywhere between 25-35 can give this book a healthy life and I think it could do better than that.
Ray: The news wasn’t quite as strong for the new Justice League of America, which charted its second and third issues this month out of the top 20. Landing at #21 (53K) and #25 (48K), it’s far from disastrous numbers, but it firmly establishes this title as the second tier JL title right out of the gate. This is essentially more of an Outsiders book with Batman and an odd gang of misfits, so from that perspective, DC may be happy enough with the numbers. It’s either a disappointing JL title or a successful rebranding.
Glenn: Decent sales for a team book starring a bunch of b or c listers lead by Batman but given the wait for the book and the promotion, DC were likely hoping for more. As long as it stays around the 40-45k range it’ll be fine though. The only line that can support second tier titles anywhere close to the main book continues to be Batman.
Ray: Like I said previously though, Hitch’s book will likely be kept in its own vacuum during any major universe developments where I feel this League book will be in the thick of stuff like Metal for example. It could cause the title to be a dark horse (no pun intended) for success.
IvX limps to the finish line, wrapping up with sales of 52K at #22. Needless to say, these are not numbers a main line Marvel Universe should do. If the X-Men line rebounds from this with the new books, it’ll be in spite of this event, not because of it.
Glenn: Not sure where the misfire was with IvX, most of the recent evidence from the past number of years would land the blame at the fact the Inhumans were involved but there could be many, many other explanations. This was just something the large majority of fans weren’t interested in and are unlikely to change the position of either franchise long term sales wise. This is the comic that seemingly broke long time Marvel fan Pat Loika after all.
Ray: The other Prime book this month, Inhumans Prime, lands at #24 with sales just over 50K. The Inhumans continue to be a tougher sale, so we’ll see how the two new Inhumans books – both by up and coming writer Al Ewing – sell in the months to come, but Marvel doesn’t seem to have been able to make Inhumans a thing yet.
Glenn: Bless Marvel for being persistent, maybe they figure if they keep trying then the TV show will bring a new legion of Inhumans fans but I really don’t see that happening. Ewing is one of Marvel’s newest and most promising talents so giving someone like him both Inhumans titles is a smart move creatively so perhaps good worth of mouth will lead to some stable sales for the former occupants of the moon.
Ray: Amid the usual suspects like Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad, we see a couple of books get notable bumps this month. Both Deadpool and Spider-Man/Deadpool have healthy increases, going up about 10K for the debut of the “Till Death Do Us Part” crossover. That’s a bit more than I expected for a small family crossover. Likewise, Action Comics jumps about 6K for its part in the Superman Beyond crossover. These limited-scope crossovers do seem to have an impact in terms of pulling the smaller books up to the level of the main one, especially since the latter has a very significant impact on the Superman books going forward. Deadpool has a third book involved in the crossover, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money, which we’ll see further down.
Glenn: A Deadpool crossover that is seemingly going to wrap up one of the series longest stories will definitely gain interest. Both the main Deadpool and Spidey/Deadpool titles were solid performers previously so the extra bump is just the marketing machine at work. Neither title will probably retain the extra bump once the crossover is done but they will enjoy it while they can.
Ray: Two other books got significant bounces this month as well, Old Man Logan and All-New Wolverine. Old Man Logan increased 10K for its first issue this month, landing at #27 with sales of 47K (but it loses almost all that bounce with a second issue this month). All-New Wolverine, meanwhile, gains a whopping 19K to land at #33 with sales of 46K. We’ll see if it keeps any of that boost with a new arc next month, but this increase is clearly due to the Logan movie in March.
Super Sons loses about 50% of its sales to land at #30 with sales of 47K. A big fall, but not unexpected, and this is still very healthy for a book teaming Robin with a character who didn’t even exist a bit more than a year ago. Selling only 7K below Batwoman’s #1 issue shows this book is here to stay.
Glenn: Solid landing for Super Sons, the title based on two iconic characters sons can’t be expecting to be a long term top contender but given the fun spirit the concept implies and how books starring young heroes tend to perform, this is a very solid number for sure.
Ray: Unworthy Thor ends rock solid, losing only just over 1K from its last issue to end its run at #34 with 45K sales. This franchise could easily sustain two books right now, a huge win for Marvel.
Glenn: With the movie coming later this year, momentum seems to be in the corner of the Thor titles, even with it looking like top name writer Jason Aaron might be wrapping up soon. This is a stable part of their publishing line that will benefit from the relaunch around October time with a new writer. This is a ball Marvel has to try very hard to drop.
Ray: It’s rare that Dark Horse gets a book in the top fifty, but that’s the power of Neil Gaiman! He doesn’t actually write American Gods: Shadow #1, but it’s based on his property and there’s a TV show debuting very soon. Sales of 44K at #36 are extremely solid for this title, and easily the biggest debut for Dark Horse in a while.
Glenn: Adaptions can be a mixed bag but this one has definitely paid off for Dark Horse. This will likely be a solid performer for its whole run and will sell very handsomely in collected editions. The key to comics success are clearly TV shows and Neil Gaiman properties.
