After last week’s edition featuring wall-to-wall headliners, Comics Disassembled is a bit more quiet this week. There’s still plenty to go over, though, so let’s get to ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, led by Batman getting a new writer (shockingly!).
1. Victors, Gaining Spoils
One of the weirdest parts of the whole Substack announcement was the reaction to James Tynion IV leaving Batman. It was treated like this insane move when honestly it was maybe the most normal aspect of the whole deal? I mean, creators come and go on superhero titles – even Batman! – all of the time. I know Batman is a bit of a different breed, as the runs tend to be longer and the character and title are the pinnacle of a sort for the genre. But still, that was fairly ordinary compared to the rest of it! My argument was, plain and simple, people have left Batman many times before, and I am sure DC will have no problem at all finding someone willing to take Tynion’s spot.
It did not take long.
Writer Joshua Williamson will be taking over the title with issue #218, and honestly, he was a pretty obvious pick. Tom King isn’t coming back, so he was out. Tom Taylor is pretty busy and is leading the way on the Superman side of things, so he was improbable. In terms of veteran DC writers with curb appeal, Williamson was about it, especially with Mariko Tamaki currently writing Detective Comics already. So it was a layup that Williamson, someone whose DC dance card is full but lacking in headliners, would be the one to get the gig.
Personally, I like to think that this move was related to dastardly machinations by Williamson, who in my head canon spent the past few months hyping Tynion up on Substack knowing the latter would have to choose between Batman or the digital newsletter platform. And when Tynion went Substack, who was there to pick up the newly vacant Batman book? Joshua Williamson! He was the devil on Tynion’s shoulder this whole time!
Just kidding. That definitely did not happen. It would be very amusing if it did, though, even if I could never imagine Josh being that kind of operator.
2. Diamond, Having Charts Again!
Diamond Comic Distributors is going crazy lately, as for the second month in a row they have…revealed the details of the monthly sales charts for the North American comic book direct market?!?!?! It’s wild but true, and the good news is it’s good news. As John Jackson Miller perfectly dissected as per usual at Comichron, July 2021 was a heck of a month. Diamond’s report showcased it earning $35.51 million in revenue compared to the last apples-to-apples-ish month of July 2019, which was at $36.18 million. The big difference is that latter month featured a) DC’s comics in the mix and b) a fifth week of releases, meaning July 2021 towered over it on a pound-for-pound basis.
That’s incredible! JJM did the math and a true apples-to-apples comparison finds 2021’s version up by 32% over 2019, a heck of a lift that reflects the ongoing surge in the direct market. As some pointed out, it was an extremely #1 heavy top 10, but you know what typically sells the most whether you’re talking 2021, 2011, 2001 or 1991? First issues! This is not that unusual, nor does it necessarily portend a dark future. I’m still a little mixed on whether or not these highs are real real. But even if it flattens out considerably, 2021 would still be in a great place considering, you know, we’re in a pandemic and everything expected the whole direct market to break.
So I’m going to call this a win. And speaking of wins, you know what? Extra props to Miller, whose own work led the way on the graphic novel side of the equation, as Star Wars Legends Omnibus: The Old Republic Vol. 1 took the top spot over there. That’s a very cool result and a first for the king of comic book numbers, even though I’m sure it was just how nicely that title rolls off the tongue that fueled its big orders.