A Critical Look at June 2013’s Top 10

Let’s take a moment to look at Diamond’s top ten sellers for June. If you’re unfamiliar with Diamond Distribution, they are the nationwide distributor for comics. If their website is accurate and to be believed, they distribute to 3500 comic stores and other various merchants across the country. Their numbers also include an unspecified percentage of international sales and internet sales. But bear in mind: as a distributor, what a sale is to them is not necessarily reflective of a sale to the comic book retailer. But the sale via the distributor is what the publishers get their bank from, not the sales in the comic stores, so there are obviously some discrepancies between what was bought by retailers and what was purchased by actual living, mouth-breathing fanboys. (Which is why, despite being the highest-selling comic of all time at roughly eight million  copies, you can still find long boxes chock full of unsold copies of X-Men #1 over twenty years later.) So  without further ado, let’s look at Diamond’s top ten:

1. Superman Unchained #1 (DC). This one’s a no-brainer. DC’s hottest writer, Scott Snyder, plus Jim Lee art, plus a big honkin’ “#1” on the cover, plus a coincided release with “Man of Steel?” Yeah, that’s going to be taking the top spot.

2. Batman/Superman #1 (DC). The #1 strikes again! Despite being met with lukewarm reviews by critics (and outright hatred from me), fans will always swarm to that new first issue. It doesn’t hurt that Jae Lee did the art, or that, as with Superman Unchained, this book’s release more or less coincided with “MoS.”

3. Batman #21 (DC). There’s that Scott Snyder guy again, with two books now in the top three. See why DC loves this guy? It takes serious audacity to try to do for the New 52 Batman with “Year Zero” what Frank Miller did for Bats post-Crisis with “Year One.” Regardless of how well this arc is received, DC seems to still have a slam-dunk with Snyder on Batman, as long as he keeps the event-themed arcs coming.

4-5. Age of Ultron #s 10, 9 (Marvel). Speaking of event comics, here’s Marvel’s first swing at one for this year (their second, Infinity, starts next month). Despite being a comic that no one asked for, and its near-universal critical thrashing, Bendis’s AoU sold like wheatcakes because there’s a sizeable chunk of fandom that will buy any event comic, no matter how bad, just because it’s an event comic. A real event at this point would be either of the Big Two going a year without one.

6. Justice League #21 (DC). Proof that a writer’s name alone can still sell a comic. Justice League has been pretty mediocre since its New 52 inception, but Geoff Johns’ name sells comics. Period. That, and the fact that it’s a direct lead-up to the “Trinity War” crossover (bleh), kept fans coming back for more.

7-8. Superior Spider-Man #s 11, 12 (Marvel). Fans a generation removed from my own seem to be eating this story up, as Dr. Octopus runs around in control of Spidey’s body and does variously icky things like try to tap Mary Jane (without her knowledge that Ock’s behind the wheel). You’d think Marvel would have learned not to mess with Spidey on this level, but…. the damn thing’s selling, so of course they’re cool with it.

9. All-New X-Men #12 (Marvel). Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and comics with the letter “X” in the title selling like wildfire regardless of quality. Bendis has piqued most peoples’ interest by bringing the original five X-Men to modern times; it will be interesting to see how long peoples’ patience lasts as he continues to decompress this story out past the point of viability.

10. Kick-Ass 3 #1 (Marvel/Icon). Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass opus begins its final chapter. No doubt bolstered by the release of next month’s film sequel, Kick-Ass‘s presence in the top ten shows that there’s still room for hyperviolent, over-the-top, hard-R-rated comics among all the four-colored superheroes.

A couple of other things I noticed that are worth mentioning:

a) Guardians of the Galaxy #3 edged past Walking Dead #111 to take the #12 spot, which means that despite the multimedia juggernaut that is TWD, it still got outsold by a comic featuring a talking space raccoon;

b) Green Lantern #21 clocked in at #18, which means fans did not vacate the title en masse despite Geoff Johns’ absence as I predicted;

c) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ranked at #66, which means two things–that there are plenty of little girls buying comics, which is a good thing, but also that there are a lot of very disturbed grown men buying these comics in particular, which is a bad thing;

d) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic actually managed to outsell Astro City‘s Vertigo debut, which is utterly and completely batshit crazy and is quite possibly a sign of the end times.

So that’s your slice of pie look at comics sales for June 2013. I’ll be doing this each month as Diamond releases their monthly numbers; I hope you enjoy my take on the state of the industry at large.

Until next time, I remain…