Number Crunching: The top 20 comics sales estimates for April 2017


In this in-depth look at the sales estimates for the top 20 comics for mid-spring, Marvel’s Secret Empire leads the pack. Or does it?

Greetings, comic book fans, and welcome to a new regular column here at Bam Smack Pow! where yours truly will be keeping track of the comic book sales estimates. Specifically, the top 20 comic book periodicals from April 2017, based on Direct Market data provided by Diamond Comics Distributors, with complete listings available from Comichron and ICv2.

Those of you who know me from Whatever A Spider Can may already be familiar with how I kept track of the monthly sales estimates for various Spider-Man titles. And since we cover all sorts of comics aside from Spider-Man here, we might as well widen our shelf space and crunch in some more numbers. And why just the top 20? Because it’s a nice even number, and we’d be here all day if I did 100 to 300 comics. But I’ll also include a few extra titles worthy of our interest.

More from Comics

But before we begin, a few disclaimers for those unfamiliar with the logic behind these estimates. The figures you’ll see are based off approximated orders made by comic book retailers, not what actually sold in comic book shops. They’re also restricted to the North American periodical market, and do not include international periodical markets or digital sales.

You’ll also see two sets of rankings listed before the title. The first will be the “unit share” (indicated by “QTY”), or the amount of comics purchased at the retailer level. The second will be the dollar share (indicated by “$”), or how much a comic earned in retailer purchases.  So an issue which ranks higher in unit share than dollar share means it had greater distribution in the retailer order market, but earned less. Likewise, an issue which ranks higher in dollar share than in unit share means it earned more, but had less copies shipped.

Finally, we will also be keeping track of where a particular comic ranked the previous month, and where, if applicable, that comic was a year ago within the same month. You’ll also, on occasion, see two or more highlighted entries indicating a title published more than once during that particular month.

So with all that out of the way, let’s begin.

The Top 20

"1(QTY) – 1($) – Secret Empire #0 (Marvel) – 162,718"

Commentary: As you might have suspected, the kick-off for Marvel’s highly controversial summer crossover appears quite impressive. Aside from being the start of an event with lots of build-up and promotion, it also has three variant covers in addition to its regular cover.

However, when compared with the other #0 issue that began last year’s summer event from Marvel, Civil War II, retailers ordered 14,564 less copies of Secret Empire #0 than they did Civil War II #0. Moreover, even though this comic was first in terms of dollar share, it technically isn’t first in unit share despite the data from the Direct Market. It wasn’t even second in unit share. How is that possible? The answer lies with how the covers for a different crossover got categorized.

"2(QTY) – 4($) – Batman vol. 3 #21 Lenticular Edition (DC) – 130,216 (+31.45%)* 6(QTY) – 8($) – Batman vol. 3 #20 (DC) – 97,544 (+.04%) 7(QTY) – 12($) – Batman vol. 3#21 (DC) – 89,256 (-8.49%)*March 2017: 3(QTY) – 6($) – Batman vol. 3 #18 (DC) – 98,100March 2017: 4(QTY) – 7($) – Batman vol. 3 #19 (DC) – 97,501 (-0.6%)April 2016: 5(QTY) – 6($) – Batman vol. 2 #51 (DC) – 101,922+21.72% since last year.*5(QTY) – 5($) – The Flash vol. 5 #21 Lenticular Edition (DC) – 107,037 (+49.71%)* 11(QTY) – 20($) – The Flash vol. 5 #21 (DC) – 67,766 (+20.56%)* 25(QTY) – 33($) – The Flash vol. 5 #20 (DC) – 53,828 (-0.16%)March 2017: 18(QTY) – 35($) – The Flash vol. 5 #18 (DC) – 54,959March 2017: 20(QTY) – 38($) – The Flash vol. 5 #19 (DC) – 53,918 (-1.89%)April 2016: 51(QTY) – 42($) – The Flash vol. 4 #50 (DC) – 35,160+67.15% since last year.*"

Commentary: The reason I’m putting Batman and The Flash together isn’t just because they’re part of the crossover, “The Button.” It’s because both comics are in the unique position of being counted on the list twice.

