DC SALES: Superbooks Surge in March

Well, it became clear in March that there are definite haves and have-nots when if comes to sales among the DC Super-starts. If you’re Superman, you did pretty okay this month, thanks, of course, to the “Superman Reborn” event. If, however, you are anyone else wearing the S-shield, then that fact “it means hope” will just have to leave you hoping for better sales next month.

If you missed our review of the Bat-titles for March, you can find that column here.

As always, these numbers are estimates of sales from Diamond Distributors to North American comic books shops, as extrapolated by comichron.com and ICv2.com from known actual sales provided by industry insiders, based on the monthly Diamond Index of relative orders. Issues marked with an asterisk (*) were returnable, and 10 percent was cut from the initial retailer orders to reflect the number of issues that likely remain in the marketplace. Otherwise, what you see below for each issues is the month, it’s placement among Diamond’s Top 300 comics, the title and issue number, and the sales estimate. Again, keep in mind, the number reflects sales from Diamond to retailers, not necessarily from retailers to their customers. A number in brackets reflect additional orders for that issue placed through Diamond’s reorder system, presuming they are sufficient to have cracked the Top 300 for charts following the actual month of release.

And so, sales chart fans, it’s Up, Up, and Awayyyyyy . . .

 

SUPERMAN ($2.99)
03/1997:     (1) Superman #123 — 213,481
(NOTE: first electric Superman)
03/2002: (28) Superman #180 —  42,041
03/2007: (37) Superman #660 —  57,166
08/2011: (46) Superman #714 —   35,919
——————————————————–
09/2011:   (5) Superman   #1 — 118,376
03/2012: (10) Superman   #7 —  66,588
05/2016: (19) Superman #52 —  54,317
——————————————————–
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%)
03/2017: (16) Superman #18 — 57,879  (+6.1%)
03/2017: (17) Superman #19 — 56,439  (-2.5%)

from 20 years ago: -73.6%
from 15 years ago: +34.2%
from 10 years ago: -1.3%
from 5 years ago: -15.2%
from last New 52: +3.9%
from first Rebirth: -46.4%

The “Superman Reborn” storyline gives Superman a nice boost, one helped by the title’s twice-monthly schedule. Almost always on the sales charts, whenever we see a sales spike, the title falls with the next issue by more than it gained, ending up at or below where it would have been anyway, at standard attrition. This time, however, the the story playing across both Superman issues this month, both end up selling more than #17. The question now is whether retailers expected to sell those extra copies to event collectors and speculators only, or if they think March’s big event will result in any new readers, or even the same number of readers it had before. Frankly, I’m guessing  not, and my prediction for next month is that #20 will come in close to 51,000. We’ll see!

DCN Reviewer Derek McNeil gave both of the “Reborn” chapters 4.5 out of 5 DC Bullets. The latest issue of Superman (#21), got 4 Bullets from Derek, who said, “Despite my reservations about the Kents’ encroaching departure from Hamilton County, I still have faith in the creative team to keep this book as one of the best in DC’s line. Superman is always the first book I read on the weeks when there is a new issue.”

 

ACTION COMICS ($2.99)
03/1997:  (17) Action #733 — 96,929
03/2002: (35) Action #789 — 36,850
03/2007: (27) Action #847 — 64,676
08/2011:  (38) Action #904 —  39,323
——————————————————–
09/2011:    (1) Action   #1 — 182,748
03/2012:   (6) Action   #7 —  91,822
05/2016: (39) Action #52 —  40,623
——————————————————–
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%)
03/2017: (28) Action #975 — 47,382  (+13.6%)
03/2017: (31) Action #976 — 46,846  (-1.1%)

from 20 years ago: -51.7%
from 15 years ago: +27.1%
from 10 years ago: -27.6%
from 5 years ago: -49.0%
from last New 52: +15.3%
from first Rebirth: -47.0%

Thanks to a noteworthy number (#975), and the usual trend in comics that the lesser title in a crossover even gets the biggest boost, Action has one of the more impressive single issue gains I’ve seen in a long, long time. And, because #976 is the end of the story, where we were told to expect “everything changes,” it’s fall from the new high is minimal. But will we see the usual trend were post-event numbers fall in line with where they would have been anyway? If so, look for #977 to sell around 39,750. But the change that happened was big enough that it might have actually chased away some readers. It surely turned me off. If that’s the case, it will take a couple of issues before retailer orders start to reflect a sudden defection of readers.

