Hey there Spider-Talk faithful! It’s your friendly neighborhood number-cruncher here for another rip roaring, pulse pounding, white knuckle adventure into adrenaline-drunk world of analyzing graphs and sales trends! As usual, readers of a weak disposition should get their affairs in order as there are no brakes on this train as we head straight into Dangertown. Here comes the Superior Sales-Talk!
For the most part, April did not continue the big winning streak we saw in March, mostly due to the regular amount of Wednesdays as opposed to March’s extra. Compared to April 2015, Comichron reports that April 2016 did 16.19% poorer over-all, something that can be contributed to April 2015 having an extra shipping date like March 2016, but also because April 2015 had a few more individual comics on the market. In fact, Marvel is the only major publisher who is producing more books now than they were a year ago when looking at January through April; DC is publishing 12% less comics and Image is publishing 11% less. Marvel shipped 325 new issues between January and April in 2015 and 340 in the same period for 2016, leading to a 5% increase. So there’s your All New-All Different initiative at work folks… even if we’re starting to see some titles get the ax.
None of ours though!
That’s just single issue (“floppy”) sales though, if you take a look at graphic novel sales through the same time periods, Marvel released 13% more in 2016, DC released 21% more, and Image released 6% less. Graphic novel sales still trail the floppies in number, but it looks like the Big Two, with DC in particular, are starting to look to their graphic novel production for extra income. For the sake of completeness, April 2016’s total monthly comic sales in dollar amount for the top 300 came to $27.57 million, while the top 300 trade paperback and graphic novel sales came out to $8.2 million. The trade paperback figure is down 9% from last year’s total to the day, but the total for the monthlies is down 18% from last year to the day.
Part of this is due to the cooling of the (still gangbuster selling) Star Wars franchise which dominated the top of the charts last year, kicking off with Star Wars #1 selling almost a million issues, as well as Amazing Spider-Man selling about 2/3rds of what it was this time last year. January and February 2015 had the tail end of “Spider-Verse” which was selling around the 100,000 mark and double shipping. So that right there accounts for almost a quarter of a million dollars a month. DC also launched its Batman Eternal as a weekly, generating four titles for January 2015 that sold at 45,000 a pop. So while January through April 2016 had Avengers Standoff and Dark Knight III, they weren’t really enough to catch up to 2015’s lightening start.
Let’s shift focus to the Spider books now. As I expected, March represented more of a spike than an upward trend, and no other title illustrates that better than Amazing Spider-Man. April was one of the double-ship months for ASM, and while #10 sold at about the same level as #8 in February, Amazing Spider-Man #11 sold approximately 67,000 issues; that’s the lowest the title has been since Amazing Spider-Man #698 back in October 2012. For record, the title was selling in the mid-to-low 50,000s when Dan Slott took over full time under the “Big Time” banner in 2010. So while we’re not quite there, we’re inching closer and closer to that figure until the “Dead No More” event boosts the numbers back up.
As I explained last month, Amazing Spider-Man has sold at a level unmatched by most of Marvel’s other titles, but it’s slowly starting to approach those “middle tier” numbers. While Dan Slott shows no desire to leave the book any time soon (recent events in the comic seem to imply he has things planned out for at least another year), perhaps Marvel might be more inclined to shake up the creative team if Amazing Spider-Man starts inching closer to the opening “Big Time” numbers.
Looking at the Miles Morales Spider-Man, the numbers are extraordinarily positive. Maybe it’s due to liberal orders after March’s extra shipping date, but Spider-Man #3 sold virtually the same amount as its sophomore issue.
