Aquaman Punches Marvel In The Gills [Comic Book Sales]

January 2012 Comic Book Sales Figures

Having taken a break from reporting on sales due to real life taking up all my free time (in ironically the most exciting time for comic book sales discussion) the monthly report is back. Also working on an article that will bridge the gap in some of the month’s we missed.

The January 2012 comic book sales figures reveal some very interesting details; while helping to gauge the success of DC’s “New 52″ they also give some insight into the rest of the industry. While Marvel still holds on to the industries best dollar share % looking at the estimated sales of each title stacked up against each other tells a different story.

Marvel may have accounted for 35% of the retail market this month (only a slim lead over DC’s 34%) but it’s worth noting that their average cover price more than make’s up for the 1.6% difference between the two; Marvel’s average price was $3.59 to DC’s $3.14 (which isn’t that far off from $2.99, touche DC). Course, DC’s average price will see a bump in April when Batman and Detective Comics jump from $2.99 to $3.99.

Some notes…

  • The most notable takeaway is probably DC’s complete dominance over the top 10. Think of it this way, Aquaman sold more copies than any other Marvel book. While that probably says less about Marvel than more about Aquaman it’s an indicator to the switch we’ve seen since DC’s relaunch. Back in March we commented how low sales had gotten for DC; their best selling book was at 76,898 and now 6 books rank higher. And Marvel’s back-t0-back events (with the upcoming Avengers Vs. X-Men) make more sense when looking at the numbers. However, as we noted last April Fear Itself #1 probably undersold and the situation now doesn’t seem any better.
  • Although DC’s three titles currently over the 100,000 mark is an achievement you can’t help but wonder how long it will last. Action Comics only needs to drop by 5% next month (it dropped by 7% last month and 16% the month before that) and if Justice League and Batman drop 5% per month (a very favorable %) than were looking at around July when both titles will drop below 100,000. This could even happen sooner as most of the titles are reaching the end of their first story arc soon.
  • Another noteworthy wowzer; Wonder Woman sold more than the Avengers this month.
  • Captain America is officially selling less than half of what it was after it’s launch in July.
  • As we recently learned, 20,000 seems to be the “you could get cut” number for DC and 15 of DC’s original “New 52″ sold under that this month; now, 6 of those 15 have already been announced to be replaced; so 9 titles. And of those 9 remaining 2 had some recent news: Rob Liefld will take over scripting for Grifter and Jesus Saiz is taking over art for Resurrection Man starting with issue #9, maybe making these two just a little safer since they have creative changes. This leaves 7 titles potentially on the brink: DC Universe Presents, Legion Lost, Fury of Firestorm, Blue Beetle, I, Vampire, Voodoo, and Captain Atom.
  • Breaks my heart to see Animal Man so far down the list.
  • With as much hype as Fatale and Saga are getting along with other indy titles it will be interesting to see if the numbers for Fatale increase or if the mainstream comics dropping means an increase in the popular indy titles.

More in the link below showing the estimated sales for the top 300 comics.




  1. Doctor Deadpool says:

    Deadpool sales practically doubled.

  2. ChaosBringer616 says:

    Wow! Didn’t know ppl were enjoying Aquaman as much as I was. However, it really sold more than Uncanny X-Force!? I admit the new storyline in UXF(The Otherworld/Captain Britain whackness) is a little boring, but since the new 52 thing started UXF has been better overall. Justice League is pretty rad since Darkseid’s all up in the story now. (Next Marvel vs. DC thing that goes down, i suggest him and Apocalypse go at it {and of course Deadpool vs. Deathstroke}).

  3. jamie says:

    I think you are right;if I owned stock in dc, I’d sell it before the first story arc ends; that’s when I’m getting out of jla.
    I’m not surprised cap isnt selling well; thebook just isnt that good and is only fot hardcore cap fans at best

  4. Eric says:

    Indeed, sell that DC stock soon. DC’s numbers are still high with people curious to see where this new 52 is going, but as it becomes more apparent that a majority of the stories are still just as bad or even worse than before, then more and more readers will be dropping the titles. This is a good opportunity for Marvel to really come up with some compelling stories now and steal all these new readers looking for somewhere to turn.

    • Personally I don’t think DC’s stories are any/much worse (in fact, I think a lot of series are better), I think these numbers are suggesting that the industry can no longer keep a single series over 100,000 for more than it’s first couple of issues. Even Fear Itself and Flashpoint were under.

      Take Batman for example; what else can DC do other than 1 – relaunch it 2 – offer it digitally the same day – 3 – new creative team – 4 tell a story everyone is loving? You’d think that would be the recipe to bring a title to a new standard, yet Batman will soon drop to about what the best Batman title was doing a year ago. I think DC and the creators are genuinely trying and the people buying monthly comics just aren’t there anymore.

      And I agree, this is a chance for Marvel to step up; however, I’d be surprised if Avengers vs. X-Men is going to give comic fans something to flee to. Fear Itself ended on a low note (talking sales numbers) and this event seems to have less momentum.

      I’m wondering if the beneficiaries from some of these moves will be indy publishers/creators. Granted they’ll always sell less total numbers but series like Walking Dead, Chew, Fables and others like them seem to keep their readers without having to reboot every year.

      …lots to think about.

  5. Victor Kutsenok says:

    Fear Itself sucked. As did Flashpoint. That was the reason they ended on a low note. They were honest to god terrible. Some of the worst, most non-sensical dragged out boring stuff I have ever read. I’m praying for AVX but unless there is a solid, cohesive story behind it, it will suck too.
    And the reason that Indy books like Walking Dead, Fables, and the like are so damn good is this. Great consistent writing. They don’t change writers. Ever. Some of the best books of all time had the same common factor. A writer that just kept writing. Claremont, Kirkman, Bill Willingham, Gaiman. Each of those names are synonymous with the comic they wrote. Today’s writers show up for a year and then move on. A year is nothing in the comic world. Especially in the TPB era when a year is actually only 2 stories. This is why stories of today suck and drag and feel hollow. The writers really don’t know their characters. It’s sad and unfortunately there is no change in sight.

    • Agreed.

      Grant Morrison started his Batman run back in 2006 and he’s still telling it with the new Batman Inc series coming out (although, I could see someone counting Batman and Robin #16 as his end, which was published in Nov 2010). So even if you don’t count Batman Inc that’s a 4 year run. That amount of time allowed Morrison to build something really really epic and powerful (in my opinion).

      And I didn’t read it but I believe Brubaker had a long time on Captain America, and he’s still writing it.

      With as many different titles as characters can have I’m with you, I’d like to see creators get 2-4 years to really build something out.

  6. Doctor Deadpool says:

    It’s part of the reason I hope Daniel Way stays with Deadpool. You just can’t replace 50+ issues of experience.


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John Barringer is the founder & head editor of and will update his bio soon since right now it's really boring.