Diverse Comics Sales is a monthly feature that analyzes how “Big Two” comics featuring diverse protagonists are faring in the direct market. Numbers are provided by Comichron; digital numbers are, unfortunately, unavailable. For team books, I’m using IrizWest‘s diversity measure: cishet white men don’t exceed 1/3 of the team’s roster. For a team book to count under a specific diversity category, 2/3 of team must belong to it.
- Daredevil #1 / 84,500
Matt Murdock’s latest comics jaunt—his first launch since Netflix’s Daredevil—has vaulted him eight thousand copies above his last.
- Deadpool #1 / 81,240
This #1 issue launched back in October; was he present in a geek subscription box?
- Gwenpool Special #1 / 80,768
Successful thing + other successful thing = a new successful thing? It’s basic science.
Obviously retailers wanted this comic, but did fans? We’ll find out later this year when Gwenpool gets her own series!
- Totally Awesome Hulk #1 / 74,471
Amadeus Cho’s run at the purple shorts sold one thousand copies over the Hulk’s last official launch.
- Deadpool #3 / 72,357
- Mighty Thor #2 / 70,331
Still fewer sales than Jane’s last run (her previous #2 sold 20k more copies); still solid sales overall.
- All-New, All-Different Avengers #2 / 67,154
Between #1 and #2, the flagship Avengers title of the ANAD launch drops by 48% to the tune of 61k ditched copies.
- Deadpool #4 / 63,149
Perhaps a result of anticipation for the upcoming movie, Deadpool is leveling out pretty nicely after early (expected) drops.
- All-New Inhumans #1 / 58,123
This is certainly more than I was expecting! Previous Inhumans title haven’t faired too well and this is a secondary title.
- Scarlet Witch #1 / 57,835
Wanda’s always occupied a pretty unique niche in the Avengers line-up and she hasn’t always earned ideal treatment from writers. I’m happy to see retailers support her series in at least decent numbers.
- Spider-Gwen #3 / 54,844
The drop from #1 to #2 was spectacularly harsh (197k to 62k), so it’s nice to see the series level out at least somewhat. The last Spider-Gwen #3, however, sold 102k copies, so it at least appears that the character is losing long-term momentum.
- All-New Wolverine #3 / 50,990
Only a ~10% (5k) drop between #2 and #3; that’s solid if the series can maintain it.
- Daredevil #2 / 49,758
- Squadron Supreme #1 / 48,247
- Ms. Marvel #2 / 46,610
An 8k rise in direct market sales when compared to Kamala’s last #2 (if you discount reprints).
- Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat #1 / 46,198
Solid sales if it manages to avoid a steep second issue drop.
- Deadpool #3.1 / 42,615
- Red Wolf #1 / 39,288
I can’t help but wonder how much this tepid launch can attribute to the character’s obscurity or the controversy surrounding its announcement.
- Silk #2 / 38,356
Though the drop from #1 to #2 isn’t too harsh (about 19k, and I’m being generous), the drop from it’s previous #2 is (31k).
- Ultimates #2 / 37,055
Approx. a 40% drop between issues.
- New Avengers #4 / 36,669
- All-New Hawkeye #2 / 35,363
Nearly a 50% drop between issues.
- All-New Inhumans #2 / 34,471
And there goes my initial optimism with a 41% drop on an already mid-range debut.
- Spider-Man 2099 #4 / 32,464
- Weirdworld #1 / 30,288
Have retailers seen Mike Del Mundo’s art? Have they dazzled their customers with it? Apparently not.
- Captain America: Sam Wilson #4 / 29,512
Captain America series aren’t always the sales juggernauts fans may expect them to be, but they still sell markedly better than this. It’s a shame considering this series’ critical praise.
- Spider-Woman #2 / 27,801
- Squadron Supreme #2 / 27,643
- Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3 / 25,350
- Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2 / 21,715
- Angela: Queen of Hel #3 / 20,958
Uncomfortable numbers for all of the preceding series, especially Spider-Woman, a character who should be an Avengers staple, and Angela: Queen of Hel, Marvel’s sole queer-led title.
