Doomed: A Look Back on Civil War

Well the dust has settled (sort of) and we here at the Legion of Doom have had our say on Civil War. While opinions have varied as time passed from issue 1 to issue 7, four of us have chimed in over the past week on how the series wrapped up.

Jean-Claude Van Doom wasn’t a fan, summing up the final issue by saying “…we get a truly fitting book end: an issue that’s all over the place, never quite sure where it’s headed and never transcending to the level of hype, much less approaching it.” Doom DeLuise felt it was “pretty good,” pointing out “DC advertised that Infinite Crisis would change everything. Civil War actually has.” I was somewhat disappointed with the book itself, but pretty pleased with the conclusions, while Fin Fang Doom referred to it “The Ending that Sucked,”providing a laundry list of problems and declaring the book “…didn’t really have any chance to be good.”

So while each of us have our own quite different opinions (some moreso than others), there’s one thing that really can’t be argued with – the sales patterns.

Criticisms lobbed at Civil War here on the net often make the obvious comparison to the last big event, Infinite Crisis. While some have argued that Civil War sales suggest readers are tired of big events, based on Comic Buyers Guide numbers, Civil War’s sales figures actually suggest renewed fan interest in big events if taken in comparison to IC.

Numbers for Civil War #7 obviously aren’t out yet, but take a look at how IC’s numbers from beginning to end compare to Civil War’s:

IC 1 – 249,100
IC 7 – 198,400

Civil War 1 – 260,700
Civil War 6 – 259,300

Those are the month-of statistics. Adding on sales from later months increases the divide for both, but those are arguably not “lost readers,” as they are people picking up earlier issues months later. The best measure for lost readers, by my estimation, would be sales the month the books came out. And as the numbers make very plain, Civil War has far outperformed Infinite Crisis when it comes to retaining readers.

That’s not to say that Infinite Crisis was a failure by any stretch of the imagination, nor would a similar decline in sales for Civil War mark it a failure. I haven’t made a hobby of analyzing sales trends for big events beyond these two, but I’m amazed that even a story as big and well-hyped as Infinite Crisis was able to hold that kind of number. It’s just human behavior to drop off of something as time goes by. I would imagine that Civil War’s retention of readers – particularly when faced with scheduling delays and internet vitriol – is probably fairly unprecedented.

I personally am pretty tired of big events, but as long as they’re going to perform like Civil War has, there are sure to be more coming. While folks at Marvel have inflated the impact Civil War has had on sales – and have rightfully so been called out on it – it’s unfortunate that their exaggerations take away from the fact that financially, Civil War has been a huge boost to Marvel’s sales all across the board.