Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Modern Marvel: Star Wars #4 GameStop Exclusives

Star Wars #4 was published in April 2015, but for Star Wars Day on May 4th, GameStop released Star Wars #4 with two exclusive covers.  A Rebel variant cover was sold at GameStop retail stores while the Empire variant cover could be earned through the PowerUp Rewards program.

The Rebel variant cover features the main heroes from the original trilogy.

Star Wars #4g - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2015)
GameStop retail exclusive
The Empire variant cover features Darth Vader and the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars #4h - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2015)
GameStop PowerUp Rewards exclusive
The connecting covers are drawn by Nick Bradshaw.  There is a lot of detail in the art and Bradshaw is clearly influenced by Art Adams.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse

James Bond has the distinction of being the longest continually running movie series, starting with the release of Dr No in 1962.  There have been 26 James Bond films and the movies are the 3rd highest grossing series behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Harry Potter.  (Star Wars is the 4th highest grossing series and has the possibility of passing both James Bond and Harry Potter with the release of the 9th film, Rogue One, in December.)  Based on books written by Ian Fleming, there are many Bond tropes that are familiar to fans of the movie series.  The 5-part mini-series, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse, pays homage to James Bond and uses many familiar cliches.

Jahan Cross is the James Bond-like character in the Agent of the Empire series.  The story starts with Cross learning about project Iron Eclipse from a corrupt Imperial, Colonel Muhrlein, who Cross kills.  He gets permission from head of Imperial Intelligence, Armand Isard, an M-like character, to travel to the Corporate Sector, and under the guise of a diplomatic envoy, to uncover the secret of Iron Eclipse .  Naturally, Isard tells Cross he will disavow his mission if discovered and Cross stops by the tech division to pick up some gadgets from Allessi Quon, a Q-like character, and Royd Pew, whose last name sound like Q.  The main gadget he secures is the female droid IN-GA 44 or Inga, a companion Cross has used on several assignments.  In the Corporate Sector, Cross attends a social event and meets the beautiful Elli Stark and her brother Iaclyn Stark.  They are children of Iaco Stark who fled to the Corporate Sector from the Republic after starting the Stark Hyperspace Wars and died a few years earlier.  Cross also meets Dah'lis Stark, the step-mother of Elli and Iaclyn, who he spends the night with; Dah'lis reveals that Eclipse is a space station whose construction was started by Iaco and that work is being continued by Iaclyn.  Cross is awoken the next morning by the local Security Police and discovers Dah'lis is dead.  Framed, he flees and fakes his death so he can continue his investigate.  He enlists the aid of Elli Stark and they travel to the Eclipse station orbiting Reltooine.  There, Cross is captured by Iaclyn's droids.  Iaclyn reveals that Iron Eclipse is "a virus that spreads to all droids making them servants -- our army.  It eclipses all other programming -- including any injunctions against killing sentients."  Cross also learns that Iaco is not really dead, but had his head grafted onto a droid body.  Iaco kills Iaclyn while Cross and Elli flee.  They are confronted by Inga who is infected by the virus, but in the end, Cross kills Iaco and Inga destroys the Eclipse station along with herself, as Cross and Elli escape the station.

Han Solo and Chewbacca are rescued by Jahan Cross when he travels to the Corporate Sector and, to repay Cross, they use the Millennium Falcon to transport Cross and Elli Stark to and from the Eclipse space station.  They are shown on the cover of the first issue.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2011)
Dark Horse, following the lead of other publishers, was releasing retailer incentive covers for many first issues around the time this mini-series was published.  This series has one of these incentive covers.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2011)
As can be seen by the remaining covers, there are other characters who are involved in the twists and turns of this spy thriller.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 2012)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 2012)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2012)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 2012)
Jahan Cross would return in a followup mini-series, Star Wars: Agents of the Empire - Hard Targets.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Shattered Empire Disposable Heroes Exclusives

A year ago, Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1 was the top selling comic book, in no small part to its tie-in to The Force Awakens.  Marvel had plans to repeat the success of that mini-series with a tie-in to Rogue One this year, but circumstances prevented those plans from coming to fruition.  It isn't known if their original plans have been abandoned or if we'll see them at a later date.

