Speed Force
Flash Holding Steady as the #8 Comic, Three Months Running

Diamond has released its sales rankings for February, and The Flash #6 comes in at #8 for units sold.*

This marks the third month in a row that the Flash has been ranked #8, and the sixth in a row that it’s been in the top 10. In fact, every issue of the series since the relaunch has been in the top 10. It’s been a long time since the Flash was ranked that highly. Even the high-profile relaunch of Flash: Rebirth dipped below #10 in the middle of its run, and the Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul series spent most of its time in the 11-20 bracket.

Of course the streak will probably break next month when Marvel launches Avengers vs. X-Men, but during the time between giant events, with the series competing mainly against other regular series, it looks solid.

If DC is nervous about this book, the rankings suggest they shouldn’t be.

*Usual note: These are US print sales only.

News Flash! Jay Garrick’s Earth-2 Redesign Revealed!

Newsarama has revealed the new Jay Garrick design with the Earth 2 #2 cover in this interview with James Robinson.

As the book unfolds, Jay Garrick is very much our point of entry to the world. He’s the “everyman” character that we all like, that we all want to be, want to hang out with. That’s kind of the role he was in the original Earth-2, and I think it suits him well. He’s the likable guy, the one you care about.

The description of Jay himself sounds okay, but I think the costume is a horrible move. Over on Twitter, Greg paraphrased Barry Allen in The Dark Knight Strikes Again: “folks don’t know the difference between ‘old’ and ‘classic’.” The rest of the interview doesn’t do anything to help the concerns I raised yesterday about this this book and alternate reality being his only home in the New 52.

So what do you think? Is this a great redesign? A terrible one? Good for some Flash, but bad for Jay Garrick?

Quick Thoughts: The New 52, Wave 2

DC has announced the second wave of the New 52, with more details at USA Today. They’ll be adding six new series in May, and dropping six after #8 to keep the total at 52. Update: CBR interviews Bob Harras about the focus of the new books.

First off, I don’t think keeping it at 52 is a great idea, because the first time they change their line-up to feature 51 books, or 52, or anything else, people will read way too much into it.

Anyway, the canceled books:

  • Men of War and Blackhawks. War books are a tough sell these days. No surprise.
  • Mister Terrific. A gamble from the beginning, and the only praise I’ve heard about it is from the skeptic community for portraying an atheist in a positive light.
  • Static Shock. After all the effort DC went to to get Static (the only Milestone character they seemed interested in), what went wrong?
  • Hawk & Dove. The series’ biggest selling point was Rob Liefeld. Make of that what you will.
  • O.M.A.C. This always seemed to me as a — I don’t want to call it a vanity project — but basically, a chance for Dan Didio to have fun writing something. My guess is they didn’t really expect it to sell, but positioned it as an ongoing just in case people liked it.

And the new books, after the cut.

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Flash Relaunch Sales Analysis

Flash #1 Sells Estimated 129K in US, Over 150K Worldwide

ICv2’s September sales estimates are out, and The Flash #1 is ranked #4 on the charts with 129,260 units sold. Those are US-only numbers, based on sales through Diamond, and DC states that the book has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Let’s stick with the ICv2 numbers for now, though, because they’re the ones I’ve been tracking over the last few years, which means we can compare trends over time.

The new Flash #1 does in fact beat the previous record-holder, Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 (2006, starring Bart Allen), which sold an estimated 126,741 copies after reorders.

Issue Rank Month Units Sold
Flash:TFMA #1 7 June 2006 126,741
All-Flash #1 22 July 2007 78,955
Flash v.2 #231 26 August 2007 72,898
Flash: Rebirth #1 2 April 2009 102,429
Flash v.3 #1 2 April 2010 100,903
Flashpoint #1 2 May 2011 95,845
Flash v.4 #1 4 September 2011 129,260

I’m only listing the launches here, since none of the series lasted long enough to find its level and start building back up. Flash: TFMA (Bart) dropped to around 46K before experiencing a Countdown-powered uptick. The relaunched Flash vol.2 (Wally) dropped into the 20s, about half the numbers it was pulling in before Infinite Crisis, when it peaked at 50K for the final issue of Geoff Johns’ first run. Flash: vol.3 (Barry) seemed to level out around 54K over its last few issues.

