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June comics sales: Flashbacks to the past

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Continuing the look at what came before June 2009 — when Batman & Robin #1 topped the charts with approximately 168,500 copies ordered by comics shops through Diamond...

June 2008's top seller was Marvel's Secret Invasion #3, with first-month orders of approimately 175,700 copies in the direct market. Check out the sales chart here.

June 2004's top-seller was Identity Crisis #1, which stands just before the most recent wave of free-standing limited series, rather than ongoing series, serving as the hubs for events impacting entire comics universes. Issues of such series topped the charts five times in 2005 (Infinite Crisis, House of M), eight times in 2006 (Infinite Crisis, Civil War), six times in 2007 (Civil War, World War Hulk), eight times in 2008 (all Secret Invasion). Despite the "Crisis" name, Identity Crisis is probably not properly considered as part of that wave — being more of an independent story without the kinds of tie-in issues we saw for some of those later, more purely cross-over events — but it appears to have set the stage for later success this decade. The first issue had first-month orders of 163,100 copies copies in the direct market. It was boosted considerably by later reorders — 5,900 copies in July, 4,400 in August, Check out the sales chart here.

June 1999's top-seller was Uncanny X-Men #371, with preorders of approximately 125,600 copies in the direct market. 1999 was, by contrast, a year where not much at all was happening with major events, and Uncanny topped the charts ten months in a row. Check out the sales chart here.

June 1994's top seller was another X-Men issue — X-Men #35, from "adjectiveless" version of the series. It was the consensus leader at both Diamond and Capital City Distribution, outselling the original X-title by nearly 10%. Capital City alone sold 108,650 copies. While the Statement of Ownership reported overall sales of 614,075 copies, that's deceptive, as it's an average of months going back into the second half of the blockbuster year 1993; X-Men sales for the second half of 1994 were far lower, as evidenced by the next Statement that appeared, reporting average sales of 332,889 copies per issue.

June 1989's top seller at Capital City was Batman #436, beginning Marv Wolfman's "Batman Year Three." It was the first of two issues of Batman that sold that month, #437 coming in second place. The first Tim Burton Batman film was released on June 23rd (the sneak preview was June 22) — and it had a significant impact on the direct market, with Batman titles topping the charts for the entire rest of 1989, including the multi-cover Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, regarded by many (including this commenator) as the title launching the 1990s comics boom in earnest. Capital City's preorders on the issue were 118,650 copies, and the true total is at least in the neighborhood of half a million.

Finally, June 1984's top comic book, both at Capital and likely everywhere else, was Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #6, continuing the year-long mega-cross-over. As free-standing cross-over series go, this is one of the granddaddies!

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