Robot 6

DC’s ‘New 52′ to launch big, with Justice League #1 topping 200K [Updated]

Justice League #1 has garnered initial orders of more than 200,000, DC Comics tells the Los Angeles Times, with another six titles from the publisher’s much-discussed September relaunch each surpassing 100,000 copies.

That figure will make DC’s new flagship title, by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, the bestselling direct-market comic of 2011 — Marvel’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 now has the honor, with about 168,000 copies — and the first since January 2009’s Amazing Spider-Man #583 to break the 200,000-copy mark. (In case you’re wondering, that was the issue with the Barack Obama variant cover, which sold more than 350,000 copies.)

“Fan interest is huge — much of it positive, some negative, and some very cautious,” Gerry Gladstone, co-owner of Midtown Comics in New York City, tells the newspaper. The LA Times also unveils Jim Lee’s variant cover for Action Comics #1 and Ethan Van Sciver’s variant cover for Batman #1, both of which you can see below.

The sales numbers are the lone bright spot in an article that paints a grim, if not necessarily inaccurate, picture of an industry in which sales have slipped 7 percent this year alone. The relaunch is billed as “part of a two-pronged strategy to try to revive its moribund business and draw newer, younger readers” — the other prong is apparently the publisher’s digital initiative, but the story’s unclear on that front — but the overall tone of the LA Times piece reads “Hail Mary pass.”

“The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices,” Co-Publisher Dan DiDio says. “We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying.”

With at least seven titles selling more than 100,000 copies — retailers have until Monday to adjust orders on the first issues of such high-profile series as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash — DC will be able to trumpet “The New 52″ as a success, with the publisher dominating Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 10 in September. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 could very well be the sole Marvel title on that list.

But to truly gauge the success of the relaunch, DC (and the industry) will have to look further down the Diamond chart to see how fringe titles that don’t benefit from mainstream recognition or marquee creators — books like Men of War, Demon Knights and I, Vampire — perform. Will the New 52 be an instance of the publisher’s top-tier books selling like gangbusters, while the other 35 or 40 struggle for an audience? And, just as important, where will those top-tier titles stand at Issue 4 or Issue 6 or Issue 12?

Update: The LA Times’ Company Town blog now lists the six other DC first issues that have have pre-orders higher than 100,000 copies: Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, The Flash, Green Lantern and Superman. None of those is a surprise, although Aquaman, with the fan-favorite creative team of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, certainly seemed like a contender for The Flash‘s spot.

Action Comics #1 variant, by Jim Lee

Batman #1 variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver

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57 Comments

Hopefully this initiative pays off, not only for DC, but the entire comic book industry.

I love the robot designs in the background of Lee’s Action variant. They look so old-school cool

Man, those are two ugly covers. And just boring.

I wish Lee had stuck with the “early Superman in jeans and baby cape” look for his cover. It’s a more palatable kind of silly than his awful “armor + collar” design. I don’t even know where to start with the Batman one. I would mention the awful anatomy and awkward posture, except all that lazy, garish orange and teal is making my eyes hurt.

As for the sales thing, Kevin’s correct that the real story has always been the post-debut drop-off and the survivability of the lower-profile titles. Journalists’ job now is to not let DC spin the first order numbers into an illusory success.

“I love the robot designs in the background of Lee’s Action variant. They look so old-school cool.”

I think they’re a nod to the Fleischer Studios short “The Mechanical Monsters.”

So does the success of initial orders for the new first issues mean DC is going to reboot and renumber all their comics EVERY YEAR?

And that Marvel will join in?

Why don’t DC and Marvel just get it over with and slap a big #1 on every comic they publish?

Reboots: Comics publishers way of showing how little they value their EXISTING customers.

Comments: The EXISTING customers way of spinning postivie news to make themselves feel like a martyr.

Why is Ultraman on the cover of Action #1

Let’s not forget that we’re talking about returnable books here, in many cases. The key numbers, which DC will likely never tell, will be the net copies after returns, which nobody will know until the end of the sales cycles.

I still don’t understand their lack of advertising in non comics oriented areas. They have 1 commercial that hypes the same comics that people are going to be buying. Why not advertise the western and war comics on the western channel? Or get soem ad time on lifetime and O for your female oriented comics? Or print ads in similar magazines? It seems to me that DC is just going to screw this up.

