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 is currently making sure his son is asleep and that his music isn’t too loud.
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 still crying following the first US Presidential Collection but he hasn’t gotten any water on his comics.
We also do a podcast together with longtime buddy, Brandon James on iTunes with Rabbitt Stew or at the link here! Don’t ask, I didn’t pick the name. If you’d like to hear what me and Ray sound like, give it a listen! We talk about this sales chart (among many, many other things) here
Full top 300 for August available here!
Glenn: After the massive Rebirth explosion back in July, one might think that it may have all settled down.
Anything but I’m afraid. Not only did Rebirth continue to come up trumps for DC but their market share saw another increase for the third month of the row. Not only did DC win 9 of the top ten but then had 26 of the top 30 and 39 of the top 50. Now full disclosure, Marvel’s big heavyweight Civil War II was delayed but that was only one comic and I don’t think it would have fiddled with those numbers too much. Rebirth had toppled Civil War II in every measurable way and we’re only two months in. So far, every book is managing a steady hold that launched last month but we saw some insane debuts this month.
Jumping right back in, let us crown All Star Batman as the easy winner for the number one sp…
Well just to prove we don’t know everything (just most things) and in the biggest surprise in the charts in some time (apart from Rebirth pwns all) is the success of the new volume of Harley Quinn. Given that its by the same creative team and that the last volume only ended a few weeks ago, Harley Quinn storms the competition to land the number one spot with a whopping total of just under 360k. This number is almost as insane as the books protagonist and a glass has to be raised for everyone involved. The last book was an unqualified hit, nearly proving wrong every standard rule for how a comic should perform and the trend continues here. Of course, Harley was the audience favorite in Suicide Squad, a movie otherwise panned by fans, critics and movie goers.
The second issue of the book also lands in the top ten, taking number 9 with sales of over just 116.6k. Its a big drop but still a huge success for the creative involved. I wouldn’t be surprised with how books that were less than anything to write home about prior to Rebirth are doing so well that Harley could end up selling 70-80k steadily which would put it above the majority of Marvel’s titles. It seems fans sure do want to have a ride on their Harley.
Ray: Yeah, look, I am rarely at a loss when it comes to the sales. This time, I am. We knew Harley was big. She’s sort of become her own franchise for DC as of late, their closest analogue to Deadpool. But this is a whole other thing. To put it in perspective, this is not just the highest-selling comic of the month. This is the highest-selling comic of the entire Rebirth event. It outsold Batman #1. It outsold Justice League #1. It even outsold DC Universe: Rebirth. By a margin of almost 100K. This is just such an odd phenomenon, because in terms of Rebirth, this book was a non-event. It was launched one week after the final issue of the previous volume, and the creative team remained intact. The book just launched right into a new storyarc, with a new #1. And yet, here we are.
The #2 issue’s sales make a lot more sense. Falling down to #9 at 116K sales is a huge drop, but still an extremely healthy level for this book. Harley is going to clearly remain one of DC’s top books, and this number is a huge boost from its previous volume’s final level.
Glenn: When you put it like that with the final issue out the week before its even more insane! I’m sure DC will be up for producing more Harley related books in no time flat.
Taking the silver medal was everyone’s pick for gold in All Star Batman by superstars Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr. Now, don’t feel too bad because this book which is the only Rebirth book not costing $2.99 (it actually costs $4.99) sold just under 290k. A great number for a book with that price tag and I have little doubt it’ll settle a lot higher than Harley on a regular basis. Asking 4.99 from fans is a big request but here’s an ongoing that I believe is being to do it in the six digit range month after month.
Ray: As much as it’s shocking that it lost to Harley, I still can’t say enough about how well All-Star Batman did. It outsold Batman #1 by 8K, and that was the big launch event for Rebirth as a whole. Snyder clearly has a lot of pull, and Romita Jr. definitely has a huge fanbase as well. I think DC has pulled off a pretty amazing hat trick here, by creating a situation where there are two genuine A-list Batman titles running at the same time. That’s three locked-down slots in the top ten every month. And at $4.99? That’s going to help them maintain their market share lead a lot on its own.
Glenn: Speaking of the movie, the first issue of Suicide Squad takes the third spot with just over 217.6k. Movie hype and Jim Lee’s involvement will be the main reason here. DC has gone to a lot of effort to make Suicide Squad seem like a must have book and it seems to have paid off. The critical response has been mixed but with the inclusion of hot artist Gary Frank to the team shows that DC is very committed to keep drawing eyes to this book.
It shows up in the top ten again with its Rebirth issue selling just under 178k at 5 continuing the odd trend of sometimes the Rebirth books not performing as well. Its still a great number and should have Suicide Squad settle at a much higher level than where it was and in a whole different league to the majority of Marvel’s titles.
Ray: Between Harley and the very strong debut numbers for Suicide Squad’s two issues, I think we can safely say that the the movie has moved the needle on this property a huge deal. However, the unconventional style of the book, splitting between the main story and origin backups, has gotten a mixed reception. As long as Jim Lee stays on the title, it should do well, but I’d watch for some pretty significant drops as time goes on.
Glenn: The only Marvel book in the top ten this month is their MVP title, Amazing Spider-Man which sells just over 185k. This is a massive jump but this issue is the prelude to the hotly anticipated Spider event of 2016, The Clone Conspiracy/Dead No More. Dan Slott has this midas touch on his self contained Spidey events that has earned a lot of retailer/fan trust. Given this is only the prelude, the numbers for the main mini and the real tie-ins should be massive. I would put solid money on the story outperforming Civil War II by quite a fair margin.
Ray: That is a MASSIVE leap for Amazing Spider-Man, almost 100K worth. I’m surprised, because I don’t think the prologue issues got that much hype. I’m wondering if there was some retailer incentive that we might not know about. Keep in mind, the next issue is down at #32, selling over 100K less than this issue. And that issue was the one with two major twists in it about players in Clone Conspiracy. Odd.
Glenn: That is a pretty big drop from issue to the next, how odd. Still, the story line is due to be a big win at Marvel which they need at the moment.
