July 6, 2012

Judging the New 52 #1: Batman

We're ten full months into DC Comics' much-hyped New 52 initiative, in which the entire superhero line of comic books was rebooted with new first issues, new creative teams and sometimes new continuities. I figured this might be enough time to start having a look at how this reboot has revived DC's fortunes - or not.

First up is one of my favourites, Batman: relaunched with Scott Snyder writing and Greg Capullo pencilling the art, this has been one of the most consistently well-reviewed and popular titles DC have. Snyder's been on fire writing this comic, introducing new elements to Batman's mythology and history and bringing a genuinely fresh, iconic perspective to the Caped Crusader. The first collected edition is out in hardcover, and if you haven't caught up with it yet I strongly recommend that you do. It's awesome stuff, and Capullo's artwork has been stunning.

So it's a great comic, and it deserves every success, but how have the sales actually been doing?

The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is quite astonishingly well. In the two years leading up to the relaunch, when the title was being written by the likes of Judd Winick and Tony Daniel, sales were gradually falling from just under 80,000 copies a month down to just over 50,000. The title received quite a boost with its 700th issue, followed by a two-part Grant Morrison story, but neither was enough to stop the comic from bleeding out to some of its lowest sales in its 70-odd year history.

Last September's Batman #1 sold north of 180,000 copies before sinking down to just over 120,000 this March. What's interesting, however, is that thanks largely to Snyder's Night of the Owls crossover event - which spun out from Batman into most of the other related titles, sales have actually been on the rise again.

In this case I'm calling it a solid win. In the case of Batman, the relaunch has done it a world of good. (Thanks to Comic Chronicles for the sales data.)

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