DC SALES: February 2017 — Super Sales Slide

Hey there, sales chart addicts. This time out, we’re looking at sales through February 2017 of the Superman-related books. We’ll jump right into it. For those new to this column, please refer to our review of the Bat-books for a primer on where these numbers come from, and the fine print on what they mean.

Let us simply remind you here that after the month of release for each issue, we give you its rank in that month’s Top 300 comic books (in parenthesis), and then the number of copies sold to North American comic book shops by Diamond Distributors. An asterisk (*) indicates the book was returnable, and 10 percent has been chopped of the calculated sales number to account for the number of books that remain in the market. Finally, if you see a second number [in brackets], that’s the number of copies sold as re-orders following the first month of release.

 

SUPER SONS ($2.99)
02/2107 (5) Super Sons #1* — 90,345

That is certainly a respectable number, as was noted in the Bat-book sales chart review, but it bears repeating.  The question is where sales go from here. Typically, a new series will drop about 30-40 percent with its second issue, and then another 15 percent, or so, with its third. After that, we generally can expect drops of 5-7 percent for the next couple of issues, by which time retailers have hopefully found the base of support for the title. Barring any mass reader defections, a good-selling series will then, if all goes well, fall into what we call “regular attrition” of not more than 2 percent per issue.

So, at those averages, we can expect Super Sons to sell around 52,200 for #2, and 46,100 for #3, which would land it just inside the Top 20. That’s still a pretty successful book these days. So, things look good for a healthy run for the Super Sons.

 

SUPERMAN ($2.99)
06/2016: (8) Superman: Rebirth #1* — 118,434 [+7,754]
06/2016: (10) Superman #1* — 105,380 [+16,132]
07/2016: (15) Superman #2* — 101,953  (-3.3%)
07/2016: (18) Superman #3* — 97,606  (-4.3%)
08/2016: (18) Superman #4* — 88,154  (-9.7%)
08/2016: (27) Superman #5* — 81,339  (-7.7%)
09/2016: (20) Superman #6 — 76,124  (-6.4%)
09/2016: (23) Superman #7 — 72,867  (-4.3%)
10/2016: (26) Superman #8 — 69,905  (-4.1%)
10/2016: (30) Superman #9 — 67,321  (-3.7%)
11/2016: (21) Superman #10 — 66,956  (-0.5%)
11/2016: (22) Superman #11 — 63,686  (-4.9%)
12/2016: (26) Superman #12 — 60,992  (-4.2%)
12/2016: (28) Superman #13 — 59,393  (-2.6%)
01/2017: (21) Superman #14 — 60,409  (+1.7%)
01/2017: (23) Superman #15 — 57,412  (-5.0%)
02/2017: (17) Superman #16 — 56,105  (-2.3%)
02/2017: (19) Superman #17 — 54,561  (-2.8%)

My interpretation from these numbers in that retailers misjudged initial interest in this relaunch, causing them to reorder the first two issues in fairly significant numbers. But then attrition picked up a past around issue #s 4-5, when they generally start settling in. That indicates to me that fans tried the first couple of issues, then bailed pretty hard. Since, then, monthly attrition has slowed to a fairly reasonable rate.

by comparison, the New 52 run of Superman began with 118,376 in initial orders in Sept. 2011, ranking it at #5 that month. The series ended at #52 in May 2016 at #19 on the charts, with 54,317 in sales. So, Big Blue is about where he was before Rebirth. The telling stat though is that it took him just 17 issues to drop here from 118k, versus 52 issues before. Now, I’m not saying Superman necessarily needs to do the electric slide one more time, but DC must be thinking of some way in can goose sales.

Of course, Superman was at just 35,919 in sales and 46th on the charts when the legacy series ended in August 2011. So, this is not the lowest circulation the Man of Steel has ever had. The highest, for what its worth — or at least the highest we know without DC opening up its accounting vaults, is 823,829. That’s the number DC reported in it’s annual statement of ownership for 1965, reported to the U.S. Postal Service and published in Superman #188.

 

ACTION COMICS ($2.99)
06/2016: (26) Action #957* — 75,349 [+13,009]
06/2016: (25) Action #958* — 75,661 [+8,235]  (+0.4%)
07/2016: (30) Action #959* — 83,337  (+10.1%)
07/2016: (36) Action #960* — 75,710  (-9.2%)
08/2016: (36) Action #961* — 71,821  (-5.1%)
08/2016: (43) Action #962* — 64,328  (-10.4%)
09/2016: (32) Action #963* — 60,824  (-5.4%)
09/2016: (35) Action #964 — 58,439  (-3.9%)
10/2016: (44) Action #965 — 55,678  (-4.7%)
10/2016: (45) Action #966 — 53,467  (-4.0%)
11/2016: (44) Action #967 — 50,611  (-5.3%)
11/2016: (48) Action #968 — 48,931  (-4.4%)
12/2016: (44) Action #969 — 46,573  (-3.8%)
12/2016: (45) Action #970 — 45,856  (-1.5%)
01/2017: (43) Action #971 — 44,894  (-2.1%)
01/2017: (48) Action #972 — 43,110  (-4.0%)
02/2017: (35) Action #973 — 43,047  (-0.1%)
02/2017: (38) Action #974 — 41,712  (-3.1%)

The granddaddy floppy charts a similar trend line to Superman and, thus, the same comments apply. Vol. 1 ended at #904, at #38 on the Aug. 2011 chart with 39,323 in sales. That jumped to a runner-up ranking and 182,748 in sales with the New 52 #1 the following month, with sales gliding down to 40,623 and a 39th place ranking with series’ end at #52 in May 2016. So, Action is still above where it was before Rebirth, but not by much. And while a bump can be expected on next month’s chart for #975, the title will probably be right at or below 40k for #976.

