If we could take the time machine back to 2011, we were speculating on the new 52 titles that DC Comics was going to release that September as part of their universe wide reboot. While I did think it was a good idea, many people believed this was the move that was going to change comic book publishing across the board. As we approach the 18-month mark of their hail-mary pass, did it do what many of you expected?
The answer is a mixed yes-and-no. When reports started coming in that sales of Detective Comics, The Justice League and Batman were off the charts, I knew that was going to happen. My concern was what was going to happen after the initial hype tapered off. With the slew of cancellations in the last nearly 18-months, we can see that it may not have been going off without a hitch.
Now I understand that you can’t have everyone be a winner, but their desire to release 52 comics a month may have been a bit too ambitious. In a recent report by Publishers Weekly, it shows that the publisher isn’t boosting the numbers that many expected or hoped for. Many Marvel haters were expecting DC to begin eclipsing their line, but that failed to happen. It gained more momentum after the release of Marvel’s Avengers Vs. X-Men mini-series.
Many expected that other publishers would do the same thing because DC was doing something so bold. However, being the first one out the door isn’t always a good thing. In terms of sales, DC Comics sold over 3.4 million copies of their comics in their September 2011, which each comic averaging over 65,000 copies sold. After the launch and into 2012, the company averaged over 2 million copies, which each title dropping around the 40,000 copies per title.
That couldn’t be good news for the publisher and that can be seen by the “Second Wave” that happened six months into the “New 52”. However, when they started 2013, sales fell below 2 million for the first time and average per title fell to just above 37,000 per titles. When the reboot happened, they had 7 titles selling over 100K+ but by last month, they only had 2 titles in that category. In 2011, the bulk of their titles sat around 30K to 39K, while last month they find the bulk of their titles sitting at 10K to 19K.
With the latest slew of new titles coming, especially Justice League of America hitting store shelves this week, it is hard to believe that any other publishers would do what DC did. Many people believed that the Marvel NOW! launch would be their answer to their woes, but it was simply a renumbering scheme and working to bring back Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos back to the Marvel Universe.
In the end, the hype about DC Comics rebooting their series did bring them a mixed bag. It brought people to them that had stayed away because of their evolved universe, like myself, however, many of their titles are based on Superman and Batman and other characters seem weak in comparison. I think it was something they needed to do, but it didn’t revolutionize the entire industry like many hoped for. So don’t expect any other publishers to do it in the near future.