The 4-part Shattered Empire mini-series takes place in the aftermath of the destruction of the 2nd Death Star as the Imperial Remnant carries out the last order of the deceased Emperor Palpatine.  Operation: Cinder has the Imperials attacking many worlds throughout the galaxy as an act of revenge and to hide Sith secrets.  Swept up in the chaos are a married couple, pilot Lieutenant Shara Bey and special forces Sergeant Kes Dameron, whose lives intersect with those of the main Star Wars heroes throughout the series.  In the first issue, Shara Bey is about to attack the Imperial Shuttle piloted by Luke Skywalker leaving the 2nd Death Star, but upon learning it is piloted by a friendly, flies escort for him until he clears the battlefield around the 2nd Death Star.  The day after the celebration on Endor, Shara Bey and Kes Dameron take part in the assault on an Imperial base on the far side of the moon led by Han Solo.  In the second issue, we learn Shara Bey and Kes Dameron had a son Poe, after the events of the first issue.  Shara Bey is Princess Leia's pilot on a diplomatic mission to Naboo.  Naboo comes under attack by Imperials who plan to use satellites to control the weather and leave the planet uninhabitable.  In the third issue, Kes Dameron is part of the assault team led by Han Solo which discovers the plans of Operation: Cinder while attacking another Imperial stronghold.  Back on Naboo, Shara Bey, Leia, and Queen Soruna use antique Naboo Fighters to launch an attack on the Imperial satellites.  Protected by an Imperial Star Destroyer, the three are about to be overwhelmed by the Imperials when a squadron of Rebel Fighters led by Lando Calrissian come to the rescue.  The final issue has Shara Bey recruited by Luke Skywalker on a mission to steal some Force trees from an Imperial base on Vetine.  The series ends with Shara Bey and Kes Dameron retired and settled on a planet to raise their son Poe Dameron.

The first issue has the usual large number of variant and exclusive covers that defines the modern comic publishing era.  Comic retailer Disposable Heroes Comics is the only retailer to have exclusives for all 4 issues.

Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1p - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2015)
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2015)
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #3d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2015)
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #4d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2015)
The covers all feature the visage of an armored Imperial soldier with a scene below by artist Julian Totino Tedesco.  The first issue has Darth Vader, followed by a Stormtrooper, a TIE Pilot, and an Imperial Scout.  I like the idea, although the Darth Vader helmet should have been larger on the first issue to match the remaining issues.

Disposable Heroes Comics was based out of Belfast, Ireland and shut down operations in late 2015, early 2016 leaving many customers scrambling to recover money they had spent on comic pre-orders.  It isn't clear if these store exclusives sold out prior to their closing or what happened to the remainder of their comic stock.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Star Wars Titles Showing Signs of Fatigue in August

The Comics Chronicles released the August 2016 estimated sales earlier this month.  DC Rebirth titles again dominated the top of the charts.  Marvel's top title, Amazing Spider-Man #16, took the 4th position on the chart.  Marvel's next title to chart was Star Wars, in position 20, and for the second month in a row is the only Star Wars title to break into the top 25 titles for the month.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars222085,12690,863-6.31%
Darth Vader243175,40177,430-2.62%
Han Solo32667,81683,738-19.01%
Poe Dameron54452,58157,712-8.89%
The Force Awakens35141,57549,423-15.88%

For the second month in a row, every Star Wars title saw a drop in units sold.  Like last month, Darth Vader had the smallest drop, with a loss of over 2,000 units.  The main Star Wars title fell a surprisingly high 5,700+ units.  In just 2 months, the main title has shed over 10,000 units.  The recent announcement of a Yoda tale pre-The Phantom Menace in issue #26 should prove a much needed lift for this title.  It has to be remembered that every comic has to compete for reader dollars and the best way to capture a reader's attention is to generate buzz for the title.  Darth Vader is approaching it's end with issue #25 which has readers speculating which character's are going to live and die including fan favorites Doctor Aphra, 0-0-0, and BT-1.  Star Wars has not had an attention grabbing story since the Vader Down crossover.  This is not to say the stories since Vader Down have been bad, but to remain a top selling title these days requires an event to pull in readers.