Along with their regular covers, Batman #21 and The Flash #21 were also offered with special lenticular printed covers. Normally, these would be considered variants. But because these “lenticular editions” cost a dollar more than the regular cover price, Diamond Comic Distributors counted them as separate issues despite their interior content being exactly the same. So if you add together the estimates from both editions from each comic, Batman #21 would be first in unit share (at 219,472 copies) and The Flash #21 would come in second (at 174,803).

Still, don’t be surprised if Marvel claims Secret Empire #0 as the best-selling comic of the month, while DC does the same for Batman #21. Though based on the available data, I think DC has a much stronger case.

"3(QTY) – 3($) – X-Men: Gold vol. 2 #1 (Marvel) – 114,332 16(QTY) – 15($) – X-Men: Gold vol. 2 #2 (Marvel) – 62,283 (-45.52%)4(QTY) – 2($) – X-Men: Blue #1 (Marvel) – 108,839 24(QTY) – 21($) – X-Men: Blue #2 (Marvel) – 54,074 (-50.31%)"

Commentary: A very impressive debut for the two core titles of Marvel’s relaunching of the X-Men franchise as part of their “ResurrXion” event in the wake of Inhumans Vs. X-Men. Of course, what also helped was that X-Men: Gold #1 had ten additional variant covers and X-Men: Blue #1 had eight. Also remember these figures are all advanced retailer orders, so the controversy over X-Men: Gold artist, Ardian Syaf, shouldn’t play a factor in these results.

The reduced number of variants for each series’ second issues may also account for their drop in the charts. Though I do wonder whether the reduction in orders have anything to do with the premises of both series. X-Men: Gold is technically a continuation of the last volume of Uncanny X-Men, while X-Men: Blue is really All-New X-Men under a different name. And the real test will come once the figures for their third issues come in next month.

"8(QTY) – 10($) – Star Wars vol. 2 #30 (Marvel) – 70,175 (-2.55%)March 2017: 7(QTY) – 8($) – Star Wars vol. 2 #29 (Marvel) – 72,017April 2016: 7(QTY) – 7($) – Star Wars vol. 2 #18 (Marvel) – 98,880-29.03% since last year."

Commentary: And the Force continues being strong with this comic book chronicle of adventures from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Then again, it’s Star Wars, with Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, 3PO, and R2 set after A New Hope and before The Empire Strikes Back. Why wouldn’t it continue staying in the top ten after thirty continuous issues?

Still, given the state of the current comic book periodical market and Star Wars current rate of decline, I suspect issue #31 will pass the 70K mark. Even so, this is still a very healthy book in what is no doubt Disney’s strongest franchise.

"9(QTY) – 11($) – Weapon X vol. 3 #1 (Marvel) – 68,874 38(QTY) – 37($) – Weapon X vol. 3 #2 (Marvel) – 42,471 (-38.33%)"

Commentary: Marvel’s third “ResurrXion” X-Men ongoing series also had a great start for this month. After all, it’s another Wolverine comic, with its first issue bolstered by five variant covers, which would account for the more than one-third drop off with issue #2.

I also find it amusing how Old Man Logan has apparently acquired the “secondary mutation” that his younger (and still dead) counterpart had: being in multiple ongoing comic book series at the same time. This series makes it his third title after Old Man Logan and X-Men: Gold, and he’s set to have a fourth with Astonishing X-Men. Seems like Wolverine has more comics dead than he did while alive.

"10(QTY) – 19($) – The Walking Dead #166 (Image) – 68,205 (-3.14%)March 2017: 9(QTY) – 12($) – The Walking Dead #165 (Image) – 70,422April 2016: 13(QTY) – 32($) – The Walking Dead #153 (Image) – 67,358+1.24% since last year."

Commentary: Holding out at tenth place is the best-selling creator-owned comic after fourteen years. In fact, the only other Image comic which made it into the top 100 were Seven to Eternity #5 (at #67 with 32,667 copies) and Paper Girls #13 (at #80 with 27,993). What also makes The Walking Dead remarkable is that, a market with frequent relaunches and dwindling readership, the series has remained stable with a still loyal fanbase. Methinks there’s a lesson to be learned here.