Man, what the hell happened to Batman’s left arm in the drawing? It’s freakin’ huge and grossly out of proportion. I guess this is what happens when you don’t do much artwork throughout the year.

Anyway, come back in 6 months’ time and tell us what the sales numbers are then. I’ll bet they’re more than 50% less.

If this is a success, then it will only be DAYS until Marvel does the exact same thing.

Dont like that video game inspired bat costume either.

complain, complain, complain.

I can’t possibly be the only person who thinks Jim Lee’s art is spectacularily underwhelming and bland. what do people see in this guy???

If this is a success, then it will only be DAYS until Marvel does the exact same thing.

Ha, that’s a big if. This initiative is being run by the people who’ve been driving DC to the ground in the first place.

That being said, it would be cool if Marvel did this too, as I have a feeling they’d actually do a good job at it given their better editorial vision and writing talent.

The Jim Lee cover is awesome! I dig his art and am really enjoying his designs. A good and much needed update to Superman’s costume.

Not the best art from EVS but it’s not bad. I really wish they would have left the yellow oval around the chest logo though. Without that splash of color it really makes the utility belt stick out and it just looks wrong on the all black/grey costume.

Good Luck DC! I hope this works for you.

Can the complainers just go away and do something they enjoy? They clearly already not interested but that they still around complaining about books two months later that they are not going to buy says they have little else to do. Trolling must be the only hobby they have.

Congrats DC. Stick to your guns and this shows you have the potential to attract readers just you can’t the do the same old same old that the complainers are wanting you to stuck to. I hope the books deliver.

you are not the only one who thinks mr, Lees work is bland, but you are in the extreme minority.

These sales numbers only reflect the number of issues the Retailers ordered, not how many issues actually are going home with customers. And like its been said, the unsold ones are returnable. This is just DC flashing some neon light arrows at their flimsy stack of cards. Nobody is fooled.

52 Relaunches…and they hope everyone buys 1 or 2 or a few more DC’s then they buy now. Many will go to the top names….but that means many titles will not gain any audience at all. Do they get cancelled quickly? I mean do we really expect “Grifter” or “Resurrection Man” for example to sell even 20K? Why launch so many when there is no real hope that they will survive?

This to me looks like a stunt. And all stunts are nice in the short run, but long run, we still have the same problems as before: Lack of distribution for impulse buys, (why go to comic book store to buy comics if you don’t already buy comics) and a price point that is too high for impulse buys (based on rate of inflation the 25c comic should be around $1.25 today)

So the other six

Action Comics
Detective Comics
Superman
Batman
Wonder Woman
Batgirl

Maybe switch out WW for Nightwing?

Marvel do this every other year too, after every Event they relaunch with number 1’s. hell Ultimate Spider-man has relaunched twice in 12 months with a new number 1. Im not condoning DC’s action here, im just stateing facts. and as a retailer I will also state that not all DC’s #1 are returnable, Justice League, Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics as well as Green Lantern are NOT RETURNABLE. But this still doesnt count as a success, nor will the numbers for #2 and #3 as us retailers had to order #2 with #1 and we will have ordered #3 and #4 before the relaunch even begins.

I have absolute faith that the market will pick up. Just wait until this generation of kids who love all these superhero movies get to be around 17-18 years old and have their own money to spend. If we use Spider-Man 2 as our benchmark (2004), kids who saw that movie at age 7 should be flooding the market around 2014. If we use The Dark Knight (2008) as the benchmark, kids who saw that movie around 2018. The kids who loved all those classic animated series were probably about 6-7 in 1996 when those shows were at their best and what happened? Around 2006 the market experienced another boom, with Civil War and Infinite Crisis.

@ Tyler, the only problem being that these kids will probably wanna read it on their computers.

And I didn’t even mention how bad the economy is right now! The market will pick up, I’m certain of it. I remember Neal Adams once said that he was trying to get into comics in 1963 and someone told him, “I’m doing you a favor by turning you down because in five years, comics won’t be around anymore.” And that was 50 years ago.