Poe Dameron's loss is inline with the drop for Kanan's 5th issue.  So far, Poe Dameron has proven to be a better seller.  With the followup movie for The Force Awakens still over a year away, Poe Dameron could survive as one of Marvel's mid tier sellers until then.

Han Solo #3 fell another 19.01%, which is pretty normal for a mini-series.  Han Solo #1 sold another 6,885 units in August.  The Force Awakens #3 shed just under 8,000 units.  Overall, both mini-series are performing as expected.

Marvel has not announced any new mini-series past Han Solo and The Force Awakens which will end in November.  It has announce a new ongoing title which will debut in December, the same month Rogue One is due to hit theaters.  The content of the title is being kept under wraps.  This should help lift the Star Wars line out of the doldrums it has seen the last few months.

The following table shows the total number of Star Wars units sold per month since January 2015 along with the average number of sales per issue.  Note this chart does not include reprints.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833
August 2016322,499564,500

The average sale per issue is the lowest for the modern Star Wars line and it would rank 42nd on the top 300 chart for the month of August.  Star Wars trade paperbacks and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimate Chart and please read the blog posting 20 years counting: Two decades of sales reports -- plus August 2016's comics sales estimates.  I want to congratulate and thank John Jackson Miller for the work he has put into his reports for 20 years.  That is an accomplishment worth recognizing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Retro Foreign: Swedish Månadens Äventyr #12 1986

Swedish Månadens Äventyr usually contains two Indiana Jones or Star Wars stories inside.  Månadens Äventyr #12 1986 only contains the story from the doubled-sized Star Wars #92.

Månadens Äventyr #12a - Semic Press, Sweden (1986)
contains Star Wars #92
Unlike other Månadens Äventyr issues that focused on Star Wars, this comic contains a different cover than a U.S. issue.  The cover for Månadens Äventyr #12 1986 is actually the art from the 2nd panel on page 2.  Since this story is post-Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker is not actually facing off with Darth Vader; instead the confrontation is in a dream sequence.  The interior pencils are the earliest published Star Wars work by Jan Duursema, who is best known for her work on the Dark Horse Star War line, most notably Star Wars: Legacy.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars #0 American Entertainment Exclusive

In August 1999 Dark Horse published two version of Star Wars #0, one for the online retailer AnotherUniverse.com and another for AnotherUniverse.com's mail order company, American Entertainment.

Star Wars #0 reprints the story The Keeper's World from the comic strip in Pizzazz #1 - 9.

Star Wars #0a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 1999)
American Entertainment exclusive
The American Entertainment exclusive cover features Princess Leia.  The art is re-purposed from a 1993 Topps Galaxy trading card by Brian Stelfreeze.  The full body picture of Leia is taken from a well-known publicity photo.  It isn't clear why her gown was drawn differently at the bottom as it looks odd on the cover.

Princess Leia publicity photo

Friday, September 16, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - The Fall of the Sith Empire #1 American Entertainment Exclusive

Steve Milo founded American Entertainment, a mail order comic retailer based in Virginia, in 1984 at the nascence of the comic book speculation boom.  In addition to sending out monthly catalogs, they also ran ads inside comics using the Entertainment This Month or ETM brand which catered to the speculation market.  Having survived the comic speculation collapse in 1993, they started selling comics online as AnotherUniverse.com in 1996 and when that business boomed, they officially renamed the company AnotherUniverse.com in 1998.  In 2000, Fandom.com acquired AnotherUniverse.com with Milo assuming the position of Executive Vice President of Merchandising.  Fandom.com folded and their comic stock was purchased by New Dimension Comics in 2001, the final year the dot-com bubble burst.