Ray: A middling debut for America, the other Marvel #1 of the month. 43K at #37 is acceptable, but it’s also only 6K higher than Unstoppable Wasp did two months ago – and for the record, that book sold just over 12K this month at #182. Marvel seems to be pushing this book hard, with an unprecedented promotion offering it for free on Comixology. Those reads won’t be reflected on this chart, but we’ll see in months to come if it has any effect on this book. The mixed reception makes me think it’s got a rough road ahead.
Glenn: I like America Chavez quite a bit but she’s a character not many people are familiar with. Given that, this is a solid debut for a character that A) hasn’t been around that long and B) doesn’t have a cartoon/movie/show to help people learn about her. To me, America is a cult character which can either mean a hit or miss. Hard to call but I don’t think, judging from the pattern we’ve seen from Marvel books in recent times that anyone should get too attached.
Ray: RL Stine used to be one of the biggest names in all of fiction, but those days are long past. His arrival at Marvel on a new Man-Thing miniseries is surprisingly muted, selling 43K at #40. Given the strange concept and the fact that Man-Thing is a C-list character, Stine’s presence probably still doubled sales on this book. Still, we’ll see if sales get ugly by the end of if Stine will give this title a softer fall for the rest of the month.
Glenn: I’m wondering if this book was commissioned with eyes on book stores where it can be placed among the millions of Goosebumps books and live its life being picked up by people thinking its just another one of those! Seriously, yes Stine’s name isn’t what it was but it still likely carried the book this far. I don’t expect much out of it monthly but it probably will perform ridiculously well outside the direct market once collected, even if its not the Man-thing everyone knows and…is indifferent to?
Ray: Wrapping up this event, Clone Conspiracy: Omega lands at #45 with sales of 41K. For the record, that’s only 7K below the level of the final issue of the main miniseries. It seems like retailers for the most part treated this as an essential part of the event and the numbers here are healthy given the slightly disappointing levels of the overall event.
Glenn: Pretty standard like you said for Omega given how the main Clone Conspiracy book did. Now its over, sales on the main Amazing book are higher than they’ve been in quite some time (mostly due to a multitude of factors but still). This was such an odd mini event to see Marvel put out in terms of how it performed. Hopefully there will be lessons learned.
Ray: Potentially some more mischief this month with Marvel sales, as Captain America: Steve Rogers gains 7K in sales up to 39K after a harsh slide last month. Invincible Iron Man also gets a 2K bump up to 38K, with them landing at #48 and #51 respectively. Doctor Strange also gets a small 2K bump up to 41K at #44. This isn’t the way books normally function sales-wise, so something unusual is going on here, and I’m more inclined to believe it’s Marvel sales fudging than any actual momentum like God Country saw last month.
Glenn: Captain America could be gaining some momentum as we near Secret Empire but with Marvel known to muddy the waters its hard to tell. We’ll know more next month if we see the usual drop we would see and then some. Its probably too much to hope that it is cause of buzz/stabilization but stranger things have happened.
Ray: Looking further down the charts, actually, Captain America shipped a second issue this month and it lost all of that boost, selling only 31K at #73. There’s some really weird fluctuations going on with Marvel sales, with books getting massive boosts and then losing them the same month for no apparent reason. Until we see some stability and logic, my assumption is these are failed attempts to goose sales that don’t hold past the initial issue.
Glenn: I stand corrected, after 2 years of doing this article and knowing Marvel likes its double shipping, I should check further down before making a judgement call. Due to the unexpected blip, it is probably a random additional ship. They’re probably trying to get shops excited about Secret Empire.
Ray: The top fifty wraps up with mainstays like Harley Quinn, Nightwing, Titans, Trinity, and Avengers, all fairly stable. For the record, this month DC took 28 of the top 50.
Glenn: DC continues to benefit hugely from Rebirth overall but its not the new shiny penny it once was. However, they have managed to lock themselves in at stable positions while Marvel experiences life with books on a roller coaster. Given that DC seems to be winning a game of long attrition, being stable isn’t something to be sneezed at. As we get close to Summer, Marvel is hoping the one two punch of Secret Empire and Generations will change fortunes once more. Shame they haven’t had the best luck with events and Snyder/Capullo have their own Summer party planned with the strongest selling character in the market.
Marvel’s other event comic Monsters Unleashed continues to plod along at 62 with issue 4 and sales of just under 35k. I think we should really look at this as a throwaway mini rather than the big deal Marvel wanted it to be. A throwaway mini starring monsters selling 35k? Not too bad. Major event meant to be a big deal? Terrible. Not sure how well the ‘ongoing’ will fair but this is not a good indication given Marvel has some of their best artists here (including one of only two that they say actually sells comics according to them) and not on the main book that’ll be launching shortly following this ones conclusion.
Ray: Monsters Unleashed actually stabilized a bit as it ends its run, with the two issues this month selling only 1K apart. As a novelty miniseries, these aren’t bad numbers, but I expect that the ongoing will be treated more as the next issue of this book and decline from there. It will be lucky to increase from these numbers, given the lack of any a-list characters there.
