19 July 2009

168,604 Copies?!

That's the number that the Diamond comics distributor reported as its estimated sale of the first issue of Batman and Robin, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, according to icv2.

To put that number into context, in two months this spring no American comic book sold 100,000 copies--the worst high-water marks on record. The runner-up in June sales was the 600th issue of Captain America, and that sold fewer than 113,000. (It was $2.00 more expensive, however, and thus earned more revenue.) The only hero who's sold more comics this year is Barack Obama, appearing in January's Amazing Spider-Man.

Obviously, Batman and Robin had a lot going for it: a celebrated team of creators, a #1 label, lots of promotion, and a truly eye-catching cover. Plus, of course, a new Robin, and a new role for the original Robin.

June also saw the first issue of Red Robin, following intermediary Robin Tim Drake as he does DC Comics's best Jason Bourne imitation (surprising people on rooftops all over Europe). It sold over 64,000 copies, a considerable jump over the recent sales level of the Robin magazine. But the real test of the decision to shake things up for the character will come in the next few issues. Will people continue to buy Red Robin after #1?

That issue did answer one question the weekly Robin raised last year: What will happen to the Robin logo, which changed little between 1991 and 2009? Tim got custody of a modified version of it. The letters have been squeezed and arched, and the O was replaced with the symbol that Alex Ross created years ago for Red Robin's breastplate (which looks an awful lot like Hawkman's, actually).

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