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    Buy The Numbers: Crisis Aftermath: The Eternals #1

    By Marc Mason

    IN THE CROSSHAIRS:
    THE ETERNALS #1

    Coming June 21 from Marvel Comics

    Hello again, all, and welcome back to BUY THE NUMB3RS. Every month, I, Marc Mason, put on the ol’ swami hat and try and determine just how many copies a comic is going to sell. Or, in some cases, not going to sell. This time around, I’m putting one of the year’s more interesting and high-profile projects into the spotlight: THE ETERNALS.

    What makes this an interesting book? Two words: Neil Gaiman. After almost three years away from comics, the legendary novelist has returned to the sequential playground. Not content to sell millions of copies of his novels, write high profile screenplays, and option his stories into film, Gaiman does occasionally return to the place where his fame and talent really developed. However, his choice is an odd one: THE ETERNALS, a less-than- memorable Jack Kirby creation, isn’t quite what fans were anticipating. There were rumors he’d take on NICK FURY; barring that, perhaps THOR. Instead, he’s teaming up with another comics legend, John Romita Jr., and giving some under-developed characters a turn in the spotlight.

    Now, putting Gaiman’s name on the cover means one thing: this book will sell. Boy, oh, boy will it sell. But considering the obscure characters and the proliferation of high-profile books like CIVIL WAR eating up the fan dollar, the question of how much it will sell is a tough one. Let’s look at some past numbers, captured from ICV2 involving these creators.

    Sales for MARVEL 1602 #1, the last book that Gaiman wrote: 150,569. This was an alternate universe take on the Marvel characters, but it involved all the major characters. Throw in that this was Gaiman’s first comics project since SANDMAN ended, and interest was strong.

    Sales for SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS (HC)
    , Gaiman’s hardcover original graphic novel featuring his most beloved characters: 7,362. Of course, that was just in comics shops. Bookstore sales pushed that total into the reported six figures. Even for comics shops, that’s very healthy for a $24.95 hardcover of original material.

    Sales for SENTRY #1, Romita’s latest miniseries work: 77,894. The series was penned by Paul Jenkins, another British writer who has moved himself to the states, just as Gaiman has. Buoyed by the character’s presence in NEW AVENGERS, this is a very healthy number.

    Sales for BLACK PANTHER #1, which Romita drew for filmmaker Reggie Hudlin: 50,490. Now, this is a nice number. Very solid. But it also makes me sad. Christopher Priest’s excellent run on PANTHER never got the marketing push that Hudlin and Romita got, and their PANTHER isn’t even remotely as good a book. Ugh.

    Sales for WOLVERINE #20, the first issue of a year-long storyline written by fan-favorite Scotsman Mark Millar: 116,831. Short on plot and long on action and carnage, the duo’s run on the Canadian X-Man proved to be immensely popular.

    Gaiman is one of the most popular writers in the world, period. Romita Jr. is in a class by himself as far as his ability to render the street-level and the cosmic. Together, they’re going to sell a nice chunk of books. However, I don’t believe that this series will do quite as many copies as Gaiman’s last effort, 1602. Instead, I think ETERNALS will top out around 137,000. More readers are waiting for the trade paperback, and the $4.00 price tag on issue one will scare away others.

    FOLLOWING UP: Column one featured my guess at AVENGERS/POWER PACK: ASSEMBLE #1. My guess for the initial orders was 10,225. Now the final numbers are in. And as it turns out, I was more than a little generous: initial orders for APPA #1 were estimated at 7859! Even though I predicted a large downturn for this series of books, I didn’t anticipate just how far the order levels would drop. So if you didn’t buy my numb3rs that month… I tip my cap to your superior intellect.

    Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |

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