Glenn: The Titans Annual from DC sells about 8 less than the main book at 64 with sales over 34.8k. That’s not too bad for a book with a higher price tag on it. Apart from the Batman Annual which was a big hit, the DC annuals have performed rather admirably.
Ray: DC’s had some pretty decent success with annuals as of late. There’s another one a bit down the charts that we’ll talk about later, but their recent annuals have sold pretty close to the main book.
Glenn: Decent number for the second issue of Warren Ellis vehicle, The Wild Storm at 66 with sales over 34.3k. This is really good for a property well past its prime and missing its two most popular characters. This is probably down to the drawing power of Ellis himself but still, its a solid win for DC. If it can live its life at this level then they’ll be thrilled beyond belief.
The last issue of the Harley Quinn team up book Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book finishes at 74 with sales over 31.3k which I’d say is very good for a spin off title that is priced at 4,99 and started off prior to Rebirth. There will continue to be no shortage of content for fans of everyone’s favorite female clown lovable lunatic if this is any indication.
Aquaman finds itself in the middle of the Marvel portion of the sales charts with the two issues of the month selling at 79 and 80 performing over 30k and 29k respectively. Its definitely not one of the stars of Rebirth but when its selling the same as the majority of Marvel’s line, there probably much concern. For some reason, Aquaman is a hard sell not matter or hot the overall line is or who is on the book is at the time.
Ray: Aquaman seems to have stabilized a bit, as have Green Arrow and the Green Lantern books. None of them have great numbers, but it seems like all of them are going to firmly ensconce themselves in the top 100. Aside from Deathstroke, which is hanging right around the 100 mark right now and will be moving to monthly soon, all of DC’s biweekly books seem to be delivering strong numbers by the standard of the property.
Glenn: Due to its nearly universal praise, I would say DC will keep Deathstroke around. His sales are usually around this level but people generally aren’t half as kind when talking about his book. Perhaps the upcoming Lazarus project will do him some good.
At 97 and 98 we get the first sign of the DC characters/Hanna Barbera crossover titles that were priced at 4.99 each. The highest selling of all of them is Green Lantern/Space Ghost with over 25k and then Suicide Squad/Banana Splits over 24.8k. Some of these books making the top 100 is a good accomplishment and we’re definitely likely seeing the DC properties leading the interest here, especially on the book starring the Banana Splits which is one of Hanna Barbera’s really obscure properties. Not a bad performance for one shots that were just seemingly done for the fun of it and bodes well for the Looney Toons crossovers which feature higher profile characters and creative teams.
Ray: The numbers on these were definitely driven by the DC characters they starred, rather than the creative team or the Hanna-Barbera characters, because these two seemed to have the least advance buzz but sold the best, and they both feature franchise heroes. We’ll talk about the others a bit further down.
Glenn: At 99 we have the second issue of the Kingpin ongoing selling over 24,7k. Destined to drop out of the top 100 next month and outsold by two titles that were published for lolz, I’d say this title is not going to last that long.
Ray: Not great numbers for Kingpin, but it is worth noting it kept 2/3rds of its first issue sales. By comparison, Elektra, which debuted 8K above Kingpin last month, has slid all the way down to #116 with sales of 19K. Much like Gamora, a surprisingly high debut followed by a massive crash. And the less said about Bullseye at #140, the better. Kingpin will probably be a critically acclaimed miniseries in the end, but as numbers for a villain book, these are far from terrible.
Glenn: Doom Patrol returns at 101 with sales over 24,6k which is well above what a title starring these characters would likely do under any under banner and/or creative team. The delay in the title doesn’t seem to be effecting it that much and I’d say that DC is pleased with this number.
Ray: I was a bit surprised to see Jeff Lemire‘s Royal City debut out of the top 100, landing at #102 with sales of 24.5K. But then, Lemire as a writer/artist has always been very indie-accented, and this is a complex series without a concept that grabs casual readers like Descender or Black Hammer have. I expect this will be another one that levels up extremely quickly and perhaps even increases a bit in coming months.
Glenn: Lemire is on fire now as a writer but his art doesn’t usually gel with what we’ve been trained to associate with mainstream. I’m sure that will gradually change over time and like you said, this title will likely stabilize. It could land around the same levels of the rest of Image’s upper tier which is nothing to sneeze at.
Ray: More inexplicable increases this month, as Totally Awesome Hulk gains 5K to land at #104 with sales of 23K, and Gamora gains a full 6K to jump to 21K at #112. No event, no tie-in, no movie for these books, so the only conclusion I’m left with is sales goosing. It’ll catch up to them next month.
Glenn: Why does Marvel like to confuse us? I think it has to be against us particularly, its the only explanation!
Ray: Deadpool and the Mercs for Money didn’t share in the bounty from the Deadpool crossover this month, landing at #108 with sales of 22K. This is a 2K increase from last month’s IvX tie-in, but this book is apparently ending soon.