The company sold comics with exclusive variant covers as both American Entertainment and AnotherUniverse.com, making them an early pioneers in exclusive comic covers along with Dynamic Forces.  Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - The Fall of the Sith Empire #1 American Entertainment exclusive is one of these comics.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - The Fall of the Sith Empire #1c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (1997)
American Entertainment exclusive
Like Dynamic Forces, they also offered signed editions.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - The Fall of the Sith Empire #1d - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (1997)
American Entertainment exclusive
signed
Signed copies come with a Certificate of Authenticity from Wizard Magazine as well as a holographic sticker affixed to the cover declaring the comic Wizard Authentic.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Comic Connection: Star Wars (1977) #19 and Knights of the Old Republic #41

Dark Horse's twenty-four year tenure as the Star Wars comic license holder is a remarkable achievement for the company and fans.  Dark Horse introduced new eras, new characters, and new genres of stories to our beloved galaxy far, far away.  They took care to hold to the spirit of Star Wars, but were more than willing to experiment and expand the types of stories they told.  It is a testament to Dark Horse's success that they lost the license to Marvel only after Disney acquired both Marvel and Lucasfilm.  There is no doubt if that synergy did not exist under Disney's corporate umbrella, Dark Horse would still hold the license.

Longtime readers of Marvel's original Star Wars run are presented with many treats over that twenty-four years.  Dark Horse references several Marvel's comics, such as Star Wars #19.  In that issue, Chewbacca quickly dispatches a Mandallian Giant, a large muscular humanoid.

Star Wars #19a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (January 1979)
Zayne Carrick and Aubin Kleej faces off with a Mandallian Giant while participating in the Tandem Open in one of Jervo's World's 12 arenas.  This moment is captured on the cover of Knights of the Old Republic #41.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #41a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 2009)
Interestingly, the entire 3-part story in Knights of the Old Republic #39 - 41 titled Dueling Ambitions, is a homage to The Wheel arc in Marvel's original run, with Jervo's World operating much as The Wheel.  Another alien from The Wheel arc, a Tyluun Night-Soarer, also makes an appearance in this story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #20 and Star Wars Weekly #40

In Star Wars #19, Chewbacca is forced into The Wheel's Big Game after he hides the body of the rebel who died in Star Wars #18.  He enters a casino on the upper level where a guard confronts him for not paying a registration fee for being aboard the gambling establishment.  Chewbacca is knock unconscious by Wheel Security, but not before battling with a Mandallian Giant, an enormous muscular humanoid.  In the same issue, Han Solo gambles away his last credits trying to come up with the docking fees for the Millennium Falcon and decides to enter the contest as a gladiator to raise funds.  In Star Wars #20, Han faces off against a Ultaarian Greenback in a preliminary bout where Han Solo is outclassed by another muscular humanoid, this one with four arms each holding poisonous dagger thorns.

Star Wars #20a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 1979)
Newsstand
Star Wars #20's cover has Han lying on the ground while the Ultaarian Greenback approaches.  C-3PO, R2-D2, and other Wheel patrons are watching the fight while C-3PO's dialogue reveals his usual pessimism.
Star Wars Weekly #40a - Marvel Comics, England (November 8, 1978)
last half of Star Wars #20
The cover for Star Wars Weekly #40 has a similar scene with Han again on his back while his prey closes in for the killing blow.  This cover only shows C-3PO and R2-D2 viewing the battle.  C-3PO is quiet, but clearly concerned.

Both covers have mistakes with the alien Han is fighting.  On the U.S. cover, the alien's head looks more like the Mandallian Giant Chewbacca fought, except for the addition of a trunk-like nose.  The tusks are turned down, unlike the Ultaarian Greenback inside the issue, and the alien has ears which a Greenback does not have.  The color scheme does match however.  The U.K. cover shows the alien with a more accurate head, but the color more closely resembles the color for the alien Chewbacca fought.  Additionally, the alien on the cover sports spiked wrist bands that neither alien wears.  When it comes to the colors used on the British Weekly magazines, some leeway should be given since the interior pages are in black and white.  A Brit reading the comic would have no way of knowing if the color is correct or not.

