I’ve always been fascinated with the solicitations, not only because I’ve been wrapped up in the ongoing soap operas of so many DC and Marvel books for so long and can’t wait to see what happens next, but also because of the partial snapshot they provide of the two Big Two companies and, to a lesser extent, the direct market and the U.S. comics industry in general.
This time I thought I’d pull out my abacus and do some counting and arithmetic to see which superheroes/franchises/intellectual properties were the most exploited by each company—that is, which ones were supporting the most books in a given month (Here, November 2010).
So I added up all of the books devoted to a single character or team to see which characters and/or teams had the most. Below are the list of those with four or more books apiece; where relevant, I counted spin-offs that were only kinda sorta related to the brand, but listed them separately (That is, I didn’t count Red Robin and Azrael as Batman books, but I did note that they are exploitations of the Batman brand).
Also, regarding my criteria here, I didn’t take into consideration whether a book was an ongoing, a miniseries or one-shot or whether it belonged to a sub-continuitiverse or something. I’m counting comics as cogs here, so a Howard Chaykin Batman special counts a Batman comic even if there won’t be another issue of it in December, and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is still a Spider-Man comic book, even if that Spidey lives in a different fictional reality than the other Spider-Man.
So let’s take a look, after the jump.
Batman, Detective, Batman: Confidential, Batman and Robin, Batman Inc., Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman/Catwoman: Follow The Money, Batman: Odyssey, Batman: Beyond, Superman/Batman, The All-New Batman: The Brave and The Bold
Batman spin-offs: 8
Batwoman, Batgirl, Red Robin, Gotham City Sirens, Red Hood: Lost Days, Birds of Prey, Azrael, Knight and Squire
The Avengers: 11
The Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Avengers, Avengers Academy, Avengers: Children’s Crusade, Avengers: Prime, Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet, Avengers vs. Pet Avengers, I Am An Avenger
X-Men, X-Men Legacy, Uncanny X-Men, Uncanny X-Force, X-Factor, X-Men: To Serve and Protect, New Mutants, New Mutants Forever, Generation Hope, X-Men Forever 2 (two issues)
Thor, Thor: First Thunder, Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Astonishing Thor, Ultimate Thor, Iron Man/Thor
Thor spin-offs: 3
Loki, The Warriors Three, Thunderstrike
Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man (two issues), Ultimate Spider-Man, Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine
Spider-Man spin-offs: 2
Deadpool, Deadpool Team-Up, Deadpool Pulp, Deadpool Corps, Deadpoolmax
Iron Man: 4
Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man/Thor, Iron Man: Legacy, Iron Man: The Rapture
Captain America: 4
Captain America, Captain America: Man Out of Time, Captain America: Patriot, Captain America: Forever Allies
Teen Titans: 4
Teen Titans, Titans, Tiny Titans, Tiny Titans/Little Archie
Clearly Batman is the book-carrying, IP-exploited champ here; no single character comes close to carry the amount of books he does. In fact, the closest is Thor, of all characters (Marvel’s stockpiling material to collect into trades around the time of the movie’s release, I guess), and he only has half as many books as Batman in November.
I was rather surprised by some of the characters who didn’t have enough books to make this list, including Superman (Who is only appearing in Superman and Superman/Batman in November, Action having been ceded to Lex Luthor), Wolverine (who is only carrying Wolverine and Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine, although he’s part of the cast of many other books) and the Justice League (They may be DC’s version of The Avengers, but there are only three JLA books in Novemver—Justice Leage of America, Justice League: Generation Lost and JLA/The 99.
I was also a little surprised to see just how many X-Men books are still being published. Marvel’s Avengers franchise seems to have eclipsed The X-Men as their number one franchise over the last few years, but that doesn’t seem to have really diminished the number of X-books being published. Additionally, while Deadpool’s on that list as boasting four books, I suppose both he and Wolverine could be considered X-Men spin-offs to a certain extent, so elements of the X-Men IP have certainly evolved into their own successful, standalone IPs.