I always read these with great interest, in large part because they give me the best idea of how single issues of comics seem to be selling—at least in relation to one another—in a format someone as numbers-averse as me can I understand.
God only knows how accurate the numbers themselves actually are, as Marvel and DC don’t share their exact figures (and, of course, why would any business open up their ledgers to consumers? I wouldn’t mind knowing how much it costs to print an issue of New Avengers, or what Brian Michael Bendis’ page rate is, and how much Marvel might profit off of each, but hell, it’s not like it’s any of my business).
Anyway, this particular round of analysis, addressing August sales, was particular interesting to me, as it revealed how certain books I was rather curious about were did or were doing in the Direct Market.
After the jump, some random thoughts I had while reading through the data, for your edification/entertainment/time-wasting/ignoring.
—In the short-term, the post-Ultimatum reboot of the Ultimate Marvel line seems like it was probably worthwhile, at least on the sales end of things. The two least popular Ultimate books no longer exist, Ultimate Comics Avengers was Marvel’s second best-selling title despite the price increase (out-selling even the Marvel Universe Avengers stuff, which normally tops their charts), and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 also saw a huge surge in popularity, almost doubling the unit numbers The Beat had on it from where it fell during the Requiem “bridge” mini-series.
Long-term might be a different story, of course, but it’s not like these companies generally plan anything other long-term anyway (Mega-plots crossovers and event comics aside, of course).
—Adding Deadpool titles doesn’t really seem to dilute the market for Deadpool comics much, to my great surprise.
Having recently read a couple dozen random back issues, my first extended exposure to the character, I can sort of see the appeal of a like Spider-Man, but with guns! type of character, but it still boggles my mind a bit that he’s suddenly so popular that he went from sharing a title with Cable to carrying a Wolverine amount of books in such a short time.
Is Ryan Reynolds doing this all by himself or what?
—I worry about Incredible Hercules. There are still some Marvel Universe titles that sell worse (The Beat pegs Inc Herc #133 at 27, 491 units), so it’s probably not the next book under the shadow of cancellation or anything, but I sure would like to see Marvel’s best ongoing book selling better than some of the random X-books and the like out-selling it.
The book recently went bi-monthly, alternating chapters to two different stories, one of which is Hercules-free, which seems like a risky move for a book that’s not selling gangbusters.
Both of those storylines are pretty good, though, and the Hercules-pretending-to-be-Thor-while-Thor-pretends-to-be-Hercules one is just…well, it’s divine is what it is.
—I am apparently one of only about 13-19,000 people who love those 70th Anniversary Specials Marvel’s been putting out. Maybe we should form a club or something…
—It looks like the first issue of Luke Cage Noir did pretty poorly (14,776), being out-performed by Punisher Noir #1 (18,315). I sincerely hope Marvel doesn’t take that as an indication that people don’t like Cage or that he can’t carry a solo book of any kind.
I have to assume it has more to do with the Noir brand (None of those books have been gigantic hits or anything) rather than the character. Surely a Dark Reign: Cage or Luke Cage: Avenger For Hire would sell a lot better, given the fact that the character is part of the ensemble starring in one of Marvel’s best-selling titles.
—Considering the heat that all things Jane Austen—especially Pride & Prejudice related—possess in the current publishing industry, Marvel really oughta be ashamed that they only sold 7,500 copies of the first issue of their P&P adaptation, sales of which then plummeted to the 4K range. Maybe it will do better in trade, as trades are more likely to adhere to the trends in the general publishing industry than the singles in the direct market reflect it, but gee, those are still pretty sad numbers.
On the other hand, the artwork was completely repellent and couldn’t have been less suited to the story or characters, so I guess Marvel’s lucky that there are some comics shops that thought they could sell that many at all.
—Hey remember when Green Lantern was selling so badly that they decided to turn the hero into a villain, kill him off, and replace him with a brand-new character because he was so played out that no one was buying his book?
How weird is it then to see Green Lantern outselling most of the Batman books and all of the Superman books now? And a Green Lantern spin-off series, Green Lantern Corps, doing the same? And DC’s number one book being Blackest Night, which, for all intents and purposes, is just a Green Lantern miniseries?
Very weird, that’s how weird it is. Very weird.
—It looks like there’s now data for the first eight issues of Wednesday Comics, or the first two-thirds of the 12-part series’ entire run, and it looks like it sold between 47,980 units and 35,970.
As Frisch pointed out, it “was always going to be an experiment” and “the economics involved aren’t the same as usual,” but I still find it a little disappointing from where I sit. Maybe from within DC HQ, it looks a lot better, and I hope it was at least worth all the time and hard work they apparently put into taking such a big, weird risk.
I still can’t believe that curiosity alone didn’t make that first issue a monster hit, even if none of the merely curious came back the next week. I guess I assumed more of the direct market was more curious than they actually are, but if you read any comics, I would assume Wednesday Comics was different enough that you’d at least want to take a look at one and pull it apart.
Ah well. Here’s hoping DC unveils a new weekly soon, and it’s closer to the 52/Wednesday Comic side of the quality spectrum than the Countdown side, as I miss not having a weekly book each week, particularly on slow Wednesdays like this past one.
—Judging from these numbers, the Doom Patrol series looks pretty doomed. The first issue moved 28,267 units, which isn’t too horrible (it out-sold DCU ongoings Secret Six, The Outsiders, Booster Gold, Brave and The Bold and Green Arrow/Black Canary), but that’s right about where John Byrne’s re-booted DP book was by issue #3, and it only lasted 18 issues. Does that mean this Doom Patrol’s got until about issue #21? (Or #23, since Byrne’s DP didn’t have the benefit of a two-part Blackest Night tie-in?).
It’s kind of too bad, but I can understand the lack of enthusiasm for the book in the market. I’ve read the first three issues, and while I like the premise and the characters, something’s just not clicking, and I’ve had a hard time diagnosing the problem (Luckily, it’s not necessarily my job to do so).
If the title does end up being canceled within the next year or two, I wonder if that means it will just go away, or if it will maybe be refashioned as a back-up strip running elsewhere. Actually, I’m kind of curious to see if that’s the case for whatever DC super-comic gets canceled next, now that we’ve seen the back-ups save Blue Beetle and Manhunter.
—I can’t say I was surprised to see the Red Circle specials sell pretty poorly—the best-selling one was The Hangman at 20, 295, the worst was The Shield at 19,088—but I was surprised to see just how badly they sold. Especially since DC is launching two over-sized, $3.99 ongoings out of the event. The Red Circle books look pretty much DOA, don’t they?
—A while ago, I did a “If the free market chose the Justice League” post, in which I used the admittedly arbitrary criteria of which seven DC superheroes had the top-selling solo books to determine who “The Big Seven” of the DCU really were at the moment.
Based on the sales data for August, if we were to pick a Justice League strictly by the popularity, it looks like this would be our Justice League:
1). Green Lantern Hal Jordan
2.)Batman Dick Grayson
3.) The Flash Barry Allen
6.) Batgirl (Stephanie Brown)
7.) Red Robin (Tim Drake)
How’s that for a line-up? Pretty Bat-heavy, huh?