With the announcement that DC Comics is canceling six of their New 52 titles to make way for six new titles, one has to wonder if the writing was on the wall, since the beginning, and what approach the company might take going forward?

It’s no surprise that after the first month of sales, there were many titles in the New 52 launch that fell out of favor with fans (and reviewers), and if sales are an indication, the writing has been on the wall for a while now.

Here is a breakdown of the six canceled titles, and the estimated copies of each sold in the direct market since launch.

 SeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
Blackhawks36,01328,53420,11415,129
Hawk and Dove38,06632,48124,71818,014
Men of War33,73928,30121,39314,977
Mister Terrific37,30532,36722,75416,167
OMAC33,58129,43422,57216,534
Static Shock34,00429,12421,93715,700

Keep in mind that number one issues were still selling in October, number two issues in November, and so on, the numbers above, only represent the number sold of that issue in that month.

One of the interesting things to notice about the data, especially in December, is not one of the titles listed were below the Top 150 books.  Most, if not all, fell in the Top 130 range.  Even though there are other DC/Vertigo books that had lower numbers (iZombie #20 ranked at 189, while Gear of War #21 came in a 268), of the books launched as part of the New 52, Men of War was at the bottom of that stack.

Of the books canceled, I fell most bad about Static Shock for a number of different reasons. On the one hand, it’s bad because those books were read by some 20,000 plus “fans.” On the other hand, Bob Haras has said that we will see these characters appear in other books, so there is still a chance we’ll see characters like  Static show up in books like Blue Beetle (hopefully), Teen Titans, or Justice League (not likely).

Personally, I’m glad DC is trying to keep a pulse on their audience, and on their bottom line in order to make this relaunch as successful as possible.  With six titles coming in, and six titles being shown the exit, plus a number of mini-series coming to an end soon (Huntress, My Greatest Adventure, etc.), it make one wonder if DC shouldn’t be taking a mini-series/trial run approach with more of the books that were launched back in September to see what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve seen another major publisher pull this stunt with their books, launching new number one issues about every six months, and a mini-series initiative would allow companies like DC to guarantee fans they would see four to six issues of a comic that wouldn’t end abruptly, move from a limited to a on-going, back to a limited, or cancelled before seeing print, and so on.  If a mini-series/limited sold well enough, continue with other mini-series at a later date would be one way to make a book “ongoing.”  That method has worked great for books like Atomic Robo, and it might work for DC.

It will be interesting to see how the new batch of number ones sell, or if other books that fall out of the Top 100 head for the chopping block in the months to come.

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Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

39 Comments

  1. The sales of two titles really confuse me: Mr. Terrific and Static Shock. These were two titles with interesting heros, settings and storylines but they didn’t sell. My only hope is that since Mr. Terrific was obviously left in the post-Flashpoint Earth that he would make it to the Justice League title since he was a popular part of the JSA. Static Shock not making it is just sad.

      • Regrettably, I just started reading Men of War on my iPad. It’s not that Sgt. Rock isn’t an interesting character – I really liked the premise of mixing war and capes . . . but I think the story was told a little clunky, with Sgt. Rock getting too much backstory and his team hardly any at all. Besides, I think he’ll probably turn up in GI Comics sooner or later.

      • They both wear masks?

        Seriously, I was actually a bit “color blind” on this list. But, no, I really didn’t warm up to the Rock character “updating”. Perhaps because I was such a fan of the old Rock stories as well as the real “Easy Company” that Rock’s group was based on (“Band of Brothers”). The other was that knowing people that were serving in Iraq and Afganistan at the time and having the stories mixed with DC continuity just didn’t jibe with me. No “super patriot” or “super pacifist” reasons for that…it simply just wasn’t something that I warmed up to.

        Mr. Terrific just seemed like such a good expansion on the type of minority character that Black Lightning pioneered in DC. But rather than being a well-spoken, well educated man who plays a “street tough” in a mask this was a well-spoken, well educated man who is a well-spoken, well educated man in a mask. Static Shock was simply a fun character that could work as both a teen and/or adult. I’m hoping that maybe the cancellation of the series will allow the character to “age” a bit. I’d rather see him working in tandem with the JLA rather than the new version of the Titans.

