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Paul OBrien


Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: July 2012

The AVENGERS VS X-MEN crossover continued to dominate both franchises in July. There are also two new ongoing titles - CAPTAIN MARVEL and X-TREME X-MEN - which unusually launch in the middle of the big crossover. And while Marvel have generally eased off on their miniseries of late, we have two this month - SPACE PUNISHER and INFERNAL MAN-THING. In terms of market share, DC won the month, leading Marvel by 37% to 35% in units and 33% to 32% in dollars. The other big news, of course, is the remarkable sales of WALKING DEAD #100, which topped the charts with an extraordinary estimated sale of over 335,000 - but that's a story for another column. (It also seems like a good opportunity to remind people that these figures only reflect sales to the direct market in North America. Total sales are therefore bound to be higher once you factor in sales through other channels, most obviously to the UK and Europe.)

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: June 2012

by Paul O'Brien

The AVENGERS VS X-MEN crossover continued to dominate Marvel's schedule in June, but the month also saw another high profile release - the SPIDER-MEN miniseries, in which the original Spider-Man meets the new Ultimate Universe version of the character. The Icon imprint also launches a HIT-GIRL miniseries. And other than that, it's a pretty quiet month for new releases, as often tends to be the case in the height of major crossovers. Despite the sales boost from the summer crossover, it was a very close month in terms of market share in the North American direct market, with DC leading Marvel in unit terms by 38.2% to 37.8%, but Marvel leading in retail share by 33.8% to 33.0%. Effectively a tie, then. DC's performance can be attributed in large part to all four BEFORE WATCHMEN titles landing in the top 10 with estimated sales of over 100K each.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: May 2012

The AVENGERS VS X-MEN crossover continued in May, while NEW MUTANTS and JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY had their own little private event with "Exiled". There's also the launch of the new FURY MAX title, the weekly mini HULK SMASH AVENGERS, more flogging of the undead horse with MARVEL ZOMBIES DESTROY!, and the return of Icon's TAKIO. As usual, Marvel had the largest share of the North American direct market, though by a smaller than usual margin - they led DC by 39% to 37% in unit share, and 35% to 33% in dollar terms.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: April 2012

The crossover season is now firmly underway, with the first proper month of AVENGERS VS X-MEN, and its assorted tie-ins, which are doing pretty well. There's also the Omega Effect crossover between AVENGING SPIDER-MAN, DAREDEVIL and PUNISHER, all of which see big gains as a result. Further down the chart, Mark Millar launches another creator-owned book, SECRET SERVICE, through the Icon imprint; and the all-ages titles get another relaunch. As you might expect, April was a good month for Marvel in terms of their market share. They led DC by 39% to 34% in units, and 35% to 30% in dollars. Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: February 2012

With Marvel refocussing on more issues of fewer titles, and with the next wave of new titles presumably not due until after AVENGERS VS X-MEN, it's a pretty quiet month for new titles. The main new launch is WINTER SOLDIER, there's the much-delayed return of THE TWELVE… and that's pretty much it. Normal service is resumed, as Marvel had the largest share of the direct market, leading DC by 39% to 35% in unit share, and 36% to 29% in dollars. Bear in mind, though, that February was a five week month and DC didn't take advantage of that extra week to ship further material. Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: January 2012

By Paul O'Brien

Perhaps it's a side effect of the decision to trim the line, but Marvel seem to have gone back to the days when each month had a small number of new launches that they could focus on properly. This month's sole new title is SCARLET SPIDER, and the only major new miniseries is WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN: ALPHA & OMEGA. There's also WOLVERINE #300, and the second issue of the AvX lead-in mini AVENGERS: X-SANCTION. DC's resurgence continued in January, as once again Marvel faced a fight to be the top publisher in the direct market. In terms of market share, it's really too close to call; DC led in units, by 40% to 38%, while Marvel led in dollars, by 36% to 34%. On the other hand, DC swept the top ten with the fifth issues of their regular titles - some of which are selling in a different league from anything in Marvel's range. It's been a long time since AQUAMAN was outselling the entire Marvel line. Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales December 2011

by Paul O'Brien

-- This month, the slow build to AVENGERS VS X-MEN begins with the AVENGERS: X-SANCTION miniseries; and DEFENDERS is relaunched. Both are wisely given a pretty clear run, without other Marvel launches competing for space. Elsewhere, the X-Men, Hulk and Fantastic Four relaunches continue to bed down. And down at the bottom end of the chart, the cancellations continue to mount up. Normal service is resumed, kind of, as Marvel had the largest share of the north American direct market, albeit by a fairly narrow margin - 39% to 38% in units, 34.4% to 33.7% in dollars. But bear in mind, this was a five-week month where DC more or less sat out week five.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: November 2011 – CORRECTED

With FEAR ITSELF wrapping up, Marvel had several major releases in November - the POINT ONE one-shot, the relaunches of UNCANNY X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR, and the first issue of new ongoing title AVENGING SPIDER-MAN.