Of the two covers, I like the more menace stance of the Ultaarian Greenback on Star Wars Weekly #40, although I prefer the details provided by Carmine Infantino on Star Wars #20.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Retro Foreign: Philippine Alemar's Star Wars #4

A very recent addition to my collection is the Alemar's Star Wars #4.  Prior to acquiring this copy, I had only ever seen one other copy and it was bound with the first 3 issues of the title in an aftermarket collection.  I have no doubt more copies exist, but for me, this was the most elusive issue of this title.

Star Wars #4a - Alemar's, Philippines (1980 - 1985?)
contains Star Wars #4
These Philippine Star Wars issues are slightly thinner than their U.S. counterparts, containing very few ads.  Star Wars #4 has only 4 ads: Shakey's on the inside front cover, Royal Spaghetti on the inside back cover, and Alemar's Bookstore on one interior page and the outside back cover.  This comic also contains the Star Warriors letter and the Bullpen Bulletins pages.  The Marvel address on the letter page has been replace with the Alemar's address.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Retro Foreign: Hungarian Star Wars #33

In many foreign countries content from various Dark Horse titles were translated and collected into a single title for local readers.  This is the case for the Star Wars title that ran for 82 issues from 1997 to 2011 in Hungary by Semic Interprint.  Semic Interprint was accustomed to publishing Marvel superhero stories but was impacted by Marvel's bankruptcy and in 1997 turned to licensing comic material from other U.S. publishers, including Dark Horse and Image.

The first 6 issues of the Hungarian Star Wars title contains Dark Empire and Dark Empire II.  This was followed by 2 issues of the Splinters of the Mind's Eye, 6 issues of the first two Timothy Zahn Thrawn book adaptations, and 2 issues of the standalone stories for Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Queen Amidala, and Qui-Gonn Jinn from The Phantom Menace movie tie-in one-shots.  The first Star Wars Tales or Star Wars Mesék translation was in issue #17.  The title continues to collect various Dark Horse titles, including Star Wars Tales for all 82 issues.  Issue #33, published in December 2002, contains the content from Star Wars Tales #9, including the 50-page Resurrection story that has Darth Vader battling Darth Maul.

Star Wars #33a - Semic Interprint, Hungary (December 2002)
With issue #5 of Star Wars Tales, Dark Horse began publishing two covers, a photo and art cover.  The Hungarian Star Wars #33 uses the photo cover for their translation of the issue.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Legacy #3

The third issue of Star Wars: Legacy had a second print.  The first print has a color background and blue dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2006)
The second print has a white background and blue dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #3b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2006)
2nd print
The cover shows deposed Emperor Roan Fel with his daughter Marasiah Fel on his right and her handmaiden Astraal Vao on his left.  The first six issues all feature 3 posed characters, reminiscent of the Return of the Jedi mini-series published by Marvel.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Legacy #2

Like Star Wars: Legacy #1, the second issue went back to print twice.  The first print has a color background and green dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2006)
The second print has a white background and green dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2006)
2nd print
The third print has a white background and blue dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #2c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2006)
3rd print
The cover shows Cade Skywalker flanked by Deliah Blue on his right and Jariah Syn on his left.  The first six issues all feature 3 posed characters, reminiscent of the Return of the Jedi mini-series published by Marvel.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Darth Vader #20

The Star Wars: Darth Vader title is ending with issue #25 when writer Kieron Gillen wraps up the stories he has planned.  The overall direction for the title is Darth Vader's fall from grace after the destruction of the Death Star and the Weapons Factory Alpha on Cymoon 1 and his regaining his status as the Emperor's top servant.  The final arc in Vader's ascension begins with Darth Vader #20, the first part of a 6-issue story titled End of Games.

