All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder, Not a Flop?
How The Second Most Disliked Batman Comic Truly Fared
Almost all of Frank Miller's work post-Batman: Year One is easy to pick on. The Dark Knight Strikes Again is one of them, whereas some other works like 300 and Sin City can get a pass, at least more so than the rest. One piece for constant criticism is All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. Many like to critique this as a complete flop. But really? This comic is quite the success if anything.
All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder was part of this new All-Star imprint from DC Comics at the time to compete with Marvel's Ultimate imprint. Both were contemporary takes on beloved franchises. Marvel took to Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Avengers. Meanwhile, DC Comics took to Batman, Superman, and had plans for Wonder Woman. Regardless of your preference, we can all agree Marvel Comics found more success with this approach. We see the influence these runs have on their movies and television series. Plus, all runs have a lengthier run than that of their competitor. It also does not help that DC came to this idea five years after Marvel Comics started.
All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder is the first title in this new imprint under DC Comics. The first issue hits shelves in July of 2005, selling over 261,000 copies. Quite impressive, with the bad reviews and fan reaction to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again less than four years ago. One can assume no one will pick this up! Yet, these numbers are higher than the debut issue of The Dark Knight Strikes Again! Each following month to October, it continued to chart, selling an additional 13,000 comics. In December, there is a special edition retailing for $3.99 instead of $2.99, and selling over 32,000 copies. Selling more copies, continuing to sell, already this is more successful than Frank Miller's previous Batman work. On top of that, this is the number one best selling comic for the month and the year 2005! Issue #1 sells into the new year, bringing in total revenue of $825,000 for DC Comics from just one issue!
The second issue comes out a whole two months later, with a 32% drop, selling over 178,000 copies. Number two issue drops are not uncommon in a comic book series. This range here is also not too upsetting, for it is not a 50% drop. Even with this decrease in sales, the second issue is the number one best selling comic in September of 2005. Just like the previous issue, the second comic will go on to sell additional copies throughout the coming months. With this amount and the cover price, All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder bring in an extra half a million dollars in revenue. After issue #2, this series is raking in millions of dollars for DC Comics. After issue #3 in December, this series is close to selling a million comics and making $2 million.
Things begin to slip a bit with All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder #4...in May 2006. This issue does debut at the number two spot, with over 160,000 copies. However, in the future, the series fails to enter the top three of the monthly best sellers. Meanwhile, the series averages 109,000 orders per issue. Further damage comes when each comic is no longer receiving additional sales in the next months, unlike the previous ones. Finally, the final tenth issue does not come until September 2008. This ten-issue series takes close to three years to wrap up. With the comic's inconsistent scheduling, this explains the drawn-out release and declining sales. In 2006, only one issue releases, four issues in 2007, and two installments in 2008. Hence, only diehards are keeping up with this series. Part of the reasoning for this is because of artist Jim Lee's other commitments, such as DC Universe Online.
Even with this unfortunate news, the series continues to sell comics and rake in the dough. Bad reviews are damned, as fans love Jim Lee's artwork. Cover variants exist from Neal Adams, Frank Miller, and Frank Quietly. Over 765,000 comics from this span sell, raking in an additional $2.2 million! Strangely, DC Comics decided to release the hardcover collection a month before the final issue's arrival to shelves.
All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder, the hardcover collection debuts as the number six best selling graphic novel in June 2008. The graphic novel sells over 7,000 copies at a cover price of $24.99. Frank Miller and Jim Lee's book continues to sell, all the way into the new year of 2009! Come June of 2009 - DC Comics releases the book in trade paperback at $19.99. This book debuts at the number two spot in best selling graphic novels, with over 5,000 orders. Again, bad reviews mean nothing - the book continues to chart and sell into 2014, five years after its release. Lifetime wise, the book has a combined sales of over 29,000 copies, making more than $640,000 in revenue.
Without the early success of this series, we do not have the beloved All-Star Superman series from Grant Morrison. DC Comics still keep Frank Miller in employ with future projects such as The Dark Knight III: Master Race. All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder sells over 1.4 million comics in its lifetime, bringing in over $4.8 million! This includes graphic novel sales. Believe it or not, this series sold more comics than The Dark Knight Strikes Again! The only reason the previous comic made more money is due to the high cover price.
A million-dollar comic series that I argue still holds weight. To this day, you can find a plethora of reviews and YouTube videos on this infamous run from Frank Miller and Jim Lee. Plus, both men want to return to finish this series, but this may never happen. Let us not forget how memetastic this series became, which no other Batman title can truly proclaim. Critically a flop? Sure, we can come to some agreement on this. Yet, why do people continue to talk about it? Discuss it? Angrily berate it? The graphic novel continued to sell years after its release. Meanwhile, DC keeps the book in print and later published an Absolute edition. The publisher had no problem re-using the name for Scott Snyder's stand-alone Batman run. With mileage that DC and snobby wanna-be critics derive from this comic, it is far from a flop and continues to hold some ground. Otherwise, where are the reprints and tireless reviews of say Batman: Thrillkiller for example? Admit it, this comic is a guilty pleasure.
If you like what you read here, please feel free to leave a like and or a tip. You may also read my piece, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Not a Flop?