Glenn: Again I’m confused where the rest of those fans that are picking up two thirds of the crossover are when it comes to Mercs For Money. Maybe the crossover hasn’t created that much buzz and this mini turned ongoing has now gotten to the point where it should have likely quit while its ahead, with much less spin offs no one read.
Ray: Frequently-on-hiatus Image title Rat Queens gets a relaunch, landing at #109 with sales of 22K. Not bad numbers, but this book’s buzz seems to have faded a bit in the long absence.
Glenn: I forgot about Rat Queens myself and nearly mistook it for Mouse Guard (must be a rodent thing). The goodwill this title has definitely faded a little but its still not doing too bad overall.
Ray: The numbers for Batgirl Annual #1 are pretty solid by comparison as well. This is one franchise that has struggled since Rebirth (the main book sells 25K at #95 this month), so the annual selling 22K at #110 is not bad at all. DC’s done a good job of getting the word out that these annuals matter, even if this one was more of a Supergirl tie-in.
Glenn: This wasn’t just a Supergirl tie-in but basically a precursor to the next Supergirl story. That wasn’t promoted a great deal but given this annual sold below the main Supergirl book, some people might lose out on that fact.
Ray: Man-Thing ships a second issue this month as well…and promptly loses 50% of its sales, falling down to 113 with sales of 21K. RL Stine boost…not happening.
If you want to see just how weird these random Marvel sales boosts are, Ghost Rider gains 5K to land at #114 with sales of 20K…for its final issue. Why would a book increase after being cancelled? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? The world may never know.
Glenn: Sometimes there can be a last issue bump but that’s usually in the case of a long creative run coming to an end or the conclusion of a popular indie book. The 5 issue ‘ongoing’ that was Ghost Rider were neither of these so its likely more shenanigans. All Marvel books below this one in the main universe that haven’t been cancelled already likely aren’t long for this world.
Ray: Riverdale, the grim-and-gritty Archie TV show, makes its comic debut with an oversized special that sells 19K at #120. There’s an ongoing starting in April, and this is a solid if unspectacular debut. We’ll see if the main series can increase on that, but TV tie-ins are always a hard sell.
Glenn: Given that this doesn’t have the benefit of potentially grabbing Archie fans since Riverdale is a very loose adaption of any kind of Archie comic you’re right. This will be for hardcore fans of the show wanting a bit more time with each of their characters. This is one comic I won’t be recommending to my wife who had a rather colourful reaction to the Archie pilot…
Ray: The two Hanna-Barbera crossovers without franchise characters still did decently. The Adam Strange/Future Quest one-shot sold 18K at #124, around the range of Future Quest‘s regular numbers. Meanwhile, Booster Gold/The Flintstones managed to pull in 15K at #147, a bit of a disappointing showing for Booster Gold’s return to continuity, but then he’s always been a bit of a niche character.
Glenn: The numbers for Booster Gold really make me sad but he hasn’t been around that much since the cancellation of Justice League International a few years ago. He pops up for a mini here and there but the days when Geoff Johns made him popular again seem to have passed. Still was a fun comic though.
Ray: The bloody sci-fi drama Extremity, one of Image’s new launches, has a fairly strong debut of 17.9K at #130, a decent number for a book without a big name attached. Definitely a win for Daniel Warren Johnston.
Glenn: That’s a really good number for someone who isn’t a name in the industry. It seems that people order on concept when there are no familiar names attached so good for him for coming up with something that clearly got people’s attention!
Ray: Black Widow wraps up its run with 17K at #133. This book had the fantastic Daredevil creative team of Waid/Samnee attached for the whole run, so while these numbers aren’t disastrous, we basically have to say that Black Widow will probably always have a rough go at carrying a solo title.
Glenn: There are characters like Natasha, Cyborg and the Guardians as individuals who are all great characters with major media exposure who can’t catch on with the market as it is. There are certainty exceptions like Skottie Young’s Rocket but sometimes you just have to assign the character somewhere else when they’re not able to carry their own book, same as what Slott is doing with Mockingbird in Amazing. Being a supporting character or even a joint lead in some cases is not a reflection on the character, its just how they are perceived.
Ray: No boost for Sam Wilson this month, which slips another 1K down to 17K at #134. Marvel essentially seems to have given up on this book.
Glenn: Its ending soon isn’t it? I doubt many people out there really care anyway to be fair, Sam really got the worst treatment as Captain America.
Ray: Another inexplicable increase, this time for Occupy Avengers. Last month it sold 11K. This month it jumps to 15K at #135. This book has already been slated to end soon, and there was no event or tie-in that might boost it this month.
There’s been a few Vampirella relaunches, and this month’s by Paul Cornell came with some controversy courtesy of a cover and the artist’s comments. A nasty talent breakup ensued, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the sales. Just under 17K at #139 is decent numbers for a Dynamite franchise that had its heyday back in the 1990s.
