To compare the sales thus far, I'm going to focus on eight of the most prominent series that were involved in both the New 52 and Rebirth -- Justice League, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Detective Comics, Action Comics, and Nightwing. The table below shows the comparative sales for the first few issues of these series.
- The New 52 started strong with Justice League, Superman, The Flash, Detective Comics, and Action Comics. But the New 52's subsequent issues often had drop-offs in the 80% range or even in the high 70's. Rebirth also had good sales numbers for the #1's and #2's and has posted better retention rates, so several series that started slower eventually overtook the New 52 sales numbers by issues #3 and #4 --- see Superman, The Flash, and Detective Comics.
- Preliminary reports indicate that Rebirth Justice League will hold up better than New 52 Justice League, so once we see August's numbers, it will most likely be the case that Action Comics (by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales) will be the only New 52 title that will still be outselling its Rebirth counterpart. Overall, that's a win for Rebirth.
- Batman, Wonder Woman, and Nightwing started right out of the gate with Rebirth significantly higher than New 52. Rebirth Nightwing is almost double its New 52 predecessor, Rebirth Wonder Woman is almost 50% ahead, and Rebirth Batman started huge and even after a big drop-off is still running slightly ahead of New 52 Batman.
Stepping away from the creative side and just looking at business, there are some other things that bode very well for Rebirth. Namely, those large sales numbers in the Rebirth column are actually coming twice per month, whereas the New 52 numbers were spread out month to month. That means the extra issues of Batman, Superman, The Flash, etc., are all taking the place of what used to be DC's lower sellers (e.g., OMAC, Captain Atom, Static Shock, etc.). That means within a given month it's basically 100,000 + 100,000 from a single series instead of 100,000 + 20,000 from two series. Furthermore, I didn't even factor in the Rebirth #1's that came before the series #1's. Those all posted strong sales numbers as well, usually just below the #1's displayed above.
In closing, after just over two months, indications are very positive for DC's Rebirth initiative. Not only are the business calculations paying off -- consolidating around the most well-known titles and the ones that have synergy with other media (e.g., TV and cinema) -- but the storytelling seems to be very well received as indicated by general reviews and word-of-mouth but most importantly by the strong retention numbers from issue to issue.
Note: It's not just comics, WB/DC is having a great year across all media!