By Todd Allen

ICV2 has their December 2011 Diamond sales estimates up and the downward correction would appear to be continuing.

The big debating point here would be DC returnability.  IIRC, Diamond’s been adjusting the numbers to allow for returns (10%?), but relatively few people believe that retailers are returning that much, when taken across the industry.  So anything returnable is probably a little under-reported.

So how bad is the correction?  Justice League’s still #1 with an estimated 142K copies ordered, but only 3 other titles (Batman, Action and Green Lantern) are over 100K.  Detective #4 was reported at 89K as a returnable book, and since Detective #1 still charted in December (4K copies), I’m thinking there may not have been many returns on that and it will probably be in the mid-to-high 90s once the returns are over.

Marvel couldn’t manage a 100K seller, topping the charts with just under 86K for Defenders #1.  Marvel’s next highest book is Uncanny X-Men #3 with a hair over 64K copies.  Avenging Spider-Man went from 112K in November to 60.6K in December.  Incredible Hulk relaunched with 106K in November and is down to 46K in December.  Marvel’s best selling book that _hasn’t_ had a new #1 in the last 6 months?  Avengers #20 at 57K.  Marvel’s #5 title.

With DC, the drop from #3 to #4 is looking a bit more like the drop from #2 to #3.  Marvel… they’re living off relaunches and things are falling back down to Earth rapidly.

Back to the 52 soap opera – how low can it go?

Men of War #4 is estimated just shy of 15K with return adjustment.  Figure… 16.5K with 10% return reduction?  That’s… not great.

Fables sets the Vertigo pace with an estimated 17.6K.  How many of the new 52 are selling less than Fables and in Vertigo numbers range?

With Diamond’s return adjustment intact: Men of War, Blackhawks, Static Shock, Mister Terrific and OMAC.

Bumping the these numbers 10% to wipe out the return adjustment (unless these low sellers are getting returned at a higher rate than, say, Batgirl): Men of War, Blackhawks and Static Shock.

Ironically, I, Vampire is up at 19K — it’s the most Vertigo-esque of all the new 52 and it’s up at least 2K on Fables.

Best selling creator-owned book: Kick Ass 2 at 45K.

Best selling creator-owned  independent not written by Robert Kirkman: Lady Mechanika from Aspen with 21K. Very healthy numbers for creator-owned!

Number of indies over the 10K sales line: 31.

Shade watch: Down to just under 19K.

Eyeballing the bottom of the charts, it does seem like the indies are trending up, though a lot of activity in the 10K+ range is on licensed properties.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in particular, seems to have a new lease on life.

Over on the graphic novel side… well, if you heard if was kind of a slow month, think how much slower it would be without 21K-worth of a new Walking Dead volume, as Kirkman charts with 3 volumes of his franchise in the top 10.  Where would graphic novels be without Kirkman?  Much lower, that’s where.

Fables V. 16 comes in at #2 with 11K.  Sales drop of drastically from there, but Walking Dead and Fables are two of, if not _the_ two, largest tpb titles still in active production.

Marvel’s highest selling graphic novel isn’t really a Marvel book.  The latest volume of Criminal is technically an Icon book.  Criminal V. 6 outsells the X-Men: Schism hardcover 3.6K to 3K.


  1. I’m really impressed at how well Lady Mechanika is doing, especially considering how long it’s been since the previous issue. It not only hasn’t been losing numbers, it’s actually up a bit since #2.

  2. The lowest-selling New 52 books are losing 25% or more between #3 and #4. A little surprising, but I suppose it explains why DC are talking about cancellations…

  3. I think the returnability controversy is just me. ^_^ My point there was I was trying to say I don’t think the new 52 can be judged a success or failure until other variables, such as returnability and deep discounts, are factored out. After those variables are removed, statistical analysis can be done to see how the current numbers match up with the old numbers. (Something I’m going to put on my to-do list, btw.)

  4. What a massacre at the lower end of it, both for Marvel and DC.
    I’m not surprised at DCs worse books losing badly. Men of War or OMAC and the likes could never carry an ongoing, but seing marvels otherwise somewhat steady lowerselling ongoings get stick too is worrying.

    Generation Hope threw most of its november gains, Thunderbolts -6,67%, (Red) Hulk ca. -6,5% (combining the 2 issues drops), Punisher -5,62% and Moon Knight -9%.
    Uh ohhh :(( and Im really liking the Red Hulk book.
    In the end only so much of it can be blamed on losing a variant cover.

  5. DC looks like it will need to cancel about 10 of those new 52 titles. 15k? already? They should of cancelled them at #6. And then unleashed wave 2 of about 15 titles. Truth be told, I really did think wave 2 would of been announced already. Maybe cancelations at #8?
    Like someone else suggested on another site – DC should start double shipped their top 20 titles. I definately wouldn’t mind it. I love when I get 2 Thunderbolts or X Factor issues a month.

    Yeah, you missed X – Sanction. And wasn’t Defenders #1 double shipped? – expect big drops on issue #2. Speaking of big Marvel drops – I am not surprised to see those huge ones on Hulk and Avenging Spiderman – its the norm for their company to lose at least 50% of readers with 2nd issues.

  6. Neil Gaiman wrote the first story arc of Sandman to be eight issues, in case the series was cancelled. Since the first collections of the New 52 will be six issues, then it looks like DC will run the comics to twelve issues, regardless of sales.

    Publishers require bookstores to keep a book for three months before returning the title for credit. By running a series to twelve issues, that gives DC about nine months of comics sales as well as three months of trade sales to analyze.

    If the series is cancelled, then there are two trade collections to monitor into the future, and possibly bring back for another run later (such as “Welcome To Tranquility”). Or maybe the writer becomes an overnight sensation many years later, and DC can reissue the trades. (See Kirkman’s “Jubilee”.)

    By waiting a year, DC has time to replace that title with something new. DC announces the cancellation of the “first wave” of New 52 while simultaneously distracting attention from that by announcing the New New 52 titles (second wave).

  7. I think what probably concerns DC when it comes to the “cancel a bunch of books and launch a bunch of new ones” is almost every new miniseries they’ve launched after the initial New 52 wave has sold pretty poorly in comparison. The honeymoon is over, and I doubt they’ll be able to pull off some “NEW 52 WAVE 2!!” marketing that will generate as much press and interest as the first wave.

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