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Top Comic Books of Decade: The 2000s

Estimated Sales of Comic Books to North American Comics Shops
based on reports from Diamond Comic Distributors


The Barack Obama commemorative issue of Amazing Spider-Man was the comic book ordered most by comics shops in North America in the decade of the 2000s.

Comichron looked back at every month of comic-book orders reported by Diamond Comic Distributors, the exclusive retail agent for the largest publishers in the industry. The tables report Diamond's Top 300 comics from each month, as well as the number of copies ordered by its approximately 3,000 retail accounts; the figures represent final orders beginning in February 2003, and preorders before that. Since many comics reappear on the list several times each year due to reorders, all reorders for the same comics were combined to form a listing of the 300 comic books most ordered by retailers in the 2000s.

These figures are for the comic book direct market only — the network of comic book stores that sell the lion's share of comic books in periodical form in North America. Sales of these comics on newsstands or by subscription are not included. But quite a lot of information is revealed in this data. Notably, all ten top comic books in the decade of the 2000s come from the second half of the decade, underlining the degree to which the industry recovered from its turn-of-the-century nadir.

Apart from the Obama issue, the top of the list in the decade of the 2000s is dominated by Marvel's Civil War, a limited series that served as the anchor for the decade's most popular linewide cross-over event. (Civil War #6 is the only issue not to make the Top 10, and that placed 11th.) Civil War #2 and #3 nudged past Civil War #1, reflecting that retailers had seen demand on the series' first issue and had time to boost their orders for later issues. Reorders and reprintings of Civil War #1 continued to sell throughout the year, however, and the issue made Diamond's Top 300 chart in seven consecutive months. The same thing happened with DC's Infinite Crisis #1

It's possible that Civil War #1 did indeed surpass the later issues, because the figures cited above only account for the sales of issues in the months in which they made Diamond's Top 300 list. The bottom item on the list varied throughout the decade, as seen here, so sometimes it took several thousand copies sold for an item to reappear on the list. As noted, much of Civil War #1's sales life cycle is represented on the table, but there are bound to be months for all titles where reorders for them were "bubbling under" the Top 300 and thus out of sight for tracking purposes.
      
Only five publishers are represented in the Top 300 list for the decade. Marvel had the most entries, 185; DC had 103 comics on the list. Dreamwave had seven entries, all Transformers issues from that company's brief time on the shelves. Transformers: Armada #1 placed highest, at 128th. Dark Horse had three issues on the list, all from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Season 8. #1 was Dark Horse's top performer on the chart, at 111th place. Image had two issue on the chart, led by Spawn #100 in 137th place. No other publisher pops up until Dynamite, with Red Sonja #1 landing around the 1,200th place mark. Archie shows up with its 600th issue landing around 3,000th place, and IDW also makes its first appearance in the 3,000s.

 

More after the charts:

Comic-book TitleIssueShippedPricePublisherEst. sales
1Amazing Spider-Man5832009-01$3.99Marvel530,500
2Civil War22006-06$2.99Marvel341,900
3Civil War32006-07$2.99Marvel337,000
4Civil War12006-05$3.99Marvel328,500
5Captain America252007-03$3.99Marvel317,700
6Civil War42006-09$2.99Marvel291,000
7Civil War52006-11$2.99Marvel283,900
8All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder12005-07$2.99DC276,000
9Civil War72007-02$2.99Marvel274,500
10Infinite Crisis12005-10$3.99DC270,000
11Civil War62007-01$2.99Marvel263,800
12Secret Invasion12008-04$3.99Marvel263,000
13Justice League of America12006-08$3.99DC250,800
14House of M 12005-06$2.99Marvel248,200
15Superman2042004-04$2.5DC244,100
16Identity Crisis12004-06$3.95DC242,900
17New Avengers12004-12$2.25Marvel241,500
18Batman6192003-09$2.25DC235,100
19Infinite Crisis22005-11$3.99DC225,600
20Justice12005-08$2.99DC223,900
21Infinite Crisis32005-12$3.99DC218,800
22Astonishing X-Men12004-05$2.99Marvel218,300
23Dark Tower Gunslinger Born12007-02$3.99Marvel213,700
24Superman2052004-05$2.5DC213,400
25Infinite Crisis42006-01$3.99DC211,000
26Infinite Crisis62006-04$3.99DC208,000
27Infinite Crisis52006-03$3.99DC205,100
28World War Hulk12007-06$3.99Marvel204,700
29Blackest Night12009-07$3.99DC205,500
30Secret Invasion22008-05$3.99Marvel198,800
31Infinite Crisis72006-05$3.99DC198,400
32Superman/Batman102004-05$2.95DC197,600
33Captain America Reborn12009-07$3.99Marvel199,900
34Thor12007-07$2.99Marvel196,800
35JLA/Avengers12003-09$5.95Marvel191,900
36Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Iron Man02007-07$2.99Marvel189,400
37Dark Knight Strikes Again12001-12$7.95DC188,700
38Ultimate Fantastic Four12003-12$2.25Marvel188,500
39Dark Knight Strikes Again32002-02$7.95DC186,600
40Secret Invasion32008-06$3.99Marvel186,500
41Identity Crisis22004-07$3.95DC185,300
42All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder22005-09$2.99DC185,000
43Batman and Robin12009-06$2.99DC190,300
44Green Lantern12005-05$3.5DC180,500
45Wolverine: The Origin62002-01$3.5Marvel179,300
46Green Lantern Rebirth12004-10$2.95DC178,300
47Wolverine: The Origin52001-12$3.5Marvel178,200
48All Star Superman12005-11$2.99DC176,700
49Secret Invasion42008-07$3.99Marvel175,400
50House of M 22005-06$2.99Marvel175,300
51Superman/Batman122004-09$2.95DC 173,600
52New Avengers312007-06$2.99Marvel172,600
53Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Captain America02007-05$2.99Marvel171,800
54Batman6122003-02$2.25DC169,700
55Secret Invasion62008-09$3.99Marvel169,400
56Justice League of America02006-07$2.99DC169,200
57New Avengers52005-04$2.25Marvel168,500
58Wolverine: The Origin42001-11$3.5Marvel168,500
59Dark Tower Gunslinger Born22007-03$3.99Marvel168,200
60Dark Knight Strikes Again22002-01$7.95DC168,100
61Avengers/JLA22003-10$5.95DC167,300
62All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder32005-12$2.99DC166,200
63Secret Invasion52008-08$3.99Marvel165,900
64Supergirl12005-08$2.99DC165,600
65World War Hulk22007-07$3.99Marvel165,300
66Batman6142003-04$2.25DC165,200
67Identity Crisis32004-08$3.95DC164,800
68Fallen Son: Death of Captain America Wolverine02007-04$2.99Marvel164,600
69Wolverine Origins12006-04$2.99Marvel164,200
70Justice League of America52006-12$2.99DC162,900
71Superman2062004-06$2.5DC162,100
72New Avengers 62005-06$2.25Marvel161,500
73Uncanny X-Men5002008-07$3.99Marvel160,800
