Just browsing the Marvel and DC month to month sales figures, after the announcement of Blue Beetle being cancelled. I was curious what level it was cancelled at and glancing at the figures, I see they've dropped to 12,000 a month. That's significantly low, even by DC standards (who, with their Warner Brothers backing are able to run to lower figures than independent Marvel, whose cut off is usually about twice that.)
So, hardly a surprise to see it cancelled, even though it's a popular title on scans_daily. I picked up the first trade and enjoyed it well enough, but it never clicked enough for me to continue reading regularly. I'm surprised, though, as the character will be a major player in the new DC Brave and the Bold cartoon. But then, I guess, that's no guarantee.
Browsing through the Marvel charts, it's now got to the point where it's possible to judge the effect of the line-wide X-men relaunches from a few months ago.
And it's not good. When the relaunches came into effect, I gave each of the titles a try for a few issues, but now X-force, Uncanny X-men have both been dropped and X-Factor is hovering on the drop list. X-men Legacy has been dropped for a couple of issues while there's a crossover with Wolverine. And it seems like I'm not alone.
Of course, to judge the figures fairly you have to go back to pre-Messiah Complex levels. Currently, the figures show a few things:
Pre-Messiah Complex, New X-men was pretty steady, with sales figures actually rising from around the 40,000 mark, up to about 50,000 during the Magik storyline and people stuck around afterward for the few issues before MC kicked in. The book was cancelled and relaunched as Young X-men. After an initial boost for issue 1, issue 6 was down to sales of 38,000 with a variant cover. Chances are this has dipped below even the pre-Magik levels. Hard to see this as anything other than a failure.
On the other hand, Marvel did launch the X-Force title with the writers from New X-men and some of the same characters and it seems to be surprisingly successful giving it extreeeeeeeme nineties stylings. Sales are sliding, but still around the 65,000 mark. Personally, I gave up on this title, even though I enjoyed the writers and almost stuck around for Cho's artwork, but this was simply trying too hard to be grim and gritty.
Then there's Uncanny X-men, the flagship title. Pre-MC sales were around 80-90k and issue. Post, and after a boost from an anniversary issue 500, they're down to 82k and, if others are following my example, they're likely to drop lower. Personally, I consider Fraction's run to be the worst run while I've been reading, worse even than Chuck Austen, and it's hard to see this as anything other than a flop as a relaunch.
Then there's Adjectiveless X-men, relaunched post MC as X-men Legacy - essentially a Professor X solo title with guest stars. Now, there's no secret of my considering Carey to be the best X-men writer for quite some time, but even I've struggled with this book. I don't care enough about Professor X to churn through this every month. I can't imagine that the crossover with Wolverine Origins will do much to halt a steady decline - the book's dropped from 85k as a team book to 65k and I can't see how they're gonna pull readers back on board without a big relaunch. Carey got the short end of the stick here. And as a relaunch, this has been nothing less than abysmal.
X-Factor's a book that's been crippled by the relaunches, losing a chunk of the cast, a status quo that seems to change every month and dragged into crossovers that do little to ensure the stability of the book, along with an artist who's soundly hated. As such, it's down 10k on previous levels, down to 44k. Not cancellation level yet, but something needs to be done to stop the rot. Personally I think this book has lost its way. Maybe David can turn it around, but I forsee cancellation in the new year unless something significant happens.
Astonishing X-men's seen another drop since the relaunch, but that's hardly surprising. Ellis isn't as big a draw as Whedon, although the book's still doing well, down from 105k for Whedon's last issue to 95k. I wonder how it might have done with an artist who was a bigger draw, but not too bad. A new creative team was a necessity for this title, rather than a choice to try and boost sales, so this could be seen as a success for retaining much of the readership.
Captain Britain and MI:13 is a disappointment for me. Personally I'd have wanted it to be up significantly on sales for the New Excalibur series it replaces - it deserves to be. But sales are pretty much identical as the book's slid to around 32k, only slightly higher than the level New Excalibur was holding steady at. It could be that the title's going against it, making it sound more like a solo title than a team book. Either way, I'd hoped the book would do better with the great word of mouth. But it's not really surprising.
Looking at these figures it's hard to see the relaunch of the X-men line as a success. While they've been able to launch some successful titles, such as Deadpool and X-Force off the back of it, there's been a decline in one of the main titles and the flagship title is slipping as well. With another X-men event apparently on the horizon, I wonder whether plans will now be changed to once again significantly reboot the X-men universe. In my opinion, they need to. I've gone from thinking the titles were the best they've been in years pre-MC and during to disinterest or active dislike after. And it seems like I'm not the only reader to think the same.