Justice League fans know exactly who you mean when you refer to “The Big Seven”: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter.
They’re the greatest of DC’s greatest superheroes, right?
Well, actually, they’re just the seven characters who were in the original Justice League comics, and are thus always thought of as the Big Seven within the fictional DC Universe, no matter how popular or unpopular they actually are in our universe.
And let’s face it, some of those guys aren’t exactly selling comic books hand over fist. Or, you know, at all. Martian Manhunter has only had one, short-lived solo ongoing title. Aquaman is constantly starring in comics that are retooled, canceled, relaunched, retooled, canceled, relaunched and so on. The others usually have books on the stands, although their popularity waxes and wanes with their creative teams, different directions and the whims of the direct market readers.
Every once in a while, I like to take a look at the sales charts to see which heroes are actually the most popular as judged by sales, and wonder what it would do to the Justice League if the roster was determined by who The Big Seven were in terms of those sales (Yes, I like to think about Justice League line-ups in my free time; is that a problem?).
Last week Marc-Oliver Frisch offered his monthly analysis of DC Comics sales at The Beat, which occasioned another round of such thinking on this subject.
According to the numbers Frisch sites for DC’s May sales, and if we exclude team books like Green Lantern Corps and Justice League of America and team-up titles like Superman/Batman—the top-selling seven solo superheroes in the DCU are:
1.) Batman Dick Grayson (Battle For The Cowl was basically a Dick Grayson comic full of guest stars, right? If not, the post-BFTC Gotham Gazette special should place Grayson in the top seven)
2.) Flash Barry Allen (thanks to The Flash: Rebirth; a couple months ago there was no Flash title)
3.) Green Lantern Hal Jordan
4.) Power Girl
5.) Superman (By the way—Holy crap, Power Girl is outselling all three Superman titles!?)
7.) Oracle (Thanks to Oracle: The Cure, a miniseries that wrapped up in May; now that it’s over, Wonder Woman would presumably be the next in line for the seventh slot)
That’s a rather unusual line-up, and one I don’t think many (any?) writers or editors would choose. But if it were up to the invisible hand of the market to decided your Big Seven? There you have it.
(Although it’s probably worth noting that there aren’t actually all that many solo superheroes on the stands anyway; aside from the books starring those seven and Wonder Woman, the only other DCU books with solo stars as of May were Booster Gold, The Last Days of Animal Man, Vigilante, Solomon Grundy, Warlord and Jonah Hex).