So, same question applies, what can be done to slow, or even reverse the sales slide?

 

SUPERGIRL ($2.99)
08/2016: (10) Supergirl: Rebirth #1* — 112,807
09/2016:  (8) Supergirl #1* — 90,247
10/2016: (58) Supergirl #2* — 45,692   (-49.4%)
11/2016:  (75) Supergirl #3 — 37,316  (-18.3%)
12/2016: (92) Supergirl #4 — 31,040  (-16.8%)
01/2017: (96) Supergirl #5 — 29,030  (-6.5%)
02/2017: (92) Supergirl #6 — 26,240  (-9.6%)

See, now this I call kind of scary. Not only has this title not settled into standard attrition, the pace of order-shedding is actually picking up pace. Setting aside the Rebirth issue and just counting the #1 of the regular series, sales to retailers for this series have dropped 71 percent!

So, what’s wrong, and what can fix it? Is the character even viable? Certainly, when I was a kid, Supergirl had a spot in Superman Family, but no one would have suggested she could support a series of her own. And yet, the character has her own CW tv show. Should DC simply give up on current continuity and make the tv show the reality depicted in the comic book?

Supergirl had a 10-issue run from 1972 to 1974, then the Post-Crisis Matrix version had a four issue limited series in 1994. That character then enjoyed an 80-issue run from July 1996 to March 2003. That series started at #8 on the sales charts, moving 101.8 percent of that’s month’s Batman. But it ended at #69 with just 28,195 copies sold to comics shops. Vol. 4 was, I think, a return to the Kara Zor-El version of the character, lasting 68 issues (counting a #0 issue launch) from Aug. 2005 to Aug. 2011. It started with 123,361 in sales (#6 on the charts) and ended with just 19,764 (#120). Vol. 5 was the New 52 version, but didn’t last the full run of the universe, petering out at #40 in March 2015. That series launched with 54,052 in sales (ranking 31st), and ended with 26,528 at 90th place.

So, while Supergirl has sold worse before getting the ax, it’s now below where it was when DC last pulled the plug.

 

SUPERWOMAN ($2.99)
08/2016: (16) Superwoman #1* — 92,081
09/2016: (48) Superwoman #2* — 50,436  (-45.2%)
10/2016: (84) Superwoman #3* — 36,867  (-26.9%)
11/2016: (97) Superwoman #4 — 30,070  (-18.4%)
12/2016: (104) Superwoman #5 — 24,761  (-17.7%)
01/2017: (118) Superwoman #6 — 23,065  (-6.8%)
02/2017: (106) Superwoman #7 — 20,435  (-11.4%)

Superwoman is performing even worse than Supergirl, having lost 77.8 percent of its sales to retailers since its debut. You can read my review of the most recent issue (#8) to see why I have not loved the book, even though I had such high hopes for it.

Frankly, I’m predicting this series will get canceled before #12, although I hope I’m wrong. I almost never like to see a DC series shut down. Still, I have to wonder if the wiser move might not have been to solicit this as a limited series, to gauge fan interest, before moving on to a regular series.

 

NEW SUPER-MAN ($2.99)
07/2016:    (8) New Super-Man #1* — 117,684
08/2016:  (35) New Super-Man #2* — 72,522  (-38.4%)
09/2016:  (67) New Super-Man #3* — 41,796  (-42.4%)
10/2016: (102) New Super-Man #4 — 31,689  (-24.2%)
11/2016: (109) New Super-Man #5 — 25,378  (-19.9%)
12/2016: (115) New Super-Man #6 — 21,000  (-17.3%)
01/2017: (136) New Super-Man #7 — 18,959  (-14.0%)
02/2017: (131) New Super-Man #8 — 16,962  (-11.1%)

Okay, remember what I said about Superwoman‘s numbers not looking too hot? Well, make way on the cancellation train for Discount Superman. FWIW, I tried this series but bailed after #3, finding the lead character almost completely unlikable. To me, this book might as well have been titled Superman: Emerald Dawn. And I think my tastes are backed up by me fellow fans here, although that’s not always the case. After all, a loss of 85.6 percent in sales from #1 is what my grandfather would have called a “gullywhumper.” I’m also backing on this being off the schedule by #12.

 

SUPERGIRL: BEING SUPER ($5.99)
12/2016:  (111) Supergirl: BeSuper #1 — 21,491
02/2017: (153) Supergirl: BeSuper #2 — 14,662  (-31.8%)

Now, here’s the funny thing — the worst-selling Super book is also my personal favorite. I have LOVED this prestige format limited series. Although, truth be told I do not love the prestige price, and expect that’s what is keeping sales so low. Still, I would not mind if this continuity and creative team became the status quo of the regular title. What is interesting though, is that at the higher price point, I expect DC and retailers alike and making greater bank on this book that the regular series, despite the lower sales.

Okay, that’s it for this edition of the charts. I’ll be back in a few days with a look at the Justice League books, including that series as well as the ongoing titles of its constituent members (Superman and Batman excepted).

http://dccomicsnews.com/wp-content/themes/maxblog/assets/img/flash-icon.jpg

Duke Harrington

A newspaper reporter since 2004, Duke Harrington currently writes for the Kennebunk Post and the South Portland Sentry. He lives in Western Maine with one wife, one dog, two cats, and 19,051 comic books.