Happy January, everyone! Did you make a New Year’s resolution to read more Superior $ales-Talk? Depending on your rate of success for your resolutions, I either hope you did or did not!
We’re finally starting to see an end to the wave of #1s. This puts us square in a honeymoon period where sales start high, but quickly fall as opening story arcs move to their conclusion and new readers leave the book. Not to mention incentive variables that are only available for the first issue, reprinted issues included in #1s (such as Vision #1 in January’s Spider-Man/Deadpool #1), backup stories, and whatever else Marvel can throw the consumer’s way in order to get them to pick up a new comic.
The honeymoon might be over for everyone’s favorite web-slinger, with numbers possibly evening out with Amazing Spider-Man #5. Amazing Spider-Man #4 shed a quarter of the sales earned by #3, but #5 lost only 3.5% of #4‘s, showing that those who read #4 stuck around for the finale. Amazing Spider-Man #5 moved 79,122 units, a number the core Spider-Man title hasn’t dropped to since the penultimate issue of “Goblin Nation,” Superior Spider-Man #29. Amazing is not quite to pre-#700 numbers (which would be around 55,000), but this is the lowest Spider-Man has sold since March, 2014. It’s still a little early in the title’s life span to say with certainty that 80,000 will be the number the title sticks with or if the series will continue to lose readers. If the arc starting in Amazing Spider-Man #6 proves to be more gripping than what we were given with the first five issues (and judging from the first issue, it might) we may even see an upswing in the numbers.
Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 launched with numbers similar to the B-titles’ #1s; Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 sold roughly the same as Spidey #1, Web Warriors #1, Carnage #1, and a little bit more than what Venom: Space Knight, Silk, and Spider-Woman started out with. 66,000 units sold is almost half of what last volume’s “Learning to Crawl” #1.1 issue sold, but almost exactly what “Spiral” sold with its first issue. However, Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #17, from which “Spiral” starts its side-numbering, sold 99,964 copies, while #17.1 sold 68.907 copies. So, while we have less people reading the main title, we have roughly the same amount of readers buying the .1 side story. At the very least, readers seem to have the same level of interest in the Spider-Man character, but perhaps not the direction he is currently heading. The trend of 60,000 units sold for a new Spider-Family book seems to imply a base level of readers who are willing to try out in books heading out of the Spider-Man office. We can call them the die-hard fans. As Amazing Spider-Man proper inches closer to the 60,000 mark, we’ll see how that affects the satellite titles.
All-New All-Different Avengers #2 lost about half of its sales from #1, something we’re used to seeing by now. This is the flagship Avengers title, unless I am mistaken, and it’s being fairly safe by sticking to the Captain America-Thor-Iron Man trinity. I have no doubts that it will sell well based on name alone. Uncanny Avengers has its loyal fan base. Having returned to its pre-relaunch numbers last month, it holds steady and sells just north of 50,000 copies.
Secret Wars #8 did not receive the upswing in purchases that I thought it might, now that the end is in sight, shipped, and definitely happening. It posted a small loss, showing more or less the same amount of readers from #7. However, Secret Wars #8 was the top selling comic of December, beating out Dark Knight III #2 over at the Distinguished Competition by about 10,000 sales. It’s been a wild ride and by the time you are reading this, Secret Wars #9 will be out. It’s a little past the scope of this feature to say this, but man, what a ride Secret Wars has been… even if it has been a little light on the Spider-action.
Gwenpool Holiday Special. Well. It happened. Holiday specials are a tradition at Marvel, although one that might have been skipped over for the past few years—unless I missed something, the last one Marvel produced was in 2011 and sold 6,787 copies, so I can see why Marvel might have been Scrouging us for the past three holiday seasons. So in that regard Gwenpool Holiday Special was a huge success. It’s also nice to see that Marvel hasn’t completely given up on Soule’s She-Hulk, even if everyone else had (Hey, I enjoyed it!). Gwenpool herself continues to puzzle me as she pops up in the back of Howard the Duck. If the Gwenpool Holiday Special is any indication, her recently announced solo title will do decent numbers. I’m not sure about the staying power of a character backed mostly by the cosplay community, but apparently the support is enough to move 81,000 books for one issue. Perhaps I’m underestimating the appeal of the character.
Carnage still seems to be shedding sales as #3 posts a 16% loss against the sales from #2. My only hope is that this book sticks at a good number soon because it’s unlike anything Marvel is putting out right now. That of course might also be one of the reasons it’s not selling gangbusters; things that stray from the cape genre seldom sell well out of the Big Two.
