Rebirth, "Civil War II" Result in Highest Direct Market Sales Numbers in 20 Years

June 2016 has a record breaking total number of units for the top 300 comics. Marvel sold 4,009,721 units to stores and accounted for 47% of the top 300 comics. DC had 36.61% of the total units which equates to 3,123,138 units. The Rebirth initiative boosted DC sales to being on the lower side of twice average monthly sales for the early months of 2016. DC had 15 of the top 20 titles. The other publishers sold 1,399.117 units and accounted for the remaining 16.4% of the total units for the top 300. Neither Marvel nor DC had a record number of units in the top 300. Instead, it was a case of a rising tide seemingly benefiting everyone. DC had the largest increase in sales because of Rebirth, and the "Civil War II" event boosted sales for Marvel.

Eleven series sold over 100,000 issues, accounting for 1,857,065 units. Those eleven items sold more than the bottom 3/5th of the top 300 combined. Those same eleven items also outsold the combined output of all of the publishers on the list -- other than Marvel and DC.

"Batman" #1 sold 280,360 units to retailers. Keep in mind that the first few issues of most Rebirth titles are completely returnable, thus Diamond reports the sales of those items at a reduced level to reflect potential returns. In the past, Diamond typically reported the items at 80% of the invoiced amount. So if the numbers seem a little lower than they should be on the DC Rebirth titles, it's because they probably are. Adding another 20% to account for the reducing report on "Batman" #1, and the result is around 350,450 units. Diamond potentially under-reported around 497,822 units across all of the returnable Rebirth issues from DC. The unreported returnable units would have narrowed the gap between DC and Marvel significantly and would have increased the total units for the top 300 to around 9,052,656 units.

All of the Rebirth titles which launched in June have outsold the average sales of the previous volume but only "Batman" #1 outsold the maximum issue sales for the previous volume. The previous volume of "Green Lantern" was used for comparisons for "Green Lanterns." No title was used as a comparison title for "Titans" because "Teen Titans" is relaunching as part of Rebirth and the new "Titans" series featuring a different set of characters than the New 52 volumes of "Teen Titans." Rebirth has already been a success given the 19 Rebirth issues released in June sold a total of 1,991,289 units which is more units than all of the comics published by DC in the top 300 comics list for each month of 2016 prior to June.

DC's decision to have fewer titles which are released more frequently may equate to better reader retention, but it is too early to know for sure. Only "Action Comics" and "Detective Comics" released two issues in June. "Action Comics" #958 sold 0.41% better than "Action Comics" #957. The increase of 311 units isn't much, but it is an increase. "Detective Comics" #935 dropped by 2.66% from the sales of "Detective Comics" #934 which sold 94,015 units. A drop of 2,566 units on a second issue is a drop in the bucket compared to the massive second issue drops we've seen in recent years on Marvel titles.

Speaking of Marvel, the best-selling comic of June 2016 was "Civil War II" #1 with 381,737 units, exceeding the total sold for any single issue of the original "Civil War" miniseries. "Civil War II" #2 dropped by 61.12%, or 233,334 units. While the drop is staggering, the remaining 148,403 units still more than qualifies as strong sales. Reorders accounted for over 11% of the sales for the original "Civil War" series. The colors in the chart below represent the months from May 2006 to April 2007. Each bar represents the sales of an issue of the original "Civil War" series with the first month sales are the largest portion of the bar with each month of reorder activity stacked on.

Reorders had the biggest impact on "Civil War II" #2, accounting for 25.75% of the issue's total sales. It is worth noting the original "Civil War" series only dropped by 2.66% in first month sales between the first and second issues. Obviously the 61.12% second issue drop on "Civil War II" shows a clear difference in the sales trends between now and a decade ago. We'll see in the coming months if "Civil War II" has the same recorder strength as the original "Civil War" series or not.

A number of Marvel titles increased sales by as much as 28.24% by tying into the Civil War II event. "Deadpool" #13 sold 35.87% better than the previous issue, and was a $9.99 done-in-one four issue crossover with "Daredevil" and "Power Man and Iron Fist," providing the equivalent to a full issue of each of the other two series between two issue-length Deadpool chapters. The done-in-one event was previously done by Robert Kirkman in "Invincible" #60, but this might be the first done-in-one crossover. "Invincible" #60 included a ton of other Image characters, but was essentially still an Invincible story. The "Daredevil" and "Power and Iron Fist" chapters were written and drawn by the creative teams of those other titles, and could have easily been actual issues of those titles. A subtle distinction, but one worth mentioning because the "Deadpool" issue acts as a sampler issue of the other two series. This approach is potentially a more effective cross-marketing ploy than actually crossing the story into the other titles.

"Captain America: Steve Rogers" #2 sold 66,415 units, drop 41.11% from the first issue. The issue contained a major plot point which got a lot of media coverage, so we'll probably see significant reorder activity on the issue next month.

"The Walking Dead" #155 sold 71,754 units to retailers, and was the only item in the top 50 not published by Marvel or DC. "Power Rangers: Pink" #1 launched at 39,673 units and was the second best-selling comic not published by Marvel or DC. While there were only half a dozen comics from publishers other than Marvel and DC in the top 100, is wasn't because sales from the other publishers were hurt by the Civil War II event or the Rebirth initiative. Both major companies having increased sales hopefully means more people buying comics which in turn should help all of the other publishers.

The total for the top 300 comics nearly broke 8,000,000 units in November 2006 for the first time during the final order era which started in March 2003 when Diamond first started reporting sales based on what was invoiced to stores. The next high water mark didn't happen until September 2013 when the top 300 comics sod 8,147,934 units. A little over a year later, that record was broken in October 2014 with 8,408,949 units. June 2016 broke that record with 8,531,976 units and potentially another 520,680 units for a total of what would have been a record shattering 9,052,656 units. Comics book properties are wildly accepted by the mainstream audience. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC televisions shows mean that our non-comic book reading friends and co-workers know who many of these characters are, and they like them. Now is the time to encourage those people to check out a comic book, either in print or digitally and to expand the comic book audience. There is no good reason why the top 300 comics couldn't break ten million units in the next few years.

I'll be at Comic-Con International: San Diego again this year. If you'd are going to the convention and would like talk, email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com and we can try to find a time and place to meet up during the convention.

For a more in-depth discussion of the sales data, check out the Mayo Report episodes of the Comic Book Page podcast at www.ComicBookPage.com. 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 John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com.

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