The Gold Standard: Sustainability, Top Five Moments, And A Weekly Roundup

So the March market shares are out, and Marvel has once again taken the top spot. Prepare for lots of Marvel Zombies spouting about DC’s relaunch being a failure, and Joe Quesada to scream the praises of himself and Brian Bendis from the highest peaks. Expect DC fans to proclaim excuses for Marvel regaining it and how it’s a temporary stop-gag.

 

This isn’t really an easy argument for me to come up with, because really, I’m a DC guy. I want to make excuses for them…and I already have quite a few thought out, but I want to try and draw this down the middle. It’s all about sustainability with those numbers on the sales charts. Yes, you can launch a book in the top twenty, but can you keep it there? Both companies have been trying to master the art for years with varying degrees of success, and right now both are pretty solidified in doing their time proven methods.

 

That is that that Marvel is pushing events and event tie-ins and books being must read because the status quo will never be the same again, while DC is pushing individual books and creators and hoping the connections boost sales.

 

I mean, look at the DC Relaunch. A lot of single titles, a few connected across their lines, but for the most part self contained titles. You put your name value writers on books in need of overhauls like Geoff Johns on Justice League and Aquaman and Grant Morrison on Action Comics. Or you take things that were already working and you put more focus on them (or leave well enough alone) like Geoff on Green Lantern, or Scott Snyder on Batman. You wind up creating the next generation of top tier talent with sleeper hits and books that nobody expected to be as great as they are like Francis Manapul on Flash and Jeff Lemire on Animal Man. Now sure, there are going to be complete failures like Static Shock, but you can’t succeed without a bit of failure. The bottom line is that DC came out and bolstered their own sales by creating a new wave of interest, and using the name value of their creators and characters to provide a boost to go with the new number ones. The New 52 will be sustained by DC’s ability to make those titles feel important.

 

Marvel, on the other hand, has long since fallen into the habit of using events as tentpoles for their entire line. Need a sales boost? Make an event for books to tie in to! Like, look right now. Avengers vs. X-Men. The X-Men books aren’t seeing any real shift in sales, but then again, the last X event was in October. The Avengers books, on the other hands, just jumped 10-15 spots up the sales charts as they began carrying AvX banners, because it sure as hell wasn’t the end of the New Dark Avengers that put butts in the seats.

 

The top fifteen books from DC in March were Justice League, Batman, Action Comics, Green Lantern, Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight, Superman, The Flash, Aquaman, Batman and Robin, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: The New Guardians, Batwoman, and Batgirl. I don’t think I really need to specify that each was issue number seven.

 

The top fifteen from Marvel in that same time frame were Avengers vs. X-Men #1, Avengers vs. X-Men #0, Avengers Assemble #1, Uncanny X-Men #8, Amazing Spider-Man #682, Uncanny X-Men #9, Age of Apocalypse #1, Avengers: X-Sanction #4, Wolverine and the X-Men #7, Avengers #24, Avengers #24.1, Amazing Spider-Man #681, New Avengers #23, Uncanny X-Force #23, and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #8.

 

I’ll be critical of Marvel first here. I see two #1 issues in Avengers Assemble and AoA, I see Ends of the Earth kicking off in both Amazing Spider-Man issues, while no less than nine of these books hold AvX banners promising to tie in. Really, I just want to give props to Uncanny X-Force for being a top 30 book. If I were to pull X-Sanction out, since as the final issue of a mini we won’t see it again, Marvel’s next best selling book was Kick-Ass 2….same problem, so we’ll say Fantastic Four. So how is Marvel selling books right now? Well, the X-Line is still riding the Regenesis momentum because, for a change, the revamp has been all positives. Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron are fantastic voices in theX-Universe. At the same time, I listed two issues of Uncanny X-Men there…as well as Amazing Spidey and Avengers. The Avengers line is riding the hype train for Avengers vs. X-Men with big flashy banners to hopefully make you forget the book hasn’t gotten there yet, while Avengers Assemble released with a movie friendly cover and cast for the sake of being movie friendly. Even Ultimate Spider-Man is still riding the back of Miles Morales and whatever new artist got picked out to take over it. Uncanny X-Force is really the only book on there that I can’t come up with an excuse for how Marvel’s marketing and promotions to tie in to events or other media is the cause of it’s sales place. Also, Brian Michael Bendis wrote SEVEN of these FIFTEEN books.

