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August 2009: Flashbacks to the past

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Continuing our look at what came before August 2009, we find some interesting landmarks...

August 2008's top seller was Marvel's Secret Invasion #5, with first-month orders of approximately 165,900 copies in the direct market, a few thousands copies less than the previous issue. Check out the sales chart here.

August 2004's top-seller was Astonishing X-Men #4, beating out the third issue of Identity Crisis with final orders through Diamond in August of 145,600 copies. It was a very strong month overall, with double-digit increases year-over-year across several categories. Check out the sales chart here.

August 1999's top-seller was Uncanny X-Men #373, with preorders of approximately 116,300 copies in the direct market. It just got worse and worse for the direct market in the summer of 1999, with percentage drops in all categories. Interestingly, the number of copies of the Top 300 comics preordered that month, 6.77 million, is identical to the figure for ten years later, August 2009. However, the August 2009 comics had a retail value 31% higher, showing clearly the effect of cover prices. Check out the sales chart here.

August 1994 was "Zero Month" in the DC Universe, with titles publishing #0 issues in the wake of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time the month before. The top "zero issue" took fifth place at Diamond, Batman #0. The top seller for the month was another split decision between the two distributors, with X-Men #37 on top at Capital City Distribution and Spawn #24 leading the list at Diamond. The top seller between the two is likely the X-Men issue, given its stronger newsstand presence and its subscription base; notably, as well, this is the period when Marvel was producing both $2.95 "deluxe" editions and $1.50 regular versions of its X-titles. It's the enhanced version that's ranked #1: Capital City alone sold 106,800 copies of the issue, bringing total sales across all channels were probably closer to half a million copies.

August 1989's top seller at Capital City was Batman #440, the first part of "A Lonely Place of Dying," the storyline notable for introducing Tim Drake as a replacement Robin. "Lonely Place" gave DC an opportunity to really capitalize on the attention following the release of Tim Burton's Batman film, which was still in theaters in August; Capital City's preorders on the issue were 122,550 copies, putting the true total in the 500-600,000-copy range.

Finally, August 1984's top comic book was one of the most famous comic books of the 1980s, Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8. Many of the changes in Secret Wars didn't last for very long. The change to the black Spider-Man costume introduced in this issue lasted longer than some, making the first issue of the regular series with the costume a modest collectible in its day.

And while that change, too, was reversed, the costume's real legacy involves the character Venom, spawned years later.

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