It’s obvious that a lot of the success of this issue is due to the massive relaunch. But at the same time, while DC’s 52 #1s sold phenomenally well overall, they didn’t all sell over 100,000 copies. This has driven home the fact that the Flash really is one of DC’s top-tier characters. Even if half the general public thinks his name is Gordon, they at least know he’s the guy in red who runs fast. He really is cancellation-proof.

The real question now, of course, is how many of those readers who picked it up to try it out will stick around. Based on the last six years, I think if the book is still selling well over 55K a year from now, DC can count this Flash relaunch a success. If not, well…fifth time’s the charm, right?

A few key articles covering past sales (with lots of numbers):

New 52: Flash Debuts at the #4 Comic for September

Diamond has released its September sales charts, and The Flash #1 takes the #4 spot on the chart. DC dominated the charts with 9 of the top 10 spots, and Flash was beat only by Batman, Action Comics and Green Lantern.

From what DC has said before, we know that The Flash sold somewhere between 126K and 200K copies (more links in that article to older sales figures). And if three of DC’s books sold over 200K, and Flash is #4, it’s probably at the high end of that range.

Detailed sales estimates will no doubt be available soon at Comic Chronicles & ICv2.

Flash #1 On Sale Today

THE FLASH #1

Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL and BRIAN BUCCELLATO
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
Variant cover by IVAN REIS and TIM TOWNSEND
On sale SEPTEMBER 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

The Fastest Man Alive returns to his own monthly series from the writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato! The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but what happens when he faces an all-new villain who really can! As if that’s not bad enough, this villain is a close friend!

CNN’s Geek Out has a preview in their Science of the Flash article. The writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have been running the interview circuit, speaking with CBR, IGN and Cosmic Treadmill about the new direction for Barry Allen, the roles of Iris West and the Rogues, and the new villain introduced in this 5-issue arc, Mob Rule.

Flashpoint and the DC New 52 - Changing History in a Flash

Flashpont #5 is out, and we now know how history was changed to create the Flashpoint universe, and how it was changed again to create the new DC Universe.

Well, sort of.

Obviously, spoilers for Flashpoint #5, so stop reading if you don’t want to know yet.

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DC Comics: Pulling (or is that Polling?) the New 52

So, the DC reboot* is upon us, and it’s time to make some decisions:

  • What new series should I buy?
  • Should I stick with print, or go digital?

I’ll tackle the second question later. For now, here are the books I was looking at when the New 52 was first announced, and what I’m looking at now.

Buying

Flash

As with Action, it was the creative team that got me excited about the fifth relaunch in as many years. (Seriously, DC, pick a direction and stick with it.) And as with Action, every interview, every announcement since then has chipped away a little more at my interest. But then Francis Manpul posts a new piece of artwork, and I feel like can’t possibly pass it up. TENTATIVE YES.

And yes, that’s a sad verdict for someone who’s spent the last 15 years running a Flash fan site, but it is what it is.

Justice League Dark

Love the concept, hate the title. I had high hopes for this when it was announced, but the execution of Flashpoint: Secret Seven, by the same writer and featuring many of the same characters, has me worried. TENTATIVE YES.

Demon Knights

The complete opposite of Action Comics. When I first read about it, I thought, “Hmm, that sounds sort of interesting, but I just don’t know.” But everything I’ve heard about it makes me more interested. DEFINITE YES.

Regarding Demon Knights and Justice League Dark, it seems that the Matt Wagner/Amy Reeder Vertigo series has made me a fan of Madame Xanadu. Who would have expected that?

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

I really liked the Seven Soldiers version of the Frankenstein monster, and the idea of him as a sci-fi secret agent sounds like a lot of fun. Plus the Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown miniseries was enjoyable (despite a dip in the middle issue), so I’m on board for this one. DEFINITE YES.

Resurrection Man

I keep meaning to read the articles about this, but somehow keep forgetting to come back to them when I have time. So I still don’t know a whole lot about it, but the concept is interesting enough to make it a TENTATIVE YES.

The Shade

Announced as part of the second wave of new titles, the 12-issue miniseries launches in October. I like the character, especially the modern interpretation, and I really enjoyed the 4-issue miniseries James Robinson did back in the 1990s, so I’m on board for this one as well. DEFINITE YES.