Steady for the third month in is the 4th and 5th issues of Tom King’s Batman which get sales of just under 153k and just over 142k respectively. The drops are very small and the title is due to settle well above 100k before all is said and done. A remarkable success for the creative team who had big shoes to fit both creatively and financially.
Ray: All the Rebirth titles are still finding their level, but it seems very clear that Batman is going to be one of DC’s top titles if not the top one. This bodes well for the coming crossover with Nightwing and Detective, which will probably get a boost from their link to this book.
Glenn: We definitely can’t discount Detective Comics either which sells just under 89k and just under 81.5k at spots 17 and 26. Certainty not the runaway freight train success of Batman and All Star but still a big hit and destined to end up at a much higher level than its previous volume. DC has taken their almighty Bat line and somehow, made it stronger.
Showing to be another steady performer at a high level post Rebirth is Brian Hitch’s Justice League which has the second issue chart at 8 with sales of just over 127k. Given that Hitch is only handling the writing side, I think this is a big success and has boosted the book quite some bit. The other issue this month just misses out in the top ten and charts at eleven with sales of just over 110.7 so again the drops aren’t that big yet. It won’t be the hit Batman is but I would say it could be good for sales around 80k which is about the level the last volume ended on and without the involvement of Geoff Johns and having that twice a month will make DC very happy I’d wager.
Ray: Justice League seems like it’s sliding pretty fast, and will likely miss the top ten next month, but the numbers are still healthy. Given where the JL book under Johns wound up by the end of the run, I think this will likely find a similar level or a little below. This is going to be a book where having the title twice a month will be a major benefit to DC.
Glenn: The final book in the top ten this month is Supergirl’s Rebirth issue which sells just below 113k at 10. Miles ahead of the previous volume of Supergirl and maybe the biggest selling Supergirl title since the Jeph Loeb/Ian Churchill relaunch over ten years ago. Hype around the TV show will have helped but I think the Superman as a whole could be the biggest benefactors from Rebirth as a whole. The line never really found its footing in the new 52 but here it seems to be faring up a lot more. Another big win for DC and for one of their newest talent grabs in writer, Steve Orlando.
Ray: The numbers on Supergirl: Rebirth are essentially right below what New Super-Man did last month, but given the way Rebirth issues do less than the actual #1, I wouldn’t be surprised to see September’s issue do 120K or more. This title has benefited from a long gap between Supergirl titles, and the fanbase has responded very well to the title overall. I think it’ll fall significantly from here, but if it settles roughly at the level of Superman or even Action Comics – very reasonable goals – DC will be very happy here. They have a Supergirl title that appeals to classic fans and fans of the TV series, with one of their hottest up-and-coming writers at the helm. Definitely another big win for Rebirth.
Glenn: I could easily see Supergirl pulling about the 60k level which will be fantastic. Probably a smart move not to make this one bi-monthly, DC knows on what books they can push their look by and large.
Ray: As we leave the top ten, I think it’s worth noting exactly what a slaughter this month was. Every single Rebirth title this month – 40 of them – landed in the top 52 this month. None sold under 54K. There were only 11 Marvel books and one Image mixed in with DC’s lot. Most of the Rebirth titles had fairly healthy holds from last month, so I’m primarily going to focus on the notable titles that launched this month.
Featuring Priest’s return to Big Two comics, Deathstroke: Rebirth has an incredibly impressive debut of 99K at #12. This is a title that was barely making a wave pre-Rebirth, but now it’s got a combination of critical buzz, a top-tier creator, and some of the most hype of any book in the wave. While the #1 issue falls 16K to #23, that’s still amazing numbers for a Deathstroke book, and if it keeps even half these sales six months from now, it’ll be one of their biggest success stories.
Glenn: DC Rebirth has really shown how to do a mass line relaunch well. I would say that the competition could learn a few lessons but given the amount of relaunches that have happened over the last number of years, they would really need to sit and be patient for a few years before trying something similar and I don’t see that happening.
Its great to see Priest back in Mainstream comics as he’s been absent for nearly 10 years (apart from his backup in the Deadpool wedding issue). It seems that Deathstroke has still got a solid fanbase despite having a few critical bumps the last few years. This seems to be a big critical hit so hopefully that’ll mean that this could be one that will climb rather than fall.
Ray: Even amid the wave of Rebirth books, Walking Dead gains nearly 20K in sales from last month, jumping to 97K. I’m not sure what went on with this issue, but it’s a testimony to just how powerful this book is. It weathered the storm of Rebirth far better than Marvel did.
Glenn: Walking Dead doesn’t slow down for rain, hail or snow. I think this issue might have been the start of the books latest big story but either way, Walking Dead doesn’t need relaunches or incentives or whatnot. It just performs and just remains steady in the storm of stunts that goes on around it, its amazing to witness.
Ray: In month three, there’s a lot of books like Detective, Wonder Woman, Flash, Nightwing, and Superman that seem to be holding incredibly well. They start in the low 90K/high 80K range, and end with their second issue in the low 80K range. These books clearly haven’t found their level just yet, but they’re all selling roughly what double most of them were doing before Rebirth. There are no losers in Rebirth just yet.
Superwoman, the third new title launching out of the Superman line, kicked off its run with no small amount of controversy when it killed off one of its leads. However, it definitely got enough interest to start things off, as it landed at #16 with 92K sales. I’m not sure if it’s going to hold well, given the anger and the fact that the Superman line has never sustained this many books a month before, but at this point, Superman and his satellite characters are looking like the biggest winners coming out of Rebirth.
Glenn: Superwoman has one of the biggest named artists both on writing and drawing duties, I’m sure that it will find a very steady audience. It also got people talking which yes, can be for bad reasons but then again, the old saying is sometimes true about no such thing as bad press.
Ray: Continued strong numbers for Red Hood and the Outlaws as well, selling 83K for its #1 issue, only down 5K from its Rebirth issue. This is another book, like Deathstroke, that was doing mediocre numbers before the relaunch and has benefited massively from the fresh start. The new direction continues to get better reception as well, so this bounce may have lasting results.
Glenn: Jason had some major roles in both the hugely successful Bat weekly’s so he’s likely got his own dedicated fan base. Given how odd his co-stars are and how Lobdell is perceived by long term fans, these are brilliant numbers. They might lose a few readers when Artimus and Bizarro step in but even if it sells around 50k (which I’m sure it’ll do better than) then that would be brilliant.
