2016 could have been the year DC ruled the universe, so to speak. Their two major tentpoles, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, received poor to middling reviews – despite Squad’s record-breaking opening weekend. While the DC Extended Universe’s superhero-supervillain one-two punch didn’t bowl over the film world, the buzz around the publisher's characters, as well as some great storytelling, helped turn DC’s Rebirth into a major success.
The soft reboot kicked off in May to very positive buzz – thanks in part to Geoff Johns’ high profile and esteem. However, early estimates for July have crowned DC as king of the comic book world.
Diamond Comic Distributors reported (via CBR) that the company came out atop the four-color market last month. The distributor regularly tracks 300 major titles, and overall, the industry moved roughly 8,581,015 comics – an increase of 49,039 units over last month and over 962,000 more than July of 2015. Of those top titles, DC edged out their competitors with 45 percent of total sales, compared to Marvel’s 37.35 percent. They also scored the top three titles in July, with Justice League (2016) #1 moving 209,189 units, Justice League Rebirth #1 knocking down 177,638 units, and Batman #2 (2016) selling just over 177,000 units.
In contrast, Marvel’s Civil War II #3 took the fourth spot, selling 176,876 comics. Image’s Monstress v1 took top honors in the trade paperback (TPB) section, with the loosely Suicide Squad-related Harley Quinn’s Greatest Hits taking the second spot. A special edition of Batman: The Killing Joke TPB took in big numbers as well, thanks to the release of, and controversy behind, the animated feature. Check out the full breakdown of July sales estimates here.
DC’s triple digits are huge in the comic book world as of late, which has been going through ups and downs as they adapt to the shift to digital that has affected all publishers. In addition, Diamond’s status as a wholesale retailer, one that sells directly to comic shops and other vendors, is a good indication of trends among regular readers. Suicide Squad’s high profile and unique marketing unquestionably contributed to DC’s increased sales, but other factors directly related to the stories and the marketing campaign of the Rebirth issues also contributed to its growth in popularity. Dropping the cover price to $2.99 on major Rebirth titles may have driven their numbers, but it also makes their overall revenue more impressive.
Compared to their sales from a year ago, when the comic book giant barely scratched the top ten, DC’s Rebirth marks a drastic reversal in fortunes. The impressive upswing is also significant for comics in general, and helps to counterbalance the fear of comic book burnout from the surplus of shared-universe movies. The company’s print and digital success is also ironic, as their DCEU counterparts have not quite had the same success at the box office as their competition.
As the buzz from Suicide Squad dies down, it will be interesting to see how DC’s comic sales are affected. Hopefully, Geoff Johns can work more of his magic and help their cinematic side bounce back.
DC's Rebirth event continues to unravel at fine comic shops (in print) and online (in digital media).
Source: Diamond (via CBR)
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