"12(QTY) – 6($) – All-Star Batman #9 (DC) – 67,632 (-5.81%)March 2017: 8(QTY) – 5($) – All-Star Batman #8 (DC) – 71,809"

Commentary: Scott Synder’s current Batman series still does well, but has also fallen out of the top ten for the first time, even with Synder re-teaming with his Detective Comics co-creator, Jock. Part of me wonders if the departure of John Romita Jr. after All-Star Batman #5 played a part, as this latest story, “Ends of the Earth,” had different artists each issue. Perhaps All-Star could see a bump once Rafael Albuquerque comes on board with issue #10.

"13(QTY) – 7($) – Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation #1 (Marvel) – 64,518"

Commentary: This is just my opinion, but I really don’t see the point of purchasing monthly installments of a movie adaptation when you can always rent or buy the complete film on DVD, Blu-Ray, or On-Demand.  But hey, who am I to tell Star Wars fans how they should spend their money? At least this Rogue One Adaptation boasts an expanded story and nice artwork. That may have helped boost this issue into 13th place. That and Rogue One was also a very good, entertaining film well worth seeing.

"14(QTY) – 9($) – Venom vol. 3 #6 (Marvel) – 62,747 (+48.86%)March 2017: 71(QTY) – 64($) – Venom vol. 3 #5 (Marvel) – 32,088"

Commentary: When I did these sales estimate analysis for Whatever A Spider Can, I theorized fans were holding out until Eddie Brock would bond with the Venom symbiote again. And it looks like I was right. In fact, this is the most successful showing Venom has had since issue #1 (8th place with 90,138 copies).

And remember, Eddie only reunited with the symbiote on the very last page of this issue. We’re also set to get an entire issue with him as Venom come Venom #150.  You can be sure retailers have already ordered loads of copies of that comic for their shelf in anticipation of demand.

"15(QTY) – 13($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #26 (Marvel) – 62,515 (-45.13%)March 2017: 1(QTY) – 1($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #25 (Marvel) – 113,934April 2016: 10(QTY) – 11($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #10 (Marvel) – 73,643April 2016: 12(QTY) – 14($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #11 (Marvel) – 67,446 (-8.41%)-7.31% since last year."

Commentary: After getting a huge bump last month from being an “anniversary issue,” having a new story with a new artist, multiple backup stories, multiple variants, and a lucrative 150% retailer discount if they doubled their orders for issue #22, Amazing Spider-Man has not only fallen back down into the 60K range, but at lower numbers than it was this same time last year. And it lost out to Venom as the top-selling Spider-Man comic for the month.

Though in fairness, ASM #26 didn’t fall below where it was during February with issue #24 (13th place with 61,953 copies). And, in spite of being in the low 60K range, it still maintains a presence within the top 20. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if ASM dipped into the high 50K range in the next issue or two. I suspect ASM #25’s $10.00 price tag was a big turn-off for some causal readers.

"17(QTY) – 26($) – Justice League vol. 3 #18 (DC) – 58,737 (-3.96%) 20(QTY) – 29($) – Justice League vol. 3 #19 (DC) – 57,647 (-1.85%)March 2017: 10(QTY) – 18($) – Justice League vol. 3 #16 (DC) – 62,515March 2017: 11(QTY) – 21($) – Justice League vol. 3 #17 (DC) – 61,165 (-2.15%)April 2016: 11(QTY) – 12($) – Justice League vol. 2 #49 (DC) – 71,131-18.95% since last year."

Commentary: In the current market, these would be considered decent numbers. But DC Entertainment can’t afford having their top-tier superhero team being just “decent.” During the New 52, Justice League became one of their A-list titles. But now, when other comics have seen improved gains under “Rebirth,” this title has fallen. Also, DC and Warner Brothers have a big budget Justice League movie set for release this fall, so I imagine they’d want to regain the attention of prospective film goers, along with any lapsed readers.

"18 (QTY) – 27($) – Detective Comics #954 (DC) – 58,187 (-1.64%) 19 (QTY) – 30($) – Detective Comics #955 (DC) – 57,666 (-0.89%)March 2017: 14(QTY) – 25($) – Detective Comics #952 (DC) – 59,722March 2017: 15(QTY) – 28($) – Detective Comics #953 (DC) – 59,160 (-0.94%)April 2016: 41 (QTY) – 44($) – Detective Comics vol. 2 #51 (DC) – 43,190+25.10% since last year."

