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Batman #1 leads DC Comics domination of September’s Top 20

Strong sales of the New 52, its heavily promoted line-wide relaunch, made DC Comics the leading direct-market publisher in September, edging out Marvel in market share and dominating the Top 20 titles for the month.

DC carved out a 35.74 percent of the market in dollars and 43.04 percent in units sold, versus Marvel’s 35.7 percent and 37.88 percent, according to figures released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors. The $2.99 cover price for the vast majority of DC’s line — the 40-page Action Comics, All-Star Western and Men of War were $3.99 — prevented the dollar share from being larger.

The publisher claimed 17 of the Top 20 spots, led by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #1 at No. 1. It was followed by Action Comics #1, by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales, which, because of its cover price, was actually the top-selling comic in terms of dollars.

Marvel entered the list at No. 8 with Fear Itself #6, followed by Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 at No. 9, and The Amazing Spider-Man #699 at No. 18.

While many will undoubtedly see this as further evidence that DC’s relaunch gamble has paid off, Warren Ellis was quick to throw cold water on those market-share numbers, writing, “So DC Comic’s media-blitzed massive relaunch of its entire line in September got them this: A half-point lead in dollar share over Marvel Comics (who had one high-profile launch in the September frame). A five-point lead in units sold over Marvel Comics. But all those units DC sold are returnable.

“Thank god all those DC execs told everyone they weren’t interested in market share. Otherwise someone might have come away with the notion that DC really intended to give Marvel a fight in the marketplace and make Marvel sort their own shit out. What a stroke of luck for everybody.”

Here’s a rundown of the Top 20 comics for September, with Diamond providing the first half and Bleeding Cool filling out the rest:

  1. Batman #1
  2. Action Comics #1
  3. Green Lantern #1
  4. The Flash #1
  5. Superman #1
  6. Detective Comics #1
  7. Batman: The Dark Knight #1
  8. Fear Itself #6
  9. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1
  10. Batman and Robin #1
  11. Green Lantern: New Guardians #1
  12. Batgirl #1
  13. Wonder Woman #1
  14. Green Lantern Corps #1
  15. Teen Titans #1
  16. Aquaman #1
  17. Batwoman #1
  18. The Amazing Spider-Man #669
  19. Red Lanterns #1
  20. Justice League Dark #1

I’ll leave it to someone else to figure out when the last time was some of the titles — Aquaman, Batgirl, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman — cracked the Top 20.

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Comments

57 Comments

Weird, one instance where quality meets demand. Shame the rest of the top 20 isn’t like that.

Why is Warren Ellis being so rude? Well done DC and everyone involved in this, I hope good sales continue.

Not sure. Maybe Warren wasn’t asked to be part of DC’s reboot?

I say good for DC. Glad to see Batman #1 in the top spot. Well deserved.

Good sales from both companies helps create good sales for the smaller companies. If the industry retains some of the sales then the new 52 did something good. You don’t want to have to start over with new #1′s all the time to get people in the stores but hooking them and keeping readers satisfied will be good for everyone.

Warren’s incorrect about all DC titles being returnable. 41 of the 52 are returnable, the other 11 had other incentives but aren’t returnable. Of those 11, only 3 aren’t in the September’s Top 20 – Justice League (not on sale in Sept), Swamp Thing, and Stormwatch, the other 8 all chart. Of the Top 5, only 1 is returnable (Superman).

Snyder’s Batman was great and deserves to be at the top. Would also have liked to see Batman & Robin much higher in the list.

Was it ever reported where Justice League #1 ever ended up on the charts?

If Fear Itself and ASM held stable, everything below #8 sold less than 90,000 units. Interesting. I suppose it should be more about chart position than sales numbers at this point, even if they are estimates.

Ellis forgets that Marvel has 40 more books out there, so DC made the same money but with much less costs.

“Why is Warren Ellis being so rude?”

He’s just upset because he hasn’t written a good comic since his Thunderbolts run, and only 12 people actually read Thunderbolts.

Cole Moore Odell

October 7, 2011 at 6:42 am

Ellis is off base in that quote. As Bleeding Cool mentioned, DC had half as many books on the shelf as Marvel, which regularly swamps the stands. DC sold most of their comics for a dollar less than Marvel, which gleefully gouges their fans with $3.99 books. And these numbers don’t include the huge-selling Justice League #1, which came out the previous month. DC is doing better than that narrow market share differential indicates, because they’re running a different game.

