There’ll be celebration in the Batcave tonight: DC Comics’ Detective Comics #1000 was the best selling single-issue comic of 2019. But don’t go reviving the Marvel vs. DC debate any time soon — Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of the top selling comics of 2019 has plenty of credit to pass around.
While a DC book topped the chart, Marvel took the majority of the spots on the list, with seven of the top 10. Image Comics was the only non-big two publisher to grab a spot in the top 10 with a major moment for Spawn.
There are many ways that comics make money in 2019 — digital sales, collected editions, and graphic novels have never been more important to the industry — but if you’re interested in what sold best in the classic American way of selling comics, Diamond’s sales figures are your best bet. Since the 1990s, Diamond has held exclusive contracts with all of the major American comics publishers.
Here’s a look at the best selling single-issue American comics of 2019.
Detective Comics #1000 celebrated the longest continually running comic book title in American comics hitting the four-digit milestone. How old is Detective Comics? Old enough that it’s what the DC in DC Comics stands for.
And Detective Comics #1000 isn’t just the best selling single issue of 2019, but the 9th best selling comic ever (that we have hard numbers for).
2. Spawn #300
Spawn, the biggest success of the Image Revolution and touted by the company as the “longest-running creator-owned comic in the world,” also hit a major milestone this year. Like Detective Comics #1000, The anthology issue featured lots of big name talent, including Scott Snyder, J. Scott Campbell, and, of course Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.
3. X-Men #1
It was a big year for the X-Men, as you’ll see later in the list. But topping everything else was X-Men #1, the first installment of the team’s main title for the new era. And just like its 1990s predecessor, the book did significant numbers. It also seemed to imply that Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, and Emma Frost all have a friendly understanding about who shares whose bed, but that probably didn’t drive preorders.
4. Black Cat #1
You might have heard much about it, but Marvel’s new Black Cat series has been selling like hotcakes all year. Is it just the J. Scott Campbell covers? Or is it that people just really like Jed Mackay and Travel Foreman’s series about Felicia Hardy navigating her life as a master thief?
5. DCeased #1
DCeased came out the door with an irresistible premise: A zombie apocalypse across the entire DC Universe, where no one was safe. Given the success of the innumerable Marvel Zombies titles, it would have been easy to write it off as derivative, but writer Tom Taylor is a master of stories that are full of big deaths and defeats, plus lots of hope and fun. DCeased was no exception.
Absolute Carnage combined cosmic horror with more localized Spider-Man fare, when Eddie Brock faced off against a god-empowered Cletus Kasady to save the world. Or, at least, to save everyone who’d ever merged with a symbiote from having their spines torn out and eaten. The crossover event kicked off in August and by the time it concluded in November, Miles Morales got a symbiote, the Hulk got a symbiote, J. Jonah Jameson got a symbiote, and Captain Marvel had to fight her own symbiote-possessed alien cat,
The Marvel Comics equivalent of Detective Comics #1000, Marvel Comics #1000 was an 80-page anthology, with each page representing a major milestone from Marvel’s 80 year history, and each with a slightly different creative team. The book was fun, but Marvel’s collaborator announcements, which became a minor meme in the comics community, were just as good.
Everyone knew that something big was coming in Jonathan Hickman’s big X-Men revamp, but it’s safe to say that House of X and Powers of X exceeded expectation (and made our list of the best comics of 2019). The first issue revealed that Professor X and Magneto had decided to form a sovereign mutant nation, and this time do it right — by forming it on a cooperative sentient island, amongst other things.
House of X #1 came out swinging just a week later, introducing the idea of a Human-Machine-Mutant war a hundred years in the fighting, a mutant breeding program overseen by Mister Sinister, a mutant home base on Mars, and more.
And finally, the 10th best selling single issue comic of 2019 was the kick off of War of the Realms, the grand climax of Jason Aaron’s nearly-decade-long run as the architect of the Thor mythos. Among other big events, Aaron put Jane foster in the mantle of Thor, an event that’s likely to make it to Marvel Cinematic Universe in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
But War of the Realms itself was the culmination of Aaron’s long gestating work on Malekith the Accursed, as the tyrannical dark elf united or destroyed all the realms until finally setting his sights on Midgard for a final conflict with not one, not two, but four Thors.