by Paul O’Brien
The first month of a new year brings event season again, thanks to SIEGE and FALL OF THE HULKS. There’s also a new Ultimate miniseries, ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY, and the “Nation X” branding continues in the X-books. But the big release this month is SIEGE.
As usual, Marvel were the biggest publisher in the North American direct market, leading DC by 43% to 35% in unit share, and 39% to 30% in terms of dollars.
Thanks as always to Milton Griepp and ICV2 for permission to use their figures for these calculations.
1. SIEGE 01/10 Siege #1 of 4 - 108,484
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
The Magical Interweb has decided that SIEGE isn’t doing very well. But let’s keep some perspective. It’s the top selling comic of the month. Clearly it’s successful. Less successful than usual for Marvel’s event titles, to be sure, but it’s not like we’re talking about FANTASTIC FORCE. We’re talking about degrees of success.
That reality check duly applied… these are indisputably low numbers for the first issue of a Marvel event miniseries. By way of comparison, the first month sales for SECRET INVASION #1 in 2008 were 250K. WORLD WAR HULK #1 in 2007 sold 178K. CIVIL WAR #1, in 2006, managed 261K. HOUSE OF M #1, in 2005, got to 234K.
So yes, a launch figure of 108K is quite some way short of what we’ve come to expect of a book like this. It’s the sort of number that NEW AVENGERS was regularly getting in mid-2008.
This issue has four variant covers, with incentive ratios of 1:25, 1:75, 1:200 and 1:300. But we’ve seen in recent months that really high incentive ratios don’t seem to be terribly effective in driving sales these days, so that might be misleading. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see how this number can be viewed as anything other than disappointing.
Given the success of DC’s BLACKEST NIGHT, you can’t really blame event fatigue. Before SIEGE #1 shipped, people were saying that there didn’t seem to be as much buzz as you’d expect. So my guess is that people simply weren’t convinced that this story “mattered”.
I suspect that part of the problem is that it’s by no means obvious why the siege of Asgard is supposed to be a big deal for the rest of the Marvel Universe, other than because the solicitations say it is. The same premise could have been used for a throwaway DARK REIGN: THOR miniseries, and it wouldn’t have looked out of place.
Marvel’s marketing angle for SIEGE is to bill it as an event “seven years in the making”, implying some sort of link to all the event stories of recent years. Readers don’t seem persuaded. For one thing, “Avengers Disassembled” came out in mid-2004, which is not seven years ago. But more to the point, people don’t seem convinced that this is a pay-off for any long-running storylines beyond Dark Reign.
It might also be significant that this is only a four-issue miniseries, putting SIEGE on a much smaller scale than previous events. Now, I think that’s a good thing; for my money, eight months of SECRET INVASION was at least three too many, because there just aren’t that many different stories to tell about the Skrulls. But much as it pains me to say it, perhaps readers are so accustomed to bloated epics that a four-issue mini just doesn’t seem like a proper event to them.
Of course, in fairness to Marvel, they’ve been promoting a change of direction for the line after SIEGE. This sounds like a move away from big events and towards a more traditional Marvel Universe set-up. So if you do think the lesson here is “fewer events” – well, they were going to do that anyway, it seems.