Ray: Marvel did have some good news in the top 30, with both Star Wars and Black Panther doing strong numbers (85K and 83K respectively), although their ranking is obviously way down. These two seem fairly bulletproof, although Star Wars still hasn’t really found its level. It dropped 5K – while Black Panther actually jumped almost 10K! That book continues to be one of Marvel’s most impressive feats in recent years.
Glenn: Unlike most of the books that get the relaunch treatment over at Marvel, we hadn’t seen a Black Panther book in some time. Hopefully this absence making the heart grow fonder strategy will work for Fantastic Four when Disney crush Fox like puny ant.
Star Wars still conties its very slow glacial slide. Marvel continues to show they love having these books by announcing a Yoda book and a mystery new ongoing by Darth Vader writer Kieren Gillan.
Ray: Both the Green Lantern books are still falling fast, with Hal Jordan dropping over 10K between #2 and #3, and Green Lanterns losing 7K between #4 and #5. They’re both down to the mid-60K range, which bodes ill for the franchise as a whole.
Glenn: Its like watching the house Geoff Johns built be knocked down. 70k isn’t a terrible number by any means. It is still doing a hell of a lot better than the most of Marvel’s line but yes, the franchise’s best days seem to be gone…for now. A creative shift and a new angle on the book could make all the difference. Until then as long as it settles around 60k I’m sure that DC will let this one go…for now.
Ray: One interesting note for me is the two Batgirl franchises, and how they’re distancing from each other. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 sells over 77K, while Batgirl #2 is down to only 62K. However, retailers seem to be treating both the Rebirth and #1 issues as launches, so Birds is likely due for a harsher fall next month. We’ll see how they shake out when neither has that advantage, but Batgirl is falling harder than I would have expected. There’s only Three Rebirth issues below it.
Glenn: Its still a good 20k where it was before. If it settles soon, its won’t be a misfire but it could very well just land around the same numbers. Although the Bat books are all big performers, perhaps this one will prove to be the one that’s slightly left out in favour of the ones starring Bruce’s ‘sons’. The book is also written by new voices to comics that come from other media and this often breeds mixed results.
Ray: There’s a couple of other Marvel books hanging around the top 50, including Darth Vader, Han Solo, Spider-Man/Deadpool, Deadpool, and that second issue of ASM. None are doing spectacular numbers, but all remain mostly healthy.
Glenn: Black Panther, Deadpool, Spidey and Star Wars is where its at over at Marvel. Otherwise…
Ray: Blue Beetle was one of the more obscure characters getting the Rebirth treatment, and his Rebirth issue does healthy numbers at 72K. Most Rebirth titles have done far better, but given how Blue Beetle has struggled in the past to even stay alive as an ongoing, this is very good news. If it can hold half these numbers, DC will have a new modest hit on its hands.
Glenn: Jamie was a character that suffered a lot from the new 52 so hopefully his fans (as well as Ted Kord fans) will be here to support the book. This one will definitely end up being one of the lower selling Rebirth titles but if it can do about 40k it would still be outselling some X-Men books, some Avenger’s books, Guardians and Sam Wilson. Nothing to sneeze at.
Ray: Titans is also holding well, selling 72K for its #2 issue. It’s helped, I’m sure, by the fact that it’s Wally West’s main title, but these are the best numbers DC has gotten for any sort of a Titans book in a decade – and 400% the sales of Titans Hunt on average. Rebirth is lifting all boats, and this is one of the biggest winner.
Glenn: I’ll be curious how Teen Titans proper performs with the franchise languishing for close to a decade. If this is anything to go by then it might be a nice surprise for DC!
Ray: New Super-Man, the most shocking debut of last month’s lineup, holds pretty well at #35 with 72K sales. This is more like I would have expected from this property, and it looks like the character might have some staying power.
Glenn: This is where I would expect a book like this to start but if it can settle around this number, then that’s brilliant. As you said on the Stew, the Superman line is the biggest winner overall from Rebirth I’d say.
Ray: It’s one of the lower-selling DC books right now, but Green Arrow has some really good news this month. Only losing 3K between #4 and #5, it seems to have stabilized quickly. The current run is getting some good reviews, so it may have found its level. If Green Arrow can find its place alongside Green Lantern in sales, that’s one of the biggest wins of Rebirth.
Glenn: Marvel books on their last relaunch were still seeing sharp differences in numbers by this point so those small drops are great news. Given how the title was performing previously, if it can hold steady around these numbers then yes again, its another huge win.
Ray: The biggest disappointment for Marvel this month, undoubtedly, has to be the sales of its two major Civil War II tie-ins, The Fallen and The Accused. Retailers didn’t treat them like must-buy comics, but rather like standard tie-ins. The Fallen, written by Greg Pak as a send-off for Bruce Banner, did a decent 66K at #41 and was generally well-received. The Accused, meanwhile, focused on Clint Barton’s trial and did 62K, but was not received nearly as well.
Glenn: Both books had the infamous mystery solicits and that’s something I think aggravates retailers more than anything. Local comic shop, The Big Bang stated how frustrated they were about the Fallen for example. We might see some reorders for both in the lower end of the chart next month. I do think this is a game that Marvel maybe needs to change their strategy on.
Ray: Something’s got to be at the bottom of the Rebirth roster, and the last three this month were two issues of Aquaman and one of Hellblazer. Aquaman continues to sink fast, but it’s staying above that critical 50K line. Hellblazer, while the second-lowest selling Rebirth book overall, it still sells almost 60K. That’s more than 400% over what the critically acclaimed previous series was doing.
Glenn: That’s a big upswing for Hellblazer and yes, not so good news for Aquaman but this is a title that has continually struggled unless it was written by Geoff Johns. If it can remain around this level then that’s fine, like you said, someone has to be last.
Ray: So, another massive, massive month for Rebirth. It’s not just how high the ceiling is for these books, it’s how low the floor is. Nothing from DC’s main line sold less than 54K this month. Aquaman sold more than all but 11 Marvel books. This is a full-on revolution in the industry, and DC is just getting started. They recently announced that wave two starts in January.
