Monday, November 21, 2016

Darth Vader Carries Star Wars in October

The Comics Chronicles released the October 2016 estimated sales last week.  Loot Crate's Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 from Boom! Studios was the top title and Marvel rebounded from the shellacking DC has been administering the past few months.  Not surprisingly, the top selling Star Wars comic was the final issue of Darth Vader and it, along with The Force Awakens, actually saw an increase in the number of units sold.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Darth Vader258111,38175,401+47.72%
Star Wars241678,16082,570-5.34%
Han Solo43663,03067,816-7.06%
Poe Dameron74947,87850,275-4.77%
The Force Awakens57339,32938,079+3.28%

Darth Vader #25 saw a huge increase in unit sales.  Some of this is attributed to the large number of variant covers that were released for this final issue.  Some of this is also due to the mystery surrounding the fate of Doctor Aphra, 0-0-0, and BT-1 which Marvel has astutely promoted.  We now know all 3 characters survive and Doctor Aphra will be receiving her own ongoing series beginning in December.  It is hard to imagine Doctor Aphra's fan base eclipsing Darth Vader's even though she has turned out to be a fan favorite character.  I believe this will have turned out to be a shrewd move by Marvel, capitalizing on this character's popularity at a time when female characters in general are having considerable success in comics.  Let's face it, Darth Vader is served best in small doses, and when he appears, he should be a powerful force to reckon with.  He has also had just under 40 years of stories told.  Doctor Aphra is a clean slate and one that has been sorely lacking in Marvel's Star Wars line.  It is nice to see Marvel branch out beyond the staid movie characters and hopefully this title will prove successful and Marvel will continue to introduce new Star Wars titles not based on movie characters.

Unfortunately, the increase in unit sales for Darth Vader did not carry over to the main Star Wars title.  Star Wars has now fallen for the 4th straight month, shedding close to 18,000 units during that time.  This all happened during the current story arc The Last Flight of the Harbinger which started with issue #21.  Is it the story, the interior artist Jorge Molina, fatigue with the main Star Wars characters, or something else entirely?  I have no doubt the Yoda issue coming up with get a boost in sales, but will it be enough to recover the sales lost recently?

Comparing Poe Dameron to Kanan again shows the unit difference between the titles narrowing.  Kanan had only shed a little over 1,000 copies between issue #6 and 7, but Poe Dameron lost just under 2,500 copies.  I was predicting this title would be safe, but now I'm not so sure.  It is drifting down into Kanan numbers and, unlike Kanan, the character is not getting continual exposure on a television series.

The Han Solo mini-series finished and despite the large number of variants for the final issue, the title did dip a little at the end.  Even so, this mini-series has shown decent numbers and there is no doubt Marvel is cooking up another mini-series.

The Force Awakens saw a slight increase in unit sales.  I hope the 6th issue sees the same.  Let's hope Marvel releases an adaptation of Rogue One and they do not take 6 months to do so.

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.

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
September 2016174,420358,140
October 2016339,778567,956

The average sale per issue bounced significantly thanks to Darth Vader #25 and it would rank 29th on the top 300 chart for the month of October.  Star Wars trade paperbacks, reprint titles, 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 October 2016 comics sales estimates now online; smaller Loot Crate effect seen.

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