July certainly was an interesting month in the Marvel universe. “Civil War II” raged on, Spider-Man got an unlikely team-up partner, and Spider-Gwen found herself in combat with a monkey-turned-butler. But outside of the events of the comics, July was a unique month for sales. It has been typical for Marvel to take the biggest slice of the monthly sales dollars pie, partly because they tend to move more units than DC and partly because Marvel charges more per comic than DC. However, thanks to the second wave of DC’s “Rebirth” relaunch, DC moved roughly 5% more product than Marvel, which translated to about 1% more of the dollar share. This is most evident when by looking at the top 25 titles for July, which are all DC #1s and #2s – save for Civil War II, Star Wars, and Amazing Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man had a phenomenal month, which is good news since the sales have been icy-cold (relative to the title) the last few months. Thanks entirely to a highly anticipated story and attention-grabbing cover featuring Mary Jane in the Iron Spider costume, Amazing Spider-Man #15 sold six issues shy of 88,000 copies. The title hasn’t sold that well since Amazing Spider-Man #3 sold 93,848 units in November. I don’t expect #16 to post numbers quite this high, but with hype building for Amazing Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy, I doubt Amazing is going to return to its mid 60k numbers for at least a few months. However, since The Clone Conspiracy is running as a stand-alone title rather than within the pages of Amazing, it’s quite possible that we could see the numbers jump straight back down once the prelude in Amazing ends.
Amazing Spider-Man #1.6 concluded the “Amazing Grace” story line with little fanfare and pizazz, shedding about 5% of its sales from readers who couldn’t hang on for one more issue. Meanwhile, Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #2 posted a larger loss than Amazing Spider-Man #1.2 did against its first issue. Does that mean we’ll see Civil War II: ASM end at a similar level? Civil War: ASM #1 sold around 5,000 more units than #1.1 did, and while Civil War II: ASM dropped more than #1.2, I have the feeling that its level of attrition will slow down dramatically, due in part to its ties with the relatively successful “Learning to Crawl” series. “Amazing Grace” consistently lost around 15% of its sales for the first three issues and then between 5% and 7% for the last three. “Amazing Grace” was rough coming out of the gate and never managed to find its footing, which is why I think sales dropped considerably through the first half of its run, a problem I don’t anticipate for Civil War II: ASM.
As expected, the Civil War II banner atop of Spider-Man #6 lead to an increase in sales. #6 sold 11.71% more than Spider-Man #5, translating to a difference of 5,526 units. All New All Different Avengers #11 also saw a small bump in sales, though it does not carry the “Civil War II” banner. Speaking of Civil War II, #3 sold quite a lot more than #2, no doubt because of the big happening in that particular issue (I’m being mindful of the spoilers for you guys). Civil War II #4, without its big hook, lost all of the ground #3 gained and then some, posting 126,865 units, about 22,000 less than what #2 sold in June. Marvel just announced that they’re extending Civil War II with another issue, putting the total issue count for this mini series at #8. We’ll see if this additional issue does anything for the numbers next month or if Civil War II’s sales continue to fall steadily. While it’s still selling gangbusters in comparison to everything else at Marvel, the similarly high profile Secret Wars #4 sold 221,041 this month last year. So while Civil War II is still selling well, it’s not even coming close to the kind of numbers Secret Wars was posting.
Spider-Man/Deadpool finished its fill in issues with #7 and the sales are still pretty consistent, marking a continued excitement for this concept, even without Kelly and McGuinness in the creator’s chair. Creator control is not helping Spider-Gwen however, with #10 losing 15% of its sales from last month. This puts the title in a three month freefall that started after the series got a small bump from the “Spider-Women” crossover. Since then, the title has lost 18%. 16%, and 15%, totaling a loss of 25,764 units since April’s crossover. While the title is still selling in the mid 30ks – making it a success – the quick drop off of sales does not imply good things for the overall health of the series. Take Spider-Man 2099 for example. #12 sold 22,480 titles, which is not too great. But even though it’s not posting the modest numbers of Spider-Gwen, it’s selling consistently by only dropping a few hundred or so units a month. Its level of attrition is slower and therefore more stable. Aside from the drop off in April from March’s extra shipping day inflation, 2099 has only trickled sales with 1-4% losses every month since February, implying a loyal base. Perhaps worse than low sales are unpredictable sales, which is indicative of people losing interest in a title. So for that reason I would say that Spider-Gwen is in more trouble than Spider-Man 2099. That’s not to say that I think either title is going anywhere anytime soon; Marvel seems to be very interested in building and maintaining a Spider-family of titles much like DC has the Bat family of titles.
Silk #10 did well, managing to maintain virtually the same amount sold from last month to this month. Silk has been integral to building up the Black Cat as a quasi-Kingpin replacement for the Spider-characters which has allowed her to appear in a few other titles as a street level crime boss, most notably Spider-Man. Silk #10 featured Silk and Black Cat’s relationship coming to a head, so perhaps that had something to do with its retention of sales. Spider-Woman #9, like Spider-Man, gained a few readers mostly in part to the Civil War II branding on the top of the cover. Spider-Woman did well with the “Spider-Women” crossover and came back from the event with a few extra sales, so hopefully lightning will strike twice for the critical darling of Superior Spider-Talk.
Carnage #10 lost another 1,300 units as the title seems to be running toward a conclusion. Nothing has been announced from Marvel, but writer Gerry Conway starts Renew Your Vows when Marvel soft-relaunches at the conclusion of Civil War II, and I can’t imagine this title continuing without him. Spidey #8 also had a decent month, losing only a few hundred units. However Spidey seems to have the weakest connection to the greater Spider title tree; it’s not connected to the main continuity at all, nor is it trying to do much world building like Spider-Gwen. It’s a question that has plagued the title since it was announced, but with Web Warriors already cancelled, Venom getting a reboot, and no end in sight like Carnage, I would imagine Spidey to be the next book canceled.
So that leaves Web Warriors and Venom: Space Knight, which on one hand have been the most consistent books in the All-New All-Different Marvel line-up. They seem to always sell within a few hundred units of each other, and always, well, poorly. As we know, Web Warriors has been canceled while Venom: Space Knight is getting a relaunch after dropping the “Space Knight” aspect of his character and returning to his roots. The Venom character will always be a big draw for Marvel, and while his book might not sell super well, the character fares much better in miscellaneous merchandise. So the Venom IP is worth more than the relatively new “Spider-Verse” property represented by Web Warriors, MC2 aside, and so Marvel is more invested in building that IP back up.
And that I think is the new “danger zone” for these books and titles. Low readership and sales might get a title canned, but if the IP is deemed valuable at Marvel (such as an IP that ties into a movie) expect it to return with a fresh coat of paint and maybe a shake up in the creative team. So as long as Marvel has an interest in titles that showcase a more diverse cast or have movies coming up or whatever reason they have, then the title is more or less safe. Of course, having more units sold never hurts a thing.