Of course Marvel is close in shares…DC still only published half the number of books as Marvel in Sept.

What’s funny about the attitude of Marvel is the fact that obsecure books are getting just as many new readers as marquee heroes. When does this ever happen? This is being totally overlooked by writers from a company that have said time and time again that there is no place in mainstream comics to produce the unqiue kind of books they want to write cause THEY WILL NOT SELL. Don’t get me wrong, Hawk and Dove, Voodoo, Men of War, and a few others will probably be cancelled, but DC’s top new talents are writing books like Frankenstein and Demon Knights and Stormwatch that are getting tons of attention and eyes while every top Marvel writer is splitting up the X-Men and Thor books so everyone can write characters that will ‘sell.’

Actually, he’s two runs into Secret Avengers, building up some considerable momentum. That was really rude, but it was also funny.

Cole Moore Odell

October 7, 2011 at 6:51 am

And yes, Ellis’ Secret Avengers is lots of fun so far, the best work on the title to date. (Brubaker’s heart never seemed to be in it, and the less said about Spencer’s issues, the better.)

when will the actual numbers be released, not these vague percentages?

Doesn’t returnability usually adjust the numbers Diamond reports down by 20%? If so, wouldn’t that mean that, since these books were hugely successful, had huge sell-through, and returns will likely be minimal, that DC actually kicked Marvel’s ass by a pretty substantial margin?

“when will the actual numbers be released, not these vague percentages?”

We’ll never see the “actual” numbers, but estimates should arrive next week.

We need some hard numbers.

@Kevin thanks.

Another factor that contributed to DC’s “mere” halfpoint lead over Marvel is that in addition to selling books at a lower price, they released fewer books in the first place.

I also believe – and please somone correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not expert! – that Diamond subtracts 20% from returnable books and we have no idea if 20% of the ordered stock is, in fact, being returned. The ten or so books that weren’t returnable had huge discounts on them, which you can see on the Bleeding Cool report if you look at the unit sales vs dollar amount for books like Wonder Woman which comes in at 13th in unit sales but 45th in dollar sales due to those discounts.

So in addition to publishing fewer books at a cheaper average price, DC is contending with 20% reductions for most of their line and enormous discounts on the rest of it, and still managed to swing a half point dollar share lead and five point unit share lead. It also sounds small when you measure it as “how much did it beat Marvel by?” but much bigger when you instead ask, “how much did DC’s market share rise?” I think it’s easy to forget that DC has been trailing Marvel by a depressingly large amount in recent years, and while we aren’t talking about Dark Horse suddenly defeating one of the big two, it’s not quite fair to act like the big two are entirely equal commpetitors either. I’m a huge DC fan, but in the industry, they have definitely been #2 for a long, long time. They haven’t beaten Marvel share in terms of dollars in nearly a decade, if I recall correctly.

I also imagine this doesn’t include a lot of the reprints since only the first week’s second printings were released during September. I wonder how that will affect the October figures.

Warren Ellis might be right that Marvel aren’t in a position where they need to be panicking, but I also think it’s disingenuous for him to imply that the returnability invalidates the figures as the returnability has already been factored into those figures, potentially to DC’s detriment.

I guess what I’m saying is, no, it’s not an earthshattering, industry revitalising cats-and-dogs-living-together turnaround, but it *is* a significant achievement and there are solid reasons why the dollar share isn’t as spectacular as the buzz might otherwise indicate (lower prices, discounts, returnability, fewer books).

Now let’s hope that the inevitable drop-off isn’t too huge and DC can maintain solid selling figures and be in a stronger position than they were a year ago, whether or not that’s ahead of, or behind, Marvel.

Boo hoo, Warren Ellis said something I disagree with.

So, pointing out inconvenient truths is rude now?

Sales of first issues don’t really mean anything. Of course DC was going to “win” September. 52 new #1s would have pushed Boom! into the number one spot.

What matters is if they can hold onto that spot going forward. Most second issues take a significant drop in sales.