Glenn: Controversy you say? *messages Ray* this is a character that is an odd fit in today’s world but she’ll always have her fans. It also probably helps that Paul Cornell seems to have a small but dedicated fan base. He’s no Ellis for example but I’m sure there’s some fans of his books or work on Doctor Who that checked out this book just because of him.
Ray: Worth noting that the last two .MU tie-ins came out this month, and neither made a big impact. Guardians of the Galaxy sold just over 19K at #118, and Totally Awesome Hulk did 16K at #145. Without a bulletproof franchise (Spider-man/Deadpool) or a big name creator(Zdarsky on Dr. Strange), these books mostly slipped under the radar.
Glenn: Most of the bigger selling tie-ins were actually released prior to the main book I think? Could be coincidence but if that’s the case its pretty funny.
Ray: As we head to the bottom tier on the Rebirth line, I was glad to see New Super-Man has stabilized a little. It sells just under 16K this month at #150, which is down about 1K from the previous month. This book has developed a small but devoted audience, and its creators bigger profile in the YA/Bookstore market may help it survive. There’s only two books below it, Cyborg and Blue Beetle (158 & 160 respectively), and both sell a little under 15K. The floor for Rebirth books still seems pretty healthy, with none approaching the disastrous numbers that some Marvel books do.
Glenn: New Super-Man will likely be okay because its an original character and has some critical acclaim. Both Cyborg and Blue Beetle will likely be pushed aside, one likely will be replaced by Sean Murphy’s Batman title while the other…probably Batman again? Anything is possible!
Ray: A bit further down at #168, we see a very healthy debut for Matt Kindt’s new BOOM! title, Grass Kings. 13.5K is fairly rare air for a Boom title not based on an existing franchise, and Kindt’s always been a cult creator. I’m always happy to see Boom getting a bit more of a mainstream profile, too.
Glenn: Kindt is another one with a small but passionate audience. He seems to be able go where he wishes and bring some buzz with him so this is definitely a nice edition for BOOM! who are trying to play in the large sea of creator owned books and need more launches like this to make waves.
As hinted above, Guardians leader Star-Lord‘s title continues to drop towards four figures at a rapid rate. It sells over 13k at 171. I doubt even the movie will help it much so if it hasn’t been cancelled already, it is likely to be headed that way soon.
I also wouldn’t put money on Spider-Woman, Unstoppable Wasp, Thunderbolts or Hellcat lasting much longer. There are other books around the same or lower as these but they’re all gone now. The lowest of these, Hellcat is selling just over 7.2k at 235 and its a main line Marvel book. Astonishing
Ray: A couple of these books have already ended or been cancelled. Spider-Woman wrapped up with this issue, while Star-Lord and Hellcat are solicited to end with their next issue. Whether Unstoppable Wasp can last longer than its numbers indicate will depend on whether it can get this mysterious Moon Girl/Squirrel Girl audience, but the fast fall makes me doubt it.
Glenn: A new James Bond title from Dynamite launches at 183 with sales of 12.2k. These are probably titles that do better in collections but I would say that even though he started in novels, Bond is at his most successful on the big screen and even though he’s a pop culture icon, he doesn’t have the mass appeal some of his fellow famous film icons do in terms of material beyond the films.
Ray: Bond seems to have become one of Dynamite’s money properties right now. The titles do better than the majority of their licensed properties. They’ve just got to be careful of not overstretching it and killing their golden goose like they did with Shadow and Green Hornet a few years back.
Glenn: Yet another Hellboy universe book launches at 184 with sales just over 12k. There has been a lot of these recently I’ve noticed and they all do about the same numbers. If Hellboy fans are willing to keep picking up new material, Dark Horse will certainty supply it.
The first book in Archie’s ‘pilot’ season, Jughead The Hunger where Jughead turns into a werewolf (no, really!) is at 189 with sales over 11.5k. This is the second highest selling Archie book this month and considering that (for now) its a one off with a price tag of 4.99 that’s very impressive. It seems that Archie are gradually reintroducing some of their wackier aspects that seemed to go the wayside post Archie relaunch but it seems that there is more interest now than there would have been previously. I’m not sure if this is strong enough to presume an ongoing would be viable but on its own, its a very good number.
Ray: Jughead: The Hunger was a strange attempt to fuse Archie with Supernatural, and it doesn’t seem to have gotten the buzz of other Archie horror books. These numbers aren’t terrible, but if this is a “pilot season” competition, this feels safe to be a one-and-done.
Glenn: Showing they can misfire and produce comics no one wants to buy as well, DC has Odyssey of the Amazons at 193 with over 11k. I’m not sure how long this is supposed to run but given we’re here on the third issue, things are going to get ugly fast.
Ray: All of DC’s non-Rebirth launches as of late have had middling-to-ugly numbers, but this one has a combination of no recognizable characters and a poor critical reception. It’s only a six-issue miniseries, but it feels like it’s on an Odyssey to the bottom of the charts. Ho ho.
