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Secret Empire Tops April Charts, So How Did Batman & Flash Outsell It?

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Secret Empire Tops April Charts, So How Did Batman & Flash Outsell It?

April 2017 had 6,515,388 units in the top 300 comics list, a decrease of 120,243 units from last month. This is the third month in a row with slightly below average sales for the top 300 comics. Marvel was up 171,415 units from last month with 2,752,985 units this month which accounted for 42.25% of the units for the top 300 comics. DC was down 220,579 units with 2,481,958 units which accounted for 38.09% of the units. Image was up 6,100 units to 546,158 units and accounted for 8.38% of the units. Dark Horse was down 27,444 units from last month with 156,665 units and accounted for 2.4% of the units. IDW was down 100,121 units from last month with 140,648 units and accounted for 2.16% of the units.

Marvel has a couple of first issues, giving it some strong sellers this month. “Secret Empire” #0 topped the list with 162,718 units. Had the lenticular covers for “Batman” #21 and “Flash” #21 not been at a different price point than the regular covers of those issues, the first two chapters of “The Button” would have both placed higher on the list than “Secret Empire” #0. The combined sales of the two covers for “Batman” #21 were 219,472 units, 130,216 units for the lenticular cover and another 89,256 units for the regular cover. The combined sales of the two covers for “Flash” #21 were 174,803 units, 107,037 units for the lenticular cover and another 67,766 units for the regular cover.

As is usually the case, the sales brought in by new titles had the largest impact on the month tot month change of the total units for the top 300 comics. Since April had one less shipping week than March, a drop of 120,243 units isn’t a big deal.

The continuing titles (more issues) category removed 0 units compared to last month since no titles shipped more issues in the four weeks of April than in the five weeks of March.

The continuing titles which gained sales category added 74,051 units compared to last month.

“Venom” #6 nearly doubled in sales, with a 95.55% increase from 30,659 units to 62,747 units. The issue was a major tuning point for the story leading into the “Venom” #150 issue in May. “Venom” #6 had a variant which retailers could order as much as they wanted of if they ordered 90% of their orders of”Venom” #3. The issue also had a 1-in-1000 incentive with a McFarlane cover. “Venom” #150 next month, however, is likely to get another bump in sales because of the various promotions for it. That issue has a regular cover, another cover retailers can order as much as they want if they order the regular cover to the tunes of 200% of their orders for “Venom” #4 or more. Then there are the incentive covers. There are two 1-in-25 covers, a 1-in-100 cover, a 1-in-500 cover, a 1-in-1000 cover and a 1-in-2000 cover. “Venom” #150 could potentially double in sales over “Venom” #6 and has a chance at topping the list in May.

“Flash” #21 increased by 25.89% from the previous issue to sell 67,766 units of the second part of “The Button” storyline. This total includes the regular cover, the international edition and the non-lenticular variant cover. The lenticular cover version sold another 107,037 units. Since that cover had a different price point, Diamond treated it as a different item and it had a different entry on the list.

“All New Wolverine” #19 was up 23.1% with the start of a new storyline, a 1-in-10 cover, a 1-in-25 cover and a 1-in-500 Venomized black and white cover. “Venom” #20 will have a 1-in-10 cover and a 1-in-25 cover and will probably drop down to around how the title was selling a few months ago. While the “Logan” movie could be a factor in sales, past history has shown movies to have little impact on the sales of ongoing titles. Movies which have a direct connection to a particular trade or hardcover collection such as “300” and “Watchmen” can impact the sales of those collections. But even as successful as the various Marvel movies have been, there hasn’t been a corresponding uptick in sales of those comic book titles.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” #19 was up 10.83% to 30,028 units, an increase of 2,934 units. This issues is the last one by Brian Michael Bendis and the title already relaunched as “All New Guardians of the Galaxy” with Gerry Duggan as the new writer. The “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2” movie opening the same week as “All New Guardians of the Galaxy” #1 hit the racks which is great timing but unlikely to help the sales of the new volume. “Guardians of the Galaxy” #19 had a 1-in-25 cover, 1 -in-50 cover and to open to order alternate covers. The “final issue variant” cover kind of nonsensical since the title was ending regardless of which cover people got.

“Captain America: Steve Rogers” #15 increased by 3,271 units followed by an increase of 2,503 units on the following issue. Unfortunately, because of a drop in sales on “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #14 last month, the net increase for the month on the title was only 1,183 units. Steve Rogers is the focal character of the “Secret Empire” event series so it is a little surprising not to see a major bump in sales on his title.

The continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category removed 3,264 units compared to last month. Only 19 titles dropped by less than 250 units. One of those is the long lasting “Spawn” series which launched back in 1992 and the current run if “Astro City” which launched in 2013 with previous volumes going back to 1995.

The continuing titles which shipped fewer issues category removed 133,260 units compared to last month.

Since April had four weeks compared to the five in March, a few titles shipped fewer issues.

“Man-Thing” #3 dropped 23.29% down to sales of 16,199 units versus the total of 64,247 units the first two issue sold last month.

“Avengers” has an embedded miniseries with ever other issue being a x.1 issue number. “Avengers” #6 dropped by 7,743 units from “Avengers” #5 and “Avengers” 5.1 sold 21,614 units last month was the final issue of the embedded miniseries resulting in a loss of those 21,614 units this month.

The continuing titles which lost sales category removed 604,894 units compared to last month.

The second issue drops for ongoing Marvel titles ranged from a 30.71% drop on “Royals” #2 to a staggering 68.04% drop on “Iron Fist” #2 with the average drop across the six second issues of ongoing Marvel titles in April being 46.32%. The total of the second issue drops was a loss in sales of around 226,396 units for Marvel. Some of these second issues such as “Iron Fist” #2 fall into the continuing titles which lost sales category while some like “X-Men: Blue” and “X-Men: Gold” fall into the new titles category.

