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


Marvel dominates the market again with Secret Empire. But did the final chapters of DC’s “The Button” actually eek out a win in the last month of spring?

More from Comics

Greetings, my fellow comic book lovers and statisticians! Once again (based on sales estimates from Diamond Distributors via Comichron and ICv2), we take a look at the top 20 comics (and a few extras) for the month of May 2017. Marvel looks to have come out on top in both unit and dollar share, thanks in part to their latest event, Secret Empire. However, even though it looks like Secret Empire #1 earned the top spot, it technically didn’t. In fact, another one of Marvel’s comics even beat Secret Empire #1 in terms of dealership orders.

There’s also a surprise listing among the top 10, along with a few new series. So lets see which comics made the list, figure out how that may have happened, and where those titles could be heading. Remember, these are only estimates based off orders made by comic book store retailers, not actual sales figures. Also, as a reminder, I’m indicating unit share (ranking based on amount of copies distributed) with “QTY” and dollar share (ranking based on amount of copies purchased) with “$.”

The Top 20

"1(QTY) – 2($) – Secret Empire #1 (Marvel) – 157,517 (-3.19%)6(QTY) – 4($) – Secret Empire #2 (Marvel) – 100,983 (-35.89%)8(QTY) – 6($) – Secret Empire #3 (Marvel) – 91,611 (-9.28%)1(QTY) – 1($) – Secret Empire #0 (Marvel) – 162,718"

CommentaryYou might be noticing how #1 had fewer orders than #0, but this shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Secret Empire #0 was, essentially, chapter one of Marvel’s current crossover event. What is a bit of a surprise is the attrition rate between these issues. Whenever Marvel had one of these annual major line-wide events, the main series for the event never dipped below 100K … until now. An even more astonishing feat is that it’s reached almost 90K after four issues.

Granted, all three issues of Secret Empire are still in the top 10, which could happen again for #4 and #5 next month. But if this pattern holds, it’s possible Secret Empire—even with multiple variants and the media attention it’s garnered—could still fall well into the 80K margins. It looks like, despite a strong start, potential buyers are already experiencing event fatigue.

"2(QTY) – 1($) – Venom #150 (Marvel) – 141,757 (+55.73%)April 2017: 14(QTY) – 9($) – Venom vol. 3 #6 (Marvel) – 62,747"

CommentaryThere was almost no question Venom #150 would be a success. Aside from having the much hyped return of Eddie Brock as the original Venom after ten years, it’s also the first of Marvel’s comics to return to its “legacy numbering.” Having six different variant covers also helps. Plus, I imagine its six-dollar price played a significant part for why it also became first in dollar share.

The real question: what will the sales estimates for Venom be like going forward? As we’ve seen before with Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #25, comics tend to  experience sharp drops in orders after the highly-touted “anniversary issues.” Since Brock is now “back in black,” it’s likely the title could pull in better figures than it did during #1 through #6.

"3(QTY) – 3($) – Batman vol. 3 #22 Lenticular Edition (DC) – 114,173 (-12.32% LE)* 7(QTY) – 12($) – Batman vol. 3 #23 (DC) – 96,542 (-15.44% LE) (+24.65% RE)11(QTY) – 18($) – Batman vol. 3 #22 Regular Edition (DC) – 72,741 (-18.50% RE)*April: 2017: 2(QTY) – 4($) – Batman vol. 3 #21 Lenticular Edition (DC) – 130,216 (+31.45%)*April: 2017: 6(QTY) – 8($) – Batman vol. 3 #20 (DC) – 97,544 (+.04%)April: 7(QTY) – 12($) – Batman vol. 3#21 Regular Edition (DC) – 89,256 (-8.49%)*May 2016: 4(QTY) – 7($) – Batman vol. 2 #52 (DC) – 102,197-5.53% since last year4(QTY) – 5($) – The Flash vol. 5 #22 Lenticular Edition (DC) – 104,506 (-2.36%)*17(QTY) – 27($) – The Flash vol. 5 #22 Regular Edition (DC) – 59,261 (-12.55%) 23(QTY) – 38($) – The Flash vol. 5 #23 (DC) – 54,640 (-47.71% LE) (-8.45% RE)April 2017: 5(QTY) – 5($) – The Flash vol. 5 #21 Lenticular Edition (DC) – 107,037 (+49.71%)*April 2017: 11(QTY) – 20($) – The Flash vol. 5 #21 Regular Edition (DC) – 67,766 (+20.56%)*April 2017: 25(QTY) – 33($) – The Flash vol. 5 #20 (DC) – 53,828 (-0.16%)May 2016: 51(QTY) – 51($) – The Flash vol. 4 #51 (DC) – 33,878May 2016: 55(QTY) – 54($) – The Flash vol. 4 #52 (DC) – 32,831+39.91% since last year"