We've also got the epilogue of FEAR ITSELF, the start of BATTLE SCARS, and a bunch of other "Regenesis" tie-ins from the X-books.

Marvel found itself behind DC for the third straight month in November, though the gap is growing closer. DC led by 40% to 38% in unit share, and 35% to 33% in dollars. And of course, it should be remembered that DC's extra sales don't appear to have come at Marvel's expense; if DC's relaunch has brought any new or lapsed readers into the market, then in theory, that's good for other publishers too - it brings them into everyone's potential market.

Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.

11/11  One-shot - 113,352

Marvel's top selling comic of the month! Or is it? This book was massively overshipped, with retailers receiving twice the number of copies they'd actually ordered, at no extra cost. Those copies are presumably included in this number - that certainly appears to be Diamond's standard practice, given the odd sales spikes that we've seen when this strategy has been used before.

If that's the case, then the actual orders of this book would be 56,676 - which would have placed the book at number 29 between AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and AVENGERS. Considering the solicitation ("You CANNOT miss this. Catch a tease of the biggest change to the Marvel Universe in over 35 years!") that number would surely have been disappointing, even allowing for the six dollar price tag. The wisdom of pricing a teaser book that high must also be open to question.

Marvel Month-to-Month sales: October 2011

Welcome to month two of Bizarro World! This was quite a busy month for Marvel, with the "Fear Itself" crossover continuing, the relaunch of INCREDIBLE HULK, and the first issue of new title WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN. But once again, the big story in October was the continued success of the DCU relaunch. DC's lead over Marvel in September may have been narrow, but in October it was massive. Helped by hefty re-orders on virtually the entire September DCU line, DC led Marvel by 42% to 29% in dollars and a remarkable 51% to 30% in units. That market share is partly due to massive reorders on DC's September line. It seems reasonable to assume that this won't be a regular event, and that the gap won't be quite so large in future. But the possibility that Marvel might have to readjust to life as the number two publisher cannot be ruled out. Not that it's doom and gloom by any means. DC's sales are up, but not at Marvel's expense. If the DC relaunch has brought new readers into stores, or old readers back, then in theory Marvel should be able to take advantage of that too. On the other hand, it also makes it rather harder for Marvel to argue that its books are losing sales because it's a tough market. DC has just proved that declining sales are not inevitable. Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: September 2011

By Paul O'Brien -- It's the column you've been waiting for! The September sales - for Marvel! Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Okay, so September was DC's month. And understandably, most publishers got out of the way, rather than trying to launch any new titles against the New 52 onslaught. Marvel had the second month of the Ultimate relaunch, and there are a couple of new Icon books in the form of BRILLIANT and the returning CASANOVA, but that's really about it where new launches are concerned. Of course, there's also the continuing crossovers of "Fear Itself", "Spider-Island" and "Schism", and Marvel's standard practice these days would be to launch the new books after those events, not during. For the first time in quite a while, DC had the biggest share of the market, leading Marvel by 43% to 38% in units, and a razor-thin 36% to 35% in dollars. (Incidentally, those market share figures apparently don't apply the retainability discount which Diamond factored into the sales of individual issues.) If that seems closer than you expected, bear in mind that with 52 superhero comics, DC were actually cutting their line back. Marvel solicited almost 80 Marvel Universe superhero books for the same month - though that may not last, given that lower selling titles are now apparently being culled.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales August 2011

by Paul O'Brien Welcome to the calm before the storm. Or, in Marvel's case, the calm before more calm. September will all be about the DC Universe relaunch, and it's going to be a little while before the news cycle comes back round to anything Marvel have to announce. In the meantime, this month we have more "Fear Itself", more "Spider-Island", and the relaunch of the Ultimate imprint with ULTIMATE COMICS HAWKEYE and (ahem) ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES. Once again, Marvel had the largest share of the North American direct market, leading DC by 42% to 35% in unit share and 37% to 31% in DC. Needless to say, it'll be a huge surprise if that holds up next month. Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.
04/11  #1 of 7 - 135,746
05/11  #2 of 7 - 105,359  (-22.4%)
06/11  #3 of 7 -  99,501  ( -5.6%)
07/11  #4 of 7 -  93,435  ( -6.1%)
08/11  #5 of 7 -  90,914  ( -2.7%)
Levelling out quite comfortably as the series goes on. I'll come to the performance of the tie-in issues later.

Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: July 2011

Quite the busy month, July. FEAR ITSELF is still rumbling onwards, but it's now joined by two other events - the "Spider-Island" crossover, and X-MEN: SCHISM. And there are relaunches of DAREDEVIL, GHOST RIDER and CAPTAIN AMERICA (which spawns a spin-off into the bargain). Oh, and now that the FEAR ITSELF crossover arcs are firmly underway, this seems a good month to ask: is it really having much of an impact on sales of the tie-in books? As per usual, Marvel had the largest share of the North American direct market, leading DC by 44% to 35% in unit share, and 39% to 31% in dollars. Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.