Avenging-Spider-ManThe big sales news for December was definitely coming out of the Marvel Now relaunch and the “death” of Peter Parker.  Big numbers on first issues, big drops on subsequent issues and an Amazing drop-off to start off the saga of The Superior Spider-man.

With the Comics Chronicles posting the December estimates, we can start to make sense of this.

The much hyped Amazing Spider-Man #700, which made plenty of mainstream media headlines led the way with just under 201K copies estimated to have been ordered by the Direct Market for Doc Ock’s scientific twist on demonic possession.  Shops got the message this was going to be a big book, but they didn’t get the message that Avenging Spider-Man 15.1 was going to be important to the new status quo.  Orders for that were 41.5K.  Not quite a 160K gap between the two.  I’ll grant that not everyone coming in from the media exposure would want both and it sounds like a few formerly regular readers threw up their hands in frustration and didn’t want the Avenging issue, but that really seems like too large a gap if this story arc is going to have any legs.  We’ll see if this shows up as reorders on the January chart.

Where are the (rounded) numbers settling out at for Marvel Now ?

Avengers 1 – 187K
Avengers 2 – 94K

Cable & X-Force  1 – 90K
Cable & X-Force  2 – 58K

All New X-Men 3 – 84K
All New X-Men 4 – 81K

Thunderbolts 1 – 83K
Thunderbolts 2 – 51K

Avengers Arena 1 – 64K
Avengers Arena 2 – 43K

  • Captain America 2 – 64K
  • Indestructible Hulk 2 – 64K
  • Deadpool 3 – 60K

Iron Man 3 – 59K
Iron Man 4 – 57K

  • Fantastic Four 2 – 58K
  • Thor 3 – 56K
  • FF 2 – 46K

To be fair, as you get into issues 2/3/4, those numbers are better than those titles have been doing lately.  Especially Deadpool.  On the other hand, the relaunch measuring stick is DC’s New 52.  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.

Perhaps more interestingly, there aren’t any Marvel Now reorders on the December chart.  There’s plenty of anecdotal mentions of shops reordering, but either they didn’t get fulfilled before the holidays hit or nothing was reordered above ~4600 copies.  There could very well be a LOT of reorders on the January chart.  But, much like the New 52, we need to give this a couple more months to shake out.  Right now, the #1’s are doing well but it isn’t clear what the long term effects will be.

Over at DC, the latest Bat-Event is ruling the roost.  DC also announced a couple more cuts – DC Universe Presents and I, Vampire.  Both titles were given a lot of rope by DC.  DCU Presents was down to 12.5K and I, Vampire slightly above it with 12.8K.

DC’s New 52 cancellations typically are announced as the DM estimates for a book dip below 18K, and the lower they get the more likely it is to go away.  Who’s in the danger zone this month?

  • Legion of Superheroes – 16.9K
  • Dial H – 16.2K
  • Ravagers – 16.1K
  • Stormwatch – 15.4K
  • Team 7 – 15.3K
  • Demon Knights – 15.1K
  • Batwing – 14.7K
  • Sword of Sorcery – 13.8K
  • Hawkman – 13.6K
  • Deathstroke 13.5K
  • Firestorm – 12K

Jim Starlin was just announced on Stormwatch, so that’s probably safe for a few months.  Still, as well as the Batman line has been doing, there’s 20% of the line that’s not in very good shape.  Team 7 and Sword of Sorcery have dropped pretty fast.  The retailers didn’t order many of those to begin with and the orders are dropping fast enough that they probably weren’t selling through.

The DCU-ish launch of the month was The Whistling Skull (JSA Liberty Files), a creator-owned title that’s spinning off from the universe of the Tony Harris Liberty Files Elseworlds of a few years back.  Initial estimates on that were a bit over 21K.  Not bad for what’s essentially a pre-reorganization Wildstorm title.

On the Vertigo side, Django Unchained had 11.8K initial orders, though there’s anecdotal talk of reorder activity on that one.

In the world of the indie, Walking Dead continues to rule the roost with a gaudy 57.8K copies.  (Kirkman is still showrunner of the comic and unlikely to be leaving.)  Saga continues to put up DC/Marvel numbers with 42K.  My Little Pony isn’t too far behind, just under 40K.

Interesting debuts on the indie side include the $1 Deathmatch from BOOM! at 31K, a new Hellboy series at 28K, Adventure Time Fiona & Cake with 20K, Brian Wood’s Mara at 18K and the second “Luther Strode” series at 12.4K (which would place it higher than Firestorm).

The big reorder of the month – 11,560 copies of Dynamite’s Masks #1.  Is there a market for Alex Ross art?  Well, that would it over 70K in sales.  That’s better than Walking Dead numbers.  Issue 2 without Ross?  ~17K.  We’ll see if that gets reordered, too.

In summary – Marvel: sales up, but to what expectations and are the reorders going to show up?  DC: Batman’s doing great, but that bottom 20% is worrisome.  Indies: seems like a good time for the indies.


  1. How is JSA Liberty Files creator-owned? There’s nothing creator owned about the Justice Society. Also, how is it a re-organied Wildstorm title? How is the JSA remotely Wildstorm?

  2. @Mike Whistling Skull is creator-owned and, IIRC, was originally set up at Wildstorm. It’s being set in the Liberty Files universe. And yes, that’s *highly* unusual.

  3. With Marvel’s common double-shipping, you can’t really compare Marvel numbers to DC numbers directly, at least not for double shipping titles, which seems to be most of them at this point.

  4. Also, after Avengers #1 knocked the ball out of the park story and art-wise, I thought Avengers #2 would hold more of the audience. so I’d view that as disappointing.

  5. Anybody want to take odds on whether or not MOF uses the Marvel Now sales as an opportunity to, you know, objectively evaluate the success or failure of the New 52 relaunch? It’s not exactly apples to apples but the comparison would certainly do a lot to establish how much, if at all, better of a result DC could have been expected to achieve.


  6. All New X-Men would do better if it didn’t come out every week and didn’t have like 10 other X books to compete with. Same with Avengers, they’re their own competition. Justice League probably does so well because its the only JL book, or was. Dark & International don’t count because they are so different.

    I don’t know what Batman’s problem is. He is the most overexposed character in comics and still has the highest selling book. Wonder how long that will/can last.

  7. The drops between issues 1 and 1 for Marvel isn’t because of reader demand, its because the titles are double shipped and Marvel have a very effective re-order policy. The initial orders are made blind (I’m taking this from Brian Hibbs Tilting at Widmills column on CBR) and I’m not sure we will know the true state of Marvel NOW until maybe the fourth issue as the roll out is very, very slow. That being said, I suspect All New X-men would have been selling in the 100k range if it had been shipped at a slower pace. The rapid fire release of the book just makes it difficult to follow.

  8. @Mike Whistling Skull is creator-owned and, IIRC, was originally set up at Wildstorm. It’s being set in the Liberty Files universe. And yes, that’s *highly* unusual.

    This was bugging me, so a little research in..
    The original JSA Liberty Files trade says copyright DC Comics, and stars Batman, Superman, etc. It was by Jolley and Harris.

    This Whistling Skull comic has copyright DC Comics, Moore, Harris. The first comic has Hourman, Wildcat, and new characters. Hourman is called the “Clock” and Wildcat is called “Cat” – so one could argue that they aren’t DC characters. Or, since they are only on the first couple of pages, they could be removed from subsequent (non DC) printings without adversely affecting the story much. Same with changing the title, as the JSA has little to nothing to do with the story (at least through issue 2).

    So, yes, it is unusual, but there you go.

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