Glenn: I can’t wait to see B’wana Beast be DC’s next big hit and yes, I’m only half joking.
Ray: B’wana Beast may be a while off, but DC is testing the water with characters like Adam Strange, Vigilante, and Deadman in a few months’ time. They don’t have the official Rebirth branding, but we’ll see what the numbers show.
Glenn: Without the Rebirth brand, I’m not optimistic but you never know. We’re more likely to see some characters like Booster Gold or The Question and yes, I have now ventured into my own personal fantasy land lalalala.
Now that all the Rebirth madness is behind us, time to get some updates on how the other half is doing. Captain America: Steve Roger‘s seems to have stabilized with sales just under 50k at 58. Not terribly, not great and not worth all the song and dance we got about evil, evil, boo, hiss Hydra Cap. Still down a lot better than Sam’s Cap book which is at 91 with sales over 30k, I can see a scenario very soon where we just have one Captain America book once more.
Ray: It’s quite the statement that even with this universally reviled twist, evil Hydra Cap is still outselling Sam Wilson by such a big margin, even with Sam Wilson in the middle of a Civil War II storyline. I don’t know the last time a replacement hero flopped this hard, but this is up there. We’ll see how long it is before Marvel gives up the ghost.
Glenn: It can’t be too long left and maybe the last time a replacement hero went down this poorly was maybe Simon Baz but he hasn’t really had the same opportunity to stand on his own like Sam (even though it wasn’t for long). The clock is definitely ticking on Sam Cap and female Thor, just in time for female Iron Man (sorry…Iron Heart) and evil Iron Doom.
Its time for some annuals with All New All Different Avengers Annual (try saying that 10 times fast) checking in at 61 with sales over 45k. This is just a shade below the newest issue of the main title so that’s pretty damn good for an Annual. It seems that retailers know what the audience is for this book pretty well. It’ll be interesting to see how that may change after the majority of the books cast gets moved over to Champions in a few months time.
Punisher has settles around mid 40k at 66. Better than some past Punisher series have performed in the past by about 10k or so if memory serves. Punisher has had a lot of relaunches and creative directions in the past number of years. This one seems pretty solid so I would say it’ll stick around.
Ray: Yeah, most of the past Punisher series were selling half these numbers by six months in. Punisher’s had a hard time selling outside of the MAX line for a long time, so Marvel has to be pretty happy with these. I think a big part of the success is probably due to iconic Punisher artist Steve Dillon coming back on the book. It gives it more of that Ennis/MAX vibe that people associate with Punisher.
Glenn: Becky Cloonan has also amassed herself a solid audience in recent times but yeah, Dillon is probably going to go down as the definitive Punisher artist so his involvement no doubt helps a lot.
Another annual, this time for Daredevil which sells just under 40k at 73. Again, this isn’t too far away from the books main numbers. Annuals usually sell a lot less than the main series so this is basically like Marvel getting more money for a regular issue which I’m sure isn’t upsetting anyone over there.
Same again for All New Wolverine at 38k at 78. It probably helps that Marvel seems to have made an effort to try and get the same writers doing the annuals once more. For a period the annuals were sometimes were by completely random people and I think it caused disinterest, having the main writer on them makes it seem like an important part of the story to pick up.
Ray: These annuals did really well. I think a couple of factors went into this. First up, all of them had the regular writer on them – at least, ANAD Avengers for a few pages before it became an anthology. Daredevil was plot-relevant, ANAD had the much buzzed-about “Avengers fanfic” plot, and All-New Wolverine had the debut of WolverGwen, although it turned out to just be Gwen and Laura switching bodies for the issue. Either way, Marvel managed to get decent sales out of these, and I expect them to test the water with more annuals in the future.
Glenn: As long as they’re relevant, I wouldn’t be opposed to them, even if it is paying more for a mostly regular issue. Hopefully long gone are the days are random annuals that are random *looks at Avenging Spider-Man Annual #1 with shaking head*
Ray: It’s been gone since long before Rebirth, but Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America still puts up decent numbers, with 44K at #64. It’s lost some sales since its last issue, of course, but remember that it was one of DC’s top selling titles in its original run. That shows just how much Rebirth has moved the needle – this book sold 10K less than the lowest-selling Rebirth title this month.
Jane Foster as Thor is still doing really well, in Marvel’s top 20% of books, but that’s likely reaching the natural end of its storyarc much the way past popular replacements like Dick Grayson and Bucky did. Aaron made clear it wouldn’t be permanent from the start and Thor: Ragnarok is around the corner.
Glenn: The question I have is what happens to Thor once this story is done? Is Aaron moving on or does he have something else major up his sleeve? After Steve came back as Captain America during Brubaker’s run, it seemed to suffer ever so slightly but performed well sales wise. Will we see history repeat itself? Dan Slott shows it can be done so time will tell.
Guardians at 84 with sales just under 35k. Sad times.
Ray: Guardians has really lost virtually all the momentum it had as a franchise. Just in time for three new #1s starring the characters to launch in a few months! This won’t go well.
Glenn: Yeah, its like chasing the hype they had only a year ago. They’re probably pumping them out to get as many Guardians trades out in time for the next movie as possible but I don’t think those monthly numbers will be too healthy outside of maybe Rocket.
New Turtles book from IDW in the form of TMNT Universe launches at 85 with sales of just over 34k. Around the number you would expect for a new Turtle’s verse book but priced at $4.99. I’m not sure if this is for every issue but $4.99 for issue ones is becoming a rather unsettling regular trend.
Ray: That’s strong numbers for TMNT Universe. IDW’s slowly but surely built up a small franchise around their TMNT comics, and this book is essentially a way to combine the various miniseries they’ve been doing into one cohesive series. It seems to have paid off, as it definitely outsold most of the miniseries in recent times.
Glenn: At 90 we have Marvel Tsum Tsum with sales a shade over 30.5k. I’d say that’s a whopping success for a comic about stuffed toy versions of Marvel’s heroes. I’d make a joke about a POP tie-in but we’ve already had a lot of variants and I just don’t have the energy to be sad about the reality of it probably happening.
