For this month’s spotlight, we will focus on the times that Detective Comics outsold Batman in the last twenty years. Detective Comics featured Batman’s debut and continued to feature him predominantly to this day. However, looking at today’s numbers, Batman far outsells TEC (DeTECtive Comics) on a regular basis. This could be due to the lack of popular writers on the title. Perhaps it is the lack of the name Batman in the title. I have fair-weather comic book/Batman fan friends who have never even heard of Detective Comics, or if they have, they had no idea it was a Batman title.
With that in mind, let’s unpack the amazing (and few) times TEC has outsold Batman since September 1996, when sales numbers started to be distributed.
Most of the time Detective outsold Batman comes from the early 2000s. The chart below shows that at this time (1996 – 2002) Batman and Detective Comics sales were almost identical (up until Batman: Hush). This means that the tiny spikes in TEC sales don’t always amount to much in the way of significance. This may take the wind out of the sails of our “TEC OUTSELLS BATMAN” adventure, but nevertheless, we shall persist.
Batman Vol. 1 #574 (52,339 issues sold) “Endgame, Part Two: …Tender and Mild…”
Detective Comics #741 (55,286 issues sold) “Endgame, Part Three: …Sleep In Heavenly Peace…”,
TEC sells 2,947 issues more than Batman
These issues mark the end of the No Man’s Land cross over for each book. If it seems strange that TEC outsold Batman, well it could be that Bruce wasn’t in Batman, as Huntress played the main crime-fighter in this issue.
Batman Vol. 1 #589 (43,015 issues sold) “Close Before Striking: Act Two”
Detective Comics #756 (47,221 issues sold) “Lord of the Ring”
TEC sells 4,206 more issues than Batman
Batman: The real Matches Malone (who knew there was one?) comes to Gotham to find the faux Matches.
TEC: Superman and Lois guest star. Batman and Lois break into the White House to steal President Luthor’s kryptonite ring. The increase in sales might be from the Super guest stars.
Batman Vol. 1 #599 (50,673 issues sold) “From the Inside-Out”
Detective Comics #766 (53,247 issues sold) “Procedure”
TEC sells 2,574 more issues than Batman
These are parts seven and two, respectively of the “Bruce Wayne: Murderer” arc. As with any arc, sales start high and then begin to twiddle with each issue. This discrepancy in sales can be explained by TEC coming out first and people jumping ship before getting to Batman #599.
Batman Vol. 1 #602 (48,220 issues sold) “Turning the Town Red, Part Two”
Detective Comics #769 (52,097 issues sold) . “Purity, Part 2 of 3”
TEC sells 3,877 more issues than Batman
Batman: Batman is on the trail of Nicodemus, a man who burns corrupt politicians.
TEC: The fourth installment of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive. Perhaps people were more interested in how Bruce would fair in the Fugitive arc rather than against a self-proclaimed vigilante.
Batman Vol. 1 #604 (48,734 issues sold) “Reasons”
Detective Comics #771 (52,301 issues sold) “Access”
TEC sells 3,567 more issues than Batman
Batman: Batman works with Catwoman to take out some of Joker’s gang.
TEC: The twelfth part of “Bruce Wayne: Fugitive”. Again, perhaps people were more interested in how Bruce’s brush with the law would turn out rather than a Joker issue without Joker in it.
Batman Vol. 3 #66 (83,102 issues sold) “Knightmares, Part 4: ‘Cat’”
Detective Comics #1000 (526,941 issues sold) Various Stories
TEC sells 443,839 more issues than Batman
Batman: Bats has a dream about questioning Catwoman about why she left him at the altar.
TEC: The 1000th issue. The masses rejoiced in the copious variant covers available.
Honorable Mentions – 100K+
April 2009-Detective Comics Vol. 1 #853 (104,099 issues sold) “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Part 2”
September 2011-Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1 (103,392 issues sold) “Detective Comics” (New 52 launch)
October 2011-Detective Comics Vol. 2 #2 (110,798 issues sold) “Playtime’s Over” (New 52 launch)
November 2011-Detective Comics Vol. 2 #3 (100,007 issues sold) “Cold Blood”(New 52 launch)
December 2012-Detective Comics Vol. 2 #15 (106,395 issues sold) “The Dirt Nap”/ “Love in Bloom”
July 2016-Detective Comics Vol. 1 #936 (100,626 issues sold) “Rise of the Batmen, Part 3: Army of Shadows” (Batman/TEC/Nightwing Crossover)