All-New All-Different Avengers #8 performed similarly percentage-wise to Spider-Man, dropping only a few hundred units from last month. Both of these titles will be tying into the “Civil War II” event this summer with a big event banner over the top of the covers, so expect to see sales remain strong. There are rumblings of delays along the horizon for Spider-Man, something that generally spells out trouble if we can remember what delays did to the numbers for Secret Wars, but I think the “Civil War II” tie in will be more than enough to keep Spider-Man‘s numbers consistent, even as the title moves to a once every-other-month release schedule. When Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #4 tied in with “Original Sin”, it sold about 8,000 more units than #3, which is impressive since the first few issues are where we typically see the biggest drop-off in sales, and I expect “Civil War II” to be a much better selling event due to branding, the Captain America movie, and better accessibility to new readers.
Speaking of strong numbers, let’s take a look at the “Spider-Women” cross-over. Spider-Woman and Silk both had the biggest month since their launch, and Spider-Gwen hasn’t sold this well since January. The kick-off title Spider-Women Alpha sold a great 50,000 units, proving this cross-over to be the shot in the arm these three titles needed to stay away from the chopping blocks (Spider-Woman in particular nearly doubled its units sold compared to March). Whether or not these titles will return to their previous numbers after the cross-over ends is a toss-up, but my guess is that we’ll see at least two or three months go by before they get back to where they were in March. Spider-Woman is tying into “Civil War II” as well, and even though tie-ins and cross-overs are typically good for sales, two back-to-back might throw a wrench into the momentum of the story if we remember how disjointed the previous volume of Spider-Man 2099 felt.
Spider-Man/Deadpool #4 survived the one week delay, still selling at a strong 64,931 units. That’s about 2,000 shy of Amazing and a few hundred over what Deadpool sold, proving this to be an extremely solid title. As fantastic as Ed McGuinness’s work is, it takes him a long time to do his work so unfortunately delays are going to be something we’re going to see in this title and is the reason why there will be a group of guest writers and artists filling in for June and July. Hopefully that won’t introduce too much chaos to the title’s figures, but only time will tell.
Carnage #7 and Spider-Man 2099 #9 both took a 15% dip in sales, edging them closer to the 20k mark. Things might be looking grim for these titles, but they’re still on the solicits through August, so we know that we’re getting at least a few more months of stories. Venom Space Knight #6 and Web Warriors #6 lost a few hundred more units sold, which is a considerable chunk at this stage of the game. However, on the brighter side Spider-Man 2099 and Venom Space Knight are both tying into “Civil War II” and solicits for August suggest that Web Warriors may be tying into “Dead No More,” so we might see a bump in their numbers like we saw in the Spider-Women books.
Odd-man-out Spidey double-shipped in April to make up for the lack of books in March, I suppose. But no March title means the numbers for Spidey didn’t see much of a bump, so as it looks now the title is quickly catching up to Venom Space Knight and Web Warriors. I have no idea what Marvel is planning with this book, but whatever it is they better do it quickly or no one’s going to be reading it to see.
Last but not least are the two digital-first books from our list, A Year of Marvels: Amazing and Amazing Spider-Man and Silk: The Spiderfly Effect #2. These comics are first released through Marvel’s digital network and so the numbers for them are going to be much lower than your typical book. It’s a relatively new system but looking at the numbers we can see that the A Year of Marvels anthology wasn’t nearly as popular as the Spider-Man/Silk cross-over. Which is unfortunate, but the A Year of Marvels gimmick doesn’t quite work out in its printed format since it’s delayed a few months, and anthology series have never drawn in numbers like they used to (remember kids, a lot of Silver Age comic book characters, Spider-Man included, originated in an anthology series!). It’s difficult to gauge exactly where these books would fall if they were printed in the usual fashion and since Marvel does not release any of their digital sales information, but my guess would be that The Spiderfly Effect would be somewhere in the 40s, while A Year of Marvels would be in the low 20s.
That’s it for April, Superiorites! It wasn’t as strong as March was, but while April might have been a soft month overall, the Spider books didn’t do all too badly. With “Civil War II” quickly approaching (Civil War #0 will be on the shelves by the time this is published), I’d chance to say we’ll see some solid numbers on any title that has the “Civil War II” banner. Until next time, readers! As always, all figures and estimates are courtesy of Comichron.com.