Ray: That’s…actually a shockingly good number for Tsum Tsums? Most of these kids’ tie-in books do terrible bumbers in the direct market, but this actually seems to have a bit of momentum. For a book about little flying stuffed peanuts. Can’t wait for the miniseries where Deadpool teams up with Tsum Tsum Deadpool.
Glenn: Don’t tempt them Ray. Much like POPs, Tsum Tsums have caught on incredibly fast and have amassed a very passionate collecting community. This is likely the explanation for the sales I’d say.
New Image launch in the form of Kill Or Be Killed at 93 with sales of 30k nearly on the dot. Given this is a book from the regular duo of Brubaker and Philips, I might have expected more but its still a very good debut. This creative team have spent the last number of years delivering one critical hit after another so its just another one in the long run for their already impressive library of work at Image.
Ray: I think Brubaker and Philips have become a brand in their own right by now for Image. Retailers know what to expect from their books, they know who wants them, and they order accordingly. It’s like a much higher-volume version of what I said about books like Prophet and Groo in the past. I expect while it didn’t launch as large as some top-name Image books, it’ll hold extremely well.
Glenn: That’s true, the hold on the Bru/Phillips book will probably be around the same as launch numbers. Nothing to sneeze at if it sells this every issue while their current saga plays out.
Sharp drop for Civil War II: Kingpin with it being at 97 with sales of just over 28.7k. Not sure that bodes well for the ongoing Marvel has planned for a few months but if it can perform at these sales on a regular basis, it might buy it some life. The real test will be where next issue lands.
Just below that at 99 is Spawn Kills Everyone with sales just over 28k. I assume this is some sort of take on the Punisher Kills Everyone graphic novel from years past but I’d not sure. Given that Spawn is well past his peak popularity, that’s not too bad a number.
Ray: Spawn Kills Everyone was…an odd comic. It was about Chibi Spawn going to Comic Con and murdering everyone he meets, and that was about it. Given what a bizarre comic it was, I think this was actually a pretty decent number. That being said, I’m kind of surprised how little attention Todd McFarlane actually being involved on this comic got. The days of the Image old guard being a big draw are long gone.
Glenn: Except for Jim Lee but he went to DC probably at the right time to avoid the effect we’re now seeing on the other founders. I’d wager that if McFarlene said he was going to draw one more issue of say, Spider-Man it would sell like hot cakes but yeah, the Image founder properties don’t seem to get the same benefit.
At 100 is the fourth issue of Scooby Apocalypse with sales over 28k. Its anyone’s guess what DC is expecting out of these Hanna Barbara books but I think this is a pretty great number for a tie in that has little to do with the source material. DC must be happy as we’re getting two more HB comics in the near future. This book selling this at 100 shows that we’re a good bit away from the grim overall outlook we were talking about only a few months ago.
Ray: Hanna-Barbera seems to have found its level, with Scooby Apocalypse still doing solid numbers and Future Quest only a few spots below with sales of over 25K. These books are fine. The other books may have trouble, though – Flintstones is down to only 19K at #128 with issue #2, which is a really steep drop from the first issue. And the less said about Wacky Raceland‘s 13K at #170, the better. And the really worrisome thing? The two additional upcoming books are spinoffs of the latter two.
Glenn: Is Jetson‘s a spin off of Flintstones? You learn something new here every month at by the numbers! Again, I would chalk up Wacky Raceland getting a spin off cause Garth Ennis just showed up one day and said he wanted to do it. I would expect some sort of continuation of Future’s Quest by the same creative team is in the pipeline.
Ray: Jetsons isn’t a spin-off of Flintstones per se, but I think the two are forever linked in most people’s minds because of the very popular “The Flintstones Meet the Jetsons” movie that was maybe the biggest spotlight for both franchises. I think Flintstones is probably the high end for Jetsons, although the creative team on Jetsons is higher-profile.
Glenn: The creative team will def help Jetsons, those writers outsold Batman!!!
Ray: Besides JLoA and Scooby Apocalypse, there were only three other additional non-Rebirth books in the top 100. And they all feature Harley Quinn. Little Black Book is still selling well at #76 with 38K, while the sales are less impressive for the Gang of Harleys spin-off, which ships two issues this month at #87 and #94. As we saw by the top of the charts, though, Harley definitely still has some huge pull.
I think it’s worth noting that it’s only six issues in, but International Iron Man, Bendis’ big secondary Iron Man book revealing the truth about Iron Man’s parents, is at #98, just about to fall out of the top 100. 28K in sales. That does not bode well at all for Marvel’s attempt to launch two new Iron Man titles with two different characters soon.
Glenn: The writing is on the wall for International, we’ll see if the relaunch of both Iron Man books will serve them well but I’m having serious doubts.
Ray: Much like with Kill or Be Killed, I think retailers mostly know how to order a new Jonathan Hickman title, and his supernatural Wall Street mystery The Black Monday Murders sells just under 27K at 104. This is a dense and ambitious comic that will likely be very popular in trades, but I expect its direct market sales to remain relatively strong as well.
Glenn: The comic sounds quite high brow so yeah, retailers probably know who is going to come in and pick this up. I expect it to have a solid hold too. The group of Hickman, BKV and Brubaker have carved themselves a nice little decent sized audience over at Image. Perhaps not the chart breakers that Millar or Snyder come out with but very respectable and very stable.
Ray: The spin-off miniseries exploring the central character of Civil War II, Ulysses, didn’t crack the top 100 and only sold 25K at #107. To put this in perspective, that’s only 2K more than the third issue of Civil War II: Gods of War, which is a repurposed Hercules are. I don’t think I need to tell you just how bad this is.
Glenn: Yeahhhhhh, the less said here the better. Given how vital the character is to the whole story, I would have thought there would be more interest. I remember something similar to a mini titled ‘Osborn‘ released after Seige which for all intents and purposes was a follow on and it sold abysmally. I don’t like the chances for the new Inhuman character, Mosaic when that book launches in a few months.
Ray: Much like with the other annuals this month, Uncanny Inhumans‘ annual did very close to the main book as well, selling only 6K below. Obviously, the numbers as a whole are lower, because Inhumans just isn’t the franchise Marvel wants it to be, but as a whole, it seems like Marvel has managed to get annuals to sell again.