So unless DC manages to hold onto the same numbers for following issues, the gamble of the new 52 has not paid off yet.

My prediction, after a couple months and the “newness” and “hype” of the new 52 has worn off, is that the numbers end up settling at relatively the same levels they were pre-New 52 relaunch. There will be some bumps (Justice League for example will maintain a significant difference in sales from the pre-relaunch days, the James Robinson run, just by virtue of Johns and Lee being on the book) but things will end up settling where they were.

The reboot is gonna plummet sooner than I thought! All that effort and marketing and they hardly managed to beat Marvel! I guess now everyone is now going to realise that it was unnecessarry and overall a bad idea. It drove longtime fans away!

“Sales of first issues don’t really mean anything. Of course DC was going to “win” September. 52 new #1s would have pushed Boom! into the number one spot.”

Well, Marvel has been doing it. Everyone of their titles except 8 of which are above #100, Marvel has been relaunching all of their titles within these 5 years. All marvel need to do is continue doing what theyre doing. So lets not vount Captain America or Ultimate Spidey’s #1 which was below 100k to begin with.

“The reboot is gonna plummet sooner than I thought! All that effort and marketing and they hardly managed to beat Marvel! I guess now everyone is now going to realise that it was unnecessarry and overall a bad idea. It drove longtime fans away!”

Well this didnt include 200k Justice Leagues sales and the 20% that diamond has minus of due to returnability. Also, you forgot the numbers for 2nd print

Not a surprise – I bought more DCs than Marvel in September, and I definitely lean Marvel in my preferences. Like a lot of people, I wanted to sample all the new things.

October is what’ll be interesting. I imagine most people will buy half of what they sampled in September (I am). And that’s still a lot more DC than I read in August, but we’ll start to see real title differentiation, and whether they really have a few more hits on their hands than the Batman and Superman books. And like everyone else, I’ve got a number I’m picking up #2 on, that I’m doubtful to pick up #3, and same for #4, before it really stabilizes.

But kudos to DC, I think they’re publishing more good books now than they were in August. And kudos to readers for correctly picking out Batman as the best of the mainstream books. (Titles like Batwoman, Animal Man, and Swamp Thing are also great, but shouldn’t be expected to get the kind of sales of the heavy hitters.)

And Warren Ellis may have a point, and I love some but not all of his work, but from what people are saying, I don’t think many of the ‘returnable’ books are being returned, not when everything is going to second and third printings. So it’s true that these numbers aren’t final, but there’s no reason to expect a large adjustment.

I don’t understand all the fuss, people are getting all excited about a month of hype and anticipation of the 52′s, its not September DC is concerned about, its the next 3 months and beyond that they are concerned with its keeping all those new readers aboard. Listen I prefer Marvel over DC, but i still enjoy reading some of DC books, I want both companies to succeed. So to get mad at what Ellis said and then turn around and say something negative about him and Marvel is just doing the same thing your mad at him for saying., and very unnecessary. So again great job DC and i hope they continue to do great things in the future.

Well done DC. Like Darkxmen I prefer Marvel over DC and I’m glad to see both companies doing well. Having said this, the September sales victory for DC was not as much of a run away as I thought it might be. Mighty Marvel held it’s own. Did I buy some #1′s from DC? Sure. Will I be back? Probably not. Nothing against the stories or company, it’s just my dollars are heavily invested elsewhere. There is such a thing as having too many irons in the fire. Regardless, glad the new 52 has been at least initially successful and hope it stays true in future months.

Toastedbread and Jason Green have their eye on the ball. Well said the both of you. Also, the sales for issue #2 just started this week and were as strong. Orders were way up but it will take a few months to get the levels normalized. Either way the returnability discount is accounted for but I am not seeing many returns these books are selling to real people who want them and are onboard for the next 3 months. Some say they didn’t need to do this but the proof is in the pudding. The industry was bleeding sales in a nonsurviable way. This as attracted real lapsed and new readers that are cross buying books from many publishers. The Marvel, Image, Dark Horse etc should be quite pleased with the run off effect. Mr Ellis is incorrect sour grape remarks and it is just sad to see an.industry insider knocking something that will benefit the industry. Make mine a strong viable comic industry!

