Sunday, January 22, 2017

Yoda Lifts Star Wars Out of the Bog in December; Star Wars Returns to the Top 10

The Comics Chronicles released the December 2016 estimated sales earlier this month.  Not surprisingly, the first issue of Justice League Suicide Squad was the top comic for the month, followed closely by the first issue of IVX (Inhumans Versus X-Men.)  Star Wars remains Marvel's top selling ongoing title with a return to the top 10 at 7th place.  It was joined by the first issue of Doctor Aphra in the 8th place.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars267104,56375,234+38.98%
Doctor Aphra1899,067N/AN/A
Doctor Aphra22561,41799,067-38.00%
Poe Dameron96238,83943,034-9.75%

Star Wars #26 was advertised heavily by Marvel as the first issue of an arc starring Yoda.  This advertising presumably paid off as the title saw an almost 40% increase in unit sales from the previous month.  Marvel over-shipped (sent more copies to retailers than ordered) on several titles in December and it is entirely possible Star Wars #26 as well as other Star Wars titles benefited from this.  Hopefully we'll know in the coming months which had the bigger impact on sales, but we can see from looking at the dollar position on top 300 chart that over-shipping had at least some impact (the table above is the monthly ranking for the units sold.)  The Star Wars universe is rich with characters and while Yoda is one of the more popular, I believe Marvel can continue to inject interest in their Star Wars titles by introducing some of these familiar characters into stories mixed with their new creations.  The main characters are the bread and butter of the Star Wars brand, but the background characters can provide a wealth of stories if used correctly.

Two issues of Doctor Aphra were released in December.  Compared to the other ongoing Star Wars series, Doctor Aphra #1 debuted with the lowest unit sales; the nearest title was Kanan with first issue sales of over 108,000 units.  It is a tad unfair to compare Doctor Aphra to other ongoing Star Wars titles; Doctor Aphra is a character created for the comics without representation in other media.  It is fair to compare Doctor Aphra's sales to the title it replaced however, Darth Vader.  Darth Vader #25 sold over 111,000 units, but that was a last issue that received a huge bump due to variants and advertisement.  Darth Vader #24 sold over 75,000 units.  Unfortunately, Doctor Aphra #2 sold just over 61,000 units or 14,000 units less than Darth Vader #24.  I'm doubtful Marvel intended to end a decent selling title to replace it with a lower selling title.  No doubt, they were hoping this fan favorite character by her creator would sell better.  It is possible issue #2 is an anomaly and subsequent issues sell more units.  This is not unheard of since Darth Vader #2 and 3 sold approximately 100,000 and 85,000 units respectively, but rebounded to 123,000 units with the 4th issue.  We'll know more in the next few months.

Another title replacement is also seeing lower numbers than its predecessor; as of issue #9, Poe Dameron is now selling less units than Kanan at this point in that title's life.  I could argue the stories in Kanan were stronger throughout it's run and it is possible that is the reason for the lower sales.  The first story arc in Poe Dameron was strange and perhaps not the strongest start to an otherwise decent series.  Marvel traditionally does not push their mid-tier titles, instead allowing them to end so they can restart new titles with a first issue.  I'm no longer hopeful that Poe Dameron will survive until the next Star Wars movie in December 2017 unless Marvel decides it is worth saving.

No issues of a mini-series were released in December.  Marvel has announced mini-series for Darth Maul and the Rogue One movie adaptation.

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
November 2016269,975553,995
December 2016303,886475,972

The average sale per issue rebounded significantly thanks to Star Wars #26 and Doctor Aphra #1.  It would rank 14th on the top 300 chart for the month of December.  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 December 2016 comics sales estimates online; all new Comichron charts are now sortable, searchable!

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