I printed out the list of the Top 300 Comics Actual Sales For July 2004 (as provided by Diamond Comics Distributors) and perused the rankings over the past weekend. What follows are my thoughts and notes on particular comics (and their placements) I found of interest.
No. 1. Superman/Batman #11 (approximately 208,000 sold). Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Michael Turner have put the World’s Greatest Superhero and the World’s Greatest Detective on top of the best-selling heap. Part four of the six-part “Supergirl From Krypton” story arc is just packed with power, both in storytelling and art. The fires and defenses of Apokolips are pretty dang threatening, and Darkseid hasn’t looked this scary and sinister in a long time. The new Supergirl is way too thin, though (but then again, so are most of Turner’s ladies).
No. 2. Superman #207 (201,000). If this story had been written in the 1970s it would have taken 23 pages to tell! “For Tomorrow” (of which this is part four) is just dragging along. Deep conversations are spoken, fierce battles are fought, ghastly discoveries are made, and yet nothing seems to be happening. It all reads as set-up. I trust writer Azzarello enough that I’m sure it’ll kick into high gear soon. In the meantime, we get to watch Jim Lee drag the book along beautifully.
No. 3. Identity Crisis #2 (188,000). The summer’s most anticipated and controversial series settles into a groove, while the Justice League of America’s darkest secret is revealed. This book is hot, and the inhumane actions of the allegedly fair-minded “World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” (a team of justice, for Pete’s sake) are making long-time fans even hotter.
No. 4. Astonishing X-Men #3 (187,000). Is it just me, or does Emma Frost look like a thirty-year-old Britney Spears? Highlights: Wolverine versus the Beast (a worthy one-on-one battle that is unfortunately cut short), and a letters column! And look at those sales figures! Sigh, if only X-Statix would sell this well.
No. 5. Avengers #500 (153,000). Lots of explosions, lots of destruction, an Avenger killed, an Avenger torn apart (literally), two Avengers gone mad, and two mysterious schemers at story’s end. Identity Crisis with no restraint.
No. 22. Justice League Elite #1 (78,000). I’m surprised to see this ranked so high. But I’m not surprised at how much I didn’t enjoy it! I’m sorry, but Joe Kelly writes conversations between characters that I simply don’t understand. And was that the Major Disaster that got his head sliced off? Even the goofy old-time villains don’t get any respect.
No. 29. Conan #6 (70,000). This book has the potential to emerge as the best sword and sorcery comic of them all. Outstanding storytelling. And up until now I never liked Conan.
No. 58. Doom Patrol #2 (48,000). Byrne starts from scratch and trashes over forty years worth of Doom Patrol continuity. And yet, I like the story. I mean, Rita Farr is alive and well. How long has it been since Rita Farr was alive and well? Oh, some thirty-six years! (Jean Grey doesn’t know how good she has it.)
No. 62. Planetary #20 (47,000). Arguably the best comic being produced today. I read it, I reread it, and I reread it again, and I’m awestruck each time. ‘Nuff said.
No’s 68 (DC Comics Presents: Batman #1: 44,000), 76 (DC Comics Presents: Green Lantern #1: 39,000), 78 (DC Comics Presents: Mystery In Space #1: 39,000) and 90 (DC Comics Presents: Hawkman #1: 36,000). Personally, I wanted all these books to land in the Top Ten. To see them all in the Top 100 is still pretty good, especially Mystery In Space #1. Maybe the new Adam Strange series stands a chance. Sadly, the Green Lantern edition is the weakest of the batch, entirely missing the whole point of the tribute.
No. 81. Y: The Last Man #24 (38,000). This is most certainly not a modern take on Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth, but, then again, it’s like nothing else out there! Nice to see it selling so well!
No. 87. Man Thing #1 (37,000). I’m a sucker for swamp creatures from any comics company (you haven’t lived for swamp creatures until you’ve read “Bog Beast” in Atlas Comics’ short-lived Tales of Evil), so I did enjoy this latest incarnation of Marvel’s own muck-encrusted monster.
