Marvel Comics’ Vice President of Content and Character Development recently penned an interview with Brie Larson for InStyle where she praises Marvel Comics’ audience transformation when its comes to their Captain Marvel comics.
Amanat would write:
“As the editor of the Captain Marvel comic, I witnessed firsthand how the audience transformed around Danvers’s re-imagining. A contingency of superfans coined the Carol Corps celebrated the change as a sign that comics were becoming more welcoming to female audiences.”
Amanat joined Marvel in 2009, and began editing Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel in 2012. She started out as an Associate Editor, but by the end of the run she was listed as an editor. The series debuted in July of 2012 and shipped 41,582 units to local comic shops. The book was the 42nd most shipped book in July of 2012. By the final issue, Captain Marvel #17 only shipped 18,173 units.
Looking at Amazon, Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vol. 1 which collects the first 12 issues of DeConnick’s 2012 run doesn’t even crack the top 2000 comics and graphic novels published by Marvel. It’s 2,085. The second volume which collects issues 13 through 17 as well as a a couple issues of Avenging: Spider-Man, Avengers: The Enemy Within, and Avengers Assemble performs even more poorly. It can’t even crack the top 4,000 graphic novels from Marvel. It’s ranked #4544.
The audience sure did transform. It evaporated into smoke.
DeConnick would return for another Captain Marvel series in 2014, which was also edited by Sana Amanat. The first issue shipped 44,248 units. This series would only last 15 issues. The 15th issue shipped 19,740 units. By the time the run ended Captain Marvel was the 124th most shipped comic of the month.
Given this series is the one the film is based on, the trade paperback has seen a resurgence on Amazon. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More is the third highest selling Marvel Comics graphic novel.
The second volume, Stay Fly, is just inside the top 200 published graphic novels by Marvel Comics coming in at #186.
The third volume, Alis Volat Propriis, is outside the top 1000 Superhero graphic novels in 1267.
This second Captain Marvel series seems to have transformed the audience as much as the first one.
Marvel would spin-off Captain Marvel with Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps in 2015 from writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson. The first issue would launch in June of 2015. It would ship 47,302 copies and come in 44th on the most shipped comics of the month. The series would run only four issues. The final issue would only ship 22,106 units and would fall to the 100th most shipped comic by September of 2015.
Captain Marvel would then be relaunched in a new series in 2016 from writers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters. Amanat remained an editor. The first issue which debuted in January of 2016 would ship 52,972 units, a significant increase from DeConnick’s runs. The series would only last 10 issues with the back half written by Christos Gage and Ruth Gage as part of the Civil War II event. As with the other series it would see a significant decline in readership. The 10th issue would ship only 19,893 units. The audience evaporated much faster than previous runs.
The book would once again be relaunched in 2017 with The Mighty Captain Marvel by Margaret Stohl and Ramon Rosanas. Amanat would still be credited as an editor. The series would launch with 48,519 units shipped. The series would end with The Mighty Captain Marvel #129. However, it would only last 15 issues. Marvel returned to original numbering following The Mighty Captain Marvel #9. By the final issue sales were in the toilet. It only shipped 11,499 copies. Talk about an audience transformation!
The title would once again be relaunched with The Life of Captain Marvel in 2018 by Margaret Stohl and artists Carlos Pacheco and Marguerite Sauvage. Amanat would be listed as a consulting editor. The first issue actually performed extremely well. It would ship 74,298 copies making it the 12th most shipped comic for the month. By the time this first issue came out, Captain Marvel had been introduced to Marvel Cinematic Universe audiences in the end credit scene of Avengers: Infinity War. The series would only run for five issues. The final issue only shipped 27,079 units. That’s definitely an improvement from past series!
After The Life of Captain Marvel, Marvel would once again relaunch Captain Marvel in January of 2019 from writer Kelly Thompson and artist Carmen Carnero. Amanat was no longer listed as associated with the title. Sales for January have not come in yet, but Comichron reports that the issue was the most re-ordered comic for the month. I wouldn’t be surprised if the comic does about as well as The Life of Captain Marvel did for its first issue especially given the closeness of the title’s release to the feature film coming out.
One thing is clear is that based on the sales data from industry tracker Comichron, Captain Marvel struggles to maintain its initial audience, much like many comic books on the shelves. However, the most recent on-going series ended with an almost complete annihilation of its readership, shipping less than 11,500 copies.
And just as an anecdote. The last Captain Marvel series featuring Mar-Vell as the main character was a five issue mini-series written by Brian Reed with art by Lee Weeks. The first issue did about as well as DeConnick, Fazekas, and Butters’ initial issues shipping 43,678 units. However, the series maintained its readership much better than the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel series. The fifth and final issue shipped 38,663 units, that’s almost 10,000 more units than the final issue of Margaret Stohl’s The Life of Captain Marvel.
There’s even something to be said about the last Ms. Marvel series which wrapped up in 2010 on issue #50. The first issue shipped 73,398 units in 2006. The final issue shipped 25,309 units. After 50 issues the series was still performing better than almost all of the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel titles when they ended.
The only transformation in Captain Marvel’s audience appears to be a net loss of Captain Marvel readers, especially considering none of the series have lasted longer than 20 issues in the past decade.
What do you make of Amanat’s comments? Do you think Marvel has transformed the audience that reads Captain Marvel? Or has the audience simply moved on?