Below 15k: Dark Tower: The Lady of Three – Lady of Shadows #4
Protagonist with Disability-Led: 3
Total Diverse Series: 27
- Harley’s Little Black Book #1 / 92,266
In which DC’s “Just Slap Harley On It!” strategy continues to succeed more than any Big Two long-term strategy has in recent years.
- Harley Quinn #23 / 69,168
Marvel and DC’s recent launches only wish they could maintain these long-term sales. Only three of ANAD Marvel’s launches still beat these sales a few months out: Amazing Spider-Man (#4 and #5), Deadpool, (#1 and #3) and the Mighty Thor (#2).
- Wonder Woman #47 / 40,123
Wonder Woman gets a 6k boost in sales, presumably due to the poly-bagged Harley Quinn variant covers from the month.
- Grayson #15 / 35,765
4k bump here, likely due to the Robin War event.
- Robin: Son of Batman #7 / 34,815
- Harley Quinn and Power Girl #6 / 31,375
- We Are Robin #7 / 28,181
- Batgirl #46 / 27,591
- DC Comics Bombshells #6 / 23,679
- Cyborg #5 / 23,618
- DC Comics Bombshells #7 / 23,014
- Gotham Academy #13 / 22,947
- Black Canary #6 / 21,666
- Starfire #7 / 21,250
- Earth-2: Society #7 / 21,059
- Constantine: The Hellblazer #7 / 18,601
- Cyborg #6 / 17,864
- Gotham Academy #12 / 15,865
- Catwoman #47 / 15,038
Below 15k: Secret Six #9, Justice League 3001 #7, Doctor Fate #7, Midnighter #7, Twilight Children #3, Sheriff of Babylon #1, Sensation Comics ft. Wonder Woman #17, Clean Room #3, Prez #6, Red Thorn #2, Survivors’ Club #3
There’s no much I can offer here aside from “yikes” and “hopefully trades do well?”
Protagonist with Disability-Led: 1
Total Diverse Series: 27
Looking at these numbers (and giving a cursory glance to those not included), it would be easy to conclude that Marvel’s enormous output volume is cannibalizing comics sales—definitely DC’s, very likely Marvel’s, too.
It’s not just that Marvel ANAD series are suffering severe percentage drops from #1 issues to subsequent ones; that’s normal, especially considering all those variant covers. What’s fascinating is seeing how many of ANAD’s highest, flagship, or most-anticipated titles are landing hard into a mid-tier sales range by #3.
Invincible Iron Man, the relaunch’s flagship title, sits at 57k at #4. Spider-Gwen #3 at 54k. Extraordinary X-Men #4 at 49k. None of those feature remotely bad numbers, but they seem lower than they should be.
Sixteen of the ANAD launches—primarily #2s, a few #3s, and one #1—live in the 20k range, an area once considered prime cancellation zone (digital has altered the equation).
Vendors of direct market comics have a finite amount of funds, shelf space, and promotion effort for their comics. If they’re to accommodate such a large publisher launch (solicits and announcements clock ANAD at 70+ ongoing series—many with variant covers galore—over the next several months), they have to clear out room; these harsh sales drops indicate (to me at least) that Marvel’s hollowing out its own series’ long-term potential. Less room for Silk #6, more room for one of the four variants of International Iron Man #1.
With that said, what does terrible long-term sales matter if short-term sales are conquering consistently every month?
If any publisher’s been hurting from this shelf-blocking, however, it’s been DC. Aside from a few series with some incredible longevity (Batman, Justice League, and, oh, hey Harley), most DC series have been struggling to catch headlines or shelf space. And, from what I can tell, Marvel’s ANAD barrage shows no signs of stopping, so I’m interested to see how, or if, DC can break out its stand-still.