convergenceEvent comics are supposed to be the big sellers and pull in the widest possible audience, correct? (Key word being “supposed.”)

I’m looking at the December sales estimates and scratching my head over Convergence and Secret Wars.

Convergence is supposed to be spinning out of Futures End/Worlds End (and Worlds End is practically an extension of Earth 2).

Let’s have a look at what those were selling in December.

Futures End: 33,025 – 32,233
Earth 2: 30,273
Worlds End: 25,357 – 24,493

World’s End is returnable, so _in theory_ we should bump those numbers up 10%, so maybe it’s more like 27K – 26K for that title.

Still, do these sales look like something you want to devote the entirety of your publishing line to for two months? While it hasn’t been particularly played up, it looks like the more popular Superman arc of “Doomed” is also setting up elements of Convergence, but that’s been a few months.

It might be time to disavow all connection to those weeklies, if Convergence is to thrive.

Then, across town (for the moment, anyway) at Marvel, there’s the upcoming Secret Wars. We’ll ignore for the moment that they’re following Convergence with what most people feel sounds like the same basic plot.  Secret Wars is being presented as Jonathan Hickman’s swan song on the Avengers line of titles. Here’s the problem with that. Did you try to read Infinity, the last Avengers Event, without having gone back and read ALL of Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers? I did. And I had to go back to the library and catch up on both before I knew what was going on. The double-edged sword that is Hickman’s Avengers is the man is creating a ton of new characters and scenarios that you will not have seen before if you’re not reading those two books. Nobody comes close to Hickman for unleashing new concepts at Marvel. As far as Infinity goes, Avengers and New Avengers were the same comic, just “A” plot vs “B” plot and Infinity is where the two plots converged. Now, I’ve not cracked either title since Infinity, but it sure sounds like Secret Wars is going to be the two plots converging, especially the New Avengers plot about dimensional incursions and impending doom, so you have to wonder how easy it will be for a new reader to just jump into this without having read 3 years of Hickman’s Avengers and knowing what a Black Swan and so forth.

What were those titles selling in December?

Avengers: 47,062
New Avengers: 39,855

Those numbers aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, are they?

In the case of DC, there may be an element of putting the cart before the horse. It sounds like Convergence was put on the calendar before Futures End numbers were in and certainly before the Futures End numbers had settled down or Worlds End had started.

In the case of Marvel, they just don’t have that many ongoing books selling over 50K. Take a look at how the last three issues of Avengers and X-Men Axis sold: 70,194 – 69,449. (For context, Justice League was at 72,081.) Avengers and X-Men Axis wasn’t an event, so much as an arc of Uncanny Avengers gussied up to look like an Event. Those are really good numbers for Uncanny Avengers. But a Marvel event outsold by Justice League?  Let’s just say between sales and catching up on Avengers continuity, it’s probably a very good thing they’re going to be issuing some sort of primer for Free Comic Book Day.

Perhaps DC and Marvel should be a little less obsessed with spinning events out of their respective universes and a little more focused on stories people want to read? This Event formula seems to be wearing thin.

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Have you read Todd’s book Economics of Digital Comics?  You can also ignore him on Twitter at @Real_Todd_Allen

15 COMMENTS

  1. DC is doing Convergence due to move to another side of the country, not because FE and WE are selling lots of copies so I don’t see how thats a valid comparison at all.

  2. Probably not an issue for Secret Wars since it really, really “matters” and will change the Marvel Universe forever. The fans will run to pick it up surely.

  3. If they do it right, the big events “spin out” of the lead-ins in the same way that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” “spun out” of “Agents of SHIELD”. If you were watching Agents of SHIELD there was stuff that tied it into the movie, but if you went into the move cold it didn’t matter.

    That’s if they do it right. I read Infinity – if Hickman is writing Secret Wars and the editors are not breathing down his neck to provide more details for new readers then I have no doubt that people will be lost if they haven’t been reading is Avengers run (and possible Fantastic Four/FF runs). But people will buy it because Marvel is hyping it as the new status quo for the Marvel Universe (a staus quo that I’m putting money down will last no longer than 12 months and when we’re done will end up with a Marvel Universe that reverts back to a Marvel plus Ultimate universe, with a few tweaks here or there).

    Convergence, on the other hand, looks more like filler. Possibly fun filler, but filler. Kind of like, oh, Armageddon 2001 or Invasion on the “Big Event” scales – a couple of months of books that vary in quality centered around a spine event that has some minor payoff. No reason to actually tie it much into Future’s End or World’s End except as a pay-off for the 30K people reading those books. (Besides, I thought that the payoff for World’s End was supposed to be a storyline that Geoff Johns was doing in Justice League after Convergence ends involving Darkseid – are those rumors no longer operative?)

  4. @hsssh – From the USA Today original announcement of Convergence: “Convergence spins out of the April 1 finales of the Earth 2: World’s End and The New 52: Futures End weekly series. The alien supervillain Brainiac has trapped cities from various timelines and planets that have ended, brought them in domes to a planet outside of time and space, and is now opening them for a great experiment to see what happens when all these folks meet.”
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2014/11/03/dc-comics-convergence-exclusive/18249201/

    It has been presented to the public as coming out of the weeklies since day one.

  5. @Jer – No doubt there will be good sales on the first issue of Secret Wars, but if it plays out like Axis…

    Unfortunately, there’s a trend. We’ll see if it’s accessible and a good read.

  6. @Allen, isn’t that just marketing? DC has been going on for some time now about how its not a filler and that it matters. Would all ongoing titles really take a break for 2 months if DC wasn’t moving offices? I don’t think so.

  7. Todd, I know plenty of people that arent reading Earth 2 or World’s End that are already signed up for Convergence. It has nothing to do with what it spins out of and everything to do with how they market it combined with the ‘nostalgia’ factor.

  8. Marvel stated they are cutting their publishing line while Secret Wars goes on. More money for bigger issues = more profits for Marvel. SW brings a lot of nostalgia and a lot of disparate fans together to buy the same product. I’ll be one of them, FWIW.

  9. The bit about Convergence as “filler during the move” is true only inasmuch as the project is being done by a different editorial group and the suspension of the usual books allows for a different set of editors to run the shop while the usual group is getting the new arrangements together in California (including the time and effort of folks moving out there). In terms of actual continuity, it’s not filler; it’s rather a case literally of editorial and creative staff filling in that time frame during the move and the project being set up in the fashion that it is to best accommodate the situation at hand.

  10. Is this actually something to discuss? The proper “event” mini generally sells better than the stuff that built up to it. Look at Civil War, it sold way better than the random issues of Amazing Spidey that built up to it. OMAC sold worse than Infinite Crisis. Secret Invasion sold better than the Avengers:The Initiative issues that set up some of it.

  11. Infinity is not this impenetrable thing. It’s easy to get through when there’s only 16 pages per issue, because the other six are devoted to white space and single-word or two-line pithy sayings.

    I think they used more colored ink on the Alpha Flight Assistant Editor’s month issue with Snowbird in a blizzard than the entirety of Infinity.

    Silly but True

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