And speaking of annuals, BOOM! is getting into the money with them as well! Their top franchise, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, sells 25K with its regular series this month, at #108, and then another 18K for its $7.99 annual at #137. Good numbers for such an expensive book, and easily Boom’s two highest-selling books this month.
Glenn: BOOM! has really hit gold with these Power Rangers books. You would think it would suffer from the same issue the Skull Island book has (too early) but apparently not. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boom starts releasing a lot more Power Rangers books featuring side characters much like the Marvel Star Wars books. That Bulk and Skull book the market has been clamoring for can still happen!
Ray: August was obviously a good month for Suicide Squad, as we saw by four related books in the top ten. The news wasn’t as good for the franchise if you didn’t have a Rebirth logo on the cover, though. DC launched two new spin-offs. One, War Crimes by original series writer John Ostrander, was a one-shot and sold 25K at #105. The other, the next volume of the Most Wanted anthology series, only sold 18.6K at #133. This one features El Diablo and a rotating second feature starting with Captain Boomerang, so these aren’t really A-list characters, although it is notable for being the first book featuring graduates from the initial DC Writers’ Workshop.
Glenn: Side books starring even top franchise characters with the exception of Batman and Spider-Man always have a hard time. DC was probably pushing their luck here but they could have done a lot worse I suppose. On the latter book, it could be just a test of the chops some of those graduates have more than anything.
Ray: Snotgirl had a pretty hefty fall to #113, but it’s still selling roughly 23K, which puts it in the top tier of Image books – for now. It’s selling about the same as I Hate Fairyland and Outcast, but those two are much further into their run.
Glenn: Snotgirl could stabilize, Brian Lee O’Mally has his own dedicated audience and it seems to be one of those books that people will make their mind up on quickly. If it can even do 17k or so that would still put it 10k above the majority of Image’s output.
Ray: Another decent debut for Dark Horse, as Brian Wood’s new slow-burn thriller Briggs Land – which has already been optioned for a TV series – lands 20K in sales at #127. The top-selling Dark Horse book of the moth, and about 500 units more than Black Hammer sold last month to launch.
Glenn: I’m surprised Wood’s name pushed more copies than Lemire’s but perhaps people are going by the concept on these books rather than the creators? Its hard to tell with Dark Horse’s murky situation. That’s a decent debut for sure but like we said with Black Hammer last month, you have to wonder what the numbers would have been over at Image,
Ray: Talking again about Annuals, DC Bombshells has its first annual this month, and it pretty much keeps pace with the parent book, only 1K in sales between them at #140 and #149. This is an out-of-continuity book, so retailers probably know its audience will follow the story in any issues it puts out, and it’s usually oversized so there’s only one dollar’s difference between a regular issue and an annual.
Glenn: We’re getting some Rebirth title Annuals in a few months and I’d expect them to be much the same. They’ll sell well if the main book is doing well (like Batman, etc) but others like Aquaman may be lower. It seems to be a good month for annuals, like you said and that is very much going against a trend outlined over the last number of years.
Ray: More slightly good news for Dark Horse, as Joelle Jones’ creator-owned series Lady Killer returns for its second volume with sales of just over 16.6K at #147. For a cult book published by Dark Horse, that’s pretty decent numbers.
Glenn: I’ve not heard of this one so yeah, I’d say that’s a very strong showing for the title. Given that this is a follow on series, the audience is already probably pretty firmly established so this will probably see another solid hold which is something that Dark Horse will find handy.
Ray: And just below it, Black Hammer holds more than 75% of its sales with #2 to chart at #153 with 16.2K. I think we can call this one a lasting hit for Dark Horse, and we’ll see if the it reclaims its spot as the top-selling Dark Horse book next month.
Black Hammer outsold Jupiter’s Legacy by one spot. Lemire/Ormstrom just beat Millar/Quitely. That blows my mind, and man, Jupiter’s Legacy has really lost all of its momentum due to the delays.
Glenn: The effect on the delay on Jupiter’s Legacy is rather astounding isn’t it? Very different from the market 10 years ago, the current day comic buying public don’t have the funds or patience to wait on books that are no shows in regards to indies at least. Great news for Dark Horse and the Black Hammer crew of course, given how much critical hype the book has gotten, I could see it holding this level for its duration and being a steady collection seller for decades to come.
Ray: So, remember that miniseries from DC You, All-Star Section Eight? Apparently DC thought people wanted a sequel focusing on the drunk and the guy who welds dead dogs to people. Well, it only sold 15K to start at #160. Not a strong start. This will probably be selling four digits very soon if not next issue. Ennis doesn’t have the pull he used to, which bodes ill for Dastardly and Muttley.
Glenn: I don’t remember All Star Section Eight and neither do many others. I think with Ennis it also depends on the property so you never know. His books also seem to stabilize quick s lets see if this one can stay around the 10k mark at least.
Ray: The new Image horror series Demonic has one of the weaker debuts of the month, selling 14.4K at #165. This one seems to have sort of slipped under the radar, but if it holds well from here it could survive. About average for an Image book without big names attached.
Glenn: I think Image really should be pushing these unknown creative team books a bit more. We all know about the big ones but the smaller ones like Demonic do tend to slip under the radar. Like you said, not a terrible debut and about normal for a book that will have to sink or swim very soon.
Ray: The news wasn’t good for all the month’s annuals, as Gotham Academy‘s annual, coming a month before the title relaunches, only gets 11.5K in sales at #188. This was a great issue, but the title has always struggled in sales. I’m hoping it gets some new momentum when it comes back with a new #1 in September, but I’m worried that this is destined to be another one of my favorites that’s gone way too soon.
Glenn: Gotham Academy is a very niche book, I think. It has a small, dedicated and passionate audience so the lowish sales of the annual don’t surprise me. Given how long its been since a regular issue came out, some of its fans may not have returned for this but may show up for the second semester. If the new launch of the book can go around 30k or so then it’ll be a big win.
Ray: It’s three months into Rebirth, but DC Universe: Rebirth manages to chart again, selling 11K at #192. The book that started it all just keeps on adding sales as more and more people get on board. I wonder what the sales on this book will look like totaled up. It’s likely massive.