Darth Vader #20 has three different covers.  The standard cover features Darth Vader and the Emperor, flanked by Imperial Royal Guards.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #20a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2016)
The second cover is an action figure variant cover by John Tyler Christopher.  The cover features Inspector Thanoth a detective in the Galactic Empire who uncovers Vader's machinations as well as his identity.  Vader kills Thanoth in this issue after the inspector reveals the location of Doctor Aphra.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #20b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2016)
The third and final cover is dubbed The Story Thus Far... variant.  The cover is a montage of characters introduced throughout the title.  The Emperor is behind Vader on the right and Doctor Aphra is to his left.  Behind Aphra is Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca.  Below Aphra are the two evil droids, 0-0-0 and BT-1.  Below Vader are several of Cylo's cybernetically enhanced creations, including: brother and Sister Morit and Aiolin Astarte, the Mon Calamari Karbin, the scientist Tulon Voidgazer, and Cylo's Trandoshan warrior.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #20c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2016)
Of the three covers, I really like the standard cover despite it's generic nature.  Many of the modern Star Wars covers from Marvel could appear on any issue as they do not tie back into the content and this cover is no exception.  By this point, the action figure variants have become tiresome and the montage on The Story Thus Far... variant is a weak attempt at a poster-like cover.  Instead of being worthwhile, which variants should be, this cover was commissioned simply to increase the sales for the issue.

This issue cost $4.99, $1 more than usual, because of a backup story starring 0-0-0 and BT-1.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Hasbro/Toys 'R' Us Exclusive

In May 2002 Attack of the Clones opened in theaters and Hasbro released an assortment of toys based on the movie.  To promote the Attack of the Clone toys, Toys 'R' Us gave away 4 different comics with a purchase at their retail stores.  These comics were published by Dark Horse and contain a short story featuring characters and vehicles that have toy counterparts.

The first issue's story, Full of Surprises, pits Obi-Wan Kenobi against Jango Fett.

Star Wars: Hasbro/Toys 'R' Us Exclusive #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (2002)
Full of Surprises
The second issue's story, Most Precious Weapon, stars Count Dooku.

Star Wars: Hasbro/Toys 'R' Us Exclusive #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (2002)
Most Precious Weapon
Practice Makes Perfect is a story starring Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi battling droids.

Star Wars: Hasbro/Toys 'R' Us Exclusive #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (2002)
Practice Makes Perfect
The final issue's story, Machines of War, features Yoda and Clone Troopers aboard a Republic Gunship.
Star Wars: Hasbro/Toys 'R' Us Exclusive #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (2002)
Machines of War
These comics are very thin, only 10-pages, and smaller in size than a standard U.S. comic.  Because of the thin nature, they are flimsy and easily damaged.  From experience, the first issue is the hardest to find a high grade copy of, with many of the copies having considerable spine damage.

An individual issue usually fetches $5 to $10.  A set of all 4 will bring $15 to $20.  Many times, several copies of a single issue come up for sale, which can lower the cost.  These comics are not common, but they do come up for sale occasionally on eBay.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Star Wars Is Top Ongoing Marvel Title in Tough July

The Comics Chronicles released the July 2016 estimated sales last month.  DC dominated the top of the charts with their DC Rebirth relaunches.  Marvel's top title, the Civil War II mini-series, took the 4th and 7th position on the chart.  Marvel's next title to chart was Star Wars, in position 23 and the only Star Wars title to break into the top 25 titles for the month.  This was also Marvel's top ongoing title for the month.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars212390,86396,047-5.40%
Han Solo22683,738152,596-45.12%
Darth Vader233077,43077,610-0.23%
Poe Dameron44457,71260,889-5.22%
The Force Awakens25149,42379,626-37.93%

Every Star Wars title saw a drop in units sold, although the Darth Vader title had a very negligible dip of a 100+ units.  The Star Wars and Darth Vader issues were the lowest selling issues for each title to date and, like last month, failed to rank in the top 10 comics.  Darth Vader #25 is the final issues for that series and so far Marvel has not solicited a Star Wars title to replace it.  Interestingly, Darth Vader was Marvel's third best selling ongoing title for the month, behind Star Wars and Amazing Spider-Man.  One can only imagine Marvel will want a replacement title that does as well as Darth Vader has.

