Brian Michael Bendis recently took over two of DC Comics’ flagship comic series in Superman and Action Comics. Not only did he get writing duties on arguably DC Comics’ most iconic figure, but he also brought along his own creator owned titles which include United States of Murder Inc., Pearl, Scarlet, and others.
DC Comics marketed the crap ton out of Bendis, the man who invented Miles Morales, in the lead up to him taking over the two Superman book. There were double page spreads in all of DC Comics’ books leading up to Bendis’ debut.
There was even a 30 second TV spot to promote Bendis’ takeover of the Superman comics.
Unfortunately, the marketing and hype as well as Bendis’ writing talents have not translated to enormous sales.
Bendis’ most recent issue of Superman, Superman #6 only sold 52,414 estimated units to retailers. That was good enough for the 24th most shipped comic in December. Action Comics #1005 only shipped 49,149 units in November. That put it in 30th.
Now, you might be thinking those are respectable numbers given the current state of the industry. which announced another down year with overall graphic novels and comic sales down over 1% from 2017. 2017 saw comic sales shrink by 6.5% compared to 2016.
However, if you look at where Superman and Action Comics were prior to Bendis taking over, the books were performing much better. If we do a straight up comparison, Superman #6 by Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi with art by Gleason and Mick Gray from 2016 shipped 76,124 units.
Action Comics #961, which was the fifth Action Comics book during the DC Comics’ Rebirth launch shipped 71,821 units.
Action Comics #999 actually shipped more units than Bendis’ Action Comics #1005. It shipped 51,534. It’s more than likely this increase was affected by the landmark Action Comics #1000 issue which shipped 449,787 units.
What Does This Mean?
Readers in large part are not interested in Bendis’ Superman stories. Superman #7, which just came out this month received an average user rating of 4.5 on ComicBookRoundUp. This is the lowest user rating since Bendis took over Superman. It’s been steadily declining since the first issue.
Users made it clear why they weren’t pleased with Bendis’ direction on Superman. Many cited Bendis’ lack of understanding of the characters specifically Lois Lane.
YourGreenMuse writes, “Lois would never leave her child with Jor-El. None of this would’ve even happened if these characters were in character. This is incredibly lame.”
Their thoughts would be echoed by RBL, “It hurt to see Lobo make a short cameo, because he’s one more character to add to the list of those bendis (sp?) has gotten wrong, but surprisingly what he says is the best advice Jon has gotten in this title.”
DancerX added, “The awful, out of character decisions Lois was written to make in Man of Steel and Action now somehow look even worst (sp?) due to Jon declaring that his grandpa is so crazy that they have to do something about it.”
Action Comics seems to be faring a little bit better with Action Comics #1006 receiving a 6.9 user score. It is the second lowest average score for Bendis’ Action Comics run.
However, many users took issue with Bendis’ new villain, Red Cloud.
ohhaimark writes, “Good God, Red Cloud is a boring villain. Somehow, she’s even worse than the abomination himself, Rogol Zaar. “
YourGreenMuse echoed those thoughts, “He lets the villain go because Red Mist truly deserves more than one arc. She’s the golden child of Leviathan for no particularly good reason.”
It’s unclear how long Bendis will stay on Superman and Action Comics as the sales continue to nosedive. One thing does appear clear is that he has more plans in the works for both titles with the upcoming Leviathan Rising storyline.
It starts in action comics 1007 and builds out from there. It’s huge. Its being done with all of editorials involvement. It’s very different and it is for real. But, as much as it changed dc forever, more importantly, in this storyline Clark Kent WILL have facial hair https://t.co/F3QYEMh3lw
— BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) January 24, 2019
DC Comics took a big gamble on bringing in Brian Michael Bendis and it doesn’t look like it has paid off at all in respects to Superman and Action Comics. Did DC Comics pick up Bendis as his star was waning or could he turn the ship around and put out some really stellar Superman and Action Comics stories?
Are you reading Bendis’ Superman and Action Comics? What do you make of his work so far? Do you think Bendis’ writing is the main difference in the sales between his books and Rebirth or do you think other factors could be in play?