Considered, but Skipping

Action Comics

Grant Morrison brings Superman back to his roots. Sounded great at the time, but the more I’ve heard about the actual direction, the less interested I’ve gotten. PASS.

Teen Titans

I’ve been burned too many times, and I think what I really liked about the series was the Wolfman/Perez dynamic, which I’ve come to realize is never going to exist again. I actually think it’s a good thing that they’re taking the book in a new direction, even though it’s clearly not for me. PASS.

Hawk & Dove

As fond as my memories are of the series 20 years ago…I just can’t. PASS.

Deathstroke

I liked his solo series back in the day, but between my changing taste and the emphasis on ultra-violence, I don’t have any interest in the new version. PASS.

(OK, except for the issue where he destroys the 405 freeway. I live in LA and commute on that damn thing. It’s a revenge fantasy.)

In Summary…

So that’s my DC Comics pull list for September. 5 comics out of 52 (plus The Shade) may not sound like much, but considering I was only reading one DC proper title before Flashpoint, it’s actually a pretty big increase.

Edited to add: For context, this brings the DC Universe back up to 50% of my active pull list. The rest is 1 Vertigo (The Unwritten), 3 BOOM! (Elric, Farscape & Darkwing Duck, at least until Farscape & Darkwing Duck end in a couple of months), 1 Dynamite (Wheel of Time) and 1 Aspen (Lady Mechanika). Mostly sci-fi/fantasy, with the closest to a traditional superhero being Darkwing Duck.

How about you? What are you planning to pick up?

*Of course it’s a reboot. They’re resetting the system, with some things altered and others preserved. They installed a service pack, and now they’re rebooting. People use the term reboot to mean starting over completely from the beginning, but if we’re going to use the computer metaphor properly, that would be a wipe-and-reinstall.


Straight from The Source, it’s Ivan Reis’ variant cover for The Flash #1, due in stores and online at the end of September.
It reminds me of the Flash Secret Files 2010 cover, only with the new transformation sequence added to the new costume design.
DC has also revealed the third variant cover, a sketch version of Francis Manapul’s main cover for the book.





Original Article

Straight from The Source, it’s Ivan Reis’ variant cover for The Flash #1, due in stores and online at the end of September.

It reminds me of the Flash Secret Files 2010 cover, only with the new transformation sequence added to the new costume design.

DC has also revealed the third variant cover, a sketch version of Francis Manapul’s main cover for the book.

Read More

DC’s New 52: Escape Hatches Don’t Matter

DC editorial insisted repeatedly over the weekend that there’s no escape hatch, no trap door, no possible way for the old DC Universe to return after the New 52 establishes itself post-Flashpoint.

This is, to put it mildly, an exaggeration.

If the last decade at DC comics has shown us anything, it’s that a determined writer with a supportive editor (or a determined editor with a willing writer) can undo any change he wants, no matter how set in stone it was before.

There was no back door put in place during Crisis on Infinite Earths to bring back Kara Zor-El as Supergirl, or Krypto, or any of the Silver-Age elements of the Superman mythos that were removed by the “Man of Steel” reboot, but they came back anyway. Emerald Twilight was deliberately written to make it impossible to bring back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, but we not only got Hal back, we got the Guardians and the entire Corps. Neither the reboot nor threeboot Legion of Super-Heroes set up a way to go back to the previous version, and yet the pre-Zero Hour Legion is back in action.

Marv Wolfman actually did write a trap door into Barry Allen’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The idea was that, since he was running through time at the time he died, he could be plucked out of that run at any point for more adventures, but would live always knowing that he would eventually have to go back and sacrifice himself. It sat there, unused, for over 20 years, and when DC eventually brought Barry back to life, they did it another way, without using the trap door.

Trap doors don’t matter.

What matters is editorial direction.

When Dan Didio, or Eddie Berganza, or Jim Lee stands up there on stage at Comic-Con and says, “There’s no escape hatch,” they don’t mean they’ve set up the premise so that no one can go back. If they really want to, they’ll find a way.

It’s just an “in-story” way of saying that they’re committed to the new direction and determined to see it through.