DC SALES: February 2017 — Titans Are Terrific (Comparatively)

Well, sales chart fans, here we are, still working through the February numbers and, if I Hotfoot McDoubletime, I just might finish before the March estimates come out.

For those of you who are new to this, neither DC Comics nor Diamond Distribution releases actual circulation numbers, but Diamond does publish an “index” that let’s everyone know how the various titles sold relative to one another, by listing everything as a percentage of that month’s Batman sales. But the good folks at Comichron.com and ICv2.com have sources within the industry who share actual sales data, and from that they are able to extrapolate sales estimates for all books. We take those monthly numbers and shuffle them around a bit to examine sales on particular DC titles over time.

Here, for example, are the February sales charts for the Batman Family titles, the Superman Family books, and the series belonging to members of the Justice League, as well as a good poke and prod we gave to Young Animal.

A reminder: These numbers are estimates, and only consider comic books sold to North American comic book shops by Diamond, and (mostly) not counting re-orders. Still, the conventional wisdom is that accounts for about 80-90 percent of all comics book sales. Also, any issue number marked with an asterisk (*) was returnable, and 10 percent has been lopped off the sales estimate calculated from the Diamond Index number in order to account for returns.

Thus, the best way to think of these charts is not total sales, but the minimum probably number of copies able to circulate in the back issue market.

Oh, two more quick notes: The number in parentheses below is that issues rank among that month’s Top 300. And, if you see a number in brackets, those are re-orders that charted in the Top 300 after a books initial month of release.

Got it? Good! Let’s go . . .

This outing, we look at the Titans and related titles starring DC’s teen characters.

 

TITANS ($2.99)
03/2016: (110) Titans Hunt #6 — 18,493
04/2016: (103) Titans Hunt #7 — 20,079
05/2016: (112) Titans Hunt #8 — 17,412
06/2016:  (30) Titans: Rebirth #1* — 72,086 [+21,315]
07/2016: (14) Titans #1* — 102,433
08/2016: (34) Titans #2* — 72,799 (-28.9%)
09/2016: (29) Titans #3* — 64,248 (-11.7%)
10/2016: (43) Titans #4 — 58,342 (-9.2%)
11/2016:  (41) Titans #5 — 52,511 (-10.0%)
12/2016: (40) Titans #6 — 48,612 (-7.4%)
01/2017: (36) Titans #7 — 46,998 (-3.3%)
02/2017: (31) Titans #8 — 44,028 (-6.3%)

So, Titans has called considerably — 57 percent since the latest #1, in fact. It’s also of concern that the pace of attrition picked up for the latest issue. That’s never a good sign — by this point in a series life we’d like best to see sales declining by no more than 2 percent per month — and things are likely to get worse when the new $3.99 price tag hits. Still, the current #8 is selling 27k more copies that the Titans Hunt #8. That’s reason to smile, I think, and this title is probably sale for the foreseeable future, barring some company-wide crossover even that wipes all or most of the team from existence (again).

 

TEEN TITANS ($2.99)
03/2016: (83) Teen Titans #18 — 23,056
04/2016: (94) Teen Titans #19 — 21,989
05/2016: (102) Teen Titans #20 — 18,593
06/2016: (113) Teen Titans #21 — 18,766
07/2016: (120) Teen Titans #22 — 19,005
08/2016: (131) Teen Titans #23 — 19,118
09/2016: (118) Teen Titans #24 — 19,540
09/2016: (11) Teen Titans: Rebirth #1* — 84,919
10/2016: (33) Teen Titans #1* — 64,963
11/2016: (40) Teen Titans #2 — 52,877 (-18.6%)
12/2016: (47) Teen Titans #3 — 44,116 (-16.6%)
01/2017: (53) Teen Titans #4 — 41,304 (-6.4%)
02/2017: (43) Teen Titans #5 — 39,028 (-5.5%)

The younglings present almost a mirror image of their big brothers/big sisters — it’s a sales slide that’s maybe a little steeper than we’d like (although the drop from #1 to #2 was about half what we nomally see), but the numbers are still pretty great when compared to the previous run. As long as this stays in the Top 100, I don’t see DC monkeying with it too awful much.