No. 89. DC: The New Frontier #5 (36,000). A long-time Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan fan’s summer delight. For such an expensive format it’s landed in a respectable spot. Wish the book had stayed on a monthly basis, though.
No. 92. Fables #27 (36,000). Arguably the best comic being produced today (or did I already say that?) The satisfying and bittersweet conclusion to “The March of the Wooden Soldiers” storyline.
No. 96. Aquaman #20 (35,000). The Sea King is in good shape under the guiding hand of writer Will Pfeiffer. So why isn’t it selling better? (And where is the DC Universe’s Comic Con International going to be held now that San Diego is Sub Diego?)
No. 101. X-Statix #25 (33,000). My favorite Marvel title currently being published. Soon to join the ranks of my favorite Marvel comics no longer being published.
No. 108. Swamp Thing #5 (31,000). Swampy is working his way back to his roots. In other words, he will no longer be so omnipotent. Sargon the Sorcerer has never had a good break in this title. Oh, well, I’m still enjoying it.
No. 109. Ex Machina #2 (30,000). Arguably the best comic being produced today (hey, is there a pattern developing here?). A modern throwback to the ‘relevancy’ era. It’s a comic that’ll make you think long and hard about the current state of the real Union.
No. 115. Challengers of the Unknown #2 (29,000). Howard Chaykin is an outstanding artist blessed with a storytelling style and structure that can exasperate the reader. I can’t read any comic by him just once and understand all that’s going on. Which is fine by me, because the more I read it the more I enjoy it. It’s really starting to come together.
No. 124. 100 Bullets #51 (24,000). An intense story arc set, for the most part, in the French Quarter of New Orleans! Beautiful! Arguably, oh, never mind?
No. 127. Gotham Central #21 (24,000). Forget about “never mind,” this is arguably the best comic being produced today! Practically flawless. Elevates the genre to a whole new level. The highlight of the Bat-books. Why aren’t more people buying this?
No. 131. Richard Dragon #3 (22,000). Started around No. 100 and is dropping fast. Oh, well, at least it inspired me to dig out the old series (which was pure ’70s dramatic ham, but it did have its charm).
No. 133. 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow #5 (22,000). My family traveled to Barrow, Alaska during the summer of ’73, so what hooked me on this book was the use of Barrow in the title. I certainly did not expect a bloody vampire story. However, I’ve been able to sink my teeth into it and it’s been able to satisfy my minimal thirst for gore. Plus it’s a great excuse to make lousy puns.
No. 141. HERO #18 (20,000). This book was initially hyped as a sellout at DC, then settled down to become an exceptional superhero series, and will soon be canceled with issue 22. A real shame.
No. 147. Plastic Man #8 (18,000). Another series that started out strong and with great potential and has kind of lost its way.
No. 157. Justice League Adventures #33 (17,000). This book is in the tradition of the old Justice League of America (circa 1970s), and as such shows no real resemblance to the other “official” JLA currently being produced for today’s audience. JLAdventures is a lot better, though, but it’s not selling. And now it’s morphed into something else!
No. 167. The Losers #14 (15,000). Filled to the brim with tough action and multi-layered intrigue, The Losers is a comic that would work best as a trade paperback, and might be better off sales-wise graduating to one. Old school comic book format guy that I am, I still see the positive possibilities of this series going to trade only.
No. 175. Human Target #13 (13,000). Writer Peter Milligan has been so on-target with this series. It’s just unfortunate that it’s not garnering a stronger audience. Read this issue’s “Crossing the Border: Part One: Suffer the Children,” then tackle Luis Alberto Urrea’s stunning The Devil’s Highway, a true story of death and survival on the U.S./Mexican border.
No. 192. Fraction #4 (9,000). Boy, did this book ever grow on me. It’s my favorite DC: Focus title. I now look forward to it every month. What? Fraction ends with #6? I only get to look forward to it for one more month (#5 having just come out)? Arrgghh!
No. 253. Cartoon Cartoons #32 (3,000). Unarguably nowhere near being the best comic produced today. Come back, Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel! The cartoon nation turns its lonely eyes to you!