Diamond Comic Distributors, and while a number of elements make analyzing this month trickier than usual, the month's $40.1 million performance doesn't look too far out of line with what we've come to expect from winter months in the past when no blockbusters like Star Wars #1 were around. Click to see Comichron's comics sales estimates for January 2017.
As noted here Friday, U.S. Avengers #1 topped the charts in a month that saw Marvel offer retailers a free 10% overship on its titles, essentially sending extra copies for free matched to their existing orders. This is reflected when dollar rankings are compared with what we might expect those rankings to have been by multiplying unit sales by cover price; fully 84 of Marvel's 91 entries in the Top 300 have dollar rankings that are worse than we'd expect to see had all their copies all shipped at their regular discounts.
While overshipped copies for obvious reasons have no impact on the dollar market shares, they are counted toward the unit market shares and in the Top 300 lists, and that's readily apparent from looking at the data. Marvel's unit share was six points higher than its dollar share, and the gap was wider than the gap for DC; that is simply not possible given how many DC books are cheaper unless the effective wholesale price of Marvel's comics is somehow less. Overships are one way of making that happen.
The other real tipoff is in the dollar rankings, which you can now see alongside the unit sales rankings in Comichron's charts. In the era of $2.99 DC comics, Marvel's dollar rankings have tended to be a good deal better than its dollar rankings. In January, much of that advantage was gone. You can really see the impact, however, by an experiment: if you multiply the number of copies sold of each title by cover price, you can project "expected dollar rankings." The Diamond-reported dollar rankings of 84 of Marvel's 91 titles in the Top 300 were worse than their expected dollar rankings, which, again, can only mean that either Marvel's discount was much bigger last month, or that some of the copies were free.
For an example of the effect that removes cover-price from the equation, look to $3.99 Gwenpool #10, in 127th place; it sold about the same number of copies as the $3.99 DC book just above it and the $3.99 Image book just below it. Yet Gwenpool's dollar ranking was 133rd place, while the other two books were at 108th and 112th. Those books didn't have overships diluting their dollar rankings.
Saga #41 in January. The Image comic book was produced in December with a cover printing error, and it appears from reports that most retailers received it; the book made the charts in December, and many of the error copies are now on eBay. In January, replacement copies were sent — evidently at no cost, because the dollar ranking of the issue was way up at 548th place. The fact that it appears in the rankings at all may attribute to retailers having paid regular wholesale price for a small fraction of those copies — reorders received after December issue's cutoff.
(Interestingly, the number of replacement copies Diamond shipped in January was slightly smaller than the number appearing in December's charts, even with reorders in play. One possible reason for this could be end-of-year churn in the retail base, a not uncommon time for it as a few operators always avoid going into a new tax year.)