Dialing In: A Look at the Results of one Retailer’s DC Rebirth Pre-Order Survey

Rebirth is the upcoming relaunch of the DC line, and it’s a pretty big deal. While it won’t be a line-wide reboot like the New 52 was, it will start all of the DC superhero titles back at #1 as well as launching a few comics. And as one of the team members at the comic shop Big Bang Comics (and crafter of such Twitter hits as “Why won’t anyone think of the new readers?!” and “Man, you sure love Starbrand and Nightmask”), it’s an even bigger deal.

Why is that? Well, a comic book store has to order their books months in advance, so it’s hard to judge the enthusiasm – meaning how many comics we’ll actually sell- for a 30+ titles with new creative teams that far in advance. To order properly, we needed more information. More specifically, we needed to know how our customers felt about Rebirth.

To do that, we put together a pre-order survey for them. The survey had a list of all the new titles, a link to DC’s launch video and the online Previews catalogue for the event. We covered as many bases as we could, and then to close, we asked our customers a few questions. Namely, we quizzed them on which one-shots (there will be a series of individual Rebirth one-shots that will set the tone for the Universe and its characters) and which of the new ongoing series they wanted to order.

We tweeted a bit about the results of that survey already, but with the comics Twitterverse seeming quite interested in it, SKTCHD asked us to put together those numbers in an easier to follow way. These are those results.

Before we go ahead, we want to make one thing clear

These are the results from our survey at Big Bang Comics. We’re a shop in Dublin, Ireland. We are just a tiny sample of the entire Direct Market (aka comic shops). Your local store might have incredibly different results if they do something like it. So treat these numbers as a curiosity, not as the way Rebirth is going to work out for everyone. Cool?

Results will be presented as percentages of the total answers for the most part. Let’s get on with this!

Customer interest in the Rebirth One-Shots

Title (sorted most orders to least) Respondents interested
Batman: Rebirth #1 79%
DC Universe: Rebirth Special 73%
The Flash: Rebirth #1 40%
Superman: Rebirth #1 35%
Justice League: Rebirth #1 35%
Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 32%
Nightwing: Rebirth #1 26%
Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 24%
Trinity: Rebirth #1 24%
Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 21%
Batgirl & The Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1 19%
Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 18%
Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1 14%
Supergirl: Rebirth #1 14%
Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 14%
Titans: Rebirth #1 13%
Teen Titans: Rebirth #1 13%
Aquaman: Rebirth #1 10%
The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 9%
Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 7%
Red Hood & The Outlaws: Rebirth #1 6%
Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1 6%
Cyborg: Rebirth #1 4%
I want to pre-order ALL DC Comics’ Rebirth One-Shots 3%
I don’t want to pre-order ANY DC Comics’ Rebirth One-Shots 1%
Wonder Woman Rebirth #1
Cover to Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1, art by Liam Sharp

Let’s start with the most interesting point: the highest orders were not for the DC Universe Rebirth Special, which starts Rebirth off and lays the entire thing out. The book that generated the highest amount of responses was actually Batman: Rebirth. There’s a simple reason for that: our shop is a big Batman shop. That title has been our #1 seller consistently so it’s no surprise our customers feel invested in the character and its future.

In fact, Batman: Rebirth had nearly twice the orders as the next individual character, The Flash. We expected to see Flash up there too as the TV show is still very popular, with new people always coming in asking for Flash comics looking for a jumping-on point. It speaks volumes to how popular Batman is with us that his book nearly doubled up his Justice League peer.

The first woman character in that list is Wonder Woman, and this seems to be a character that a lot of people were waiting for a different take on (we’ll talk a bit more about it later on).

At the other end of the list, Cyborg shows again that it’s a title that really doesn’t work in our shop. It’s currently the lowest selling DC universe title we have, and each time we seem to know the numbers we need, someone else drops it. Blue Beetle seems to be suffering from lack of awareness. The character(s) haven’t been around in a while and maybe our customers just kinda…forgot about Blue Beetle?

Response to the new ongoings

When it came to the ongoing series part of the survey, we gave our customers different options:

– Order only the first issue of the series
– Add entire series to your standing order
– Remove series from pull list (for example, if you were down for Snyder/Capullo’s Batman but didn’t want the new series from Tom King and David Finch)
– Don’t want to pre-order the series (option there because every line in the survey required a reply)

Let’s start with a look at the less happy numbers:

Title Remove series from pull list
Detective Comics #934 (twice a month) 6%
Batman #1 (twice a month) 2%
Deathstroke #1 (twice a month) 2%
Suicide Squad #1 (twice a month) 2%
Earth 2 #1 – TBA 2%
Action Comics #957 (twice a month) 1%
Batgirl #1 (once a month) 1%
Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #1 (once a month) 1%
The Hellblazer #1 (once a month) 1%
Justice League America #1 (twice a month) 1%
Gotham Academy: Next Semester #1 – TBA 1%

Frankly, we expected a lot more drop outs. People are tired of relaunches and a lot of people have expressed their desire to use this latest jumping-on point as a jumping-off one. But the customers that replied to our survey didn’t really reflect that.