 

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS
03/2016: (116) Red Hood/Arsenal #10 — 17,707
04/2016: (104) Red Hood/Arsenal #11 — 19,711
05/2016: (124) Red Hood/Arsenal #12 — 16,402
06/2016: (136) Red Hood/Arsenal #13 — 16,389
07/2016: (24) Red Hood/Outlaws: Rebirth #1* — 88,838
08/2016: (21) Red Hood & Outlaws #1* — 83,849
09/2016: (50) Red Hood & Outlaws #2* — 49,943 (-40.4%)
10/2016: (67) Red Hood & Outlaws #3 — 41,971 (-16.0%)
11/2016: (79) Red Hood & Outlaws #4 — 46,740 (+11.4%)
12/2016: (85) Red Hood & Outlaws #5 — 32,860 (-29.7%)
01/2017: (86) Red Hood & Outlaws #6 — 31,321 (-4.7%)
02/2017: (82) Red Hood & Outlaws #7 — 28,753 (-8.2%)

And again, a tough slide, but Rebirthing has calved new sales, as the book outperforms its most recent incarnation. This does still star Arsenal, right? I don’t follow the book myself, so I don’t really know, to be honest (Editor’s note: It does not. Red Hood, Bizarro, and Artemis are the heroes of this tale). I also don’t know why the book got such a boost at #4, unless it sported an especially special alternate cover. The drop at #7 is frightening, though. This one bears watching.

 

RAVEN ($2.99)
09/2016: (87) Raven #1 — 28,374
10/2016: (138) Raven #2 — 20,813 (-26.6%)
11/2016: (137) Raven #3 — 19,154 (-8.0%)
12/2016: (130) Raven #4 — 17,997 (-6.0%)
01/2017: (149) Raven #5 — 17,342 (-3.6%)
02/2017: (138) Raven #6 — 15,992 (-7.8%)

Overall, Raven lost only 43 percent of her orders from #1 to the end of her limited series. Some books lose that much just on the second issue, and certainly by #3. That this book had such a gentle downward glide compared to some books out there, especially given what seemed like no marketing support from DC,  tells me either Raven or the creators involved, and maybe both, had a built-in fan base.

The trouble, however, is that the book started out under-performing and really didn’t have too terribly far to fall. Also, as with the two Titans titles, the pace of attrition is picked up right about where retailers were starting to get a sense for how on point (or off) their initial guesstimates were of customer demand  for this title. So, might be a good thing it ended when it did.

Still, #6 of this series actually outsold #6 of Blue Beetle by 86 copies even though it started with almost #25k less at #1. Either Raven is hot, or the Beetle is not.

 

BLUE BEETLE ($2.99)
08/2016: (33) Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1* — 72,993
09/2016: (44) Blue Beetle #1* — 52,231
10/2016: (95) Blue Beetle #2* — 33,454 (-35,9%)
11/2016: (110) Blue Beetle #3 — 25,300 (-24.4%)
12/2016: (118) Blue Beetle #4 — 20,811 (-17.7%)
01/2017: (146) Blue Beetle #5 — 18,104 (-13.0%)
02/2017: (139) Blue Beetle #6 — 15,906 (-12.1%)

Speaking of which, could this be three strikes and out for Jaime? DC really seems to want this version of the Beetle to work, or, that is to say, they really want to publish a teen Hispanic super-hero. But this poor cat just doesn’t seem to be catching on.

His first series launched in March 2006 with 50,672 in initial orders, placing it 38th on that month’s chart. The title got axes with #36 in Feb. 2009, however, by which time it had fallen to 149th place and a mere 10,620 in sales. Jaime got another chance with the New 52, starting out with 40,003 in sales, although he placed just 62nd against all the other new titles out that month. This second series only hung in there for 16 issues, and was down to 11,487 in sales, having lost an even 100 positions on the sales rankings.

This time out, perhaps given the inclusion of former Beetle Ted Kord among the supporting cast, Jaime landed his best launch yet, with 52k — 72k if we start from the Rebirth one-shot. But, already, just six issues in, the Blue Beetle is within spitting distance of his previous low points. At the current rate of attrition, still dropping double digits each month, he’ll be withing cancellation range by #10.

What, if anything, can he done to turn things around? The current Beetle has what would seem to be an interesting narrative hook — part Iron Man, part Greatest American Hero — but most current comic book fans were kids during Ted’s bwa-ha-ha glory days in the Justice League, and just don’t seem willing to accept anyone but him in blue-tinged bug eyes.

 

So, let’s look at the five titles in question, for overall attrition from their respective debut issues:

1. TEEN TITANS: 64,963 (33) — 39,028 (43) — down 39.9% over 5 issues.
2. RAVEN: — 28,374 (87) — 15,992 (138) down 43.6% over 6 issues.
3. TITANS: 102,433 (14) — 44,028 (31) — down 57.0% over 8 issues.
4. RED HOOD: 83,849 (21) — 28,753 (82) — down -65.7% over 7 issues.
5. BLUE BEETLE: — 52,231 (44) — 15,906 (139) — down 69.5% over 6 issues.

 

That’s it for this outing chart-o-teers. Next time out, I’ll try to wrap up the rest of the main DCU titles for February not covered this far. That means we’ll be talking Suicide and Arrows.

See ya then.

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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 19,237 comic books.