Glenn: The movie preludes that Marvel have put out the last number of years always perform around the same level and the Spider-Man: Homecoming prelude is no different. It sells just over 10.9k at 196. Ray read this and said it was pretty much a rehash of Captain America: Civil War so this is likely for the die hard MCU fans only. No big surprises here for Marvel I’m sure.
Ray: These “prelude” miniseries seem to be for the casual market, which probably isn’t going to translate to direct sales anyway, since us fanboys are nothing resembling casual!
Glenn: New Vertigo book Savage Things launches at 200 from writer Justin Jordan with sales over 10.5k. This is about the norm for a Vertigo launch by a creator who has some pull. Like Frostbite, this is a mini so it’s unlikely the sales here will get too bad before its done and heads off to the magical land of collections. Perhaps this will be the Vertigo model now? Mini’s by creators with some pull rather than putting out ongoings they know can’t be supported by the market any longer. Its not a bad plan.
Ray: Justin Jordan’s always been a bit of a cult creator, too, specializing in dark, violent properties in all genres. Given that, these are pretty decent numbers and probably about what Vertigo can expect from here on out. That being said, Jordan’s next projects are from Image.
Glenn: Right below that new title is another from Image at 201 in the form of Underwinter selling also over 10.5k. This is a new horror book by Ray Fawkes and is a pretty standard launch for an under the radar Image title.
Ray: Fawkes’ creator-owned works, especially those drawn by him as well, tend to be distinctly surreal and dense. This book is no exception, so modest numbers are to be expected here. Like Kindt, Fawkes is a bit of an acquired taste. These numbers are acceptable given that.
Glenn: A zero issue for Bloodshot Reborn hits at 203 with sales 9.6 which about normal for Valiant. This is the continuation of a long saga on the long running character by Jeff Lemire so this has likely just been ordered as a continuation rather than something brand new.
Ray: This was sort of a bridge issue for Bloodshot, ending the current run before a Lemire-penned relaunch in a few months. So I wouldn’t expect it to get launch numbers. Bloodshot has been one of Valiant’s bright spots ever since Lemire came on, though.
Glenn: I’m not sure what to make of Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys from Dynamite at 204 with sales over 9.4k. I’m tempted to say this is a win because although both Drew and the Hardy Boys are pretty well known, they’ve never been as popular as other classic mystery characters like Holmes or Poirot. It seems that there are fans of both out there, I think this is a good number here.
Ray: I don’t read much Dynamite, actually, but I read this and it’s one of my favorite books out of them in a long time. The problem is, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are nostalgia properties, where the core audience that read them is significantly older than either of us. That makes this book a hard sell by its nature. Given that, I’d call this a win for Dynamite.
Glenn: Also dipping their toes into the often unpredictable waters of TV continuations in comics form, Dynamite also releases an official continuation of the cult show Charmed at 9.4k. While Charmed never had the popularity of shows like Buffy, it had a very passionate fanbase. This is a book that won’t light the charts on fire but then again, TV continuations haven’t done that for nearly ten years now. Loyal Charmed fans will probably keep the book afloat.
Ray: I hadn’t even thought of Charmed in ages. I watched a bit of it when it first got on and then got bored. These are pretty good numbers for a revival like this. I’ve got to say, Dynamite is actually having a pretty strong month with quite a few successful launches.
Remember that new Ghostbusters movie that absolutely no one felt strongly about in either way, and certainly didn’t cause all sorts of firestorms around the internet? Well, their first comic book appearance happened this month from IDW, crossing them over with the OG Busters. It lands at #216 with sales of 8.5K. Clearly, not getting the buzz the company wanted here. I’m wondering if this was essentially killed by the bad blood between the two incarnations – a crossover is going to be mainly read by those with affection for both groups.
Glenn: Given the absolutely insane storm the new Ghostbusters created online I would say that most of these numbers are carried by them meeting the original team. There will be fans of the new film out there of course but they’re in the quiet minority so hard for comic shops to order for them. This is probably the last appearance by the new team and they will never be spoken of again for better or worse.
Ray: Two all-ages titles from DC and Marvel are right next to each other at #218 and #218, with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur selling 8.2K and Gotham Academy selling 8.1K. The latter has now been revealed to be ending at #12, which sadly isn’t a surprise. The former has no end in sight, which makes me wonder where it’s selling that Marvel isn’t telling us about. Could this be a prime candidate for a full shift to bookstore OGN format down the line?
Glenn: I wouldn’t be surprised if Gotham Academy doesn’t head down the eventual OGN route also. It seems like a book that could do very well outside the direct market in that format. I think there has to be bigger plans for Moon Girl that Marvel is clued on that we are not. How low can it go on the charts while we continue to puzzle on what separates it from all the other books being cancelled?
Ray: The new Oni title, Redline, focusing on military contractors in an occupation on an alien planet, sells 8K at #220. This didn’t have any name creators attached, so this number is acceptable for Oni but not much more.
In a name that has too many pun implications to count, “My Little Pony Deviations” sells 7.7K at #222. Given that this is IDW’s What If? line, maybe…they’re Alpacas in this universe? I dunno.