Commentary: Although it’s currently in the lower tier of the top 20, re-imagining one of comic’s longest running series as a Batman family team book (and giving it back its original numbering) was a very good move. Especially when you compare where Detective Comics was just one year ago. Moreover, Detective Comics also appears to have settled into a comfortable holding pattern, with drops of less than two percent per month, and less than one percent every two weeks.

Notable Mentions

"26(QTY) – 35($) – Superman vol. 4 #20 (DC) – 53,373 (-5.43%) 28(QTY) – 38($) – Superman vol. 4 #21 (DC) – 51,373 (-3.74%)March 2017: 16(QTY) – 31($) – Superman vol. 4 #18 (DC) – 57,879March 2017: 17(QTY) – 33($) – Superman vol. 4 #19 (DC) – 56,439 (-2.48%)April 2016: 50(QTY) – 50($) – Superman vol. 3 #51 (DC) – 38,103+25% since last year."

Commentary: What should otherwise be the 24th ranked comic of the month is still doing all right. Of course, it has been ever since “Rebirth” brought back a married Lois and Clark with ten-year old son, Jonathan. They’re now rewritten into continuity with “Superman Rebirth.” Likely, the title will drop under 50K next month, but do see a surge with Superman #25.

"27(QTY) – 18($) – Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #1 (Marvel) – 53,240"

Commentary: And here’s what would have been the 25th ranked comic of the month. The figures and placement are fairly okay for a first issue, but I certainly don’t expect Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider to stay above 50K for long. After all, when you consider that six variant covers propped up this comic, I suspect the drop-off between issue #1 and #2 will be quite dramatic.

"42(QTY) – 31($) – Royals #1 – 40,941 79(QTY) – 85($) – Royals #2 – 28,370 (-30.70%)"

Commentary: Here’s the other half of “ResurrXion” as Marvel once again continues in their quest in making the Inhumans a viable franchise. And already, based on the drop between issue #1 and #2, Marvel’s quest still looks like it’s in vain. They better hope ABC’s new fall series Marvel’s Inhumans arrives before the comic falls below the dreaded 20K line.

"50(QTY) – 41($) – Mighty Thor vol. 2 #18 (Marvel) – 37,505 (+3.73%)March 2017: 57(QTY) – 50($) – Mighty Thor vol. 2 (Marvel) #17 – 36,106April 2016: 29(QTY) – 31($) – Mighty Thor vol. 2 #6 (Marvel) – 52,538-28.61% since last year."

Commentary: Jane Foster as Thor still appears to be doing fairly well, despite having fallen near 30% over the last year. And my guess for the slight bump it received this month could be, in part, due to Quentin Quire / Kid Omega (from Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men) striking a pose on the front cover.

"75(QTY) – 70($) – Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows vol. 2 #6 (Marvel) – 29,131 (-22.33%)56(QTY) – 49($) – Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows vol. 2 #5 (Marvel) – 37,508"

Commentary: Wow! I did not expect this. I would’ve thought the presence of the X-Men circa early 1990s would’ve been enough to boost Renew Your Vows on its nostalgia factor alone. Instead, it has fallen even further down the charts. Looks like it will be banking on a Venom symbiote-infected Mary Jane (or “VenoMJ” as I’ve called her) more than ever.

"100(QTY) – 90($) – Jessica Jones #7 (Marvel) – 23,273 (-14.88%)90(QTY) – 75($) – Jessica Jones #6 (Marvel) – 27,342"

Commentary: Down but not quite out, Jessica Jones remains above 20K after seven issues, but probably not for very long. Even so, being that the series still has solicits into at least July, and with The Defenders premiering on Netflix in August, it’s likely the series will easily make it past twelve issues.

Next: Related: Spider-Man comics solicitations for July 2017

That about covers it for this month. Are you surprised by what made it into the top 20? Are there any you think should deserve a higher or lower ranking in the charts? Is there any particular comic you’re curious about in terms of its sales estimates? And which comics, based on what has already come out and scheduled for release later this month, will make it into the top 20 for May? So until next month, let’s hear some of your thoughts and predictions about which books might make the cut.

Sources: Diamond Comics Distributors Inc., Comichron, and ICv2.