August 14, 2014

Judging the New 52: July 2014

July saw DC Comics debut a couple of new monthlies. The one that leaps out immediately is Star-Spangled War Stories by Palmiotti and Gray, which with just 18,762 copies sold makes it the lowest-selling debut of a DC ongoing since the New 52 started. The question now is whether DC will kill it in the usual eight issues, or if they'll cut their losses and end it at four. To be honest, with sales that disastrous I'd expect the latter.

Much more successful was the relaunch of Nightwing as Grayson #1, which managed to ship 81,433 units - almost doubling the sales of the last issue of Nightwing and reaching #8 on the Diamond charts. Nightwing #1 only reached 63,000 units in September 2011, so this is a really impressive achievement.

Other relaunches didn't go quite as well. Teen Titans #1 sold an estimated 52,358 units; while more than double the sales for Teen Titans #30 back in April it's still well below the sales of the last Teen Titans launch in September 2011 (89,000 units). New Suicide Squad #1 shifted 49,260 units; again more than double the last issue of Suicide Squad but below Suicide Squad #1 in September 2011 (56,817).

Let's have a look at some of DC's other recent launches, and see how they're going.
  • Infinity Man and the Forever People #2 shipped, with sales dropping 36% to just 15,903. That's pretty much the death knell for this title. It's a similar decline to last year's The Green Team, which folded at its 8th issue with only 4,300 copies shipping to stores and no trade paperback collection. If you do have an interest in this Jack Kirby remake I'd recommend picking up the individual issues now.
  • Justice League 3000 lost another 2,000 readers or so with issue #8. Given this sort of steady decline I'd expect to see the series get cancelled around issue #12, which is enough for two trade paperbacks. It's a pity: while the sales are falling the series is steadily improving. It's a shame Giffen and DeMatteis weren't writing this strongly from issue #1.
  • Aquaman and the Others #4 shipped 20,520 units. That's down about 3,000 readers from issue #3, which isn't good. With the first story arc ending in August and a month's hiatus due to the September Futures End crossovers, I suspect this book is toast.
  • Justice League United #4 shipped 47,919 units, which takes it below 50,000 units. It's basically tracking as if Justice League of America never ended, which is always the big risk when you try and relaunch a title. Obviously with these kinds of sales figures it's in no immediate risk of cancellation, but I can't imagine DC are happy. Expect to see it rejigged and relaunched again in early 2015 when the next big DC event hits.
  • Secret Origins got an unexpected bump with issue #4, jumping back up to 37,181 copies - almost matching the 38,742 copies sold of its debut issue. This is pretty much down to the whole issue being devoted to Harley Quinn, who's very much flavour of the month among DC readers.
  • Sinestro dropped 2,000 readers with issue #4, which shipped 28,095 units. At this rate there's another six issues or so before DC's likely to panic, and with luck an upcoming New Gods/Green Lantern crossover will boost its sales for another year or so.
  • Batman Eternal seems to be stabilising around the 60,000 reader mark, although next month I'd expect to see it creep down to around 58,000 or so. With a series of this nature a gradual attrition is almost guaranteed, it's just a question of how sharp that attrition is going to be.
  • Futures End, on the other hand, looks set to drop below 40,000 units next month. It's hovering just above that mark now. Over the course of the month it shed about 4,000 readers compared to June.
So which books are currently on the cancellation death-watch? I rank titles selling less than 30,000 units orange (dangerous ground), those selling less than 20,000 red (cancellation approaching), and those selling less than 10,000 black (dead book walking). Titles highlighted in bold are already cancelled - final issues ship in August.
  • ORANGE: Green Arrow, Justice League 3000, Aquaman and the Others, Batwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Batgirl, Green Lantern: The New Guardians, Red Lanterns, Sinestro, Justice League Dark
  • RED: Worlds' Finest, Infinity Man and the Forever People, Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Superboy, All-Star Western, Star-Spangled War Stories, Swamp Thing, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger, Constantine, Trinity of Sin: Pandora
  • BLACK: Batwing

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