Will 2010 be the year DC Comics surpasses Marvel as the top publisher in the industry? I ask this because in my secret identity as a mild-mannered comic shop employee, I have a front row seat to watch industry sales trends as they happen. Being around comic book fans forty-plus hours a week, seeing their buying habits and talking about comics with them, in addition to getting to learn about the retail side of the industry in one of the country’s top comic shops (insert shameless plug) gives you a unique perspective on the comics biz.
If you take a look a recent sales trends–ICv2 and The Beat are great resources for retail news–you can see the potential for a reversal in the familiar trend of Marvel kicking DC’s collective butts up and down the sales charts. Blackest Night has been a sales bonanza for DC, surpassing last year’s Final Crisis event in performance and reader excitement. It’s by far the hottest selling comic being published today, and it’s allowed DC to dominate the top of the bestseller charts for the past couple of months now. (The six bestselling comics in October, as well as seven of the top ten selling books for November, belonged to DC.)
If you look at what we know is upcoming in 2010, a reversal of fortunes between DC and Marvel seems very possible. Marvel’s next big event is Siege, ostensibly the wrap-up to several years worth of ongoing plotlines that the Marvel Universe proper has revolved itself around. You would think that years of build-up and major events (Civil War; Secret Invasion; Steve Rogers’s death; etc.) would translate into massive anticipation for what comes next, but there honestly doesn’t seem to be much of a buzz surrounding the story among the clientele where I work. Instead, I get the feeling that fans are growing indifferent towards the current direction of the Marvel Universe, and are less excited about Siege itself than they are what it represents as the potential end of a story that’s worn out it’s welcome. I guess we’ll find out on Wednesday, when the first issue of Siege hits the stands.
DC counters with The Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series by Grant Morrison, which begins in April, a month after Blackest Night ends. Captain America Reborn has been Marvel’s biggest success for the past few months, and given the similarities between the two projects, it seems safe to say The Return of Bruce Wayne will be a big hit, too. If DC can manage to carry their momentum through the end of Blackest Night and into TROBW and beyond, then Marvel may need to start getting used to watching DC’s tail lights for a change.