Saturday, December 23, 2017

SALES CHARTS: Line-wide attrition comparison for DC Comics

Hola, heroes! Below was have up/down measures for all DC Comics ongoing titles (and extended limited series) based on the sales numbers for November 2017, as compiled by

What we have here is an ordered for how those November sales compare to the same (or in some cases, most similar) title from six months ago (May 2017, and counting the second May issues for the twice-monthly titles), as well as for one year ago (November 2016), two years ago (November 2015) and five years ago (November 2012).

Let’s take a look, keeping in mind the legend:

* Titles presumed to be already canceled,
** Titles known to be canceled between now and March 2018,
*** Limited series at least 6 issues in and slated to end before March 2018,
§ Titles I predict will be canceled before November 2018.

Also, some titles, like LOONEY TUNES and SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? are not listed because those titles sell consistently outside the Top 300 each month, and, as such, Comichron does not post sales figures. 

+51.8% — Supergirl
+29.7% — Justice League
+01.5% — Aquaman
+01.1% — Hal Jordan & GL Corps
+00.9% — Batman
–02.0% — Action Comics
–04.7% — Astro City
–06.2% — Detective Comics
–06.8% — Bombshells-§
­–09.1% — Red Hood & Outlaws-§
–11.2% — Flash
–11.3% — Superman
–11.6% — Wonder Woman
–12.9% — Batgirl-§
–12.9% — Green Arrow
–13.2% — Scooby-Doo Team-Up
–14.9% — Batgirl & Birds of Prey-§
–14.9% — Injustice
–15.1% — Green Lanterns
–15.3% — Harley Quinn
–18.2% — Kamandi***
–18.5% — Nightwing
–19.0% — Scooby Apocalypse-§
–19.3% — Trinity-§
–20.4% — Batman Beyond-§
–21.2% — Cyborg**
–22.5% — New Super-Man-§
–23.0% — Blue Beetle**
–23.7% — Suicide Squad
–23.8% — Super Sons
–23.9% — Hellblazer-§
–24.5% — Future Quest-§
–25.4% — Doom Patrol-§
–26.0% — Titans
–27.2% — Wild Storm-§
–28.3% — Superwoman**
–29.5% — Teen Titans
–31.4% — JLA-§
–36.0% — Batwoman-§
–39.8% — Deathstroke-§
–50.5% — Bug*

ANALYSIS — The top two are kind of anomalies. SUPERGIRL has been taking off due more to the alternate covers than the actual content of the books, I think, while the November JUSTICE LEAGUE was a DARK NIGHTS: METAL tie-in. The rest if the numbers I’ll call “legitimate,” noting that only three are in the positive, with none having increased by more than 1.5 percent.

Of the rest, Batman = Batman and Action appears to be feeding of the drive to #1,000, while the Flash is showing, if you’ll pardon the pun, surprisingly strong legs.

Titles that have performed worse over the past six months that the best-performing title known to be canceled (CYBORG), include NEW SUPER-MAN, SUICIDE SQUAD, SUPER SONS, HELLBLAZER, FUTURE QUEST, DOOM PATROL, TITANS, WILD STORM, TEEN TITANS, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, BATWOMAN, and DEATHSTROKE. Of these, Suicide Squad and Super Sons are safe for now, I'd say, while Titans in any form is too big a franchise for DC to cave on. 

The rest, however, are in definite danger, I think, unless they can turn things around toot sweet.

–05.6% — Injustice
–06.6% — Astro City
–07.9% — Justice League
–08.0% — Supergirl
–14.3% — Action Comics
–16.5% — Batman
–22.1% — Bombshells-§
–22.7% — Hal Jordan & GL Corps
–24.4% — Detective Comics
–28.5% — Aquaman
–28.6% — Superman
–29.4% — JLA-§
–29.9% — Flash
–32.4% — Scooby Team-Up
–34.2% — Wonder Woman
–35.3% — Titans
–35.7% — Red Hood & Outlaws-§
–36.5% — Harley Quinn
–37.9% — Green Lanterns
–39.4% — Green Arrow
–41.0% — Scooby Apocalypse-§
–41.1% — Future Quest-§
–41.6% — Deathstroke-§
–42.1% — Teen Titans
–42.2% — Batgirl-§
–42.6% — Nightwing
–45.7% — Doom Patrol-§
–46.6% — Batgirl & Birds of Prey-§
–50.7% — Suicide Squad
–51.6% — Hellblazer-§
–52.5% — Trinity-§
–53.1% — Kamandi***
–53.6% — Batman Beyond-§
–57.3% — New Super-Man-§
–59.3% — Superwoman**
–60.4% — Cyborg**
–60.6% — Blue Beetle**

ANALYSIS — This chart is a little more indicative, I think, of where things truly stand, and you’ll note that all of the canceled title have now shifted to the bottom of the list.

The two best-performing titles, INJUSTICE and ASTRO CITY, are actually low sellers, but their placement here is indicative of both having a loyal base of readers, which is the good news. These titles have to worry about finding new readers moreso than losing current ones.

Of the others, SUPERGIRL is again feeding off the Artgerm cover craze, while the rest of the top half on this list can be said to be strong performers. Keep in mind, one year ago was near the start of the REBIRTH non-boot, so numbers will naturally be lower across the board. The only question is how low is too low?