In particular, we were curious about Batman. It’s been our number one seller for forever, and a great part of it is the amazing chemistry that Snyder, Capullo and all have brought to that book.

So how would our readers react to a post-Snyder Batman main title? Would they shun the incoming team of Tom King, David Finch, Mikel Janin and Jordie Bellaire? Turns out that isn’t the case. Only 2% of responses said they wanted to drop Batman, which is such a relief. We know that is a phenomenal team but we were afraid customers might just drop it sight unseen. Good job, customers!

One interesting note: the majority of the titles customers said they wanted to drop when Rebirth starts are ones coming out twice a month. Yes, those titles will be lower priced at $2.99 (down from $3.99!) but they’ll end up costing $5.98 a month now and wallets can only stretch so far.

As for the good numbers, let’s amalgamate the order for #1s and the entire series. The purpose of this article is mostly an exercise in showing the pre-orders for the DC Rebirth titles and there are only so many tables you can look at before you faint (editor’s note: want to bet?).

Title Want to Order
All Star Batman (once a month) 69%
Batman #1 (twice a month) 35%
Suicide Squad #1 (twice a month) 33%
Superman #1 (twice a month) 30%
Wonder Woman #1 (twice a month) 30%
Trinity #1 (once a month) 29%
The Flash #1 (twice a month) 28%
Justice League #1 (twice a month) 25%
Nightwing #1 (twice a month) 24%
Green Lanterns #1 (twice a month) 21%
Green Arrow #1 (twice a month) 19%
Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #1 (once a month) 19%
Action Comics #957 (twice a month) 17%
The Super-Man #1 (once a month) 17%
Detective Comics #934 (twice a month) 16%
Justice League America #1 (twice a month) 16%
Supergirl #1 (once a month) 16%
Titans #1 (once a month) 15%
Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corpos #1 (twice a month) 13%
Batman Beyond #1 (once a month) 13%
Teen Titans #1 (once a month) 13%
Batgirl #1 (once a month) 12%
Harley Quinn #1 (twice a month) 12%
Super Sons #1 (once a month) 12%
Aquaman #1 (twice a month) 11%
The Hellblazer #1 (once a month) 10%
Blue Beetle #1 (once a month) 9%
Superwoman #1 (once a month) 9%
Red Hood & The Outlaws #1 (once a month) 8%
Gotham Academy: Next Semester #1 – TBA 8%
Earth 2 #1 – TBA 7%
Deathstroke #1 (twice a month) 6%
Cyborg #1 (twice a month) 3%

Lo and behold, there’s Scott Snyder’s new title – All Star Batman – leading the way. We knew our customers would be hot for it, but the fact that nearly seven in every ten wants to order this title is kind of amazing. It immediately placed that title as our second most pre-ordered series in terms of pull lists. That is unheard of!

All Star Batman Jock
All Star Batman art by Jock

Batman – which, for the record, is our most pre-ordered series in terms of pull lists – sees even more people adding it. Similar to a lot of other titles in that list, people are very excited to be able to jump into a popular character’s series with a new #1, and there is no one more popular than Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.

Suicide Squad benefits from the promise of Jim Lee art and the movie hype, although Harley Quinn didn’t get much of a bump, even though she seems to be the early breakout character there.

Superman was kind of a surprise. As a character, his ongoing series have never done that well for us (for reference Superman: American Alien is selling nearly twice what the main Superman book does). We always do a nice trade on books like Secret Identity, All-Star Superman or Red Son, but the collections of the ongoing series just sit on the shelf collecting dust (note to self: clean dust on Superman shelf more often). But comic fans are eternal optimists. The grass is always greener on the other side, and the next Superman ongoing series will be better than the current one, they think.

Seeing Wonder Woman up there warms the cockles of my heart. She’s a massive character that a lot of customers really care for. Her recent Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel did phenomenally well for us (and it still is a consistent seller), but, like Superman, that doesn’t translate to sales on her ongoing title. Customers seem to have been waiting for another creative team to take over. And now that it’s happening with a new #1 post her Batman v Superman breakout, it’s a perfect storm.