If fresh starts can generate this much interest, it may not be a bad idea to lauch books in “seasons” going forward and reset numbering every year. Comics that perform well continue, comics that flop out of the gate disappear after 6 issues and comics that are mid level performers get assessed mid year and either finish out the year, or get green lit for a season 2, perhaps with tweaks or new creative teams. Continuous numbering appeals to us longtime readers only, and if history’s a predictor, we’ll put up with any form of renumbering (usually loudly grumbling while we do so) but at this time where comics are desperate for new readers, it’s time to throw most of the old thinking out.

Keep being bold DC.

@seamus Thats probably true, which is unfortunate for retailers. I suspect individual issues will eventually be exclusively digital and go into collected editions sold at bookstores. I think some Warren Ellis projects already do this.

That Jim Lee Superman cover looks AWESOME. The costume redesign has really grown on me, can’t wait to see it in action (Action?).

“I love the robot designs in the background of Lee’s Action variant. They look so old-school cool.”

I think they’re a nod to the Fleischer Studios short “The Mechanical Monsters.”

Actually, I’m pretty sure those are Fashion Sentinels, and they’re after Superman’s new costume.

(based on rate of inflation the 25c comic should be around $1.25 today)

Not too far off, Dreighton, it’s $1.11 actually.

I am happy to hear about the strong pre-order sales for JL. Like Kevin Melroese, I am curious about the sales figures for titles from the ‘dark’, ‘edge’, and ‘young justice’ families. These are the titles that will need the most support. It is unfortunate there has not been much press or sneak peeks for some of the dark and edge titles. I have seen previews/read articles featuring many of the established DCU titles and creators. I know the Batman titles, the Green Lantern titles, and JL (now) are DC’s bread-and-butter. However, I do not believe that DC will be very viable long-term if their mid-to-lower tier titles do not start off (and maintain) decent sales figures. The only way to do that is to promote the lesser known creators and titles.

Great news. Anything short for JL would have been disappointing.

It’s so close. Cannot wait!

Superman vs The Mechanical Monsters! Great homage!

…….Paging Optimus Prime, Godzilla, Snake Eyes. We NEED you three at the top of the Diamond charts! I can say I loved the idea when I heard that Devil’s Due’s GI Joe beat Batman out of the top spot in 2001.

Those numbers don’t mean anything at this point. A Geoff Johns/Jim Lee JLA (with variants) would probably debut with the same general numbers regardless of what the rest of the line is doing or whether their first issue is #1 or #121. 200K in this market most likely represents the fact that a majority of existing comic book buyers are interested in the title. The success or failure of the 52 initiative is not how many issues they can sell to existing customers, it’s how many new readers they can get to purchase the books, either in paper or digital form, and we won’t know that for many months.

I for one am excited about the relaunch. Initially, I had my reservations, but how can I not help but get excited about Geoff Johns and Jim Lee writing Justice League? Maybe even moreso than that is the fact that Scott Snyder is taking over Batman. Add to that the fact that Batwoman is finally coming out and Aquaman has his own ongoing and I’m totally on board.

I get the naysayer’s points about sales probably dipping back down to normal after three or four issues. Maybe they’re right, but there are a lot of books coming out that I’m excited to read and that’s all I’m concerned with.

I remember a time back in 2004 or there abouts when DC comics was publishing some of the best stories they have ever put out before, Identity Crisis and the Original Secret Six stories just to name two. Then a second crisis reboot hit and the best idea they could come up with was Superboy Prime throwing a tantrum and DC has gone down hill from there. I could complain for hours about how bad DC became after that, bad story telling, resurrecting old foes that were lame in the seventies, and much more. This relaunch isn’t needed, all DC needs to do is start putting out good stories again instead of bring back the stories that resulted in the original 1984 crisis in the first place.

Sure the ideas for the relaunch have a ton of potential to be good,but I have to wonder, why bother in the first place. Its been nearly 8 years since the last major change in the books, 8 years of bad stories, 8 years of shuffling artists and writers from book to book. I really doubt this relaunch will be any different, past experience has taught me that DC can’t hack a good story anymore. As always these will have a strong start, great art, then putter out and become the same as ever.

Well I got that off my chest so feel free to disagree with me, but this is the third major reboot with DC I’ve been through, nothing will change. Experience has taught me this.

I want to see how many of these are returned, DC did give them return-abilty if shops ordered a certain amount. Those numbers will be the real telling numbers.

