Over the course of the last week and a half or so, the Big Two direct market publishers released their solicitations for the books they plan on publishing in October.
I responded in my customary fashion—publicly expressing my excitement over the cover art and stories that look most appealing, shaking my head sadly at the number of Deadpool books, demonstrating how hard a time I have accepting change by still expressing shock at $4 comic books and generally starting to decide what I will be buying and what I won’t be buying at the comic shop in three months time.
Then I realized that the solicitations offer a pretty good, monthly snapshot of the state of the two companies, where they are right now, how they compare to one another.
So I went back through the solicits (posted on the main site here and here) with a fine-tooth comb (metaphorically…as a Bald-American, I own no combs) and made hash marks in various categories to compile some arbitrary, maybe meaningless to you statistics.
As an English major with a minor in Batman continuity, math isn’t my strong point, so I wouldn’t be surprised if many, many mistakes were made, not only in addition, but also in simple counting. So, um, keep that in mind.
Also keep in mind that I tried to concentrate on DC and Marvel’s serial, superhero comic book lines, ignoring the reprints, collections and various imprints, so this is more a measure of a part of each publisher’s output for a single month than the full range of it.
So after the jump, fun—or “fun”—with numbers!
DC Comics will publish a total of 55 comic books in October, not counting those on their various imprints (Vertigo, WildStorm, Johnny DC). Of those 55, 30 of them are issues of ongoing series, 10 are issues of miniseries and 15 are one-shots or annuals.
Of those books, about 35 of them are solo titles, featuring a single character or pair of characters (like Superman/Batman or Knight and Squire) with their names in the titles, and about 20 are team titles, featuring a superhero team or group of three or more characters (Birds of Prey, Justice League of America, etc).
For an indication of which characters are the companies stars at the moment, these are the characters who will have solo books in October (in some cases, more than one): Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Green Arrow, The Flash (Barry Allen), Batman, Red Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Oracle, Ra’s al Ghul, Knight and Squire, Azrael, Red Hood, Superman, Supergirl, Doc Savage, The Spirit, Booster Gold, Power Girl, Jonah Hex, Ragman, Wonder Woman and Zatanna.
That’s 23 different characters (24 if you count Knight and Squire separately), 11 of which are from the Batman franchise (October is probably a Batman top-heavy month, on account of a series of eight one-shots being published that month). There are seven female characters getting solo spotlights (give or take one, depending on whether you want to count Squire or not; her name is in the title). There are three villains. All of the characters are white (or aliens who look white, I suppose), with the exception of the new Azrael, whom I believe is black.
All of these books will be written by 42 different writers. Of those with multiple titles, Geoff Johns and Fabian Nicieza both write or co-write four books a piece, J.T. Krul, Peter J. Tomasi, Judd Winick and David Hine will have three books. Brandon Jerwa, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Paul Levitz, Sterling Gates, Marc Andreyko, Tony Bedard, Paul Cornel and Bryan Q. Miller will have two a piece. It looks like there is only one female writer, Gail Simone, and there are two writer/artists, Ethan Van Sciver and Neal Adams.
Marvel Comics will publish a total of 75 comics books in October, not counting their licensed books like Tron: Betrayal and the various novel adaptations, handbook-type material, creator-owned Icon books and the kid-friendly books that were formerly labeled Marvel Adventures (I did count the books labeled Max and Ultimate Comics, however, as they use the same characters and function as part of the broader Marvel Universe to a certain extent).
Of those books, 38 are issues that are part of ongoing series, 32 are issues of miniseries, and five are one-shots or specials. I counted 37 solo titles featuring one or two characters with their names in the titles, and 31 team titles (I know, that’s not 75; the others would be event or ensemble books like Shadowland or Chaos War which don’t fit in either category).
Who are Marvel’s stars as of right this moment? Marvel characters who have solo books with their names in the titles in October are Carnage, Deadpool, Spider-Man, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America (Bucky Barnes), Moon Knight, Power Man, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, The Daughters of the Dragon, The Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther (the lady version), Taskmaster, Steve Rogers, Loki, Wolverine, Daken, X-23, Namor and The Punisher.
That’s 21 different characters, 23 if you count the characters from technically duo books Hawkeye and Mockingbird and the Daughters of the Dragon twice. Of those, four are women (five, if you count the Daughters individually). Three of these characters are villains. There are at least three black characters, (Power Man, one of the Daughters and The Black Panther…I don’t know what Carnage looks like when he’s not covered in red goop, nor do I know what color Deadpool’s skin was before it got all cancer-ed off of him, which is why I say “at least”).
Marvel’s superhero line is being written by 60 different writers in October (not counting those contributing to anthology Strange Tales II, because I am lazy). Of those with multiple titles, Fred Van Lente is writing or co-writing six (Ha ha! You probably thought Bendis would have the most!), Brian Michael Bendis, Greg Pak and Jonathan Hickman are writing or co-writing four, Chris Claremont, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Mark Waid, Christos Gage and Zeb Wells three, and Daniel Way, Victor Gischler, Dan Slott, Andy Diggle, Antony Johnston, Jeff Parker, Sean McKeever, Dave Lapham, Marjorie Liu and Jason Aaron are writing or co-writing two a piece. Only one of these writers is a woman, Marjorie Liu, although there are some female cartoonists contributing writing to Strange Tales II. The only writer/artists are those contributing to the same.
So that’s that. September and November will likely look pretty different in a lot of those categories, given how many limited series the two companies publish at the moment, but that’s what October of 2010 looks like for DC and Marvel’s main direct market-focused, Wedneday Crowd-catering-to superhero comcis lines.