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TBU By the Numbers – February 2016

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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 February 2016 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. But for now, to the numbers!

DC and TBU Overall Numbers

February 2016
Total Comic Sales 6.1 million issues
Percent Annual Change -16% from 2/16
DC Total Sales 1.77 million issues
DC Market Share 29.01%
TBU Total Sales 0.89 million issues
TBU Market Share 14.57%


After a really great month in December 2015 and a month of mixed results in January 2016, the simple explanation of the sales numbers this month would be “holding steady.”  In terms of overall numbers, DC actually did comparatively good in February.  While the entire market dipped about 400k issues, DC sold about 200k more than the month before (like we’ve seen before, this is largely – albeit not entirely – due to the sales of DK3).  Similarly, DC’s market share increased from 24% to 29% and the TBU’s market share rose about a percentage point as well on about as many issues sold month to month.


Like I mentioned in last month’s sales summary, the story here is one of problems that DC are facing month to month.  January was bad in no small part due to the delays of some issues that are usually included in its sales numbers and market share.  February is better because those issues were finally released.  After the big dip in sales after the mediocre “Robin War” event, many titles normalized a bit.  When you average all of the month-to-month percentage changes across all of the TBU titles, there was only a 1% decrease from January to February.


So, while there is not big increase in sales this month among the TBU offerings overall, there is no major decrease as well.  This is honestly, I think, the best we can hope for at this point.  As we move closer and closer to “Rebirth” this Summer, I think we will see some increases in sales of milestone issues (like the #50 issues in March and the #52 issues in May) in anticipation of higher sales numbers when the new titles start to be released.  But, apart from those, I think “holding steady” is neither a bad expectation nor a bad result.


With all that said, let’s look at the numbers from the individual issues.


Books Doing Well

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Dark Knight 3 #3 1 146,044 100.00
Batman #49 3 (5) 102,689 1.71% -13.05% 100.00
Justice League #48 10 72,704 -0.27% 70.80
Batman/TMNT #3 14 (10) 64,444 23.13% 62.76
Harley Quinn #25 21 (17) 51,495 14.52% -23.03% 50.15
Batman: Europa #4 28 (16) 47,776 -3.43% 46.52
Detective Comics #49 30 (7) 45,300 0.42% -17.18% 44.11
Harley’s Little Black Book #2 31 45,030 43.85
Batman Eternal #18, 19, 20, 21 41, 43, 45, 46 145,129 -5.70% 35.33
Batman/Superman #29 54 (0) 33,662 -2.45% -23.73% 32.78
Arkham Knight – Batgirl/Harley Quinn #1 55 33,061 32.20


This month saw the return of the much delayed DK3 with the release of issue #3.  As you might expect, this issue had very impressive sales numbers and captured the top spot among Diamond’s Top 300 comics for the month with 146k issues sold of this title alone.  However, this was not the only good news in February for TBU titles as Batman #49 and Justice League #48 were both in the Top 10 comics for the month.  Batman/TMNT #3 and Harley Quinn #25 made it into the Top 25.  And lastly, Batman: Europa #4, Detective Comics #49, Harley’s Little Black Book #2, and Batman Eternal #18-21 all made it into the Top 50 issues in February.  Most of these titles that also released issues the month before, saw marginal to significant sales increases as well (especially Batman/TMNT which saw a sizable monthly increase).  Also included in this month’s “Books Doing Well” is Batman: Arkham Knight – Batgirl/Harley #1.  While this title was only a one-shot issue, it sold over 33k issues and managed a rank of 55 among the Top 300 which is impressive given that all of the other Arkham-verse titles have ended.


Books Meeting Expectations

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Grayson #17 60 (4) 30,257 -0.54% -26.50% 29.46
Robin: Son of Batman #9 61 (2) 30,125 -3.51% 29.34
Batgirl #48 76 (0) 25,625 -4.92% -37.32% 24.95
New Suicide Squad #17 82 (4) 23,687 -4.76% -22.43% 23.07
Teen Titans #17 83 (5) 23,566 -2.62% -30.79% 22.95
Poison Ivy #2 85 (-23) 23,452 -25.20% 22.84
Titans Hunt #5 88 (4) 22,678 -3.82% 22.08
Red Hood/Arsenal #9 89 (7) 22,341 -2.44% 21.76
We Are Robin #9 100 (65) 21,323 76.43% 20.76
DC Bombshells #9 105 (-2) 20,349 -7.10% 19.82


In our “Books Meeting Expectations,” we find the theme of “holding steady” true again for all but two of the books in this category.  All but one of these issues made it into the Top 100 issues of the month and most of them only saw marginal decreases in month-to-month sales.  The two noteworthy exceptions here are Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #2 and We Are Robin #9.  Poison Ivy’s headlining miniseries saw about a 25% drop from January to February as is all too often true between the first and second issues of a new title and should not be cause for alarm.  However, I think the most exceptional number here is the 76% increase in month-to-month sales for We Are Robin.  January was a disastrous month for the title seeing a nearly 60% drop from the month before and a loss of 72 spots in the overall rankings.  But February saw a big bump in both sales and ranking that place it above the average mark for the title with the exception of the “Robin War” crossover issue.


Books In Danger

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Batman Beyond #9 110 (3) 19,449 -4.39% 18.94
Earth 2 Society #9 114 (2) 18,868 -4.14% -31.42% 18.37
Deadshot/Katana #2 135 (-31) 16,529 -23.63% 16.10
Black Canary #8 143 (1) 14,461 -8.23% 14.08
Gotham Academy #15 145 (1) 14,334 -4.59% -31.23% 13.96
Injustice Year Five #3, 4 146, 149 28,181 -11.48% 13.72
Catwoman #49 151 (0) 13,659 -5.20% -48.36% 13.30
Secret Six #11 154 (3) 13,160 -5.24% 12.82
Justice League 3001 #9 156 (2) 12,919 -2.74% -23.00% 12.58
Batman ’66/Uncle #3 158 (-2) 12,824 -8.01% 12.49
Midnighter #9 172 (2) 10,428 0.19% 10.15


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.   And with the exception of Batman Beyond and Gotham Academy, we now know that all of the titles in this category will not survive the “Rebirth” event this Summer (at least not that we know yet).  So, although we are close enough to that event now that we won’t see any of these titles cancelled outright because of their sales numbers, the fact that they are not returning should speak volumes (especially for a title like Catwoman which has run for the entire length of the Post-Flashpoint/New 52 era).


Since we aren’t really waiting to see if these numbers bare out in cancellation at this point, I can’t help but wonder how far some of these issues will fall before the series represented here end.   For example, Midnighter saw a slight bump from January to February (a bump of exactly 20 issues sold, so congrats if any of those 20 were readers of this column trying to help out) but will still likely fall below 10k issues sold before Rebirth puts it out of its misery.


So, that is my summary of the sales numbers in February.  March 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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