The thing about Marvel doing something like (exactly like) this is that (coming from a marvel fan) that they’ve made too may fans angry. People talk about how big Civil War was and how ‘great’ it was. I was shocked Marvel actually put that out on the stands to be perfectly honest. Suddenly, everything is different including the characters. I can’t fathom why any compotent writer or editor would of thought doing an ‘UNmasking’ for Spider-man was a good Idea then. He was already becoming a bizarre-magic-themed character and was becoming a different character. Now, he’s completely different again. As in, idiot Spider-boy. They didn’t even do a decent story with it and there was no real Jonah interaction. I bet Spider-Island has no great obvious Jonah jokes either. What’s better than showing your boss (who always hated Spider-man) that you now have Spider-powers (even though you’re really Spider-man). Great joke and story elements that will no doubt be ignored and wasted. I read Civil War #2 and came to the conclusion that they had just given up and thought they couldn’t possibly do anything with the character anymore single or married. Thanks to all that mess, they are right.

DC actually seems to care if their stories make any sense. This is the Universe of multiple versions and more outer space type stuff but their stories are more coherent than ‘The Heroic Age’ where all the characters have the same personality. I can see why new readers could identify with some of these characters.

What gets me is what people do pay money to see. Like Twilight!

It is not surprise that orders are up for these titles. Now will be important will it equal the people buying these or will the comic shops have lots of left over copies.

Looks really cool.

I read the list and I am surprised Flash is on that list and not aquaman but I guess stores are using flashpoint. Will that equal people buying barry? Maybe not.

I hope I, Vampire doesn’t get overshadowed, cause everything I seen from it looks stellar.

Googam son of Goom

August 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

It’s nice to see a classic JLA team together again so I’ll give this a shot. However I don’t see the whole rebooting gimmick bringing in new readers on any significant scale. Most people/kids simply are not willing to spend 3-4 dollars for 5-10 minutes of entertainment. I love comics and you probably do to if you are reading this blog, but we were already on board.

It’s not a reboot. The whole DC Universe and history is not starting over. Things that happened before still happened. It’s a relaunch where all the books start fresh from #1. If the stories are good, I’ll be happy. I am looking forward to many of these new books.

What w/ spending over $300 a month for DC, Marvel ,Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Aspen,and more, this is a great excuse to wait for the trades. I’ve been collecting single issues since the 60’s, so I don’t mind the ads and odd letters page, but even now I wait til I get the entire story arc before reading a title. Loved The Civil War by the way.
I always thought Tony Stark and Reed R. were wrapped too tight. Of course it mirrored the US’s reaction to 9/11.
Families polarized-Reed and Sue, Johnny somewhere in the middle and Ben going to France. Remember Freedom Fries. If they showed a TV in a panel it was on FIX News where “we put our thoughts in you. Seige Embedded continued the theme. Incidentally, I just spent $86 at Midtown Comics for a weeks worth and got the last issues of a couple of Batman Family titles. Thank God.

For comic books sake I hope DC wins this battle, really, but the whole idea of new # 1’s every couple of years to jump sales looks cliché now. Original graphic novels (not trade paperbacks) could be another way to get people interested, no delays, nice artwork, maybe the month by month concept is hard to keep. By the way Jim Lee’s art seems too Image 90´s for me, that’s equal boring, so overrated, but I admit the guy knows well how to sell his work.

davidgrantlloyd

August 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

So far so good. I’m excited. The new designs rock!

I hope the DCnU is a epic failure for DC Comics and they return to the universe that was the DC Universe before “Flashpoint.”

Googam son of Goom

August 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

@Brooks: Reboot? relaunch? continuity?, new universe? Do you see why new readers might find this hair-splitting irksome? The messaging of this from DC has been confusing itself. They are trying to straddle the contradictory ideas that this is an all new, fresh start while also assuring us that nothing is really changed. Even as a longtime reader this parsing of continuity gets wearisome. At the end of the day if the stories are well-crafted, intriguing, gripping or otherwise entertaining that’s all I care about as a reader.

I think all 52 at once is a major mistake. Money is tight. Most buyers will get the primary titles, and run out of money before they even try the lesser titles. If nothing else, maybe they should have issued the lesser titles first, and then built up to the primary ones.