As you can see, everything below GREEN ARROW has lost 41 percent or more of its retailer orders over the past 12 months. That’s a lot. Of these, I would expect everything except TEEN TITANS and SUICIDE SQUAD to be in definite danger of cancellation within the next 12 months. Those two, however, are big enough tent poles for DC that I’d expect the company to somehow retool, renumber, and maybe even reboot, before resorting to outright cancellation.

That said, I’m kind of surprised BIRDS OF PREY, HELLBLAZER, TRINITY, BATMAN BEYOND, and NEW SUPER-MAN have not been canceled already, but all are on the March 2018 solicitations without notation of that being a final issue.

+51.2% — Titans
+34.1% — Flash
+18.9% — Red Hood/Arsenal-§
+18.0% — Action Comics
+15.5% — Teen Titans
+13.5% — Wonder Woman
+11.8% — Detective Comics
+09.1% — Superman
+04.9% — Aquaman
+03.2% — Green Arrow
–04.4% — Nightwing
–07.0% — Justice League
–08.9% ­— Batman
–11.0% — Suicide Squad
–16.8% — Astro City
–27.6% — Hellblazer-§
–30.5% — Batgirl-§
–30.9% — Batman Beyond-§
–34.6% — Deathstroke-§
–35.0% — Scooby Team-Up
–41.1% — Harley Quinn
–46.6% — JLA-§
–52.5% — Bombshells-§
–60.7% — Cyborg**

ANALYSIS — We have more in the green here, in part because two years ago was near the end of the New 52 era, and just before REBIRTH, and several titles can fairly be said to have been coasting on fumes at the time.

With that in mind, it seems that everything below ASTRO CITY is significantly under-performing when compared to its pre-REBIRTH predecessor. I would call all in danger of cancellation, with the obvious exception of HARLEY QUINN, but that title, too, clearly needs an overhaul. The one book that surprises me is RED HOOD, which is way ahead of where it was at this time two years ago. Although, I must say, the usually stable ASTRO CITY does surprise me in how far it has dropped over the two-year timeframe.

+52.9% — Hellblazer-§
+44.6% — Deathstroke-§
+15.4% — Green Arrow
+09.7% — Supergirl
+01.0% — Flash
+00.9% — Batman Beyond-§
–08.8% — Wonder Woman
–13.6% — Superman
–23.0% — Teen Titans
–28.9% — Birds of Prey-§
–29.1% — Detective Comics
–32.1% — GL Corps
–34.8% — Action Comics
–36.5% — Justice League
–37.4% — Red Hood/Outlaws-§
–39.9% — Batman
–40.0% — Nightwing
–47.9% — Batwoman-§
–49.2% — Aquaman
–54.0% — Suicide Squad
–73.7% — Batgirl-§

ANALYSIS — Here we are comparing current titles to just after the New 52 reboot happened. And you will note some surprises. For one, a few titles that were definite cellar-dwellers on the previous lists have suddenly risen to the top. My takeaway here is that we have a few titles that were, no kind way to say it, utter failures in their New 52 re-imaginings. All got canceled pretty quickly, or else limped along until the mercy killing came, while in a few cases, most notably GREEN ARROW, they were subjected to significant retoolings soon after this snapshot was taken.

As to the rest, it's fairly clear to me that REBIRTH YEAR 2 ≠ NEW 52 YEAR 2. There are a few unfair comparisons. AQUAMAN, for example, a winner on our six month chart, is a bottom feeder here, in part because he was riding a massive wave of popularity five years ago thanks to Geoff Johns’ determination to make the Sea King cool. But when we look at some other titles, we see familiar faces, and it seems clear that any bat-title sans testicles may need to be neutered, while SUICIDE SQUAD more clearly than ever needs a big breath of fresh air.

–12.3% — Batgirl
–12.9% — JLA
–15.6% — ((Super Sons))
–17.7% — Red Hood & Outlaws
–18.0% — Titans
–19.1% — Green Arrow
–20.7% — Aquaman
–22.1% — Batman
–35.9% — ((Supergirl))

This list is something a little different, no attrition over the course of a year, but a measure of how this year’s ANNUAL special issue sold in comparison to the regular book of that title released the same month. In every case, the annual significantly underperforms the regular issue. However, the annuals are also $1 more, so don’t cry any tears for DC.

To use very round numbers, let’s say DC sells 25,000 copies of a regular issue at $2.99, and after factoring out cuts for the retailer and distributor, is left with 35 percent. That’s $26,200.

Now lets say it moved 20 percent fewer copies of the annual. That’s 20,000 copies, but at $4, and 35 percent of that haul is $28,000. So, again, using very rough calculations, I’d wager the SUPERGIRL ANNUAL was the only one on the above list that did not make more money for DC than that month’s regular issue.

Now, what surprises me, insomuch as looking at trends, is that the SUPERGIRL ANNUAL was the only one on the above list (at least so far as I know) that was tied directly to the storyline running though the regular issues. However, being as that months SUPERGIRL was the first to feature an Artgerm alternate cover, we can guess that a lot of those who bought the regular issue and not the annual were not interested in reading the actual issues anyway.

I actually was a reader. I don’t normally but Supergirl, but cam on for that story that ran into the annual because of the Legion of Super-Heroes connection. I also bought SUPER SONS, but passed on the AQUAMAN, even tough I do follow the regular series, because it was not by the same creative team.

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