Now that we’re three months in to the Marvel NOW! reality, retailer Brian Hibbs takes a look at how the line is performing in his store (and beyond):
If current sales figures continue, it looks like Marvel will get a solid — perhaps 10-20%? — boost in sales in my store from the relaunch. I’m down with that, but, as I said, it has been a slow burn, and we have not seen any of the huge wave of “lapsed” fans coming back in the way we did with DC. With New 52, I had multiple titles selling into triple digits for the first issues, but no current NOW! titles has yet hit those levels. What’s relatively odd about this is that the number of “Lapsed” Marvel readers is a couple of multiples of the same for DC, which makes me wonder why NOW! hasn’t brought in massive crowds…
One other thing that I find a little distressing from the November and December Marvel estimates is that only that one single book shipped a second issue that managed to keep sales over 100K. What’s utterly unknown is if this is a result of retailer caution (two issues in a month often means that you’re ordering the second one entirely “blind”), or audience reaction. But either way, that’s not really a particularly healthy nationwide base to decline further from — it’s hard to see how the best-selling Marvel monthly ongoing will settle much above the 80k mark, with the best-selling DC book (“Batman”) being in the 130-150k range.
Todd Allen makes a similar point to Hibbs, over at The Beat:
These titles appear to be settling down/dropping a lot faster than the new 52. It doesn’t appear from this data that anything is likely to compete with Batman and Justice League on the sales charts, past the debut issues (tricked out with many, many variants). Deadpool looks like the early winner, in terms of sales bump. I suspect Marvel was hoping for a regular 100K for All New X-Men, but the 80Ks aren’t bad if it holds. The rest of it gives the impression of a return to sales levels of 2-4 years ago. It’s healthier, but it’s just not New 52 numbers or the Civil War era sales Marvel has been chasing ever since.
Parsing this information is somewhat difficult; the gut reaction is “Well, if it doesn’t put Marvel back on top of the charts permanently, it’s failed,” but that’s ridiculously reductive and caught in the mindset of a permanent race between Marvel and DC instead of looking at the line as its own thing. After all, if the line gets a bump of 10-20% overall as a result of the relaunch, then that’s definitely some sort of win, right…? Except, of course, that kind of bump isn’t substantial enough to stop it from being wiped out within a couple of bad months given the traditional sales attrition we’ve gotten used to. Of course, let’s face it: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Marvel’s publishing cycles over the last few years, we’re only a couple of years out from the next big relaunch anyway.