Anyone else old enough to remember the DC Explosion from the 1970’s and the resulting implosion??

LOVE THE NO UNDERWEAR ARMOR!!! if darksied blasted “cloth” with his omega beams, -superman. would. be. NAKED.
the armor is much needed for when he goes up against magic, or kryptonite users, as he, or batman, could rig it to emit led shielding against the kryptonite. and wonder woman or zantanna, can endow the armor against forms of magic. this = win.
as for relaunching the entire universe for A FEW new COSTUMES,…meh….also disappointed power girl isn’t coming back that i know of, or have heard about.
& i hate that Frankenstein, vampires, resurrection-man, xombi, and j.l.d.ark, are even getting paper wasted on them. horror comics need to be left in the seventies, and do not fit in with super-hero orientated comics. which sell wayyy better than any horror themed comic has ever, and will ever sell. DC makes actual bank off of super-heroes, not horror tales. so im fine with it, if the horror titles get overshadowed, like some of the above posters repeatedly state.–if. u. like. horror comics, instead of the super-hero titles, then promote them yourself. its DC comics job, to promote what they make the most repeated sales off of, which again, will never be horror anything.
Frankenstein, vampires, resurrection-man, xombi, and j.l.d.ark, suck ass-fault, when turned into action tales, and thrillers, and detective/spy stories…it. makes. no. sense. for. horror. characters. to. be. involved. with. any. of. that. type. of. writing. period.

Sorry, re-inventing these heros over, and over, and over is messing up the universe. Supermans parents die, they don’t die, the father dies, the parents have several different names, Clark is single he’s dating wonderwoman, lois lane, lana lang. batman is a clown, he’s an emo, wonderwoman doesn’t know what she is, know one knows how many remakes of flash, green lantern. I’m full on sick and tired of arist talking about how they have freedom and rights to skew and distort. Please, artist. stop. let our hero have their history.

…the more they reboot things, the more they are assurred to lose more and more readers, such as myself. Sure they gain a few people, but they also alienate loyal fans, and then the newbies drop off as soon as the hype does anyway. Then there are the “investors” who helped ruin the hobby in the first place by buying a slew of copies just to bag & board ‘em and sell them on ebaY. Too much sensationalism and not enough good old-fashioned storytelling! I don’t buy comics because of media hype, but to continue to read further adventures of pop-culture icons, something I have decided to give up years ago. I don’t like comic-books that look like imitation Japanese animation or playground graphitti and the industry has lowered their standards to acomodate just about anything nowadays. What ever happened to the Infantinos, the Kanes, the Kuberts, and the Swans, or for that matter, the Buscemas, the Ditkos, the Kirbys, and the Romitas? Can’t anybody produce a decent comic-book without all the media hype, or the pay rate of a hollywood actor*? (*I mention this because it has been cited as a reason for the high productiuon costs of comics today.) Too much media hype tells me one thing: these books will suck, just like every other highly publicized event befor it. It gets old people. First it was the death of a hero. Then it was the hologram covers. Then the multi-title crossover, followed by polybags and variants… gimmick after gimmick.

As an American I know all about inflation and its effects, but this is ridiculous…in the 40 years from 1940 to 1980 the price rose 40¢ from a dime to 50¢, but in the mere 30 years from 1980 to 2010 the price exploded from 50¢ to a whopping $3.99 for a single, flimsy, lame written and poorly drawn comic in an economy where kids have no money, let alone their families.
What they need to do is put comics back into the hands of readers, namely kids, by making them more affordable and selling them at neighborhood news stands and convenience stores once again. The direct sales to comic specialty stores was one of the first blows to the end of comics by removing them from the public’s eye and corraling them up into these out-of-the-way geek paradises. The next was overpaying egotistical artists inflated rates for stylized art with bad anatomy & poor storytelling. Finally, the price does not warrant the quality of the content you’re paying for.
You want to save the dying comic-book industry? Here’s how: have ‘em drawn by an in-house art staff (a la the bullpen) and written by staff writers who are all under contract, make ‘em a buck & a half, then sell ‘em on newsstands and 7-11 everywhere, with an occasional “On Sale Now” tv commercial.

I have been suporting dc since the 80″S and i still think they are the best.Is “The Spectre” also part of the launch,does he still exist?

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