Really glad that Scott & Greg on BATMAN got the top spot. It truly was imo the best book to come out of the new 52. And I am not a batman fan per se either so it was weird that I enjoyed it as much as I did.

I’m a Marvel over DC kind of guy but they have steadily been losing me since Civil War. I still prefer the characters but the comics that Marvel produces are not for me outside of Captain America, Daredevil, and Thunderbolts. This was a bold move by DC that makes me excited to get to the shop on Wednesdays.

Unfortunately, Warren isn’t being rude, just pointing out the truth. This was a a huge media push and they barely beat Marvel in dollars and only by 5 points in market share. Think about how many people are not going to get #2s. I bought 9 number 1s and only adding one book to my pull list.

By this time next year (and way sooner) things will be back to where they have been. Marvel on top in dollars and market shares.

But still I think the 52 was a ballsy play by DC and it worked. It will bring them much closer to marvel in both those categories but bottom line, more people just read/like marvel.

10 of DC’s 17 books are from the Batman or Green Lantern lines….

The two lines that DIDN’T get rebooted.

I still fail to see how the reboot was necessary for this effort to bring in sales.

The tv ads, the big digital push, the huge promotion…all exactly what needs to be going on at both major publishers ALL THE TIME… but the reboot was just a pointless misstep that will only hurt them.

They have effectively removed their huge back catalog of trades from relevance to any new readers.

Capullo on Batman is far and away the most interesting and worthwhile thing about this reboot.

O shoot, also: I’m completely with Ellis on this one. Hard not to be, isn’t it? 51 (!) brand-spanking-new #1 issues, including 17 of the top 20 books (how many of these titles figure to stay there three months from now? maybe four or five in a best-case scenario) and they’re in a virtual tie for market share. It’s pretty scary when you think about it.

And I’ll never understand why DC always goes with so many humdrum artists in a visual medium and wonders why they’re constantly playing catch-up with Marvel’s “shinier” approach.

@Darkxmen

You don’t see how these opening numbers are a good thing? Think of this as opening weekend for a movie. If the numbers aren’t big out of the box, they typically are never good. You can assume that there are many new fans or returned fan, and that’s what DC was going for. Will there be drop off in the months to come? Of course there will be. The goal now is to stay above where DC was after the drop off.

> So, pointing out inconvenient truths is rude now?

An inconvenient truth is that Doktor Sleepless has been on hiatus for over 25 months.

Specifically, he was incorrect on the returnable status (“But all those units DC sold are returnable.”). And the statement “Thank god all those DC execs told everyone they weren’t interested in market share” sounds rude to anyone.

Math Math and a bit more math. Oh and some thought. If u put out a significantly lower number of titles. Then u factor in 20% decrease in reported numbers. Then u have a lower price point. But u still earn a larger, however by a slim margin, share of the revenue pie. it is a revenue victory. Now apply that logic to unit sales…. ok again a victory. Attempts to lessen the victory because it is only 5 points = a bit sad. Oh and the year over year loss is now down to around 2 percent. Positive industry news!

> Think about how many people are not going to get #2s.

Think about how many people are going to get #2s.

@Frank Wane

Historically, #2 sales always dip. No matter the book, company, or quality. Especially considering how many people, like me, were trying stuff out to see what books they actually want to get every month.

I’m not trying to say I’m opposed to the 52. I mean I usually only get one DC book a month and I got 9 this month. So it worked. And I’m a fan of the medium so I want DC to do well, I want good books to come out from all companies.

The 52 worked because when the dust settles they will have gained readers and closed in on Marvel in sales and all that. I’m just not sure a year from now it will have been sustained at this level. But again, better than where DC was a month ago.

Congratulations to DC for their success but I am amazed anyone is suprised they had so many in the top 20. I thought they would own it completely. I havent brought any of the 52 as I buy graphic novels (looks so much better on the book shelves) :-). I have always leaned towards Marvel but more and more have got DC books, Batman and Green Lantern being the main ones, as the writing and art were good. I hope that DC maintains their momentum but I think the reality is that in 6 months it will go back to a level slightly above where they were before. We live in a world where attention span is small and people dont want to invest in long stories, just consider how many TV series dont make it past 1st season anymore. Getting to care about the characters, the story and where it goes needs time. I dont think any reboot addresses that. Making things simpler by erasing all the back story can only work for a short time as eventually you make things more involved. One thing is clear though, DC selling more books is good for the industry and hopefully this will lead to the other companies upping their game and that can only be a good thing for those of us who love this medium.

