The first spotlight we will dive into this time around in its very own article is taking a look at how often Batman sits on top of the sales charts. It is a known fact to those who watch the sales chart that Batman is considered the standard by Diamond for the sales index. However, Batman has not always been at the top of the charts, but still is very consistent with its sales over other titles.
Before we explore the history of where Batman has fallen on the charts, a few disclaimers are needed. The months/year of some of these issues and stories mentioned may not match the release of the actual issue, as the older sales numbers don’t seem to match up the issue release date, but the date the comic shops placed their orders, I will be using the sales number dates. Also, the data is based on all Batman issues except annuals.
So this chart is really big, but there’s a lot of info here. The blue line indicates the Batman’s rank in sales, axis to the left. The red line is the number of issues sold, axis to the right. Let’s break this puppy down. (You can click it to see it enlarged)
Hard as it is to believe, Batman has not always been a best seller. I only have sales numbers from September 1996 and onward, but back then, the Dark Knight wasn’t fairing too well. In fact, even making the top thirty was a feat up until 1999, though sales seemed to stay steady, under 60K. It wasn’t until 2002 that one of the most iconic storylines of the Batman age breathed fresh life into Batman and saw it not only top the charts, but increased in sales as the story arc progressed, reordering past issues every month (I don’t have those numbers in this article, but there were a lot of reorders).
(1) “Hush”. Hush managed to stay in the top ten for twelve months, staying in the number one spot for eight of those months.
(2) It looks like people were hoping for more of the same amazing quality, as Batman managed to stay in the top 10 for a few more months with the “Broken City” arc, that apparently was so unpopular, I could find next to nothing about it on the DC Wikia. By no means did it bring Batman back down to where it was pre-Hush, but sales did continue a pretty steady decline.
(3) Batman wouldn’t see the top 10 again for almost three years when a Batman mythos changing arc came out. “Batman and Son” introduced Damian Wayne who would not only become the newest member of the Bat-Family, become the next Robin. Though it would fall out of the top ten rather quickly, the sales stayed over 90K.
(4) It would be almost two years later when Batman slowly crept up the charts, almost making it to #1, but keeping sales in the 100K range with “Batman: RIP”.
(5) This was immediately followed by “Last Rites”, which did not do as well but kept Batman in the top ten for most of the arc.
(6) Directly following this arc came another iconic two-issue story arc, “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, bringing Batman sales back into the 100K range.
(7) A year later, Batman #700: Giant-Sized Anniversary Issue came out, selling 100K and taking #2 on the charts.
(8) This was followed in quick succession by “Batman RIP: Missing Chapter”
(9) and “A Prelude to Bruce Wayne The Road Home”, both of which trying to bank on the success of their “Batman RIP” and “Bruce Wayne: The Road Home” predecessor, respectively.
(10) Somehow, “Eye of the Beholder” managed to keep Batman in or around the top ten for four months. This must have been a slow era for comics because the sales numbers don’t back up these rankings, hovering around 60K each.
Then, in November 2011 (September, according to the sales numbers), a new era of DC comics started: The New 52. We were introduced to a relative newcomer, Scott Snyder, who not only kept Batman in the top ten for almost the entirety of his run but maintained a monthly readership of 126K. In fact, it’s the times that the books were NOT in the top ten that make his outliers.
(11) September 2013 was the notorious Villains Month. This month saw four issues of Batman come out, the lowest selling being…THE PENGUIN? But I thought this was DC’s favorite villain. I can’t believe it (if there was sarcasm punctuation in the English language, insert it here)
(12) October and November of 2015 are pretty interesting because, even though there was no large change in sales, the ranking dropped quite a bit. What was the cause? A huge Marvel reboot and two months of number one issues. Thanks, Marvel.
(13) June 2016 saw another DC reboot, this time with Tom King at the helm. With sales off my chart, it’s hard to believe this book didn’t make number one! 280K and it’s not number one? Well, blame Marvel again. Civil War II #1 came out, selling 381K.
(14) And, just to finish this off on a high note (sales-wise), the highest sales since sales were recorded, Tom King’s non-wedding issue, Batman #50.