Glenn: I COULD go and check…but I won’t. I’m just going to estimate that the number is somewhere between a lot and a whole lot. Hopefully this still shows that fans who are new or are coming back to comics are still coming in wanting to read it to see if Rebirth is for them. I think it was a stunning issue so I think it deserves any unit it sells.
Just above that at 189 is Nighthawk at 11k. The reason for its cancellation status continues to become apparent.
Ray: There’s been a lot of thinkpieces on Nighthawk and its cancellation, and what it means given the subject matter. But at the end of the day, it was a Squadron Supreme spinoff and it never had a chance. I’m hoping Marvel takes the lessons of this wave of failed launches and applies them to -(sees Foolkiller, Prowler, Solo, Slapstick, GLA ongoings coming towards him) Oh.
Glenn: Marvel just really likes to see what works. Sometimes they get a surprise hit, mostly it just seems to be books that not a lot of people read. Its a very haphazard strategy but one they’ve been implementing steadily for years.
Issue 2 of Batman 66 Meets The Avengers (the British ones) sells just over 11k also. Pretty standard for an out of date version of Batman and a property that had teddy bears as the villains in its last major showing (no seriously).
Ray: These Batman ’66 crossover spin-offs always have an audience, but this one has neither writer Jeff Parker, or the popularity of a franchise like Man from UNCLE or Green Hornet. Given that, these numbers are acceptable.
Glenn: Faith from Valient has just over 10.5k on her second issue at 195. That’s not too bad and given how dedicated her audience is, its another one due to stabilize fast. Again, in the current market Valient continues to be the scrappy underdogs/dark horses in the race.
Ray: Valiant seems to have carved out a small but solid niche in the market, and they have another #1, Generation Zero, which is a spin-off of Harbinger, launching at #152 with sales of over 16K. That’s pretty solid, and the title seems to be getting good reception. Faith is stabilizing nicely, and the one-shot War Mother does decently for a tie-in with no name recognition as well.
Glenn: To drive the point home further another one of their titles launches at 198 with sales just under 10.3k. It seems like retailers know who the audience is for these books and if their whole line is around the same level, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a company still establishing itself.
For the sake of balance, Civil War II also recharts at 200 with sales just over 9.7k. It’ll definitely make an impact when it returns but where it’ll chart and how many digits it’ll sell will be something I’ll be very interested to see. The main mini has certainty been a good seller as long as its not compared with the runaway freight train of its predecessor but its had a lot less impact than the tie ins of the first Civil War did. I would say that we’ll not be getting Civil War III but even Secret Wars III happened…
Ray: I think Marvel will probably go through Secret Invasion II and a few others first, but I’m sure we’ll get there. Next time, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man battle over whether heroes should have to wear long pants. Spider-man says it’s just too hot out.
Glenn: Just below it at 201 is BOOM! publishing an anniversary comic about the Jim Henson classic, Labyrinth selling just over 9.6k. I thought it would have been good for a few units more given the tragic passing of the films star, David Bowie this year but given that it was priced $9.99 and its always been something of a cult classic that’s still very impressive.
Ray: Yeah, for a $9.99 book that may be partially reprints, that was definitely a decent number. I imagine Bowie’s passing did get it a lot of added attention, as I rarely see the Henson Studios books in the top 300.
Glenn: Second issue of Conan the Slayer lands at 203 with sales of 9.5k. Pretty standard for Conan in the past, this is for the same fans that have been reading his loin cloth wearing adventures for decades and I wouldn’t say much will change in that regard.
Ray: Dark Horse has been consistently selling Conan books for well over a decade, and they’re always sold steadily if unspectacularly. Much like a few other books, this is one where retailers likely know exactly who wants it and it’ll stay steady from here.
Glenn: There’s another new Dark Horse launch in Kingsway West at 205 which also sells 9.5k. This is a book by Greg Pak who is hardly an unknown but…here we are. Its not the worst debut ever but the numbers are likely to get very ugly, very fast. I don’t want to keep beating a Dark Horse but…this is just the way things are at the moment for the company. Its sad.
Ray: I was definitely hoping for more out of Kingsway West. Van Lente, Jensen, and now Pak have all launched books at Dark Horse recently and had poor numbers, although I believe this is significantly better than either Weird Detective or Cryptocracy got.
Glenn: Titan has yet another TV tie in with Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin off at 9.4k which gives it #206. Given that the last Torchwood series aired five years ago (and was awful) this could have been a lot worse. This is one for the die hard fans hoping for a revival of the series. I’m wondering if Titan will also publish a tie-in comic for the upcoming Doctor Who spin off, Class. It would make sense and would probably fare a lot better sales wise given how hard the BBC is promoting it.
Ray: Much like Power Rangers at BOOM!, Doctor Who seems to be Titan’s one reliable franchise. As they continue to get decent numbers, I’d be surprised if they didn’t milk it for all its worth.
Glenn: Next up in Doctor Who comics, K-9 and Handles vs the universe! You know, that would actually probably be awesome.
We’ll not tell Marvel that all these books outsold Drax at 207 with sales just over 9.3k if you don’t. I wouldn’t expect to see many more comics being written or co-written by CM Punk in the near future, at least at Marvel but…you never know.
Another Image launch at 208 with Lake Of Fire which sells just over 9.1k which is written by Nathan Fairbairn who has some pretty impressive credits as a colourist but this is his first venture as a writer. The concept seems quite niche to me and I’m sure that’s what retailers go by if the name attached to the book doesn’t resonate that much.
Ray: Yeah, Lake of Fire is an oddball one. Crusaders vs. Demons. The art is absolutely gorgeous, but this is definitely one of Image’s more niche efforts. Still, if it stays fairly steady from here, it should be fine for the run.
Glenn: Yet another launch from Aftershock by another top creator in Marguerite Bennett’s Animosity which sells just over 9k at #209. Not bad for a small company that continues to roll out book with one top name after another. This comic got some buzz so might have a growing audience out of curiosity more than anything but we’ll see.