74Superman/Batman12003-08$2.95DC160,700
75Identity Crisis42004-09$3.95DC 160,400
76All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder42006-05$2.99DC160,300
77Ultimates12002-01$2.25Marvel160,200
78Wolverine12003-05$2.25Marvel160,000
79Amazing Spider-Man5442007-09$3.99Marvel159,100
80New Avengers72005-07$2.25Marvel158,700
81Batman6172003-07$2.25DC158,500
82Justice League of America22006-09$2.99DC158,500
83Superman/Batman132004-11$2.95DC157,900
84House of M 42005-07$2.99Marvel157,900
85Superman/Batman92004-04$2.95DC157,500
86Batman6152003-05$2.25DC157,400
87Mighty Avengers12007-03$3.99Marvel156,400
88Astonishing X-Men102005-05$2.99Marvel156,300
89Identity Crisis72004-12$3.95DC156,300
90Identity Crisis52004-10$3.95DC156,100
91New Avengers82005-08$2.5Marvel156,000
92Amazing Spider-Man5392007-03$2.99Marvel156,000
93New Avengers 22005-01$2.25Marvel155,400
94Blackest Night22009-08$3.99DC161,400
95New Avengers232006-08$2.99Marvel155,300
96New Avengers42005-03$2.25Marvel154,900
97New Avengers212006-06$2.99Marvel154,900
98Justice League of America72007-04$3.5DC154,800
99Secret War Book One02004-02$3.99Marvel154,700
100Secret Invasion72008-10$3.99Marvel154,700
101Ultimates 312007-12$2.99Marvel154,600
102Batman6182003-08$2.25DC154,500
103JLA/Avengers32003-11$5.95Marvel154,300
104Identity Crisis62004-11$3.95DC153,800
105Amazing Spider-Man500 (#59)2003-10$3.5Marvel153,300
106Batman6162003-06$2.25DC153,000
107Astonishing X-Men42004-08$2.99Marvel152,800
108House of M 32005-07$2.99Marvel152,800
109Marvel 160212003-08$3.5Marvel152,500
110Secret Invasion82008-12$3.99Marvel152,400
111Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight12007-03$2.99Dark Horse152,200
112Final Crisis12008-05$3.99DC151,700
113World War Hulk32007-08$3.99Marvel151,500
114Ultimate Iron Man12005-03$2.99Marvel150,700
115Superman/Batman112004-07$2.95DC149,900
116New Avengers32005-02$2.25Marvel149,000
117Dark Tower Gunslinger Born32007-04$3.99Marvel149,000
118World War Hulk42007-09$3.99Marvel148,600
119Avengers/JLA42004-03$5.95DC148,600
120Astonishing X-Men132006-02$2.99Marvel148,200
121New Avengers92005-08$2.5Marvel147,500
122DCU Brave New World12006-06$1DC147,400
123Superman/Batman82004-03$2.95DC146,900
124Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Avengers02007-04$2.99Marvel146,500
125Ultimates 212004-12$2.99Marvel146,300
126Batman6132003-03$2.25DC146,200
127World War Hulk52007-11$3.99Marvel145,800
128Transformers Armada12002-07$2.95Dreamwave145,600
129Amazing Spider-Man5382007-02$2.99Marvel145,400
130Civil War Front Line12006-06$2.99Marvel145,200
131X-Men1002000-03$2.99Marvel144,900
132Blackest Night*52009-11$3.99DC148,700
133New X-Men1142001-05$2.25Marvel144,800
134New Avengers102005-09$2.5Marvel144,400
135Justice22005-10$3.5DC143,700
1365212006-05$2.5DC143,600
137Spawn1002000-07$4.95Image143,500
138New Avengers222006-07$2.99Marvel143,300
139Justice League of America32006-11$2.99DC143,300
140House of M 52005-08$2.99Marvel142,500
141Batman6112003-01$2.25DC142,500
142X-Men2002007-06$3.99Marvel142,400
143New X-Men1152001-06$2.25Marvel142,300
144Civil War Initiative02007-03$4.99Marvel141,300
145Transformers Generation One32002-06$2.95Dreamwave141,100
146New Avengers Illuminati Sp02006-03$3.99Marvel140,900
147Blackest Night32009-09$3.99DC146,200
148Superman2072004-07$2.5DC140,200
149Green Lantern Rebirth22004-11$2.95DC140,000
150Wonder Woman12006-06$2.99DC139,900