Glenn: I looked this up for Rabbitt Stew and its apparently the entire mythology focusing on a different lead character. I would tell you more about the description but it honestly made no sense to me. For die hard pony fans I’d say.
Ray: Top Cow’s attempt to revive one of their classic properties falls flat with the debut of Magdalena, their Christian-themed superheroine. Needless to say, 7.5K at #225 is not depths that any Image #1 should be hitting right out of the gate, especially one with an apparent built-in audience.
Glenn: Top Cow is an on odd one since it both is and isn’t Image. They left and came back with their books being solicited in a separate section when Image release theirs. They’re kind of hitched on behind Image so their books can’t really be held to the same standard. They don’t really have a place in the market currently with most of their existing properties probably not having a huge fan base to pull on anymore. They’re essentially the Image equivalent of Vertigo if you pardon me stealing your analogy.
Ray: Skydoll: Sudra, a translation of a popular Italian comic, lands at #230 from Titan, selling just over 7.4K. Titan seems to be getting into the reprint business recently, which is undoubtedly a good strategy for low-cost sales as they try to find an identity in the market.
Glenn: Books translated into English have usually made their money already in a foreign market so this one will be a low cost one for Titan to put out. Its something low risk to bump up their library as you said and reprinting foreign material usually finds a decent market outside the market too so its not a bad game to play.
Ray: Another Deviations one-shot, this one a Star Trek Next Generation issue by comics up-and-comer Donny Cates, sells 7.3K at #231. I don’t know if Next Gen has the fanbase of the original series, but either way, Cates is going to be on to much bigger things very soon than what-if one-shots. This could be a collector’s item the way Iron Man Noir is now.
Glenn: I’m surprised the Trek fans didn’t bump up the numbers on this one just a little but perhaps most interest with Trek is in the new filmverse and the in-development TV series? Seems to be just for the hardcore audience here while the franchise continues to rebuild itself back up.
Ray: Brian Wood’s American Revolution series, Rebels returns for a miniseries engagement, the same way The Massive did. It sells 6.9K at #242. Wood’s books are always cult properties, so these numbers are pretty much in line.
Mosaic seems to have leveled off a bit, only losing about 500 copies as it charts at #244 with 6.8K. Genuine leveling off? Sales goosing? The world may never know, but it seems like it’ll finish its run in the top 300.
Glenn: Maybe some sales goosing or maybe not. Either way its another Inhumans ‘ongoing’ that is a disaster and doesn’t help the overall brand of the line. Back to basics only now hopefully but I won’t hold my breath.
Ray: The cult fantasy adventure from Andrew MacLean, Head Lopper, returns with sales of 6.7K at #247. Given that this is a $5.99 oversized quarterly comic, those aren’t bad numbers. It’s a gleefully surreal, violent, hilarious comic, but it takes a bit to get into the world.
Surprisingly, no finale bump for Nailbiter as it says goodbye with #30. It loses exactly 14 copies from last month to chart at #249 with 6.5K sales. I think this is a case where retailers know already exactly who is reading it in singles. Off it goes to the realm of collections where it’ll sell countless copies for years to come.
Glenn: I’m hoping at one point some studio like AMC or Spotlight or Starz choose to adapt it and people rediscover it later on. It was a fantastic series that I think will definitely live well beyond its monthly series.
Ray: The return of Jay Faerber’s deep-space murder mystery Copperhead after a lengthy hiatus charts at #253 with sales of just 6.3K. There was an artist change, yes – but this is the dark side of these lengthy hiatuses. I was shocked to see this book come back after so long, and I’m betting a lot of fans simply forgot about it.
Glenn: The market used to be forgiving for big delays on titles but I think with more choice out there and comics being more expensive in general, people are being more ruthless. They are abandoning series with lengthy delays or perhaps switching to collections. This is a great series that will likely have its big delay in production potentially kill it off sadly.
Ray: At #256 with just under 6.3K, we have Valiant’s Divinity III: Escape from Gulag 396. This sold a bit lower than most of Valiant’s tie-ins, and I put part of that on the title not letting readers know who it’s about. This is an Archer and Armstrong title, and I think it would have been ordered more heavily if people knew that.
Glenn: As per the most recent breaking news, Archer and Armstrong will be getting a new book soon so with the right promotion that might do as well as XO did this month. This seems like another missed marketing opportunity but at least Valiant is learning from their mistakes.
Ray: The writer of the new A&A book is a satirist with a mainstream profile, Daniel Kibblesmith. So if they market it correctly, this could be a major hit for Valiant.
Glenn: Yet another Hellboy spinoff and another mini for Mignola character Lobster Johnson launches in the new mini Pirates Ghost at #258 with sales over 6.2k Pretty in line with all the other mini’s this character has had recently so as I said with the other Hellboy book that launched this month, this is pretty much likely what Dark Horse expected.