Poe Dameron saw a loss of 3,000+ units compared to last month which is a decent slowing of the number of units shed.  It sold approximately 5,500 more units than Kanan #4, a gain of 1,000 units over last month.  If this decline slowdown continues, Poe Dameron should find a decent sales floor above the Kanan title.

Han Solo had the largest percentage drop of the Star Wars titles with a decrease in unit sales of 45.12%.  Here is a table of the other modern mini-series with 2nd and 1st issues sales as well as the percentage change between those issues:

TitleIssue #2 Estimated SalesIssue #1 Estimated SalesPercent Change
Princess Leia96,262253,655-62.05%
Lando71,043192,949-63.18%
Shattered Empire119,508208,884-42.79%
Chewbacca74,311122,952-39.56%
Obi-Wan and Anakin58,431102,861-43.19%

The Han Solo title's percentage drop is inline with the other mini-series.  This mini-series was well received, unlike the Chewbacca mini-series, so on the surface, it is surprising that issue #2 only sold 9,400+ units more than Chewbacca #2.  Much of this has to do with how comics are ordered; orders for issue #2 would have been sent in before issue #1 went on sale.  It is possible Marvel will issue a 2nd printing for Han Solo #2.  I'm also expecting a much smaller decline for the 3rd issue.

The Force Awakens mini-series continues to outperform the previous 2 movie adaptations: the Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  When comparing The Force Awakens to the other mini-series Marvel has published, it had the lowest percentage change from issue #1 to issue #2.  Hopefully these numbers are sufficient for Marvel to continue to adapt future Star Wars movies to comics.  Since Marvel also releases hardcover collections of the movie adaptations and The Force Awakens will undoubtedly get the same treatment, Marvel should be looking at these as long term investments that they can publish collections for every few years.

The following table shows the total number of Star Wars units sold per month since January 2015 along with the average number of sales per issue.  Note this chart does not include reprints.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833

The average sale per issue would rank 37th on the top 300 chart for the month of July, the lowest ranking average for the Star Wars titles to date.  Star Wars trade paperbacks and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimate Chart and please read the blog posting July 2016 comics sales estimates: 16 issues top 100,000 copies sold, DC takes 30 of Top 40.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Legacy #1

The third and most anticipated new Star Wars title released in 2006 was Star Wars: Legacy.  Legacy proved to be another ground breaking title by Dark Horse by exploring the period 100 years past any previous Expanded Universe story.  Dark Horse was the first to delve into the past history of the Star Wars universe and it only makes sense they would be the first to explore the universe after the main heroes of the movies had passed on.  The series tells the story of Cade Skywalker who, after surviving a Sith attack on the Jedi known as the Massacre at Ossus which saw his father Kol Skywalker killed, denounced his Jedi heritage to pursue a less savory life as a pirate and bounty hunter.  In keeping with the Legacy title, the series is rife with references to events and characters from the Expanded Universe.  Introduced are descendants of many Expanded Universe characters and it even includes the fate of the Yuuzhan Vong, the main protagonist from the epic The New Jedi Order series of novels published by Del Rey.

Star Wars: Legacy #1 is the first part of a 6-part story titled Broken.  The story starts with the Jedi once again defeated as the new Sith regaining control of the galaxy by overthrowing the Emperor of the New Empire.  Darth Krayt leads the One Sith, a new Sith order that philosophically believes more dark side users are necessary, in contrast to the Rule of Two which dominated the era of the movies.

Star Wars: Legacy #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
Star Wars: Legacy #1 would go back to print twice, with each reprint sporting a white background and a new dressing color.  The second print has the white background and yellow dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
2nd print
The third print has the white background and grey dressing.

Star Wars: Legacy #1c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
3rd print
The cover shows Darth Talon flanked by Darth Krayt on her right and Darth Nihl on her left.  The first six issues all feature 3 posed characters, reminiscent of the Return of the Jedi mini-series published by Marvel.