Reviewer Matthew Lloyd gave #975 four DC Bullets, and #976 three, but the latest issue, #977, drew a solid five bullet rating from him. After the big status change wrought by “Reborn,” Matthew said, “the emotional response to this issue is a resounding, ‘Yes!’ If you were worried, don’t be. Action Comics continues to be be a top-notch Superman title, managing to communicate the new amalgamated status quo in Superman’s history while also teasing the mystery that is still out there.”

 

SUPER SONS ($2.99)
02/2107 (5) Super Sons #1* — 90,345
03/2107 (30) Super Sons #2* — 47,021  (-48.0%)

This particular title was already covered in my review of Bat-book sales for March, wherein I observed #2 saw “a mighty steep drop. Which is too bad, because I personally LOVE this book. Frankly, it may be my favorite title being published right now by DC.

But don’t take my word for it, Konrad Secord-Reitz gave #2 a full 5 Bullet rating. It was, he said, ‘fantastic.'”

I’ll observe here that I had predicted sales of around  52,200 for #2, given a usual 35-percent drop in retailer orders for second issues. But this actually came in a lot closer to the 46,100 I predicted for #3, which assumed an additional 15 percent drop. The jump to $3.99 will probably become apparent when we get sales numbers next month as a not-helpful kind of thing. But, assuming continuing attrition for all titles, Super Sons will probably still be in the Top 50 by this, by which time more readers might have discovered just how much fun this book is.

For what it’s worth, Konrad also gave #3 a best-possible five DC Bullets. “Robin and Superboy are easily the DC Universe’s version of Carter and Lee from Rush Hour,” he said. “They are so unique as characters and Jimenez superbly illustrates this.”

 

SUPERGIRL ($2.99)
——————————————————-
08/2005:   (6) Supergirl   #1 — 123,361
08/2011: (120) Supergirl #68 —  19,754
——————————————————–
09/2011: (31) Supergirl  #1 — 54,052
03/2012: (55) Supergirl #7 — 33,337
03/2015: (90) Supergirl #40 —  26,528
——————————————————–
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%)
03/2017: (103) Supergirl #7 — 24,592  (-6.3%)

from 5 years ago: -26.2%
from last New 52: -7.3%
from first Rebirth: -72.8%

By this point we’d normally like to see a new series settling into standard attrition of about 2 percent per month, but this one looks to be searching for its level still. And for what should be an A-List character for DC to fall outside the Top 100? Well, I’d say a creative shake-up is in order, and maybe even a total reboot.

But I’m not the only one to say that. Danny Saab reviewed Issue #7 and gave it just two DC Bullets, finding the writing “not very good” and the art “inconsistent.”

 

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%)
03/2017: (122) Superwoman #8 — 18,857  (-7.7%)

from first issue: -79.5%

Superwoman is still solicited through #12 in July, and that’s a Part 3, so it’s probably got at least a couple of issues to live after that. Still, these remain pretty dismal numbers. Consider that, ordinarily, a crossover lifts all boats, helping those with the lowest sales the most. But whereas Superman and Action Comics enjoyed sales gains from the “Reborn” storyline, Superwoman still fell for a significant amount, despite being both a tie-in to the “Reborn” even and the epilogue of this series’ opening storyline. Still, for the sake of diversity — a female character and a female creator — DC is probably going to let this fall a fair bit further than it might for any other title.

I’m the DCN reviewer for this title, and I have not been kind. But then I tend to be less free with the bullets than my peers here. I gave Issue #8 just three DC Bullets, and was even harder on #9, with new the new creative team, awarding it just two bullets, saying, “DC should have just canceled this book the moment it decided it was going to tip over the narrative apple cart upon which this entire series was based.”

 

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%)
03/2017: (150) New Super-Man #9 — 15,576  (-6.7%)

from first issue: -86.8%

Well, the most positive thing we can say here is that, hey, at least now it’s only falling by single digits. Still, that’s high single digits, and significantly more in monthly attrition that we would normally like to see at this point in a series’ life. Ordinarily, we might suppose this series doesn’t have much more life in it, but, as with Superwoman, the solicitation for July, doesn’t say it’s a last issue. In fact it too is Part 3 of a multi-issue tale, so the title probably has two or three more issues after that. I’m guessing it’s only for the sake of diversity, or high overseas sales, that DC is tolerating this high level of low performance.

And with sales like this, you’d presume it must not be that good, right? Well, our own Konrad Secord-Reitz reviewed Issue #10 and gave it five DC Bullets, saying of the character’s meeting with his namesake, “This issue is fantastic! It has absolutely everything great that this series needs.”

No issue of the bi-monthly prestige Supergirl: Being Super in March. So, that about covers the Super-titles. Our next sales chart will review the JLA family of titles. See ya then!

https://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 19,237 comic books.