Monday, January 20, 2014

Sales Review: December 2013

December 2013 comic sales were announced last week.

Head to ICv2 for the details here:

So was it good news or bad news for Supergirl?

The Michael Alan Nelson 'era' of Supergirl was over. The prior issue was part of a super-book crossover which gave the title a modest boost in sales. Tony Bedard and Yildiray Cinar were taking over the book, talking about a new direction, and discussing the book on lots of comic book sites. And the book starred the 'new' Lobo, a hot button character.

The Red Lantern announcement also was already out there when this book was published, an even newer direction for the book that was controversial.

Depending on your viewpoint, elements of the above list were either good news or bad news.

The question therefor is 'In regards to sales, did Supergirl #26 represent a jumping on point or a jumping off point?'

Interestingly enough, it looks like it was neither. Instead it was status quo.

Supergirl #26 was ranked 97th overall. I was glad to see Forever Evil Argus nearby in sales.

Those sales numbers look bad in comparison to Supergirl #25 which sold 25377. That means Supergirl #26 was down 9% in sales. But Supergirl #25 did get a bump from 'Krypton Returns' (as crazy as that sounds).

But if you compare sales to Supergirl #24 (which sold 23321), it looks more like a natural attrition of sales.

Still, we are approaching the dreaded 20K 'cancellation watch' level. And the fact that the title hasn't had a Scribblenaut variant, a Steampunk variant, or an Annual, it makes me worry that the book is something of an afterthought for DC. It makes the Red Lantern storyline that much more interesting to watch closely.


Dave Mullen said...

Virtually all of DCs sales are trending downwards, at an alarming rate. Much moreso than Marvels are on average.
Glancing at that chart it presents a slightly distorted picture as there is a lot of double shipping of issues muddying the results but Superman and Action Comics average 37'000, which is okay but not wonderful, GL Corps and Wonder Woman average 32'000, which is well below where they were even as little as four months ago.
I can see rough times ahead for DC. Marvel are much better at managing their books and sales aren't deteriorating as dramatically, with the reboot's effects now all but gone DC are in much the same position they were in before it... but with a shakier universe thanks to it.

Anonymous said...

They did this to themselves, they "Burned Down The House" and all they generated was some "Cheap Heat" shortlived and uncontaminated by any New Readers.

I can't say I have a lot of sympathy...


Anj said...

It does feel like the DC Comics house of cards is falling down.

Whether it be the new universe, the failed new titles, the lack of confidence in creative teams, etc etc ... it all seems to be collapsing.

Anonymous said...

I blame Ben Affleck :)

Well, not really. I think the NEW 52 is imploding in on itself. It's all well and good rebooting everything as a cover for slightly altering some of your key characters in an attempt to make them safe from copyright issues while also tweaking your cash cows in preparation for movie appearances, but overhauls really can't work in the long run for something with presences in other media or such a long history.

Take the Scribblenauts game, for example. What can you do, as the creator? Leave OUT Stephanie Brown? Or Harley's original costume? Or all lore/background relating to pre-New 52 material? What about Cassandra Cain? Or the link between Harley and Ivy? Do you omit that? People will just complain. No one in the mainstream will care about what the current comics consider "real/official" or not. What do you do with DC Universe Online? Or all the most popular DC graphic novels or cartoons?

If the New 52 universe was just one of many, allowing for gradual reintroduction and mixing up with old popular history (just like the previous reboots) then things would have been better.

Anyhow, I'd be sad to see the Supergirl book vanish, but if she was still around in other team books it wouldn't be quite as bad.

Dave Mullen said...

I do wonder, based on the timing, whether Dan Didio's foot-in-mouth declaration concerning the company's decision to implement a 'no marriage, no serious relationships' rule is partly responsible for the accelerated drop in sales these last three months.

To come out in public as he did and state in full public glare that from now on thanks to the reboot their characters are to be frozen in amber and never progress is surely one of the greatest misjudgements in the modern era of comics. Combine it with the upheaval and controversy of the relaunch and it helps form a toxic brew in terms of audience reception. What's more it is actually backed up by the lack of direction or evolution now seen in many of their characters; Supergirl being the obvious example of this dogmatic tunnel-vision.

iopy said...

Crossovers and events can produce a temporary increase in sales for the duration of the event, but for them to produce a long term increase the readers have to have a reason to keep purchasing after it's over. Neither of the H'El events did that. There wasn't anything compelling about the story and with all the disagreeable bickering I don't know why anyone would want to hang around after it was over. Plus I'm sure a lot of the readers of each of the Super books were already reading the other ones.

A crossover with the Lantern books touches a segment of readers that may not already be reading Supergirl, so it's possible that the bump may be greater. And to be frank, Soule is a much better writer than Lobdell. And reading the interviews it sounds like he and Bedard have a plan, that the story is actually going somewhere, and that Kara is actually a centerpiece of he storyline with a clear arc instead of just being a MaGuffin to move Superman and H'El's confrontation to a climax.

What I'm saying is that this next storyline and crossover may have a much better chance of improving sales than what we've seen up to now. While I'm anxious about Kara as a Red Lantern I also think she's in better hands than since Mike Johnson left. And that, if done well, some Lantern readers may hang around after it's over. I wasn't reading Red Lanters before, but I am now. Let's hope the same is true for some Lantern universe readers.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

Interesting point Dave. I wonder if this cross-company edict has made people wary of the product.

And you might be right lopy. This Red Lantern story might lure some GL folks over to the book. It certainly is a novel idea ... even if I don't agree.

Dave Mullen said...

Give it further thought and there are more subtle contributing factors to the decline in interest I feel. Reading the latest Superior Spider-Man and seeing dear old Aunt May it struck me how much of a gutting, and outlawing, the DC reboot made of wise and reliable authority figures, especially parents and guardians.

Superman lost his parents and is left isolated, alienated even. Supergirl too lost her parents and is isolated, even her relationship with her cousin is brittle and long distance. Firestorm lost Professor Stein, subsequently resurrected but still... Billy Batson has lost the counsel of Shazam, and treat him with utter contempt when he did briefly meet him. Wonder Woman has lost her mother. The Flash's mother was murdered and his father is jailed for it... heck, even Jimmy Olsen has now lost his parents!

From the layered universe of 2010 with its generational aspect and depth of development the DCU of 2014 is by contrast now bare of elder statesmen and any sage guidance from older figures. Any type of benign authority is to be sneered at and treat as an undesirable, hence we not coincidentally see the increasing slide into worshipping villains as the dominant force - seen in 'Forever Evil' and the deliberate exiling of the heroes. Lex Luthor is apparently due to lead the Justice League!). We have seen Sinestro's shift from mass murderer to victim status, and now an anti-hero. Supergirl as unstable teen. The rise of Joker's Daughter... The Phantom Stranger reinvented as serial betrayer rather than good Samaritan... on and on it goes.

Stripping away the authority figures and parental figures like this is very telling about the kind of very short sighted and limited thought that went into the reboot, short term it works, you get to focus on your heroes and star players without any outside distractions like parents butting in. Long term though you leave these characters so isolated and alone in the world they start to wander and drift.
Everybody who reads has a family, read any book from DC pre-2011 and it will probably be about family, and social structure, the modern DCU though is about devolving family. Removing authority. The chief policy at work is to take away any sense of a structure or of people who have a relatable family background to latch onto.

No wonder these characters feel increasingly two-dimensional and artificial.