151Hulk12008-01$2.99Marvel139,800
152Dark Tower Gunslinger Born42007-05$3.99Marvel139,500
153Uncanny X-Men3952001-06$2.25Marvel139,400
154Dark Avengers12009-01$3.99Marvel136,500
155Captain America342008-01$2.99Marvel139,200
156Justice League of America42006-12$2.99DC139,100
157House of M 62005-09$2.99Marvel138,100
158Marvel Knights Spider-Man12004-04$2.99Marvel137,300
159Amazing Spider-Man5332006-06$2.99Marvel137,300
160Fallen Son Death of Captain America: Spider-Man02007-06$2.99Marvel137,200
161Justice League of America122007-08$3.5DC137,200
162Blackest Night42009-10$3.99DC140,200
163New X-Men1172001-08$2.25Marvel136,900
164New Avengers242006-10$2.99Marvel136,700
165New Avengers252006-11$2.99Marvel136,500
166Ultimate Origins12008-06$2.99Marvel136,400
167New X-Men1162001-07$2.25Marvel136,200
168Astonishing X-Men22004-06$2.99Marvel136,200
169Uncanny X-Men3942001-05$2.25Marvel136,100
170Origin12001-09$3.5Marvel135,700
171Astonishing X-Men72004-12$2.99Marvel135,500
172House of M 82005-11$2.99Marvel135,500
173X-Treme X-Men12001-05$2.99Marvel135,200
174Astonishing X-Men92005-03$2.99Marvel135,200
175Transformers Generation One42002-07$2.95Dreamwave135,100
176Astonishing X-Men62004-11$2.99Marvel134,800
177Astonishing X-Men122005-08$2.99Marvel134,700
178House of M 72005-10$2.99Marvel134,300
179Uncanny X-Men4002001-11$3.5Marvel134,200
180Astonishing X-Men82005-02$2.99Marvel134,200
181Astonishing X-Men52004-09$2.99Marvel134,100
182New Avengers112005-09$2.5Marvel134,100
183Final Crisis22008-06$3.99DC134,100
184Marvel 160222003-09$3.5Marvel133,500
185Justice League of America102007-06$2.99DC133,400
186Civil War Front Line22006-06$2.99Marvel133,000
187Secret War Book Two22004-05$3.99Marvel132,800
188Uncanny X-Men3962001-07$2.25Marvel132,700
189Ultimate Six12003-09$2.99Marvel132,700
190Transformers Generation One12002-04$2.95Dreamwave132,400
191Amazing Spider-Man5292006-02$2.5Marvel132,300
192Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight22007-04$2.99Dark Horse132,300
193Uncanny X-Men3972001-08$2.25Marvel132,200
194New Avengers272007-02$2.99Marvel132,100
195Dark Tower Gunslinger Born52007-06$3.99Marvel132,000
196Ultimate War12002-12$2.25Marvel131,800
197Justice League of America62007-03$3.5DC131,700
198Origin22001-10$3.5Marvel131,600
199Wolverine Origins22006-05$2.99Marvel131,500
200Transformers Generation One52002-08$2.95Dreamwave131,100
201Wolverine552007-07$2.99Marvel130,700
2025222006-05$2.5DC130,700
203Batman6102002-12$2.25DC130,600
204Justice League of America82007-04$2.99DC130,200
205Superman/Batman262006-05$3.99DC130,100
206New Avengers122005-10$2.5Marvel130,000
207All Star Superman22006-01$2.99DC129,600
208Marvel 160232003-10$3.5Marvel129,500
209Astonishing X-Men32004-07$2.99Marvel129,400
210Superman2082004-08$2.5DC129,300
211Justice League of America92007-05$2.99DC129,200
212Amazing Spider-Man5452007-12$3.99Marvel129,000
213Batman and Robin22009-07$2.99DC131,900
214Origin32001-10$3.5Marvel129,000
215Batman6862009-02$3.99DC130,700
216Civil War Confession02007-03$2.99Marvel128,400
217Dark Tower Gunslinger Born62007-07$3.99Marvel128,300
218Civil War Front Line32006-07$2.99Marvel128,100
219Amazing Spider-Man5462008-01$3.99Marvel127,900
220Astonishing X-Men112005-07$2.99Marvel127,800
221New X-Men1182001-09$2.25Marvel127,700
222Avengers Initiative12007-04$2.99Marvel127,700
223Transformers Generation One62002-09$2.95Dreamwave127,500