Ray: Animosity has reportedly done really well in reorders, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it stay relatively steady from here. Still, Aftershock may have the names, but it clearly doesn’t have the hype just yet. We’ll see if they can build on these books with new ones coming from big names like Warren Ellis soon.
Glenn: Likely for die hard Ellis heads (they’re not called that) and people interested in the subject. There really is a comic out there for everyone.
I won’t tell Marvel that all these outsold Hyperion at #211 with sales of 8.9k on the dot if you don’t. *sad trombone noise*
Ray: Garth Ennis has a new military comic out from Dark Horse, World of Tanks, which charts at #224 with sales just over 8K. Very much a comic for military buffs without Ennis’ usual over-the-top style, this is probably about what could be expected for this title.
In more bad news for one of our usual targets here, Vertigo’s top-selling title this month is Lucifer with sales of 9.5K at #204 – but then it’s a drop of over 70 slots to find the next one. Clean Room sells just under 6K at #284, and The Sheriff of Babylon – by the hottest writer in comics right now, Tom King – is circling the bottom at #296. With three issues to go, this brilliant military noir likely won’t end its run in the top 300.
Glenn: More and more bad news for Vertigo. Fables coming up will help but I don’t think it’ll hold for long but will likely be a 300 main stray. We’ll see how the Young Animal line performs starting next month, if it manages to stay around the 20-40k range, would there be a need for the Vertigo brand anymore?
Ray: Top Cow likely had high hopes for their first major crossover in a while, featuring all of Matt Hawkins’ properties – Postal, The Tithe, and Think Tank. These were all sort of niche books, but I imagine they were still hoping for more than sales of 7.6K at #236. Crossovers don’t really boost sales if there’s no large existing fanbase.
Glenn: Top Cow is a company that doesn’t really grab many people’s attention any more. They have their die hard fans and that’s it. They just do what they do and shuffle along as part of Image. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a Top Cow comic.
Ray: There’s a lot of holdovers and small-scale debuts like a new Evil Ernie book or a Mycroft spin-off from Titan’s Sherlock books, but there’s one new debut in particular circling the very bottom of the top 300 that genuinely shocked me, and that’s The Backstagers, from BOOM!, at #288 with sales of just over 5.7K. This was a book that got a ton of hype, with the author of Batman and Robin Eternal and now Detective Comics on board – and it had one of the worst debuts for a comic of this scale in a long time. What went wrong? I have genuinely no idea. BOOM! Box has developed a reputation as a popular teen brand with books like Lumberjanes, Giant Days, and Jonesy, but this theater-crew adventure didn’t seem to benefit despite having the highest-profile creative team of any of them. The only thing I can think of is that Boom Box’s core audience didn’t want to read a story about boys, and boys don’t read BOOM! Box. Very disappointing, and I hope it rebounds in the coming months and in collections. James Tynion has talked about how personal this book is for him and it deserves more attention.
Glenn: This is the guy who co-plotted and drove both Eternal weekly’s, has written Batman here and there and oh yeah, is the writer on Detective Comics. Did maybe just no one notice this? All I can think is this book maybe not finding an audience or retailers missing the boat on it. We’ll see if many people miss it, obviously with his status at DC, Tynion has a lot of supporters so if he keeps pushing the book it could creep up. It’ll need to do that soon though at this level.
The Mycroft title is interesting cause its based off a book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former basketball player who decided to write a Sherlock Holmes story. The funny thing is, the book is apparently brilliant but novel adaptions are rarely big drivers in comics. People that read them in the original prose aren’t looking to reread with fancy pictures. Game Of Thrones is arguably the hottest show on television and has made the books must reads but the comic never charts (when it comes out).
Final book on the charts this month is some reorders for Uncanny Inhumans 11 which sells just over 5.4k. Its a Civil War II tie-in but it doesn’t leap out to me why this sold a bunch of extra copies for no apparent reason. A mystery!
Ray: I believe this issue of Uncanny Inhumans features the first appearance of Mosaic, who’s jumping into his own series immediately. The reorders are a decent boost, given that this issue was ordered before Mosaic’s role was revealed, but this isn’t the kind of reorders that make a difference for the upcoming title. I still expect a book with a new Inhuman lead character to be a hard sell. Mosaic isn’t getting Kamala’s buzz.
Glenn: Next month sees a few more Rebirth launches and the return of Civil War II. Can it make the top ten? We’ll soon see. We also will see the first book from the Young Animal line, Doom Patrol so that’ll be interesting to see how that goes for DC and see if their hot streak can extend beyond Rebirth. There’s also a Raven mini but without the Rebirth branding it may struggle. We might see a surge on Detective for the infamous incident that happened a few weeks ago which I won’t spoil here. Image sees the launch of Horizon’s Wall by the creative team behind C.O.W.L., a new title by Rick Remender while Archie launches another ongoing with a new take on Josie and The Pussycats. I’m expecting big things from the Remender book, otherwise we’ll just see.
Ray: Yeah, this month brings some interesting Rebirth launches. It’s a lot of the lower-tier titles. Blue Beetle, Cyborg, Batman Beyond, as well as a few bigger names like Teen Titans and Trinity. Plus, we’ll see how Supergirl holds with its #1 issue. We won’t see the meteoric numbers for some books like we did this month, but it’ll still likely be some good numbers. The most interesting thing for me is what book takes #1 this month – my money is on All-Star Batman. There’s also a few interesting side books like the aforementioned Doom Patrol, plus Gotham Academy: Second Semester, and two Vertigo launches, Everafter and Frostbite (from Flash writer Josh Williamson).
Marvel…not much. The main story will be how much Civil War II falls, but it’s the calm before the storm, as Marvel’s next big relaunch begins in October.
Seven to Eternity, by Remender/Opena is definitely the big new launch of the month from indie companies, and I’m expecting big numbers, probably bigger than we saw for Kill or Be Killed this month. I’m also interested in seeing how oddball Valiant miniseries Brittania does when it launches. It’s one of Valiant’s riskiest properties.
Plus, will Boo, The World’s Cutest Dog be able to duplicate the success of Grumpy Cat? I know that’s the question everyone is wondering. That and other questions answered next time on By the Numbers!
Enjoyed what you read? Let us know and follow us on Twitter @glenn_matchett & @raygoldfield