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TBU by the Numbers – November 2015

tbu numbers

Welcome back to “TBU by the Numbers”!  I’ll be giving you my analysis of all the monthly sales numbers of all TBU ongoing comic series, weekly series, and limited series.  These numbers are for the month of November 2015 and come from Diamond Comics Distributors released numbers as relayed by Comichron.  As always, this article is intended to give you a  monthly progress report overall of how well The Batman Universe of comics is doing both compared to other DC books and the comics market in general, and more than that, I also want to delve into the numbers for individual comic issues per month to get a sense of which titles are doing well, which titles are doing poorly, and which ones fall in between.  For a more in-depth discussion of the metrics I’m using to evaluate the issues from this month, see my first article on the subject.  It is also worth pointing out that there are several regular ongoing titles that were not reported in ComicChrons’s numbers for this month since they did not release a new issue within the month (Batgirl, Black Cannary, Gotham Academy, Gotham by Midnight, and Justice League). But for now, to the numbers!

DC and TBU Overall Numbers:

November 2015
Total Comic Sales 8.3 million issues
Percent Annual Change +23% from 10/15
DC Total Sales 2.17 million issues
DC Market Share 26.09%
TBU Total Sales 1.43 million issues
TBU Market Share 17.27%


After the very mixed results that DC had in October (it did relatively okay in terms of publisher sales in themselves but did terribly compared to its rival, Marvel), November was a bit of a rebound month.  This was due almost entirely to the success of the two new miniseries that began in November – Dark Knight Rises III: The Master Race and Batman: Europa –  as well as the continued (albeit declining a bit) success of the weekly series Batman & Robin Eternal.  I’ll talk more about these titles later but I cannot understate just how big DK3 especially was for DC this month.  That title alone accounted for 5% of overall comic sales in November (which is huge for a single issue of a single comic), about 20% of DC’s sales, and about 34% of TBU sales.  So, to notice the jump from October’s overall percentage for DC (22.92%) to November’s overall percentage (26.09%) is almost entirely due to DK3 when given the month-to-month decline of other issues.  I said last month that new issue #1’s seemed to be very successful, and while not every new title will be as eagerly anticipated as DK3, this is certainly a data point that lends credibility to that line of thinking.  Whether the success of this issue can help DC going forward is still something that remains to be seen, but it may be exactly what DC needed to weather the proverbial storm until Marvel’s current ongoing promotions wear off.


Books Doing Well:

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Dark Knight 3 #1 1 440,234 100.00
Batman #46 13 (-2) 106,989 -2.18% -7.11% 100.00
Batman: Europa #1 17 80,721 75.45
Harley Quinn #22 31 (5) 58,344 5.56% -18.11% 54.53
JLA #5 38 (-3) 52,604 -6.97% 49.17
Detective Comics #46 43 (1) 47,256 -1.49% -18.76% 44.17
Batman Eternal #5,6,7,8 45, 48, 51, 53 178,214 -23.59% 41.64


Okay, so I know I already gushed about the sales numbers for DK3 in my overall summary, but this is the story of the month and I can’t help but talk about it again.  This single issue sold more copies than the next seven TBU issues combined and over four times as many issues as Batman which is the standard TBU (and DC for that matter) powerhouse when it comes to sales. This single issue rocketed past Marvel’s continuing new promotional issues and a huge Star Wars crossover issue.  I expected the numbers for DK3 #1 to be high, but I didn’t expect them to be within 60,ooo issues (about the sales number of Harley Quinn this month) away from selling half a million issues.  That kind of sales is frankly insane.  This is true even if you compare it to the sales of the first issue of The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Frank Miller’s second installment in the “Dark Knight Returns” universe) which sold about 187,000 issues (see ComicChron’s numbers from Dec 2001).  The hype for this issue was more than real and the sales numbers lived up to that.


So, the natural question to ask given all of this is whether or not these sales will hold into December’s numbers and beyond.  I can think of two really good ways to evaluate this.  First, while the hype was high for this issue, the reviews were mediocre at best (TBU’s review of the issue gave it 2.5 out of 5).  However, the reviews of the second issue were a bit better (TBU gave it 3.5 out of 5).  So, one would have to guess the extent to which middling reviews of the first issue would cause sales to drop as well as the extent to which better reviews of the second issue could mitigate a potential drop.  For the sake of argument, then, let’s walk through a hypothetical.  If sales numbers were somehow tied directly into TBU reviews (which I think are often typical of general opinion issue to issue) an issue that got half of the possible ratings would sell in it’s next issue half of the issues that it sold before.  And, half of incredible is still pretty impressive.  A 50% reduction in sales from 440,000 would still be enough to top any other TBU issue (and really any issue published in a regular month) which would suggest, I’ll be spending just as many words next month talking about DK3 as I am in this issue.


The other way we could evaluate this, would again be to compare DK3 to The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  As almost all new titles do, the sales from TDKSA #1 dropped when #2 came out, but only by 20,000 copies which is not a substantial amount.  This could suggest that we’ll see another drop in sales that would similarly be typical of other drops.  (It may be save even to assume that this would track given mediocre reviews given how horrible TDKSA was in my personal opinion).  So, if we can draw any parallel to Miller’s previous work, DK3 will drop but not dramatically.


