Disclaimer first: the Diamond estimated sales figures are estimates, based fancy guessing and also orders of Batman. They are not what Marvel uses in their secret cancellation calculations. They do not include digital figures, newsstands, international markets, and only kind of maybe tell us how many books Diamond shipped— i.e. how many retailers thought they could sell, not how many they actually sold.
Last time, Black Widow debuted and double-shipped, placing (barely) in the top twenty and then falling out of it. This time, we hopefully are beginning to see the sales of Black Widow level out. Let’s look at the sales estimates and get all paranoid:
Rank Title # Est. Sales %Δ 20 Black Widow (2014) 1 53,879 — 63 Black Widow (2014) 2 31,260 -41.98% 70 Black Widow (2014) 3 28,127 -10.1%
The 40% sales drop is about normal for a Marvel Now #1, as the estimates from February reveal, and the ten percent drop from issue #2 to issue #3 is lower than most other titles. Avengers World, the other Marvel Now book launched in January, suffered a 25.9% drop from issue #2 to issue #3. The last volume of Secret Avengers dropped 16.67%, in the same space, and Fearless Defenders 16.73%, the last Wolverine relaunch 13%. That gives me some hope that orders of Black Widow are leveling out early.
In other good news, the first issue was reordered in January to the tune of 2,674 extra issues— almost as much as the orders dropped from issues #2 to #3. Issues 1, 2 and 3 have all gone to second printings, which means the numbers we see on this chart are probably lower than the actual demand.
To compare with Natasha’s last series, the new volume is doing better on all fronts:
Rank Title # Est. Sales %Δ 55 Black Widow (2010) 1 32,807 — 63 Black Widow (2010) 2 23,384 -28.7% 111 Black Widow (2010) 3 19,892 -14.9%
I also think it’s interesting to compare Marvel’s current approach, the All-New Marvel Now #1 versus their last tactic for launching female ongoings, which was changing the numbering on an existing steady seller. Both Sif and Red She-Hulk were launched this way, to much lower inital order numbers but to much less steep initial drops.
Rank Title # Est. Sales %Δ 119 Hulk 57 21,553 -0.0% 82 Red She-Hulk 58 31,136 +44.5% 112 Red She-Hulk 59 20,668 -33.6% 98 Red She-Hulk 60 20,798 +0.6%
Rank Title # Est. Sales %Δ 120 Journey Into Mystery 645 20,705 +0.6% 96 Journey Into Mystery 646 22,898 +10.6% 92 Journey Into Mystery 647 22,514 -1.7% 95 Journey Into Mystery 648 20,887 -7.2%
Sif took over Journey Into Mystery with issue #646, Hulk became Red She-Hulk with issue #58. As you can see, the titles did keep most of their existing audiences, but neither Hulk nor Journey Into Mystery were particularly strong sellers to begin with. We’ll see if the new Marvel Now approach, with a new #1 issue loaded with variants every dozen months or so, will pay different dividends in the long term. In the meantime, the new Ms. Marvel debuted in February at place #24 on the charts, with over 50,000 copies ordered, and She-Hulk placed 36, with 41,894 copies ordered.
So, fuckyeahbuckynatasha asked if I would explain the differences and continuities between Department X and the Red Room, and try to untangle the comic book super Soviet bureaucracy in general for BuckyNat week. The Red Room is increasingly used by fans and sometimes Marvel itself as shorthand for “Russian spies”, but as we will see, its origins are much more specific to Natasha, and the Black Widow program. Department X was the KGB’s “secret science division” which the Red Room operated under for a time, and it was Department X bigwig, Vasily Karpov, who engineered codename: Winter Soldier.