Thanks for sharing Warren Ellis’ remark! SInce he is all knowing, I’m glad you let him clear all of this up for me!!

“They have effectively removed their huge back catalog of trades from relevance to any new readers.”

not quite. DC revolutionized the industry with the Vertigo line, and Vertigo plus Batman = DC’s trade sales. And DC has dominated the tpb industry over Marvel since …ever.

In addition these older trades will be replaced by the DC 52 line, and I will assume most retailers will buy in at Vol 1 and go forward. It will make access to the DCU for new future readers very easy as they have a recent jumping on point. If DC spreads out their trades over the 6 months (probably 1-2 per week) It should play out nicely for retailers, and readers.

And it also looks like DC are going to increase their figures for October. With stores upping their orders for the 2nd issues instead of slashing them.

On the other face of that coin – I see Ult Spiderman #2 dropping 30%-40% like all of Marvels 2nd issues do. And thats because their #1s usually have about 10 variant covers! haha….

All I’ve got to say is “Lion King”. Think about it.

The only reason Marvel is almost equal in Market Dollar is because half their books sell for 3.99 as opposed to DC’s 2.99.

Wonder if Warren Ellis took that into account when he made his statement.

Marvel publishes more comics because they sell more and have more fans. DC would make more if they could, but they can’t because not enough people will buy them. The more successful comic book company has a goal to publish more books if more people will buy them. And at Marvel they do, and DC they don’t. Marvel just has more fans because they have more likeable characters, better story, and better product. DC has 2 characters people actually like. That’s it.

“Marvel publishes more comics because they sell more and have more fans. DC would make more if they could, but they can’t because not enough people will buy them. The more successful comic book company has a goal to publish more books if more people will buy them. And at Marvel they do, and DC they don’t. Marvel just has more fans because they have more likeable characters, better story, and better product. DC has 2 characters people actually like. That’s it.”

huh , what planet do you live on?
Did you look at the chart?
Flooding the market , can not be the most profitable avenue for a publisher to take , when 2/3 of what you publish is purchased by less then then 20k

My post is – “Your comment is awaiting moderation”.

Looks like you cant comment of Ellis comment.

Way to show your Bias CBR…..

Instead of one mans lame and bitter comment against the relaunch in your article – how about 2? One for, one against. So you seem impartial…..

Here’s a reminder about our comments guidelines:

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/about/

“So, pointing out inconvenient truths is rude now?”

No, but not knowing what you’re talking about kind of is.

Hmm, Batgirl, Batwoman and Wonder Woman beat Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws despite *gasp* giving its protagonists depth and treating them as more than sex objects? How could this be? Isn’t the fan base for female comic characters sexually frustrated fanboys and nobody else?

@V: Or it could also be that Batgirl, Batwoman, and Wonder Woman have bigger installed fanbases to start with, being the two Batman-related heroes and the iconic DC female superhero? Hmm…

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=34108

Just look at CBR’s own pre-52 survey, where the poll results showed that there was way more intent to buy the three titles mentioned above, at 30+%, compared to Catwoman, Red Hood, or Birds of Prey (which is conveniently forgotten as a strong-female-oriented book that did not crack the top 20 and had the lowest poll interest). I’d say that’s a lot more of a factor than anything related to this women-being-naughty drama.

I think it’s more surprising that Teen Titans, and to some extent, Red Lanterns, made the top 20. The rest of the titles are Batman, Superman, or Green Lantern tie-ins, and the Red Lanterns are, well, red and keep coughing up stuff, not exactly mainstream characters.

Er, I should add Justice League to the tie-ins. That should cover Aquaman, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Justice League Dark. Though Justice League Dark would’ve been bumped by Justice League proper had it been a September title anyway.

Googam son of Goom

October 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

DC has clearly done something right but we all know the dip will come later in the year and things will level off. Where that level will be is what is going to be even more interesting. I for one would be happy if they sustain these levels of sales even though I only read three of the 52.

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