“It’s the New 52 / Comin’ right at you”

§ January 5th, 2012 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 19 Comments

Now on with part two of my “so how is all that new 52 hoohar doin’ five months on” overview, following up on that long-ago post where I asked you, the faithful reader, what you thought of them. Part one was yesterday, in case you forgot, and in case you didn’t, I’m sure I’ll link to part one once or twice more.

Grifter – Now had I been thinking, I probably would have ended yesterday’s post with Grifter since this is one of those titles I don’t really have anything to say about, beyond that it’s selling at all which is nothing short of a shock. Another one of those titles that isn’t generating a lot of buzz or attention but still has a small, stable following.

Hawk and Dove – Gotta give it to Rob Liefeld, he’s still on the book. And it’s maintaining…not great sales, but certainly respectable sales, and our customers do seem to be enjoying it. So, hey, that’s fine with me.

I, Vampire – Unfortunately, probably one of the two poorest selling titles of the new 52 for us. Vampire backlash from the comic fans, maybe? Perhaps seeing it as too…pandering, or something? I don’t know. Even the Constantine appearance in the latest issue didn’t do anything to spark interest.

Justice League – The best seller of the bunch, and, as I said before, it’s actually improved a bit since the debut. Okay, it’s still big, loud, and stupid, but it’s big, loud, stupid and entertaining. The mindlessly fun box office blockbuster of DC’s current line-up.

Justice League Dark – I’m not even quite sure what’s going on in this book…probably one of those titles that benefits from reading successive issues at once rather than with a month between, losing the nuances. Not that there’s a lot of “nuance” here, but c’mon. Still, oddly enjoyable and it’s Peter Milligan writing Shade the Changing Man again, and there’s gotta be value to that.

Justice League International – Haven’t looked at it since I didn’t finish reading the first issue after losing interest halfway through. Sells about a third of what Justice League does, which means it’s got some reasonable sales.

Legion of Super-Heroes, Legion Lost – I honestly think it’s probably time to mothball the Legion for a while and make people miss ’em. Seriously, despite the occasional sales bump that comes from yet another reboot/relaunch (like, oh, say, the New 52 #1s) sales always drop right back down to where they were before. And I do mean “down.” Maybe it’s just us…maybe our local Legion fans have simply just dwindled in number. But that their comics do occasionally spike in sales tells me that at least part of our customer base is interested in the Legion, they’re just not interested in the Legion comics coming out right now.

Men of War – Another of the lower sellers, probably not surprisingly, though the people who do read it seem to enjoy it quite a bit.

Mister Terrific – Noted before that this book was kind of a disappointment for me…and apparently not just for me, as some of the prerelease excitement for this book among our customer base had us thinking it’d do really well…which it didn’t. Well, okay, that’s not fair…it did okay, and it’s still maintaining some lower mid-range numbers, so it has its fans.

Nightwing – Kinda surprised the hell out of me when I found out how well this book was selling for us. Not Action/Justice League numbers or anything, but certainly well up there. Lot of you kids out there are Nightwing fans, I guess.

OMAC – Such the best comic. A total Jack Kirby riff, and rightfully includes a credit for Kirby in the book now (which was overlooked in the first issue). Lots of noise and punching and crazy characters and even pulled off a two-page splash in the latest issue which didn’t make me immediately think “hey, you’ve only got 20 pages, cut that out” because it was awesome. Does okay for us, a lower mid-range title, but the folks that read it love it. As well they should.

Red Hood and the Outlaws – One of the better sellers at first, though it’s dropped just a bit. Despite all the fanguish about Starfire’s particular…portrayal in the first issue, we were getting the most requests for this title from our female customer base. Also, one of the employees is really into this title. Maybe a little too into it.

Resurrection Man – A lot of our longtime customers were equal-parts happy and surprised to see this title come back. Not a big seller, but selling more than I expected a revived non-big name title from a decade ago would.

Savage Hawkman – People want a Hawkman title, but it doesn’t appear to be this Hawkman title. Started off okay, but has seen some attrition and drops from comic saver files over the last month or two. It’s just not catching on, unfortunately. Still selling well enough, but probably needs a change in direction right quick to hang on to the readers it has.

Static Shock – The other poorest seller of the relaunch for us, which surprises me a bit. Are people seeing the name “Static Shock” and associating it with the cartoon, and thinking that they don’t want to read a “cartoon adaptation?” Is it maybe just too little, too late past the character’s peak popularity? I honestly have no idea.

Stormwatch – Didn’t really expect this to sell, but it’s doing fine. …Pretty much all I have to say about it, really. Some folks are surprised DC went with this instead of another Authority relaunch, but I’m kind of Authoritied-out so I’m glad they didn’t.

