August was a huge month for comics. Mostly DC Comics, but a huge month for the comic industry. According to Comichron.com, Diamond Comic Distributors shipped 10.26 million comics — the highest amount of comics shipped since April 1997. This is due in large part to the third strong month for the DC Reborn relaunch with 9 of the top 10 comics this month belonging to DC, in fact it isn’t until you get to down to the 50s that you start to see a large amount of Marvel comics. DC’s Harley Quinn #1 took the top spot for August, selling an astonishing 359,957 units – numbers Marvel saw with their summer event Civil War II #1.
So what does that say about our beloved Spider-titles? Amazing Spider-Man #16 received a big push shipping 185,342 titles, but then #17 went on to ship out only 74,869, roughly 60% of #16’s total. What gives? Why the spike? Amazing Spider-Man #16 was the official start of the prelude for The Clone Conspiracy and it looks like it received a large push from Marvel, perhaps either by incentive covers (variants that are available for retailers if they purchase a certain amount of a title) or some other stipulation for future orders. What we can see though is the free market returning with #17 falling back down to numbers that are more in line with how Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4 has been selling. 74 thousand is still a better number than the title has been seeing recently, putting #17 at the same level the title was selling back in May. I suspect to see the numbers only grow as we get closer to The Clone Conspiracy.
Interesting to note, Dan Slott recently announced on Twitter that retailers are not purchasing enough copies of The Clone Conspiracy and that supply for the initial running will not meet demand. Whether or not this is a legitimate plea from Slott or an attempt to generate demand from false-scarcity, I don’t know. I’ve never seen a creator do this though, so I think it’s worth mentioning that perhaps the sales of the first issue or two of The Clone Conspiracy will be smaller than what the total demand for the title represents. For this reason, I will be watching in the coming months for second printings of The Clone Conspiracy appearing on the top 300 chart. Typically I have ignored second printings when it comes to calculating totals, mostly for simplicity and also because a title has to get into the top 300 for Diamond to release its totals and so far only Spider-Man/Deadpool reprintings have done that regularly, but for the The Clone Conspiracy I’ll make sure to mark on the chart if reprintings make it to the top 300.
So what does a tie-in or mini Spider-Man title look like? Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #3 shipped 44,471 copies, which is just about what Amazing Spider-Man #1.3 sold back in February (47,892) despite CWII:ASM’s superior quality. Interestingly, this goes against what we’ve seen with other titles in the past: tie-ins usually lead to sales bumps. There could be a lot of reasons, but ultimately they’re all nothing but guesses with little evidence to back them up. All we can say for certain is that Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man is selling at the expected level for a Spider-Man mini, despite its tie-in to a larger event.
Bendis’s Spider-Man dropped roughly 10% in sales, coming in at 47k issues sold, returning to virtually the same figure it posted in June (47,205). If Spider-Man continues to stay in the upper 40s, then it will continue to be a pretty big hit for Marvel and solidify Miles Morales’s place in the 616 universe. Speaking of Miles’s place in the 616, All-New All-Different Avengers got its tie in with Civil War II to almost literally no effect. The title shipped 56 less titles than last month, which is in line with the titles pendulum swing around the mid to upper 40k range. ANAD Avengers Annual sold about two hundred issues fewer, so we know for a fact that retailers across the country are pretty confident that Avengers readers are loyal to the brand, but that perhaps there aren’t too many new readers interested in the title.
Spider-Man/Deadpool #8 saw the return of its creative team which brought on another hike in the sales for the title, posting the highest the book has sold since February’s #2 (69,801). This book continues to sell absolute gangbusters and rightfully so; it’s still one of the best books Marvel has put out this decade. Having two high profile characters on the cover always helps, but I think it speaks to the quality of work that Kelly and McGuinness put into this title that it continues to sell at virtually the same level every month.
Spider-Gwen inches its figures a little higher, gaining 1,076 more units moved over the previous month. The same cannot be said for Silk or Spider-Woman, both titles that really need more units under their belts. Spider-Woman’s Civil War II tie-in spike came down below the 20k mark again, while Silk moves closer to that line in the sand. Though, as I’ve mentioned before the 20,000 line has never been an official stance from Marvel and in recent years that line has been blurred by the constant state of relaunches and renamings. Good news for Silk is that it is tying in to The Clone Conspiracy, and if Dan Slott is to be believed, it is going to be a huge title. The same cannot be said for Spider-Woman, which looks like it needs something to really bring the numbers back up and reinvigorate readers to pick up this title.
Carnage #11 continues to tumble as well despite, in my personal opinion, an upswing in quality. Meanwhile, fans of Peter David’s Spider-Man 2099 see a welcomed boost in sales, however small a boost it is: 313 additional units compared to last month, thanks to the Civil War II tie in to this month’s issue. A 1.39% increase isn’t too much, and, as we’ve seen from the titles on their second tie-in issue, it won’t lead to improved sales over time, it’s still just enough to keep this title over the 20k line for another month. Surprisingly, Venom: Space Knight saw the largest bump in sales this month, bar Amazing Spider-Man #16’s 110% increase. Now that Venom’s tour in space seems to be over (according to the solicits for the upcoming Venom series, anyway), interest for the title might be drumming back up. I wouldn’t be surprised if we continued to see this title sell more issues until the relaunch puts it back up at Spider-Man levels.
That kind of enthusiasm did not extend to Web Warriors, dropping another 1,190 units with its penultimate issue. Recently similarly-performing Spidey also dropped more readers in what looks like what might have been a failed experiment. The solicits for December have just been announced and unfortunately for fans of this title, it does not appear to be listed. Now, it’s entirely possible that the title is just taking a month – it’s done that before – but with #12 ending an arc as well, as fitting nicely into two trade paper backs… well. It’s been a fun ride.
That’s it for August. Next month we’ll see exactly how taking a month off affected Civil War II compared to how the delays affected Secret Wars’s numbers. The Doc Ock issue of Amazing Spider-Man will surely bring in some big numbers, and the most recent Civil War II issue might have some repercussions for one of our beloved Spider-People. Check out Doug’s spoiler-warning review for more information on that. Credit for the figures goes out to Comichron, like always. Until next time, True Believers.