Cyborg #1
Cover to Cyborg: Rebirth #1, art by Paul Pelletier

On the other end of the spectrum, we see Cyborg doing poorly. Again, it’s just not something that sells well for us and it would take a really big creative team to see our customers take a bet on it (say, DC, if you want to ask Snyder or Johns to do a Cyborg series that might work).

Deathstroke is suffering from not being as hot as he was a year or two ago.

Red Hood and His Amazing Friends is a victim of the fact that Jason Todd is kind of…popular – like mid-lister popular – and he has his fans, but he seems to get saddled with other characters that people don’t care for as much. If this was Red Hood and Nightwing and Robin things would be a lot different.

Superwoman is an unproven property (if you don’t count those imaginary stories from back in the day), and even though Lois Lane does have her fans, there doesn’t seem to be many over here in Dublin.

Those are just a few highlights, but the numbers are all right there for you to have a look at.

Again, overall they are very positive. This is a market that keeps complaining about relaunches, but this survey – which was all about customers letting us know what books they wanted to pre-order with enough time for us to act on that information – is showing us that our customers are actually pretty okay with this whole Rebirth thing.

Regardless, at last now we have some numbers that we can base our orders on. The world is a better place! But at the end of the day, what difference does this make in terms of the individual series and their pre-orders when compared to where they are now in the pre-Rebirth era at DC? After all, the entire point of this is to sell more comics, right?

Well, funny you should ask…

The Rebirth Lift

Title Percentage increase from last issue of current title
Wonder Woman 675%
Teen Titans 300%
Green Arrow 243%
Suicide Squad 193%
Superman 193%
Supergirl 175%
Action Comics 156%
Cyborg 150%
Deathstroke 150%
The Flash 150%
Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps 150%
Green Lanterns 146%
Titans 130%
Aquaman 111%
Batman Beyond 100%
The Hellblazer 100%
Nightwing 91%
Red Hood & The Outlaws 64%
Justice League America 54%
Justice League 47%
Harley Quinn 42%
Earth 2 40%
Detective Comics 35%
Batgirl 29%
Batman 21%
Gotham Academy: Next Semester 14%
All Star Batman N/A
Batgirl & The Birds of Prey N/A
Blue Beetle N/A
Super Sons N/A
Superwoman N/A
The Super-Man N/A
Trinity N/A

In this table, we compare the pre-orders for the first issue of the new series and what the latest issue of the current series has sold. All those numbers are percentage increases. So for example on pre-orders alone Batman #1 be selling 21% more than what Batman #50 sold (and that, incidentally, is a lot). Again, this is JUST FOR PRE-ORDERS! This doesn’t take into account what numbers these comics will sell from the shelf or what other orders might come in between now and when we close our orders (remember, these books are slated to come in June).

Wonder Woman #1
Cover to Wonder Woman #1, art by Liam Sharp

If this table reflects anything, it above all shows our customers’ eagerness to try certain properties that are currently not doing that well for us. Green Arrow has been a low seller for us ever since Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino left the title, but this upcoming #1 is going to change that a bit and we’ll be selling three times what we did of the last issue.

But one title is clearly going to see greater lift for us from Rebirth than the rest: Wonder Woman. While Wonder Woman was a good performer during the Azzarello/Chiang years, ever since they left the title has been dying for us. Even worse, no one seems to be talking about the book at all in store except to say they wish the book had a different creative team. Enter Greg Rucka (who has a proven track record writing the character), Liam Sharp (a phenomenal artist who has been away from the spotlight for a while and always had fans here in Dublin) and Nicola Scott (another amazing artist who just gets Wonder Woman) and all of a sudden we are going to sell nearly seven times what we do now on pre-orders alone. That is huge. And that doesn’t take into account other people who like the character and want a new series but wouldn’t pre-order a comic, or the people who will come in eventually looking for a new #1 of the character that kicked ass in Batman v Superman.

Wonder Woman is definitely one of our biggest winners when it comes to pre-sales for DC Rebirth. The other is All Star Batman, but, truthfully, pretty much every comic is going to be selling a lot more come June based off pre-orders alone.

Will it last? Will the customers stick around for more than one issue? Will these series stand the test of time as one of the greats? Beats me! But if you are interested in this sort of stuff, we do comic sales analysis every Monday (ish) on Twitter where we look at what sold and what didn’t in the previous week and sometimes speculate on the reasons. Join us if you want to know more. I promise these next couple of months are going to be fun!

The author of this article, Bruno Batista, is a manager at Big Bang Comics, a comic shop in Dublin, Ireland. You can find more from Big Bang on Facebook, Twitter (make sure to visit them on Monday when they do comic sales analysis!) and from Bruno on Twitter as well.