Suicide Squad – Started strongly, dropped about a…third, maybe, in sales, but even so still selling above-average numbers for the New 52 titles. Another one of those comics where the online reaction to the comic was belied by actual sales. Had a lot of people asking about it in the first month or two.

Superboy, Supergirl – Both these Superman tie-ins are selling quite well, with Supergirl having the edge. Supergirl is also getting a lot of back issue requests.

Superman – I can appreciate that George Perez is trying to give people their money’s worth with each issue, cramming as much story in there as possible, but it still feels like it’s getting in the way of telling the story. Like I said, it’s improving, and with a creative team change imminent, it’s very possible these problems will go away…or be replaced by whole new problems, but we’ll see. Sales were strong at first, and are slightly less-strong now, though still doing very well. Probably selling at about two-thirds of Action.

Swamp Thing – Another surprise from the New 52, where, like Animal Man, it’s selling a lot more than anyone would have predicted. And in our store’s case, I promise it’s not because of me pushing the book, honest! Kind of wish that the long, slow build-up to the eventual Return of Swamp Thing (no relation) was maybe a little faster-paced (and the lack of Swamp Thing thus far has cost the title a reader or two at the shop), but response has mostly been very positive for this series.

Teen Titans – That initial promo image was pretty roundly mocked, and rightfully so. However, the series is selling fairly on par or slightly more with the last Titans series or two, and I’ve had a pal or two whose tastes I trust tell me that it’s actually a better comic than you might have thought given that initial negative buzz.

Voodoo – A lower seller from the New 52, which shows nekkid gals can’t sell everything. Has its fans, and while not a big seller, it’s a consistent one, and that’ll do.

Wonder Woman – I really had a negative reaction to the first issue, as we were given a dark, moody and violent Wonder Woman comic instead of one that perhaps could sell to that potentially large audience of little girls that maybe, just maybe, might be interested in a character that, as pal Dorian has so accurately described, is a superhero who is also a princess. Sounds like printing money to me, but that’s not the audience DC wants coming into comic shops or buying comics online, so oh well. (And while we get little girls wanting superhero comics in our shop, I suspect we’re more the exception than the rule.) But, Wonder Woman is selling very well, and people I respect are telling me it’s good, so don’t pay any attention to me.

Overall, even with my being a bit of a Negative Nelly here and there, the new 52 relaunch has been a net gain for DC, with relaunched titles generally selling at or over what they were selling before, and several of the new titles maintaining consistent, if not always heavy, numbers. Despite a few clunkers here and there, a not unexpected result on some of the non-superhero…or less traditionally-superhero…books, this relaunch is doing well for us, and it’s certainly stirred up interest from our customer base, not just in DC Comics, but in comics across the board, which is definitely welcomed. In a marketplace that’s been relatively moribund for far too long, any excitement about the comics themselves, in the stories and characters as opposed to simply just as investable commodities, is something I’m glad to see. (Not that there weren’t some people with dollar signs in their eyes when all these new #1s were cranked out, but that period came and went fairly quickly.)

And besides, it was all worth it just to put Swamp Thing back on the stands. All worth it.

19 Responses to ““It’s the New 52 / Comin’ right at you””

  • Rich Handley says:

    I wanted to like Swamp Thing and JLD. I really did…

    But I don’t.

  • Nat Gertler says:

    “(And while we get little girls wanting superhero comics in our shop, I suspect we’re more the exception than the rule.)”

    This Halloween, the most common costume I saw among the trick-or-treaters and the grade school paraders, beating out all of the characters who have had big recent movies or TV shows, was Supergirl.

    Gotta mean something.

  • Bear says:

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the new 52, Mike. Especially as you steered clearing of confusing/fugly graphs plotting sales over time over distance over orders over sexism. Or whatever.

    I honestly think the most interesting aspect of all this is seeing what’s working/selling and what isn’t. It’ll be fun to see what’s still around in September of this year.

    And Wonder Woman is really good. It’s too easy for that book to get bogged down in literal representations of mythological characters so I’m loving the more modern/updated versions we’re getting.

    But yeah, seriously, a superhero who’s also a princess? How is there not a Tiny Titans type book about that?

  • swamp mark says:

    It hurts to see you unhappy with Swampy,Rich.It looks like Alec is finally about to accept his destiny in issue seven so hang in there,buddy!Hopefully that,along with the Animal Man cross-over will put a smile on your cabbage.I’m loving it!

  • Rob S. says:

    Haven’t read a word yet, because the New Zoo Review reference made me so happy I had to post immediately!

  • Rob S. says:

    And now I’ve read the whole thing (with yesterday’s, too). Great overview, Mike.