Speaking of unique, Venom: Space Knight #2 lost a considerable amount of its solid opening, as did Web Warriors #2. Both books sold roughly the same last month as well as this month. As for predictions, I can really only give you a shrug. I doubt these titles are going to ever see a substantial gain—Venom is a spin-off of Guardians of the Galaxy which altered a re-imagined take on the Venom character and Web Warriors features some fan favorite characters who have proven to not be be able to maintain sales for an ongoing plus Spider-Gwen. I’m not exactly sure who Venom: Space Knight is supposed to appeal to, and Web Warriors, while a personal favorite, also lacks widespread appeal aside from present fan-favorite Spider-Gwen and past fan-favorite Mayday (Anya will continue to be my favorite teen female Spider-character. I’m still not over losing Young Allies right out of the gate). These are two stories that I’d pick up sooner rather than later if you’re on the fence or waiting for the trade.
Silk #2 has returned to its pre-relaunch numbers as the story continues as if almost nothing has changed. It is currently at a net gain of 4,000 sales from where it was before the relaunch, so perhaps this will be a rare instance in where a relaunched #1 actually benefited the title. Sure, it’s not the 20,000 or so net gain Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #1 saw over Superior Spider-Man, but it’s something.
Spider-Woman #2 however suffered a fate similar to Venom and Web Warriors, losing roughly half of its sales. This puts the book down in the danger zone. Historically books that have sales hovering around 20,000 get the ax at Marvel, though this trend has not held true in the recent age of “relaunch and try again”. Spider-Woman is a high profile enough character that even if her title gets canned, she’ll be back before too long. Starbrand and Nightmask, whose #1 debuted at 28,000 issues though? “Cannon fodder”, I believe, is the term. If they show up in an event, assume it’s going to be the last few pages you’ll ever see them.
Ultimate End #5 ended the Ultimate universe with a whimper across the boards, getting slammed by critics and neglected on the shelves. The long delay between #4 and #5 didn’t help things either, with #5 losing a fifth of the sales compared to #4. Ultimate Spider-Man helped me and many others transition from comics of the past to the comics of the present and it’s unfortunate that the universe more-or-less built up around him ended on such a sour note. Then again, things never truly recovered for the Ultimate universe after Ultimatum, with Miles Morales acting as a thin silver lining. But that’s for a different article. Hopefully Ultimate End #5 is not foreshadowing the quality we’ll be seeing in the upcoming Spider-Man, also penned by Brian Michael Bendis.
Speaking of alternate Spider-Men, Spider-Man 2099 continues to under perform, with #5 inching closer to last volume’s concluding sales number of 30,000. I assume the character will always have a place at Marvel as long as Peter David wants to write him, but that’s only my own assumption. We’ll see next month if the numbers stay around 30,000 or dive further down. I’m afraid a shake up of rather sizable magnitude is going to be required to rejuvenate this title.
Spidey #1 launched with a decent number of units sold. I do not see much staying power with this book, however. Charming as it may be, both visually and in tone, the book is retreading old ground and not in a fairly creative way. We have a long history of reinterpretations of the starting days of Spider-Man; some of them are Ultimate Spider-Man, some of them are “Chapter One”. Not to make this sound like a review, but my feeling is that this book will fail to find an audience and thus fail to sell. As it is now, Spidey is playing it far too safe to distinguish itself from the gold standard modern Spider-Man origin, Ultimate Spider-Man. Perhaps a strong tie to the Spider-Man we’ll see in “Captain America: Civil War” will appear and we’ll see a boost in the sales. Next month’s numbers will paint a better picture, I may be in the minority regarding my feelings on the title.
Radioactive Spider-Gwen #3 bled readers as we begin to see the book slide further down the rankings. As it stands, Radioactive Spider-Gwen #3 sold around 12,000 copies less than the previous volume’s final issue. While Radioactive Spider-Gwen #3‘s 55,000 is still a solid number to be selling, the slow decline does point to a waning interest in the title. I’m sure there will be die-hards that develop, especially if the series slows down and continues to world build, but a title like this should be selling like Silk since it was more or less unchanged by Secret Wars. The fact that it is not is an ill omen for the future sales.
Last and also least is Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse #2 which… did not chart. Diamond Comic Distributors releases estimates only for the top selling 300 comics per month, so anything less than that does not get reported. This month the number to beat for a spot on the chart was 5,848, so all we know is that Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse #2 sold less than that. Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy #3, which like Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse is adapted from a cartoon, sold 6,159 copies, putting at the 291th highest selling comic of December. Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse typically sells less than Guardians by a few hundred, so we can guess it just barely missed the mark.
That’s a wrap for December and for 2015! See you next month! Remember to buy Web Warriors! I’m pretty sure you told me you were going to go out and buy Web Warriors. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a comment here or reach out to me on Twitter. My handle can be found at the top of this article. Thanks again goes to comichron.com for their hard work getting all these figures together. Remember folks, with great comics must also come… superior sales!