Back in 2008, when DC Comics leaked their plans to “kill” Bruce Wayne, have Dick Grayson take over as Batman, and end the runs of the Nightwing and Robin magazines, I posted a sales analysis to analyze why the company was ready to make such a gamble.
The Robin magazine had appeared monthly since 1993. But in the most recent year its sales through the Diamond distributor were stuck at about 26,000 copies a month (except for two issues that were part of heavily promoted crossovers with the Batman stories).
In the following two years, the character of Tim Drake took up a new costume and identity as Red Robin, and a magazine of that name was launched. Twelve issues have now appeared—inaugural writer Chris Yost’s complete run—and the first collection is in stores. We can now evaluate how successful DC’s gamble was.
This graph compares the sales of the first eleven issues of Red Robin (those for which the Comics Chronicles has calculated sales) with the equivalent eleven issues of Robin before DC announced its big plan. There were big sales for the #1 issue, as to be expected, and a drop-off as readers made up their minds about the book. Red Robin sales have now leveled off at a little over 36,000, or more than a third better than Robin. And that’s without the benefit of crossovers, since the point of that first run was Tim Drake being off on his own.
It’s no wonder that Batman group editor Mike Marts told the CBR site in a publicity interview:
“Red Robin” I think was far and away the book that not only met our expectations quickly, but exceeded our expectations. We knew that we had great ideas from Chris Yost. We knew we’d have solid artwork from Ramon Bachs and Marcus To. But the book really took off with the readers, and they embraced it very quickly. I think that book was a surprise within the “Batman Reborn” titles.Fabian Nicieza has now taken over writing Red Robin from Chris Yost. I thought Nicieza’s closing innings on Robin showed the strains of taking over suddenly, catching up to deadlines, and having to fit into the company’s larger plans. But his fondness for and understanding of the character is clear, and now he has space to spread his wings.