With the release of the third Iron Man film, I’ve updated one of the features here on the site: postal statement sales figures for the main series. The main Iron Man series, as Marvel numbers the issues, unifies several distinct runs going all the way back to the first Iron Man title in 1968.
Marvel did not publish sales figures for the title for a very long time, but by the time it did, Iron Man was a mid-range seller along with the other Avengers titles. The series peaked above 200,000 copies in the mid-1980s during David Michelinie and Bob Layton‘s first run on the title; it approached that level again several times before collapsing during the market recession of the mid-1990s.
Marvel addressed the decline then — and several more times — with the same strategy: restarting the series from a new #1. The “Heroes Reborn” volume 2 and the “Heroes Return” volume 3 resuscitated sales (and began a run that, later on, included my own year on the title). The Warren Ellis Volume 4 reboot in 2004 similarly gave a big boost to sales.
That title was officially renamed Invincible Iron Man in the indicia with #17 in 2007 and then Iron Man Director of SHIELD with #29 in 2008. That title ran until #35, but a concurrent Invincible Iron Man series had already started from #1 earlier that summer. It was that title that, after Invincible Iron Man #33, assumed the numbering from all the earlier series and continued with #500 in 2011.
(Which complicates matters even further, since all those comics added up to 503 issues. The rationale — further described here — was that the last three issues of Director of SHIELD had War Machine on their logos. That’s so, but the indicias never changed, and in fact, the Iron Man Director of SHIELD Statement of Ownership ran in that third “War Machine issue.” But if it’s weird to not count Director of SHIELD #33-35, it’s odd to count #29-32, as well, as those issues were coming out concomitant with the series that numerically would have followed. Ah, renumberings!)
Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.
He is the author of novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, Star Trek: Discovery – The Enterprise War, and his latest release, Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing. Read more about them at his fiction site.
Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!