 

Time to be critical of DC, right? Fair is fair! Six of the books are Batman books! Ten books feature members of the Justice League, and that’s not counting their top selling Justice League! DC’s issue is that their iconic franchises are what sell the best for them, as those tend to be what they put the most care into maintaining. People show up to buy Batman and Superman, and it shows. At the same time, Green Lantern is still riding high after the past several years of Geoff Johns making it must read. Hey, the Johns factor, all three of his books are up here! I mean, really, the only things that surprise me here are that Dark Knight is selling so well, Gail Simone’s name really does boost sales, and that people like New Guardians more than Green Lantern Corps (I too like NG more than GLC).

 

So what’s the flip side to these? Well, Marvel is cycling out their lower selling books to make room for more issues per year of the higher selling books…which is why three books made the list alongside their double ship. DC, on the other hand, is going to keep throwing lower selling books at the wall to see what sticks while taking care to make sure their core franchises are well handled. Neither company makes it look like getting new characters or concepts, or even writers, is easy. I could give DC credit for Francis Manapul as a writer, but I could also say that Flash was a top 10 book before he took it over.

 

So really, end of the day, both companies have their methods of pulling in readers and bolstering their own sales, but each is incredibly limited by their methods. Marvel needs two to three events a year to maintain their positions with some books (i.e. Avengers which was selling about ten spots lower in the charts a few months back when I talked about why Bendis needed to go), and DC needs people to remember that Batman and Superman are the most iconic icons to ever be icons.

 

What I read this week:

 

  • Action Comics #8
  • Animal Man #8
  • Green Arrow #8
  • Hawk and Dove #8
  • Justice League International #8
  • Red Lanterns #8
  • Stormwatch #8
  • Age of Apocalypse #2
  • Amazing Spider-Man #683
  • Avengers Academy #28
  • Daredevil #10.1
  • New Mutants #40
  • Secret Avengers #24
  • Wolverine and the X-Men #8
  • Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega #4
  • Invincible #90
  • The Boys #65

 

Top Five Books of the Week:

 

5. Justice League International #8

4. Avengers Academy #28

3. Animal Man #8

2. Amazing Spider-Man #683

1. The Boys #65

 

Top Five Worst Things I Read This Week:

 

5. Invincible #90

4. Red Lanterns #8

3. Age of Apocalypse #2

2. Action Comics #8

1. Hawk and Dove #8

 

The Worst Things I Saw On Shelves:

 

Holy crap, how the hell did Action Comics fall apart that epically?

 

I was going to give Age of Apocalypse three issues, and then I read the first two, and now I’m done. Just resurrect everyone to fight the humans and the depowered two surviving X-Men and…yeah, still done. This book would be more interesting with more mutants as protagonists.

 

The Best Things I Saw This Week:

 

The Runaways are potentially recurring Avengers Academy characters!

 

South Park did the funniest Passover related anything I’ve seen in ages. Possibly since I was a kid and saw the Rugrats version. Jeez, do shows just not do Passover or am I forgetting things?

 

Anybody else watch the season finale of Community? Can an I get an epic from somebody?

 

Top Five Moments of the Week:

 

 

5. The shot heard ’round Marvel Comics – Avengers vs. X-Men #1

4. He made you into a psychopath. – The Boys #65

3. Did that…did I…tell me that did not just happen! – Animal Man #8

2. What could he possibly do next? – The Boys #65

1. Take that, Al Gore! – Amazing Spider-Man #683

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