    • The problem was the set up of the first 2 issues, I think… Both Static and Terrific seemed as though the writing just wasn’t there in issues 1 & 2, but by issue 4 it was actually starting to come together and be something I looked forward to reading… Blackhawks, on the other hand, was one I was thinking of dropping any way as it was kind of lame… And getting rid of Zinda Blake was just stupid.

  2. Not a bit set of surprises, really. I only made it through one Hawk & Dove and completely skipped four of the others. I’m a huge Mr. Terrific fan (since Michael Holt was introduced) and was left pretty cold by this approach to the character. Dropped him after three issues. Somehow it just read too flat for me, with a bit too much “my magic technology will save the day!” And I REALLY wanted to like it. I agree that the character is best suited for a team environment and truly hope he doesn’t just get left behind.

  3. Michael M Jones on

    The comment that Static might show up in Blue Beetle made me wonder what they’d call such a pairing if they became friends. Just like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were Blue and Gold, would this make the team Black and Blue?

    Ow, ow, stop hitting me. I know it was bad.
    I’d still kill to see them in a buddy team-up book. With Static giving the scarab electric shocks to keep it in line.

    • DC will not get canceled, just because of its history and name. Dark Knight too. Maybe retooled and given to different Creators but they won’t stomp a Batbook

        • I forget which book is covering that stupid “owls” thing, but if that’s Dark Knight, then yes… It’s THAT bad… The concept is SOOOOOOO boring and they’re planning on EXPANDING IT!! UGH!!!!!

          • Batman Batman is the Owl thing. Dark Knight is that where every villian takes the titan drug and is suddenly less crazy. also there is a girl in a buny costume and flash. it’s really bad (and that has nothing to do with flash being in it)

  4. I’m sad that Static was cancelled, but not overly surprised. The series hasn’t been as good as I hoped it’d be, though I have enjoyed it considerably.

    • Static has some great potential, but I think they’re not thinking in the best story ideas for using him. Hopefully down the line we might see some better ideas thrown around and a new Static series pop up.

    • Yeah. Feel almost exactly the same. I picked up the first couple of Statics and it was sort of…disappointing. Just didn’t reel me in. I’m really surprised Firestorm wasn’t on the list. That title was a HUGE disappointment.

  5. I’m pretty happy that none of the stuff I love in the relaunch is getting the axe. Demon Knights continues to wow me, granted, I love me some Etrigan. Gail Simone better not be leaving Batgirl any time soon. And honestly, I’m digging the Nightwing series too.

    Who’s next to go? I’m putting some money on Stormwatch, Grifter and Firestorm. Savage Hawkman, Red Lanterns, and Resurrection Man may also see the chopping block. I definitely don’t blame DC for trying to find books that sell. I do find it ironic that two of the books (Men of War and Blackhawks) that were on the list this time got dropped off my pull list after issue 3 (Men of War for the lackluster backup stories and Blackhawks because it wasn’t doing anything for me).

    • I don’t think Stormwatch will be getting the axe for a little while yet, as it apparently has some story development through issue 8 or 10 or something that is going to have implications for the rest of the DCnU, but after that has run its course it’ll probably be eligible for the chopping block

    • i think Hawkman won’T last long as will Red Lantern (it will only stay if they really want to do a lot with the human red lantern)

      Grifter is a cool book i think. Him and ResuMan will stay. I can see captain atom going but they are just starting to get into gear with the Mr.Manhatan thing he has going on.

      Firestorm is weird right now and i also think they haven’t clicked into gear yet.

    • I’m honestly not as gung ho on Batgirl as I thought I’d be. The “bad guy of the week” stories seem to have been an unwelcome diversion from Babs’ new backstory (whatever that may be). I wasn’t that keen on “The Mirror” and I don’t know if I’m going to particularly care much for Gretel. Also, she’s had an awful lot of fight scenes that seem tailored to show her reliance on luck, more than anything else. Even the mob guys in the last ish just narrowly missed making Swiss cheese out of her–and not due to any amazing agility on her part.

      Anyway, still buying for now, but I’m not sure why. I will say the surprise guest in the last issue (and the end of the previous one) does interest me.

