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Market Report – January 2016

by Chrys, CMRO User



Welcome to the first official edition of Market Report, in which I comment the direct market data for comics released the month before. I’m going to start with some introductory notes:

– The rankings and percentages discussed here refer only to the direct market. That means they’re not about sales to the reader, but about orders made by retailers to the distributor, Diamond. They reflect what comic shops think will sell plus what their customers have pre-ordered. (Retailers also over-order to get some deals, like buying an X amount of comic Y in order to be eligible to get variant Z.)
– The numbers discussed here aren’t actual figures, but estimates made by Comichron based on Diamond’s chart. We don’t have actual numbers for sales or orders – this is all we have.
– Direct market isn’t the only channel affecting a title’s commercial health. There are also the digital market, the foreign markets, trades etc.

Now, I still find it interesting to analyze these numbers, especially comparatively, but please bear these caveats in mind and remember the numbers of orders are the shakiest part of the data. One more thing: this is focused on Marvel comics since it’s what I know best and follow more closely. Okay, let’s take a look at January 2016.

 

Top Comics

1 Walking Dead 150 $2.99 Image 156,166
2 Secret Wars 9 $4.99 Marvel 149,028
3 Spider-Man Deadpool 1 $3.99 Marvel 133,813
4 Star Wars 14 $3.99 Marvel 118,471
5 Star Wars 15 $3.99 Marvel 107,858
6 Old Man Logan 1 $4.99 Marvel 104,362
7 Obi-Wan and Anakin 1 $3.99 Marvel 102,861
8 Batman 48 $3.99 DC 100,962
9 Darth Vader 15 $3.99 Marvel 98,405
10 Uncanny X-Men 1 $3.99 Marvel 93,252

January was another massive win for Marvel: they doubled DC’s market share in both dollars and units, 44% and 48% against DC’s 22% and 24%, respectively. On top of that, they dominated the charts: 22 issues in the Top 25, with DC only grabbing 2 spots and Image, 1. There are 35 Marvel issues in the Top 50 – the remaining are 11 DC, 3 Image, and 1 Boom.

Image grabbed the top spot, though, with The Walking Dead #150 getting an appropriate 150k orders. DC got the 8th spot with Batman and nearly 101k. Marvel got the remaining 8 spots like this: 4 Star Wars issues, 3 debuts, and the last issue of Secret Wars. Secret Wars #9 grabbed #2 with an amazing 149k, cementing their position as one of the most successful event books from Marvel. It was a strong Top Ten, with all books over 90k and 8 over 100k.

Debuts

Marvel’s biggest debut in January was Spider-Man/Deadpool, #3 with nearly 134k, which is no surprise given they’re huge sellers on their own and popular as a pair. Old Man Logan debuted with 104k (#6), which is a 15k increase over Wolverine’s last volume debut in February 2014. Uncanny X-Men debuted at #10 with 93k, down 84k from the last volume in February 2013 – but with a very different cast, premise and circumstances, it still seems a good debut. Issue 2 sold 70k.

Outside the Top Ten, we have:

A-Force at #12 with 65k: down almost 49k from the Battleworld mini last May;
Rocket Raccoon and Groot at #15 with 59k;
Silver Surfer at #17 with 57k: down 7k from the last volume debut in March 2014;
Captain Marvel at #22 with nearly 53k: up 8k from last debut also in March 2014;
Agents of Shield at #50 with 35k: this is the only really shaky debut in January: it’s also down 59k from the previous Shield book’s debut numbers, in Dec 2014.

Marvel Spotlights

Most books haven’t stabilized yet. Mighty Thor #3 got a healthy #13 spot with a near 10k drop. Deadpool and ANAD Avengers both double-shipped with steady numbers: issues 5 and 6 of Deadpool around 59k, and issues 3 and 4 of Avengers around 57k.

More surprising is how well Doctor Strange is doing so far: issue #4 got #23 in the chart and 52k. That’s looking really great for a character that hasn’t had a book in forever – and that’s awesome news, because it’s a great book. One of my favorites in this new batch.

Three other solos doing relatively well at spots #27-9: All-New Wolverine #4 with a mere 1k drop to 49.9k, Invincible Iron Man #5 with an 8k drop to 49k, and Spider-Gwen #4 with a 6k drop to 48.6k.

All-New X-Men #3 grabbed the 25th spot with 50k and Extraordinary X-Men #5-6 got spots #31-2 with 47k. Meanwhile, Daredevil #3 was 36th with 45.8k.