224Superman/Batman142004-11$2.95DC127,500
225Final Crisis62009-01$3.99DC127,400
2265232006-05$2.5DC126,900
227Spider-Man/Black Cat Evil That Men Do12002-06$2.99Marvel126,800
228Dark Tower: Long Road Home12008-03$3.99Marvel126,700
229Flash Fastest Man Alive12006-06$2.99DC126,700
230Ultimate Fantastic Four22004-01$2.25Marvel126,700
231Justice52006-04$3.5DC126,700
232Green Lantern Rebirth32004-12$2.95DC126,600
233New Avengers142005-12$2.5Marvel126,600
234Captain America262007-05$2.99Marvel126,400
235New Avengers302007-05$2.99Marvel126,400
236New Avengers132005-11$2.5Marvel126,100
237Civil War Return02007-01$2.99Marvel125,700
238New Avengers202006-06$2.99Marvel125,600
239Amazing Spider-Man5342006-07$2.99Marvel125,500
240New X-Men1202001-11$2.25Marvel125,300
241New Avengers292007-04$2.99Marvel125,300
2425242006-05$2.5DC125,300
243Captain America Reborn22009-08$3.99Marvel128,000
244New Avengers192006-05$2.99Marvel125,200
245Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight32007-05$2.99Dark Horse125,000
246Justice42006-02$3.5DC125,000
247Dark Tower Gunslinger Born72007-08$3.99Marvel124,600
248Fathom122000-04$2.5Image124,500
249Ultimate War22002-12$2.25Marvel124,500
250New X-Men1192001-10$2.25Marvel124,300
251New Avengers162006-02$2.5Marvel124,200
252New Avengers152006-01$2.5Marvel124,100
253Transformers Generation One22002-05$2.95Dreamwave124,100
254Mighty Avengers22007-04$2.99Marvel124,100
255New X-Men1512004-01$2.25Marvel124,000
256Astonishing X-Men192006-12$2.99Marvel124,000
257Astonishing X-Men172006-09$2.99Marvel124,000
258Justice League of America132007-09$2.99DC124,000
259Batman6552006-07$2.99DC123,900
260Final Crisis32008-08$3.99DC123,800
26152112006-07$2.5DC123,700
262Superman/Batman152004-12$2.95DC123,300
263Amazing Spider-Man5372007-01$2.99Marvel123,200
264Amazing Spider-Man5352006-09$2.99Marvel123,000
265New Avengers322007-07$2.99Marvel122,900
266Thor22007-08$2.99Marvel122,900
267Batman6762008-05$2.99DC122,800
268New Avengers172006-03$2.5Marvel122,800
269Justice League of America112007-07$2.99DC122,800
270New Avengers262006-12$2.99Marvel122,700
271Marvel 160242003-11$3.5Marvel122,500
272X-Treme X-Men22001-06$2.99Marvel122,300
273Astonishing X-Men162006-08$2.99Marvel121,700
274Green Lantern Rebirth42005-02$2.95DC121,600
275New Avengers182006-04$2.99Marvel121,600
276Uncanny X-Men3982001-09$2.25Marvel121,400
277Amazing Spider-Man5362006-11$2.99Marvel121,000
278Batman6082002-10$2.25DC120,900
279Justice32005-12$3.5DC120,900
280Superman/Batman162004-12$2.95DC120,900
281Ultimate War42003-02$2.25Marvel120,900
282New X-Men1522004-01$2.25Marvel120,700
283Uncanny X-Men3832000-06$2.99Marvel120,700
284Invincible Iron Man12008-05$2.99Marvel120,600
285New X-Men1212001-12$2.25Marvel120,600
286Green Lantern 22005-06$2.99DC120,600
287Astonishing X-Men212007-05$2.99Marvel120,500
288Wolverine Origins52006-08$2.99Marvel120,200
289Astonishing X-Men152006-06$2.99Marvel120,000
290Ultimate Six22003-10$2.25Marvel119,900
291Astonishing X-Men202007-02$2.99Marvel119,700
292Incredible Hulk1062007-05$2.99Marvel119,700
293Amazing Spider-Man5402007-05$2.99Marvel119,600
294Astonishing X-Men142006-04$2.99Marvel119,500
295New Avengers282007-03$2.99Marvel119,500
296Uncanny X-Men3812000-04$2.25Marvel119,300
29752132006-08$2.5DC119,300
29852152006-08$2.5DC119,200
299Ultimate Spider-Man1002006-09$3.99Marvel119,200
300Amazing Spider-Man5322006-05$2.99Marvel119,000