Commentary: Just like last month, Diamond Distributors treats the Regular Editions and Lenticular Editions as separate comics because they’re priced differently. By combining their totals, Batman vol. 3 #22 (with 186,914) becomes the real top comic for the month, while The Flash vol. 4 #22 (with 163,767) takes second place. However, their totals aren’t so overwhelming as they were last month. Nevertheless, in the battle between DC’s “The Button” vs. Marvel’s Secret Empire, DC is the clear winner here.

Like all highly promoted comic book crossovers, both comics drop back down around where they once were. In the case of Batman and issue #23, the series continues pulling in impressive figures. Why? Because it’s Batman, of course.

"5(QTY) – 9($) — Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout #1 (Marvel) – 104,2179(QTY) – 14($) — All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel) – 82,439 (-20.89%)26(QTY) – 73($) — All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 (Marvel) – 51,830 (-37.12%)April 2017: 73(QTY) – 40($) – Guardians of the Galaxy vol 4 #19 (Marvel) – 30,028-42.06% since last year"

CommentaryYes, a comic book tie-in to a ride at Disneyland’s California Adventure became the fifth “best-selling” comic for the month. And if you’re thinking there must be some logical explanation, there is. According to Bleeding Cool, Disney purchased a sizable order of Mission Breakout #1 at a discount rate, and then resold those same comics at Disneyland.  In other words, most of Marvel’s profit for this comic may have come from their own parent company.

If you’re also wondering why there’s such a sharp drop-off between All-New Guardians #1 and #2, guess which comic had variant covers? There’s also the fact that May was the theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Naturally, comic book retailers were bound to order more copies under the assumption moviegoers would flock to their stores after seeing the movie.

"10(QTY) – 17($) – The Walking Dead #167 (Image) – 74,062 (+7.90%)April 2017: 10(QTY) – 19($) – The Walking Dead #166 (Image) – 68,205 (-3.14%)May 2016: 13(QTY) – 21($) – The Walking Dead #154 (Image) – 68,922+6.94% since last year"

CommentaryPoor Rick Grimes really can’t catch a break, can he? Andrea’s death now marks this as the second time he lost a woman he loved, a character who’s also been around since issue #2. When it comes The Walking Dead, misery, tragedy, and shocking twists also translate into instant success for Robert Kirkman and Image Comics.

Anticipation for Andrea’s inevitable demise after getting bit by a walker in issue #166 was undoubtedly the deciding factor for the bump in orders. Issue #167 also tied with issue #127 as the longest issue of The Walking Dead to-date. Despite the increase in page count, it’s cover price was the same as a regular issue. That, in and of itself, is a good enough incentive for retailers and potential customers alike to pick it up—and it appears to have done the trick.

"12(QTY) – 13($) – Star Wars vol. 2 #31(Marvel) – 70,907 (+2.66%)14(QTY) – 8($) – Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1 (Marvel) – 69,019 (-1.64%)36(QTY) — 28($) — Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #7 (Marvel) — 43,763 (+7.55%)April 2017: 8(QTY) – 10($) – Star Wars vol. 2 #30 (Marvel) – 70,175 (-2.55%)May 2016: 6(QTY) – 8($) – Star Wars vol. 2 #19 (Marvel) – 95,156-25.48% since last year"

CommentaryYes, Star Wars has also been bitten by the crossover bug. In this case, it’s between its main title and the breakout character from Star Wars: Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra. That could account for why #31 saw a near three-percent increase compared to #30.

That said, it does seem a little odd at how Screaming Citadel #1, being part one of the crossovers, had fewer orders. What’s even stranger is that Screaming Citadel #1 also had four variant covers, one more than Star Wars #31. I suspect the explanation behind this is because Screaming Citadel #1 was also listed as one-shot. One-shots, with some exceptions, traditionally aren’t big sellers. In any case, in looks as though Marvel’s Star Wars line is still in decent shape.

