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Selling Point: Summer of Superman

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Welcome to Broken Frontier's new feature, Selling Point. Each month we will break down the sales numbers of a particular issue, and interview various retailers from across the country about current sales of that particular book recently. For this first edition, we’ll focus on what is possibly the most iconic character of all time: DC Comics' Superman.

Superman was once king of them all. Back in the Golden Age of the 1950s, Superman used to sell upward of three million copies a month, a monthly number which will probably never be eclipsed by another comic. Recently however, the Man of Steel has fallen on hard times, and Superman’s sales numbers now hover around #58 on the Diamond Comics March sales charts - not very good numbers for such an iconic character. To misquote Alan Moore in a hopelessly consumerist way he’d probably hate: Whatever Happened to the Man of Sales Numbers?

“What’s pretty much been the trouble with Superman for a while now, is that Superman is a series that is only as good as its villains. Other books have better villains right now: Batman, Spider-Man and especially Green Lantern” said Top Cut Comics’ Mike Lamps of Superman’s dwindling sales. “Superman’s definitely suffering from a lack of interesting storytelling. We’ll see what Straczynski does.”

Straczynski, as in J. Michael, the Babylon 5 mastermind who recently revamped the Thor title for Marvel. The latest superstar writer to take a stab at the Man of Steel writing duties, Straczynski starts his run in issue #701. When a well respected writer like Straczynski is given the reins to an iconic character like Superman, huge sales often follow, and DC is giving Superman every chance to be a hit this summer.

Superman seems to have his plate full leading up to July 14th when Straczynski takes over. While there will be no May issue of Superman, James Robinson and Sterling Gates’ War of the Supermen will be released as a weekly series in May. The limited series is a fast paced epic detailing the 100-minute long war between New Krypton and Earth. With the first issue of War of the Supermen being the centerpiece of DC’s Free Comic Book Day offerings, it is certain that DC has big plans for Supes in 2010. Due to this big push, the Man of Steel should be in store for a sales boost in the coming months.

There is a opinion among retailers that the limited series and the segue into a new creative team may be just what Superman needs to begin its ascent back to the top. “We’re excited that J. Michael Straczynski is joining the creative team, since it’s well known that he’s always wanted to write big blue” Gerry Gladston owner of Midtown Comics said. “We’re definitely looking forward to a spike in sales when JMS gets started on Superman. I can also see that spike continuing with subsequent issues, and reinvigorating sales for Superman.”

It seems that although Superman has had falling sales of late, this comic could see a major boost in sales soon. It will be interesting to see if Superman can become a major force in the industry again, after recently falling into the bottom half of Diamond's top 100. With a weekly limited series setting things up, superstar creative talent hopping on board, and a 56-page 700th issue; DC has created their own perfect storm with the hopes of making their flagship character one of their most popular characters again.

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