NUMBERS GAME: Marvel Comics – December 2012

December was the month of Marvel. Issue 1’s continued to roll out and Marvel even managed to release one of the biggest comics on the year on the last Wednesday of 2012 with Amazing Spider-Man #700. Six of the top ten books in December were Marvel and overall they accounted for 36% of the market share.

(all +/- are based off of previous month/issue’s numbers)

spiderman_700_custom-30c6ca84f21841139827a8b8b39f664c81f32ead-s6-c10Amazing Spider-Man #700

December 2012: 200,296 (+270%)
November 2012: 81,342 (+50%)
December 2011: 54,001

#700 was going to sell well. Everyone knew it was going to be huge. I just didn’t expect it to be over 200,000 huge. Single issue buyers are split into two main groups in my eyes. We have the internet fandom, us at Comicosity and the fine folks who endlessly follow creators on Twitter or go on Reddit. And then there are the character-followers who come in every week and buy their favorite character and rarely reach out into other areas. I felt like Marvel managed to alienate BOTH important fan circles with #700. There were the scans that ‘leaked’ a week before that set the internet ablaze and caused a huge uproar. I imagine the death threats to Dan Slott weren’t too serious, but that’s a strong indication of how the hardcore crowd was taking this issue.  Then you have a $7.99 price tag for a single issue. Amazing Spider-Man did contain a few back-up stories, but I certainly didn’t expect your average comic shop-goer to put out so much on a single issue of a series that they may not have been reading to date. The reward outweighed the risk in this case however, because 200,000 issues sold at $7.99 made Marvel’s gambit a gigantic success. Spider-Man is just one of those characters that no matter what is done or how it’s marketed, people will always buy his milestone issues in droves.

Avengers-1-Cap-CoverAvengers #1

December 2012: 186,989 (+227%)
November 2012: 57,315 (+.2%)
December 2011: 57,145

The title that desperately needed a new creative team the most at Marvel. Bendis-fatigue was at an all-time high. You can tell because his final issue didn’t even provide a bump to the title in November. The biggest question is, where will Avengers plateau and will it be in the top 10?  Avengers #2 also shipped in the month of December and sold 93,894 — putting it at number 7 overall. A drop is expected, but a 50% drop is slightly worrying.  Hickman doesn’t write ‘come in and have fun’ storylines like Geoff Johns has been doing with Justice League and I could see that affecting month-to-month gains, as longer arcs tend to lose sales the farther each issue gets away from the ‘jumping on’ point.  A top 20 book? Yes. A top 10 book? The jury is still out on that.

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_3All New X-Men #3

December 2012: 83,798 (-53%)
November 2012: 181,693

All New X-Men may have already nestled into its home on the sales charts. The drop from issue #3 (83,378) to #4 (80,365) was only 3.7%.  If that is the case, then Marvel gets a ton of kudos for taking the risk on a new series with a bold concept like this and putting big name talent behind it. Combined with Uncanny Avengers, Marvel will have created two new franchises that are regulars in the top 15 in the past 4 months. I don’t want to condone Avengers Vs. X-Men in fear that they might give us something like that again, but the phoenix (no pun intended) that rose from the ashes of that series is proving to be extremely successful. As if there were any doubters, Bendis can still sell comics even if his run on Avengers had such a lackluster ending.

Captain-Marvel_8-674x1024Books Approaching the Dreaded Cancellation Line (15K)

Captain America and Black Widow #640 (16,530)
X-Treme X-Men #8 (16,536)
Age of Apocalypse #10 (19,337)
Captain Marvel #8 (19,970)

While there are other titles having more problems and lower sales (including, for comparison, Captain America and Black Widow — cancelled as of its December issue), a key title to focus on in Captain Marvel. December marks the first month Captain Marvel has fallen under 20,000 in sales since the start of its new volume. Unless the series can create a strong word of mouth, there is very little to keep Captain Marvel from shedding more readers each month. The buzz that Captain Marvel was going to be a big part of Marvel’s cosmic reboot seems to have fizzled and without a creator change or big event on the horizon there is very little to get people talking about this title.

UPDATE: X-Treme X-Men and Age of Apocalypse have both been cancelled as of their April 2013 issues.


Also, check out our December 2012 NUMBERS GAME analysis for DC Comics and Independents.

Special thanks to Comichron for having more stats than any comic fan can imagine!


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  1. Aaron Long said:

    It pains me, greatly, to see Captain Marvel dropping like that. The book is so well written, but I fear more drops in its future with the current art arrangements….much to my chagrin.

  2. Matt SantoriGriffith said:

    It pains me even more to see the artist of the current issue sticking for the next three, and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s name removed from Avengers Assemble (a book with brilliant writing AND art) in April. Here’s hoping it’s just a breather before her next arc.