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TBU By the Numbers – March 2016

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 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

March 2016
Total Comic Sales 6.09 million issues
Percent Annual Change -11% from 04/15
DC Total Sales 1.58 million issues
DC Market Share 25.94%
TBU Total Sales 1.01 million issues
TBU Market Share 17.27%


March was another bag of mixed messages in terms of DC and TBU sales numbers.  Overall the total market of comic sales was basically the same (although this is down double digits from this time last year when we saw the lead-up to DC’s Convergence event and Marvel’s Secret War event).  Interestingly enough, DC sales dropped by about 200k while TBU sales (which are a part of those DC numbers, obviously) went up by about 110k issues sold.  This bump is due in no small part to the success of the first batch of issue #50s that were released in the month of March (especially Batman #50 as we’ll see in a moment) but we also saw several other titles with sizable month-to-month increases that contributed to that number.


Personally, I find this to be fairly encouraging.  As we approach “Rebirth” beginning in June, I would expect a lot of attrition in these numbers as certain titles just tank in terms of issues sold.  However, like I said last month, the fact that many of these titles have “milestone” issues (like a #50 or a#52 for books that have been around since the beginning of the New 52) yet to come before “Rebirth” that drop might be curtailed with increased sales for those issues.  The numbers in March bear that out.  Also, while I track issues sold in this column rather than money made off those issues (something that might change when prices level out this Summer), it’s also worth noting that not only did these #50 issues sell more than their #49 counterparts in February, most of these issues were oversized and sold at a higher price, netting the publisher more profits off of March sales as well.


Yet, even then, I don’t think that we will see the DC and TBU numbers grow by leaps and bounds until we see the new titles begin to release over the Summer.  Until then, we’ll keep looking for the silver lining and March made it easy to find.


Books Doing Well

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Batman #50 1 (2) 163,406 59.13% 24.62% 100.00
Batman/TMNT #4 13 (1) 65,132 1.07% 39.86
Detective Comics #50 24 (6) 52,373 15.61% -6.69% 32.05
Harley Quinn #26 27 (-6) 51,420 -0.15% -28.64% 31.47
JLA #8 34 45,500 27.84
Batman/Superman #30 37 (17) 44,644 32.62% 2.80% 27.32
Batman & Robin Eternal #22-26 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 174,644 20.34% 26.72
Grayson #18 55 (5) 33,550 10.88% -17.89% 20.53
Robin: Son of Batman #10 56 (5) 32,962 9.42% 20.17


The banner headline for the month of March is Batman #50.  Batman is almost always DC’s best-selling monthly ongoing title but this month was above and beyond what we’d usually see or expect.  Batman #50 sold over 60k more issues in March than it did in February, an increase of almost 60%.  Additionally, there was a nearly 3ok bump (a almost 25% increase) from issue #40 a year before.  While this is certainly due at least partially to buyers and collectors wanting to purchase that #50 issue, it makes for an interesting narrative as Batman #40 was the last issue of the “Endgame” story arc where Batman/Bruce Wayne “died” and Batman #50 was the issue where Bruce Wayne finally reappears as Batman and reclaims the cowl for himself.   This title also outsold all others in March, claiming the top spot among issues for the month (joining Superman #50 as the only two DC titles in the Top 10).


March was also a good month for other titles.  Batman/TMNT #4 and Detective Comics #50 both made it into the Top 25 titles of the month and both were up from the month before, with Detective seeing a 15% increase from February.  Harley Quinn, JLA, Batman/Superman and most of the final issues of Batman & Robin Eternal all found their way into the Top 50 for the month.  Of those, Batman/Superman and Eternal saw month-to-month increases.  This is exciting for Batman/Superman which presumably saw the increase due to the release of Batman v. Superman in theaters.  The monthly percentage increase from Eternal was mostly due to the fact that March had five issues rather than four.


I’m also including Grayson and Robin: Son of Batman in this month’s “Books Doing Well” as they both just narrowly missed the Top 50 titles for the month and also saw significant monthly increases from February to March.


Books Meeting Expectations

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
New Suicide Squad #18 70 (12) 28,243 19.23% -7.23% 17.28
Batgirl #49 81 (-5) 24,730 -3.49% -40.74% 15.13
Teen Titans #18 83 (0) 23,056 -2.16% -39.90% 14.11
Poison Ivy #3 85 (0) 22,812 -2.73% 13.96
Batman Beyond #10 89 (21) 21,578 10.95% 13.21


The “Books Meeting Expectations” category is pretty thin for the month of March as more books did either markedly better this month or markedly worse.  All of these titles made the Top 100 titles for the month and most of them either rose or held steady in their ranking positions.  New Suicide Squad had a good month (but not quite good enough to make my “doing well” category) seeing about 5k more issues sold from February to March for a nearly 20% increase.  Again, this could be due to the release of more trailers and promotions for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, but that is just my personal speculation.  Also notable among these titles is Batman Beyond #10 which rescued itself from the “danger” category this month with an 11% increase in sales that bumped it above 20k issues sold.


Books in Danger

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
DC Bombshells #10 101 (4) 19,820 -2.60% 12.13
Titans Hunt #6 110 (-22) 18,493 -18.45% 11.32
Earth 2 Society #10 111 (3) 18,391 -2.53% -32.78% 11.25
Red Hood/Arsenal #10 116 (-27) 17,707 -20.74% 10.84
We Are Robin #10 122 (-22) 16,412 -23.03% 10.04
Deadshot/Katana #3 131 (4) 14,585 -11.76% 8.93
Catwoman #50 134 (17) 14,260 4.40% -46.26% 8.73
Injustice #5, 6 136, 140 27,693 -1.73% 8.47
Black Canary #9 142 (1) 13,566 -6.19% 8.30
Gotham Academy #16 145 (0) 13,363 -6.77% -34.37% 8.18
Secret Six #12 150 (4) 12,772 -2.95% 7.82
Justice League 3001 #10 155 (1) 12,455 -3.59% -24.99% 7.62
Batman ’66/Uncle #4 164 (-6) 11,945 -6.85% 7.31
Midnighter #10 176 (-4) 9,803 -5.99% 6.00


Unfortunately, the “Books in Danger” category is the largest group among this month’s titles.  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.  Like I mentioned last month we now know that most 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.


March was a bad month for most of these titles and not a good enough month for the few exceptions to take them out of the danger category.  Among these, only Catwoman #50 saw a month-to-month percentage increase probably due to the presumed value of a #50 issue but the increase was only marginal at 4.4% which equates to only around 600 extra issues sold, leaving it far short of the 20k safety mark.


Titans Hunt, Red Hood/Arsenal, We are Robin, and Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot/Katana all saw double digit percentage drops pulling them down into the danger rating again this month where they had all been in the “meeting expectations” category last month.


Finally, I must mention the continuing lack of success for the Midnighter title which dropped below 10k issues sold for the month despite the character featuring prominently in the final issues of Batman & Robin Eternal.  I noted last month that Midnighter had sold exactly 20 more issues in February than in January, but that trend did not stick as the title sold 625 fewer issues in March than in February.  With time still to go before this title ends, I don’t even want to speculate about how far it might fall, but I would not be surprised if it slips out of the Top 200 before the end.


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