Warning Lights

Now let’s move to the more worrisome titles. Totally Awesome Hulk #2 was 40th with 39.4k. No Hulk has sold well in quite a while, but a 35k drop to below 40k in the second issue might be a nosedive sign.

New Avengers isn’t falling fast anymore, but #5 is already selling in the low 30s. On one side, it’s a low-tier cast, but on the other, it’s an Avengers book, so sales expectations are complicated here. Also complicated is the situation of Captain America: Sam Wilson – #5 sold only 29k, but had a mere 400 copies drop from the previous issue, which might be a sign of stabilization.

Last month I said: “To my infinite amusement, Guardians of Infinity was the big launch with 121k. There’s no way this book won’t drop like a stone.” And will you look at that, #2 had a 94k plunge to 27k sales and a 73rd spot. I love being right.

Here are some more candidates to keep diving: All-New Inhumans #3 got 25k with an 8k drop, Scarlet Witch #2 got 25k with a 32k drop, and Star-Lord #3 got 22k with a 3k drop. Quill is not happening, Marvel.

Relegation Zone

These are the books selling less than 20k and potentially in danger of being cancelled. Last month Marvel only had one book here – now it’s 10. The new books are marked with an asterisk. All of these sold less than a collection of reprinted Deadpool stories. Pretty much none of these are surprising.

*115. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4: 19,923 (5k drop)
*118. Illuminati #3: 19,025 (4k drop)
*120. Angela Queen of Hel #4: 18,917 (2k drop)
*121. Drax #3: 18,837 (4k drop)
*125. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3: 18,424 (3k drop)
*128. Weirdworld #2: 17,759 (12k drop)

*131. Black Knight #3: 17,118 (almost 5k drop) – This is the first (and, so far, only) cancelled title post-Secret Wars. It ends on issue 5 already. No idea why Marvel thought there could be a market for it – pretty much all its hooks are covered by other books that aren’t selling well either.
*139. Hercules #3: 16,310 (4k drop) – Now this is criminal. This is such a great book!

Under 15k, selling less than My Little Pony:

154. Howling Commandos of Shield #4: 14,091 (down almost 4k)
*166. Starbrand and Nightmask #2: 11,677 (16k drop)

And on its second issue, Starbrand and Nightmask is already the lowest seller. From the announcement, this has been a puzzling choice. It’s hard to imagine what the editors thought when they greenlit this title, as the duo seemed to have very little appeal even at the height of their involvement in Hickman’s Avengers. Starring a book many months later, coupling nondescript newcomers with what seemed a cosmic fish-out-of-water kids in college premise? Extremely hard sell among so many shiny new titles.

Cancellation Watch

This is where I talk about DC comics not many people are buying, to people who mostly read Marvel. Last month I said things looked really bad and more cancellations had to be coming. Turns out they aren’t coming, because they’re going to have something called Rebirth – most likely a line-wide relaunch/shake-up.

The Watch went down to 13 issues from 18 in December, but that’s mostly because several low sellers ended that month. In fact, only one title saved itself: Sinestro, with a 3k increase. We have 1 newcomer and 1 returning title, both marked with an asterisk.

119. Cyborg #7: 18,975 (1k increase)
123. Martian Manhunter #8: 18,655 (2.6k increase)
127. Constantine The Hellblazer #8: 17,853 (down 700. Crazy for such a good title)
*144. Black Canary #7: 15,758 (almost 6k drop, debuting in the Watch with a plunge)
146. Gotham Academy #14: 15,023 (down 7k from an event issue. Down only 800 from #13)

151. Catwoman #48: 14,408 (down 600)
157. Secret Six #10: 13,888 (down 700)
158. Justice League 3001 #8: 13,283 (down almost 700)
*165. We Are Robin #8: 12,086 (returning to the Watch after a higher than usual event issue with stronger titles: down 16k, and a 7k drop from the last regular issue, #6)
168. Doctor Fate #8: 11,109 (down 800)
174. Midnighter #8: 10,408 (down 800 – I want to believe this won’t be cancelled, but one look at this and it just doesn’t seem possible…)

183. Omega Men #8: 8,864 (down nearly 400 – the critical darling managed to avoid the Spot of Shame for one more month. Cancelled, 4 issues to go.)
195. Telos #4: 7,735 (a 1.8k drop – mini, 2 issues to go.)

 

And this is it for January. If you have something to say or ask, click the Join the Conversation button and shoot.