    I know what you mean about having reached your limit of Flash stories; I feel the same way about Green Lantern. I used to love him, but I just can’t get excited about any of those books anymore.

    And as for Wonder Woman, the book is fantastic — but there absolutely should be a Wonder Woman: Princess of Paradise Island book aimed at girls.

    And the one thing that I’ve seen no one mention about Captain Atom is how good the art is. Williams has apparently picked up a lot of tricks from Trevor Von Eeden, and it looks pretty damn gorgeous to me.

  • Prankster says:

    Glad to see everyone’s on board with the “Make a Wonder Woman comic for little girls” idea. Of course, all due respect to Mike, the current $4 floppy model sold in fanboy-oriented DM comics stores probably isn’t the medium for that anyway. But there’s no reason they can’t continue to publish this (apparently good but “dark”) WW book in floppy form while releasing, say, a graphic novel aimed at little girls, to be sold in bookstores. It really does seem like bookstores and digital are the places to reach people outside the usual geek audience, but the Big Two only want to push their usual product through these channels. If they’d vary their content a little for these distribution channels, they could really have something…

    But anyway, you’re never going to convince me there isn’t a huge market for superheroes among little girls. The comics publishers just don’t know how to reach them.

    Elsewhere, the success of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE make me happy. The success of Justice League, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and Suicide Squad make me less happy.

  • Rob H. says:

    At this point, Stormwatch IS the Authority relaunch. It’s mostly The Authority’s team members and premise.

  • Boosterrific says:

    Ok, Mike, the question I have now is given what you’ve seen from sales and buyer response after a full 4+ issues, what’s obviously below the kill line with this current slate of titles? Nearly a half year has passed, and DC will soon need to get the bottom-dwellers out of the way for their inevitable next wave of hype. What’s clearly not making that cut?

  • Mikester says:

    Prankster – Oh, yeah, I agree…if there’s gonna be a Wonder Woman push toward the children’s market, it’ll have to be through bookstores and such, and not comic stores. Things would REALLY have to change for a young reader Wonder Woman comic to actually have any impact via the direct market.

    Boosterific – I’d have to say, judging by just our sales, MEN AT WAR, STATIC SHOCK and BLACKHAWKS are probably doomed for sure. Depending on what the kill-line is, VOODOO could be there, especially if its sales drop just a little.

  • Trevor A says:

    Any chance of a post on how the post-New 52 books like Huntress and Shade are doing? Ever since James Robinson tweeted that Shade was in danger of cancellation, I’ve been curious to see how well they’re holding up.

  • Rich Handley says:

    Mark: The reasons I’m not enjoying Swamp Thing are many, but a big one is that I hate having all the previous continuity thrown out the window. This whole “new 52” thing is just the latest gimmick from a company that has steadily relied on gimmicks instead of good writing, and it annoys me to see 40 years of storyline thrown out for a gimmick.

  • Michael says:

    I haven’t read a single New 52 book and don’t ever intend to, but the New Zoo Revue reference made my evening!

  • philip says:

    Because I just know DC brass is reading your blog (or would, if they knew what’s good for ’em) I would like to echo the desire for a kid-friendly WW book. My daughter is 4 and loooooves Tiny Titans, which I started buying for her because she kept asking for comic books with a girl on the cover and TT is one of the few that has girls who are not photo-referenced from porn mags.

    Maybe she’ll turn up in the new Superman Family book that Baltazar/Franco are doing after Tiny Titans ends. Or maybe if that book does well, it will open the door for a book of her own.

  • swamp mark says:

    Touche,Rich.I can’t argue with your reasoning.I just hope when the gimmick fails,the Swampy title is left standing,and wins back your affection.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “I, Vampire” is actually pretty good- not as good as the original JM Demattis stories, though- THOSE were CLASSIC!

  • Deep shock says:

    Happy to see DCnU titles plummet month after month, some like Green Arrow, BoP, JLI do less of what they did only the previous year with their no.4s, others like JLA and ACTION losing countless readers in just 3 months and each and every book is in freefall. That will teach them a lesson for insulting all the older readers who supported them for years with the silly reboot. Obviously it did not change anything and sales in summer of 2012 will be much worse than those of the previous summer.

  • MrJM says:


    — MrJM

  • danjack says:

    i wonder if DC will want to see what each title does in TPB sales before cancelling a book. i am waiting for several trades after buying the 1st issue of several books. i didn’t want to buy more until i got a better feel for the books as TPBs, as it’s more cost efficient for me.

    If i was DC, i’d put out ~1 year of a book, release a TPB of the 1st four issues and get a read off of that before cancelling any but the most pathetically selling books.

    Just my tho’ts. Thanks for a great blog spot Mike!