 







We can easily see where the strength is in the decade by looking at the number of Decade Top 300 entries by year:

2000: 5
2001: 22
2002: 16
2003: 23
2004: 40
2005: 41
2006: 61
2007: 58
2008: 19
2009: 15

Not unexpectedly, the hits cluster right around the Big Event heyday, the period that gave us Civil War and Infinite Crisis. There was also the weekly 52 phenomenon, which added many entries.

One reason comics from the early decade are less represented is that before January 2003, Diamond did not report reorders, so those issues are at a disadvantage. However, looking at known reorder rates from when Diamond did begin publishing the data, reorders are unlikely to shuffle the list dramatically. The industry was still coming out of the seven-year recession of the 1990s, and few titles were selling over 100,000 copies.

Items on the table are listed in the months in which they first made the Diamond chart — following the links to the individual months' pages shows what those comics sold initially, since later reorders pop up in the months that follow. It's interesting to see what months had the most hits: May leads with 36, while February and October have only 17 entries. Comic books have historically been a summer-dominated business, and while that is reflected here, there's a more even distribution than we might have found in previous decades. Hits, increasingly, can happen in any season, providing strong enough material is slated for it.

A few more words about what's on the list — and what isn't. Orders for variant editions and reprintings of comic books were combined if those versions were essentially the same product — that is, same physical configuration, same interior, and same cover price.This rolls up most of the snap-reprintings into the same entry, but disallows items like "Director's Cuts" or the Marvel Must-Have editions, which are in many respects distinct products.

And, importantly, the list at right focuses on comic books sold at full, and not promotional, prices. The Diamond lists have, in the past, included a number of comic books offered below publisher cost: Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #60, priced at 9¢, had preorders of 752,700 copies in August 2002. There are many such examples of free or promotionally priced comics; Diamond made the decision a few years ago to no longer list low-priced comics, and that move has been followed with this list to guarantee comparisons of like items.

Since comics shops are the focus of this list, it also does not include some other highly circulated comics. For example, Gears of War #1 garnered attention for its strong circulation through game stores in 2008. Unfortunately, few specific numbers are available from the video game trade, and as much circulation in this channel is promotional, rather than sold, it's unclear how to integrate this sector's information for purposes of comparison, were it to become available.

Because not all reorders make the list every month, any decade ranking released by Diamond would differ somewhat. Diamond only began releasing its full-year totals in 2009. From 2003-2008, the numbers at right only include reorders from months in which those reorders made Diamond's monthly Top 300 chart. (And before 2003, it includes no reorders at all.)

And as this is a periodical ranking, it doesn't get into the sector that brought the most new money into the business in the 2000s, bound collected editions and graphic novels. But it's an interesting snapshot. How do the 2000s compare with other decades for comics? Probably not spectacularly — only a handful of the charting issues would make a similar chart for the speculator-mad 1990s. But, as just noted, comics are not just about periodical sales any more, with stories reaching readers in more ways than ever.

—John Jackson Miller


Want to see how later issues fit into the list?
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