  6. I knew going into the relaunch, no matter how much I wished it wasn’t so, that some books would get cancelled. The one I knew for certain would? OMAC. I absolutely love OMAC, it’s the most fun I’ve had reading comics in the last six months. But given the fickle nature of the comic reading public, its cancellation was simply inevitable.

    That doesn’t mean I’m not still sad about it. The worst part is probably that six months after the book gets the boot, barely anyone will remember it or many of the others on this list. And I guess that’s the problem. I’ll probably end up posting a retrospective on my website when OMAC finally gets canceled. Until then, DC, just let me savor one of the most unique and fun properties you’ve put out in years.

  7. Those six were at the top of my list of “Why would they print these things in the first place?” Those characters were all either second or third stringers who only graced the pages of the backup stories that used to appear at the end of the main stories in comics, or old silver age heroes who ought to have been allowed a peaceful retirement rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into modern continuity. Let’s face it – those of us who are old enough to have read them in their first incarnations didn’t care about them back in the day, so why should we care about them now? And if you’re going to dredge up characters like Hawk and Dove or Omak, why not Magnut, Robot Biter or Batroc the Leaper? I’d rather read the adventures of Diaperman, thank you very much. These characters must have been the favorites of somebody high up in DC (probably the original creators or something) but had they been any good in the first place they would never have been allowed to fade away into obscurity in the second place. I’m not surprised these books met the axe, because I, and probably many others like me, had no interest in reading them.

  8. Yep, called it back at the beginning of the DC Marvelization event. I didn’t see anyone buying Men of War. Folks interested in that stuff aren’t really buying comics anymore. They get what they need from TV. Sad to see Hawk & Dove go but I didn’t pick it up anyway. I’m not a fan of Liefield’s art, unless Karl Kesel is inking. His work with Liefield on the ’93 Hawk & Dove mini-series made the art palpable. I collected the first four of Blackhawks but was disappointed so I understand why it got the axe. The story was slow and neither it nor the characters were interesting. Why they decided to go with brand new characters instead of using re-vamped versions of the old ones I’ll probably never know. (Really? A red-headed Ukrainian called “Irish”? Should’ve made him actually Irish and talk with an Irish brogue or fake Russian/Ukrainian accent kinda like Chekov, then the character would’ve worked a bit better.) Very sad to see Static and Mister Terrific go. Static is an awesome character from the old Milestone universe which ended well before its time. Hopefully both will find homes in team books. Didn’t pick up OMAC. I like the character but I’m more a fan of Giffen’s writing than his art. Let’s see what the next not-so-secret six have to offer.

    • I didn’t pick up the Blackhawks series at all. I was too much a fan of the originals and couldn’t stand to see my old para-military fliers redone.

  9. I think these books were on a limited run anyway.If you want to go by numbers Batwoman should get canceled too,but it is connected to Batman so that isnt happening.

  10. Mister Terrific was one of the best books IMHO. The writing was great and the artwork was amazing. They used great perspectives almost in every panel.

    OMAC was also a fun read all the time. And was great to see a book done in more of the older style of page layouts and art.

    News about those two passing makes me sad. The other four books I took off my pull list this past week.

  11. They can dump both JLA Dark and JLA International…..they SUCK!! Both had so much promise and just are poor poor poor. Voodoo can go. And most of all Firestorm is the biggest crapbag of em all.

  12. Static and Mr. Terrific? Not shocked.

    Read the Mr. Teriffic and wasn’t impressed from the start. Character wasn’t written right. Sorry.

    I understand why Static was made into a book (popular character from the cartoon and out of respect for Dwayne McDuffie) but wish more could’ve been done. Personally, I wish Mr. Terrific didn’t get a book. There. I said it. If they wanted to talk about an intelligent black man that uses technology to fight crime, they could’ve used Hardware, another character from Milestone. Also, wouldn’t have minded seeing Icon. For those that don’t know, the series wasn’t only about the adventures of a black Superman-level character and his sidekick Rocket, but an introspection on the differences between two ideologies on socioeconomic change (ex: conservative vs. liberal, change from within s. change from without) that could’ve been good for the relaunch.

    Regardless, Static will be missed.

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