Going into 2011, DC Comics had been falling behind Marvel comics in sales for quite some time. This was due in part to a convoluted 70+ years of continuity which DC has tried to repair on several occasions, most notably with the mid-80s ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. This often-confusing universe/timeline was oftentimes hotly debated by DC readers. More importantly, it made it quite difficult for new readers to pick up DC comics and know what the heck was going on.
Then, in mid-2011, DC announced a shocking and controversial fix to their continuity woes. The plan? Stop and relaunch their entire line of comics! The move, dubbed “New 52” (based on the number of universes in the pre-launch DC Universe) included restarting some comic titles such as ‘Action Comics’ and ‘Dective Comics’ that were well over 600 issues into their runs and had never been restarted in DC’s entire history. This move upset some long-time fans but, after the shock wore off, many realized that the move might be exactly what DC needed to fix their timeline troubles, turn sales around, and bring in new readers.
As of the New Year, DC is now four months into the New 52 plan and it seems as if their massive gamble has paid off. Every single #1 issue sold out with three titles each selling over 250,000 issues each.
Counting all of the subsequent reprints, ‘Justice League’ #1 sold 361,138 copies, ‘Batman’ #1 262,379 copies, and ‘Action Comics’ #1 250,898 copies. To put that into perspective, Marvel Comics best selling issue of 2011 was ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ #160 that sold 159,355 copies.
However, it is worth noting that Marvel still holds the title for best selling single comic issue of the decade with ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #583. The comic, featuring Barack Obama on the cover, sold 530,500 copies.
Either way, DC’s New 52 relaunch turns the companies sales around for 2011 and hopefully will have brought enough new comic readers to the market to sustain great sales figures into 2012 and beyond.