Vertigo’s Lost Boys comic follow up finishes at 259 with sales also around the 6.2k mark. Pretty good for a mini that’s a sequel to a cult hit from 30 years ago. Again, mini’s with good trade potential might be the future for Vertigo but as per solicitations that hit 5 minutes ago (from me typing this not from you reading this) the output from that line is really grinding to a halt.
Ray: Vertigo has three books coming out in July. Three. One is an import, one is a spin-off, and the third is a miniseries getting close to its conclusion. This is really looking like an artifact line at this point.
Glenn: WWE Wrestlemania special from BOOM! charts at 279 with sales over 5.6k. This is a tie-in comic for the WWE’s biggest PPV of the year and although the event itself brings in a lot of casual viewers I doubt many comic fans that aren’t already WWE fans would be bothered. I’m way behind with wrestling anyway but I don’t think many fans were that hyped for this years Mania and plus it’ll depend on the content of course. The main series continues to do decently at 214 with sales over 8.8k at least.
Black Mask continues to manage to launch new books in the top 300 with the debut of Space Riders Galaxy Of Brutality at #281 with sales over 5.5k. They’re making waves on the lower end of the chart and while they won’t be giving the bigger companies any sleepless nights you have to wonder what they might be able to accomplish in the next 5-10 years.
At #282 and #284 you have the second and third issues of Back To The Future mini ‘Biff To The Future’ selling over 5.5k and 5.3k. Perfectly acceptable for this sort of thing. IDW will likely to make decent use of the Back To The Future property as it does have a small but dedicated audience.
First issue of a new mini from Dark Horse Once and Future Queen sells over 5.2k at 286. This seems to be a new take on the legend of Camelot and doesn’t have any huge names on it. Pretty much what you can expect from a niche property with no named creators from Dark Horse. Its only a mini so it doesn’t have to worry about long term drops but its unlikely to have its whole run in the top 300 but you never know.
Ray: Once And Future Queen seems more on paper like a BOOM! title – a teen girl revamp of classic Camelot mythology – but it has more of a Dark Horse literary vibe to it. It was an odd fit for the market, but I could see it being a bit of a cult hit.
Glenn: At #287 we have Foolkiller from Marvel comics selling 5.2k. At least it sold more than Slapstick which is maybe the first Marvel comic ever not to even chart in the top 300.
Ray: Needless to say, this is embarrassing for Foolkiller (which was actually a bit of a hidden gem), but it’s even more embarrassing for Slapstick (which is not). It’s almost as if greenlighting three spinoffs for a title that can barely sustain itself was a poor choice!
Glenn: A rerelease disguised as a directors cut for the first issue of the new Suicide Squad book sells just over 5k at 290 priced at 5.99. Not bad for something that’s not that old and priced $3 more than it was. Suicide Squad isn’t one of DC’s shining stars but its good for an easy win.
Last in the charts at 300 now is one of Titan’s many Doctor Who titles, this one starring the 11th Doctor selling just over 4,8k. All the Who books have slid quite considerably in the last few months, perhaps the break in the show has had an effect so maybe its return this past Saturday will help. Either way, Titan will have a new Doctor to star in a new book soon enough but the value of the property in comics seems to be light at the moment.
Ray: Sadly, Zombie Tramp does not make the top 300 this month. *bows head quietly*
Looking ahead, it’s a semi-quiet month for DC, with one big Button-shaped exception. Arguably the most buzz-worthy crossover for DC since Rebirth began, even more so than Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, should give both Batman and Flash very healthy boosts. I expect them to make up 4 of the top ten next month, especially since the entry point for that mark is getting lower and lower. Otherwise, we’ll see the impact on sales as some of DC’s monthly titles move to $3.99, and Superwoman gets a new creative team with much less creative wattage. That’s something to watch – although it’s worth noting that as of today, Blue Beetle and Cyborg have both been announced as starting new storylines in July. Nothing from Rebirth is getting cut yet.
Marvel’s got quite a few launches coming up this month, including a trio of X-men books (one of which ran into some controversy), the new flagship Inhumans title, a Black Panther spin-off with some seriously good buzz behind it, and the #0 issue of Secret Empire, leading into the event starting next month. My prediction? They’re all beaten by a little book named Deadpool vs. Punisher, the latest Deadpool event that feels like catnip to violence-loving fans.
Image has a few buzz-worthy titles launching, from Latour/Brandon’s surreal urban fantasy Black Cloud, to Kyle Stark’s old-school rural adventure Rock Candy Mountain. Rising star Donny Cates has a new horror comic in Redneck, and former DC writer Meredith Finch dips her toe into the creator-owned world with her epic fantasy Rose. Plus, there’s the sex-doll crime comedy Plastic. Yep.
And after a surprisingly good month this time around, Dynamite will be trying to keep the buzz going with a pair of crossovers – Sovereigns, which launches with a dollar issue and reunites the Gold Key characters, and The Greatest Adventure, a pulp crossover written by Fables‘ Bill Willingham.
The calm before the storm continues. Summer is coming…
Glenn: We’ll be there and all the months in-between too! Hope you can join us too!
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