November Numbers – Any Candidates for Cancellation DC or Marvel?

by Chris Braly

The November direct market sales numbers are here! Check out the top ten comics for the month. Looks like DC is the big winner, still dominating with Batman, but Marvel (barely) managed to get a couple of titles into the top ten. They are clearly struggling and it shows:

Doomsday Clock #1 ($4.99 regular edition) sold 119,412 copies
Doomsday Clock #1 ($5.99 lenticular edition) sold 119,231 copies
Batman Who Laughs #1 sold 105,183 copies
Batman Lost #1 sold 101,267 copies
Batman #35 sold 97,459 copies
Batman #34 sold 96,676 copies
Batman The Devastator #1 sold 94,496 copies
Captain America #695 sold 87,101 copies
Batman Annual #2 sold 75,928 copies
10 Star Wars #38 sold 73,885 copies

Doomsday Clock and DC’s continuing Batman-related event during the Justice League movie’s release month combined to give DC its strongest month of 2017 by far in November, outstripping its previous November (which also had five shipping weeks) by 21%. That’s a major deal, and a reversal after a long string of comparatives against Rebirth months since we’re now able to make comparisons with the 2016 months where Rebirth issues were no longer returnable. This was enough to give the Direct Market (DM) its second-best month of 2017. However, overall comic book unit sales were down 13.28% compared to last year.

The regular and lenticular editions of Doomsday Clock were counted separately due to the price difference, however, if we combined those into one slot, that would simply bump up Justice League #32 (followed closely by Justice League #33), and wouldn’t change the DC / Marvel top-ten ratio at all.

Notably at Marvel, Amazing Spider-Man is dropping fast. It didn’t even crack the top 20 this month, coming in at rank #23 with 56,179 copies sold. It’s seen worse in recent years, but that’s nearly half the 110,349 copies it moved last month with issue #789 (Legacy numbering) and a 5% drop from issue #32 in September. Those variant sales gimmicks can’t last forever. Even Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows outsold the main title. Is Dan Slott’s seven-year tenure on Marvel’s flagship title finally beginning to get stale for longtime readers? He isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We’ll see how far he lasts beyond the milestone issue #800.

A brief explanation of the following data: the first number in parenthesis is the actual ranking on the month’s Top 300 sales charts; next is the first percentage quote which is the drop (or rise) in sales from the previous issue, and the second percentage quote is the movement over six months or six issues (or, if the book has been around for less that that time, since the first issue*).

Raw data for the Top Six Losers at DC for November:

Imaginary Fiends #1 – 9,604 (206), (n/a), (n/a)
New Talent Showcase 2017 #1 – 9,415 (207), (n/a), (n/a)
Bug The Adventures of Forager #5 – 9,043 (213), (-10%), (-50%)
Astro City #49 – 8,938 (216), (-5%), (-4%)
Dastardly and Muttley #3 – 6,416 (255), (-25%), (-53%)
Scooby Doo Team Up #32 – 5,207 (283), (-10%), (-9%)

All of these books are below the ONCE-presumed DC cancellation point (10,000 copies). Scooby-Doo Team-Up‘s performance is directly tied to the members of the team-up. It goes up and down. It dropped 10% from last month, but with it going up and down like it does, it was only down 9% from issue #26 from 6 months ago. The other Hanna-Barbera books are mini-series and DC probably doesn’t expect much. As for DC superhero fare, Blue Beetleonly sold 9,667 issues in November. I expect it to be cancelled before any of those listed above, for various reasons. The first being that the next DC crossovers will combine DC and Young Animal titles in 2018. I would bet that DC wants to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude until they get those sales numbers.

Meanwhile, over at Marvel they still haven’t stopped the bleeding:

Secret Warriors #9 – 9,323 (209), (-6%), (-54%)
America #9 – 8,360 (225), (-68%), (-48 %)
Monsters Unleashed #8 – 7,406 (239), (-73%), (-46%)
Black Panther Prelude #2 – 6,991 (244), (-18%), (-18%)
Guardians of the Galaxy Telltale Series #5 – 6,824 (246), (-2%), (-49%)
Zombies Assemble 2 #4 – 4,943 (277), (-8%), (-51%)

These poor sales had better be a wake up call for Marvel, and soon. Entertainment Weekly is trying to helpMarvel/Disney stop the bleeding on one of their biggest failures by calling America Chavez the “Superhero of the Year!” It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad. If the drop off for America Chavez looks odd, that’s because it is. The first issue back in March 2017 sold 43,592 copies in the DM. Issue #2 dropped expectedly to 23,987 copies. This month it’s down to 8,360 copies, but last month, issue #8 sold an astounding 26,531 copies! That’s nearly 10% more than its second issue. The previous month’s issue (#7) only sold 9,137 copies. What kind of shenanigans was Marvel running on America Chavez in October you ask? Did lenticular Legacy cover gimmicks really push the book so high or did retailers have to order a certain number of them to get special variants? Either way, I still expect this book will end at issue #12.

I suspect a similar fate for Secret Warriors, and would guess that Monsters Unleashed is ending soon as well. When Cullen Bunn originally announced he was doing that series, Marvel PR told us it was only planned to go 5 issues. That obviously changed, but the sales weren’t anything worth touting, so I don’t know exactly why the original plan has changed. Writer Justin Jordan takes over the title this month with issue #9. I’m wondering if it will make it past issue #10.

All of these books mentioned are selling below 10K copies. That used to be the threshold that DC used to cancel books, and that was back then Marvel’s threshold was more like 20K. However, even the critically acclaimed* Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #26 barely stayed above that level this month, selling only 10,003 copies in the DM, coming in at at slot #197 on the November sales chart. It’s pretty much a crap-shoot these days to figure out what will trigger a cancellation. It appears that taking up shelf-space at the LCS is more important than putting a failing book out of our misery :)

On the indie side, Image’s Walking Dead landed at the #14 slot in November with issue #173 selling 64,228 copies (only 3 copies less than it sold in October 2017). Since no one has been commenting on the indie charts/titles, I wasn’t motivated to include them this time.


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Chris Braly

I'm one opinionated, based geek. I try to steer this tiny ship and can often be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several fellow "comic book nerds." Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly. My preferred adjectives are brilliant/beautiful.