By John Jackson Miller via Comichron
DC’s Justice League of America #1 turned in the strongest single-issue sales performance for a comic book in the month of February since at least 1996 — and the biggest single-month number for a DC title since that time, as well. That’s based on Comichron’s estimates of retailer orders from Diamond Comic Distributors. Click to see the complete estimates for comics sales in February 2013.
Released with more than 50 variant covers featuring flags of the individual U.S. states, Justice League of America #1 had orders of nearly 308,000 copies. That’s more than 100,000 copies more than any DC relaunch issue reached in North America in a single month — and enough to rank it seventh on the list of top-selling comics of the 21st Century. (It could still go higher, with reorders.) The issue outranks any DC title in the Diamond Exclusive Era, including Superman: The Wedding Album back in November 1996.
The quantity is also higher than any February release since at least Marvel Vs. DC #3 in February 1996. We don’t know the actual sales for that issue, as it came during the Distribution Wars period when Marvel was self-distributing, but I would guess that its sales were likely competitive with the February 2013 release. Click to see my column on past best-sellers for the month.
Another interesting cross-time comparison: with the top 300 comics selling just over 7 million copies in February, the figure beats not just the five- and 10-year comparisons, but also the 15-year comparative, as well. Retailers ordered 6.6 million copies in February 1998. By 1998, however, we’re getting to the point where a 15-year beat isn’t as impressive — the February 1997 figure was 8 million copies.
Graphic novel sales were slightly off from a year ago — by less than 1% overall — although when you drill down to just the Top 300 graphic novels, sales were actually up 14% in both dollars and units. That would require, if the figure is correct, for the backlist titles in the “long tail” to have significantly underperformed. It’s within the range of differences we’ve seen between frontlist and backlist figures before. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’sNemo: Heart of Ice hardcover from Top Shelf was the best-selling graphic novel.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.