"13(QTY) – 11($) – Jean Grey #1 (Marvel) – 70,70284(QTY) — 87($) — Jean Grey #2 (Marvel) — 29,349 (-58.48%)"

Commentary: Continuing with their “ResurrXion” relaunch, the first issue of the time-displaced “Teen Jean’s” solo series became the best-selling X-Men title for the month. And then by it’s second issue, it became the worst-selling X-Men title during that same month. Once again, it all comes down to which comic had multiple variant covers, and which ones didn’t.

I also think that, despite her importance within the X-Men canon, Jean Grey just isn’t the type of character who can carry her own ongoing series. Because the series has already fallen into the 20K margins this early, it makes me believe it will face cancellation within twelve issues or less.

"15(QTY) – 10($) – All-Star Batman #10 (DC) – 66,018 (-2.38%)April 2017: 12(QTY) – 6($) – All-Star Batman #9 (DC) – 67,632 (-5.81%)"

CommentaryWe already know that All-Star Batman, under its present incarnation, will end with issue #14. So it’s time to play a little game I like to call, “How low (or high) will the last issue be?”

First, the series appears to have stabilized with the mid to high-60K range. Second, according to the latest solicts, All-Star Batman #14 will have three different covers. That means retailers will also order more copies than normal. Third, it’s a Batman comic (and a very good one, at that) written by Scott Synder. For those reasons, I suspect we will at least see All-Star Batman‘s final issue hit somewhere within the mid-70K mark.

"16(QTY) – 15($) – Cable vol. 3 #1 (Marvel) – 60,845"

Commentary: We must prepare for Deadpool 2 co-starring Josh Brolin as Cyclops’ time-travelling, telepathic, cyborg son, Nathan.  For a first issue though, I’d say these figures are okay. However, let’s also keep in mind Cable #1 reached 60K while also having six different variants propping it up. That’s potentially bad news, as future issues will have only one or no variants.

In light of the current market, I believe the sales estimates for Cable vol. 3 #2 will be half of what issue #1 was. Too bad none of us, like Cable, can immediately jump forward in time to see what happens.

"18(QTY) – 16($) – X-Men: Gold vol. 2 #3 (Marvel) – 57,553 (-7.59%)24(QTY) – 19($) – X-Men: Gold vol. 2 #4 (Marvel) – 52,710 (-8.41%)April 2017: 3(QTY) – 3($) – X-Men: Gold vol. 2 #1 (Marvel) – 114,332April 2017: 16(QTY) – 15($) – X-Men: Gold vol. 2 #2 (Marvel) – 62,283 (-45.52%)"

CommentaryI guess since both issues of X-Men: Gold stayed within the top 25 as they did last month, it’s the flagship title for the X-Men line. If so, that’s kind of sad based on these current sales estimates. But it’s also performing better than the majority of comics featuring characters Marvel does have full rights to. I do wonder, though, how much better X-Men: Gold‘s estimates it could be if it were titled Uncanny X-Men instead. The fallout from the controversy surrounding Ardian Syaf probably didn’t help, either.

"19(QTY) – 32($) – Detective Comics #956 (DC) – 57,178 (-0.85%)20(QTY) – 33($) – Detective Comics #957 (DC) – 56,344 (-1.45%)April 2017: 18 (QTY) – 27($) – Detective Comics #954 (DC) – 58,187 (-1.64%)April 2017: 19 (QTY) – 30($) – Detective Comics #955 (DC) – 57,666 (-0.89%)May 2016: 33(QTY) – 36($) – Detective Comics vol. 2 #52 (DC) – 43,961+21.97% since last year"

Commentary: We close out the top 20 with two issues from another ongoing Batman series. It’s also a Batman series which has stayed quite stable, losing either less than 1% or less than 2% between issues. Being in the high 50K margins may not seem like much, but it’s still comparatively better than where the title was at the end of DC’s New 52. Baring some unforeseen circumstances, it’s a safe bet that Detective Comics will stay within the top 25.

Notable Mentions

"?(QTY) – ?($) – Saga #43 (Image) – ?"