“Amazing Spider-Man” #26 dropped back down to the sales level of “Amazing Spider-Man” #21, #22 and #24. Excluding the embedded miniseries of “Amazing Spider-Man” #1.1 to #1.6 these are the lowest sales of the volume.

“Suicide Squad” #15 was down 2,448 units followed by and increase of 989 units on the next issue putting the title at a net loss of 5,024 units for the month.

The lost 8,801 units for “Batman” is the net of the increase of 43 units on “Batman” #20 and the drop of 8,288 units on the non-lenticular covers of “Batman” #21. The lenticular cover version sold another 130,216 units.

The new titles category added 1,524,243 units compared to last month.

Marvel had a number of new titles this month. “X-Men: Gold” and “X-Men: Blue” both shipped second issues which dropped 45.52% and 50.32% respectively.

“Secret Empire” #0 looks to be a strong launch for the event title.

“Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider” #1 launched with 53,240 units. Marvel didn’t really push this title giving it a 1-in-15, a 1-in-20, a 1-in-25 cover and another cover retailers for order as much as they wanted of if their orders for the regular cover of “Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider” #1 met or exceeded 200% of their order for “Clone Conspiracy” #2.

“Royals” #1 launched with 40,941 units which is not a promising start for this new season of Inhumans comics.

The “Monsters Unleashed” ongoing series launched with 27,317 units which is 5,888 units less than the event miniseries ended at last month. Perhaps the question isn’t if this will become a de facto miniseries but if Marvel will attempt a relaunch of it during 2017.

The returning titles category added 257,049 units compared to last month.

While there were a number of returning titles in April, none were top sellers and only one exceeded 20,000 units.

The suspended titles category removed 512,148 units compared to last month.

“Dark Knight III: The Master Race” skipped April resulting in 107,892 from March which didn’t flow into April.

“Ghost Rider” #5 concluded the “Four on the Floor” storyline and the series. “Ghost Rider” #6 was solicited in February but canceled with the May solicitations. Perhaps the “Ghost Rider” title might have done better if it featured Ghost Rider exclusively instead of in only about half of each issue with the All New Wolverine, the Totally Awesome Hulk and Silk essentially crowding him out of his own title.

The defunct titles category removed 780,759 units compared to last month.

The “Monsters Unleashed” event ended last month with the final two issues selling a combined 68,142 units. While The event miniseries launched at 74,107 units in January and ended with sales of 33,205 units in March.

The annuals/specials category added 43,649 units compared to last month. I’m treating the lenticular covers for “Batman” and “Flash” as one-shots since the titles had regular cover issues out this month as well. Between the lenticular covers and “The Button” storyline acting as a quasi-event playing into the larger Rebirth meta-arc at DC, the bump in sales from this arc isn’t something that is likely to stick around after “The Button” storyline.

The reorders category added 15,090 units compared to last month.

Reorders on both “X-Men: Prime” #1 and “Inhumans: Prime” #1 is a good sign and indicated potential interest in the new direction for these two franchises at Marvel.

DC had fifteen ongoing titles go from $2.99 to $3.99. As a result, 221 of the top 300 comics were prices at $3.99. Of the 45 items on the list at $2.99, most were the twice monthly titles from DC and a handful of titles from Image including “The Walking Dead,” “Paper Girls,” “Spawn,” “Invincible” and “Green Valley.” The only items price below $2.99 were “Sovereigns” #0 from Valiant and the various “True Believers” one-shots from Marvel all of which were priced at $1.00.

Looks at the history of the unit total for the top 300 comics we can see that the month to month swing can sometimes be a bit larger than 2 million units which is considerable given the average total of 6,645,236 units. When the total drops, the average drop is around 564,449 units and when it increases, the average increase is around 613,709 units. On average, the size of the month to month change of the total for the top 300 comics is 588,210 units with the odds of a drop (48.2%) being slightly less than the odds of an increase (51.8%) based on past history. Note that is the size of the change from month to month which is the average of the absolute value of the change. The actual average of the month to month change is 3,839 units which is around 0.06% of the average unit total for the top 300 comics.

It should be immediately obvious to anyone looking at the above chart of the unit total for the top 300 comics over the past 14 years that the month to month change is usually an order of magnitude or two larger than 3,839 units. This month to month swing averages around 8.85% and has been as large as a 31.02% drop and a 32.61% increase. There has always been a volatility to comic book sales. Titles are ending faster than they use to making it harder for a title to find an audience. The constant relaunch of titles can make it challenging for readers to find titles they like and when they do, those titles often end within a year or two.

Comics used to be a reading habit. It used to be that if you found a title you liked, you could stick with it for years if you wanted to. That isn’t the case now. With the average comic costing around $3.99 of a segment of a story, it is harder for a title to win over new readers. It is hard to get into the habit of reading a given title with the current level of turn over in titles. Readers not habitually reading a title is kind of the definition of low sales.

For a more in-depth discussion of the sales data, check out the Mayo Report episodes of the Comic Book Page podcast at The episode archived cover the past decade of comic book sales on a monthly basis with yearly recap episodes. In addition to those episodes on the sales data, every Monday is a Weekly Comics Spotlight episode featuring a comic by DC, a comic by Marvel and a comic by some other publisher. I read around 200 new comics a month so the podcast covers a wide variety of the comics currently published. If you are looking for more or different comics to read, check out the latest Previews Spotlight episode featuring clips from various comic book fans talking about the comics they love. With thousands of comics in Previews every month, Previews Spotlight episodes are a great way to find out about new comic book titles that may have flown under your comic book radar.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at

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