Looking at both of these things combined, I’m going to lean a little more to the side of the first metric and expect that DK3 #1 will not have lived up to the hype for a lot of people and that sales will drop dramatically (maybe even by half) but that a drop like that will not prevent DK3 #2 from still being the top selling single issue in December.


Okay, so enough about how well DK3 did.  Let’s talk about other issues that I think did really well in November.  Batman sold well as we would expect even though we saw another month-to-month drop.  The story was similar for Harley Quinn (which had a slight increase) and JLA and Detective Comics (which both had slight decreases).  The debut of Batman: Europa did really well selling just over 80,ooo issues and Batman & Robin Eternal did well but seems to be leveling out a bit after big sales for the first issue.  Additionally, while DC still only had one issue in the Top 10, all of these issues with the exception of Eternal #7 and #8 broke the Top 50.


Books Meeting Expectations:

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Batman/Superman #26 64 (-5) 38,056 1.30% -21.66% 35.57
Robin: Son of Batman #6 68 (-6) 35,633 0.04% 33.31
Harley Quinn/Power Girl #5 75 34,127 31.90
New Suicide Squad #14 82 (-14) 32,925 -1.01% -5.71% 30.77
Grayson #14 86 (-17) 31,831 -1.33% -33.11% 29.75
Batman Beyond #6 94 (-15) 27,778 -5.55% 110.26% 25.96
DC Bombshells #4, 5 95, 101 27,239 -15.27% 25.46
Teen Titans #13 96 (-10) 26,511 -1.06% -27.10% 24.78
Titans Hunt #2 110 (-35) 22,466 -27.62% 21.00
Earth 2: Society #6 112 (-19) 21,948 -6.44% -30.81% 20.51
Catwoman #46 114 (-1) 21,661 7.08% -17.44% 20.25


These books were holding steady this month with respectable but not outstanding sales numbers.  Many of these titles even saw month-to-month increases from October (which, again, was a difficult month for DC sales all around).  Even Catwoman, which has been doing poorly enough to almost be in my danger category saw a good increase from October to November (around 7%).  However, other books in this category did slip a bit in their sales from the previous month, most notably Titans Hunt (which is also suffering the #1 to #2 drop) and DC Bombshells both of which had double-digit percentage drops.


Yet, while these numbers are decent and these books are still safe for now, some of these books (especially Catwoman) are still teetering on the edge of proving their continued viability in terms of sales.


Books in Danger:

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Red Hood/Arsenal #6 121 (-10) 19,857 -5.56% 18.56
We Are Robin #6 124 (-16) 19,210 -9.57% 17.96
Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #4 125 (-6) 18,843 -1.06% 17.61
Justice League United #15 127 (-15) 17,721 -6.06% 16.56
Batman: Arkham Knight #10 132 (-8) 17,091 -5.74% 15.97
Secret Six #8 140 (-8) 15,375 -5.92% 14.37
Justice League 3000 and 3001 #6 144 (-10) 14,659 -5.50% -21.37% 13.70
Batman ’66 #29 151 (-4) 13,860 -1.57% -11.07% 12.95
Midnighter #6 161 (-9) 12,186 -7.93% 11.39


These are the books that I am labeling as being in danger because of their sales numbers.  In our experience watching the relative successes of monthly issues, books that slip below 20k in sales are on DC’s chopping block.  As mentioned last month, some of these books have already been cancelled as soon as they finish out the number of issues already solicited (Batman ‘ 66 and Arkham Knight).  However, just like I’d assume based on October’s numbers, November’s numbers suggest that several books need some sort of drastic change to survive much longer.  Again, I must point the continued decline of Midnighter which is just barely above 12,000 issues sold and saw an almost 8% drop in these numbers from the previous month.  My guess is that DC is holding out on this title just for the purpose of having a completed trade to publish but that the end of Midnighter is looming closer and closer unless something drastic changes.


Also, this month’s TBU by the Numbers sees both Red Hood/Arsenal and We Are Robin fall into the danger category as they sold just under our 20,000 threshold.  I suspect that this will only be temporary for now given that “Robin War” event that happened in December will likely boost sales on both of these books at least for another month or two.


So, that is my summary of the sales numbers in November.  December numbers should be out in a few weeks and we can see how my thoughts and expectations play out going forwards.  But, be sure to let me know what you think of my coverage of sales numbers and to discuss the success (or lack thereof) of various titles in the comics in the comments below.

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  • Terry Hughston

    Given that most of this article was me talking about DK3 sales and whether issue #2 would sell as well as issue #1, I’d be interested to know how many people here bought the first issue and whether you continued or not.

    • Hey,

      I did buy the first issue and enjoyed it. I’ll be buying all eight.

      • Ed

        I am of course buying them… and buying them all in deluxe format so I can get the slipcase for the bookshelf.