Commentary: According to Comichron, the latest chapter of Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga was the highest circulated title in May. So why did I place question marks for it’s unit share, dollar share, and sales estimates? Because Diamond Distributors didn’t actually include it in their monthly listing of comics. Saga #43 only cost 25 cents, which makes it too low to be included with regular-priced periodicals. That’s the Direct Market for you, I guess.

"21(QTY) – 34($) – Justice League vol. 3 #20 (DC) – 56,119 (-2.65%)22(QTY) – 36($) – Justice League vol. 3 #21 (DC) – 55,351(-1.36%)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%)"

Commentary: If Diamond had included the Lenticular and Regular Editions of Batman #22 and The Flash #22 together, then Justice League #20 would have placed 20th for the month. So far, it looks like it’s stabilized with some okay, but not so great, numbers. Like Detective Comics, I don’t see this one falling out of the Top 25 any time soon.

"25(QTY) – 40($) – Superman vol. 4 #22 (DC) – 51,938 (+1.08%)28(QTY) – 41($) – Superman vol. 4 #23 (DC) – 51,264 (-1.31%)April 2017: 26(QTY) – 35($) – Superman vol. 4 #20 (DC) – 53,373 (-5.43%)April 2017: 28(QTY) – 38($) – Superman vol. 4 #21 (DC) – 51,373 (-3.74%)May 2016: 19(QTY) – 20($) – Superman vol. 3 #52 (DC) – 54,317-5.62% since last year"

Commentary: Yes, the latest issue of Superman is under where it was this time last year. But, keep in mind, Superman #52 was the last issue before the DC Rebirth relaunch. Also, the current series remains above where regular issues of the New 52 Superman had been. And, remember, we’re bound to see a potential sales bump with Superman vol. 4 #25.

"27(QTY) – 20($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #27 (Marvel) – 51,404 (-17.77%)April 2017: 15(QTY) – 13($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #26 (Marvel) – 62,515 (-45.13%)May 2016: 10(QTY) – 10($) – Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 #12 (Marvel) – 74,963-31.42% since last year"

Commentary: The good news is, May’s issue of Amazing Spider-Man placed 20th in dollar share. The bad news: this is now the lowest in estimated sales the current volume has ever been. Were it not for the upcoming Secret Empire tie-ins, Marvel’s flagship title could easily fall below 50K under its present course.

"50(QTY) – 82($) – Nightwing vol. 4 #20 (DC) – 37,464 (-2.00%)52(QTY) – 84($) – Nightwing vol. 4 #21 (DC) – 37,309 (-0.41%)April 2017: 48(QTY) – 69($) – Nightwing vol. 4 #18 (DC) – 38,858April 2017: 49(QTY) – 71($) – Nightwing vol. 4 #19 (DC) – 38,230 (-1.64%)May 2016: 75(QTY) – 74($) – Grayson #20 (DC) – 23,762"

Commentary: Another Batman-related comic which appears to have stabilized, albeit within the high 30Ks. That being said, it’s still performing comparatively better than Grayson did. It also looks like, based on these numbers, Nightwing will stay within its current margins for some time.

"75(QTY) – 62($) – Secret Warriors vol. 2 #1 (Marvel) – 31,864"

Commentary: Might as well say your good-byes to this latest Inhumans comic. Because like what happened with Prowler #1, a new number one series debuting with these kinds of figures is a sign of guaranteed cancellation within less than a year. Being tied into an event also makes that a likely outcome.

"100(QTY) – 93($) – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2 #10 (DC) – 25,977 (-1.63%)April 2017: 89(QTY) – 78($) – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2 #9 (DC) – 26,410May 2016: 124(QTY) – 151($) – Red Hood/Arsenal #12 (DC) – 16,402+36.25% since last year"

Commentary: Finally, it’s another Batman related series which appears to have stabilized. (I think I’m sensing a recurring pattern, here.) Even so, the team book of Jason Todd, Bizarro, and Artemis really did tumble down from its chart position last month. It just goes to show how volatile the top 100 can be the closer a comic is near the bottom.

Next: Number Crunching: the top 20 comics sales estimates for April 2017

Was this month anything at all like you expected? Considering how DC won’t be putting out comics with regular and lenticular covers next month, how do we predict this affecting the charts for next time? Which comics do you believe will stay and/or leave the top 20? Keep in mind, DC is kicking off another event with Dark Days: The Forge #1 to compete with Secret Empire, so we’ll see which one has the better event sales-wise for next time.