Thor is Just Thor, Regardless of Gender

It’s not all about gender when it comes to Thor.

On Tuesday, Fusion magazine published a piece which was referenced by a number of other publications, in which Danielle Henderson touts the sales success of Jason Aaron’s new female-led Thor comic. She cites higher sales on the book as an indication that the book is “outselling the last series by A LOT.”

Source: Fusion
Source: Fusion

There is no denying that the first part of the series’ run has been quite successful from a market standpoint. The problem emerges when taking a closer look at the way in which Henderson built her data.

She compares the sales on the final five issues of Thor: God of Thunder to the sales on the first five issues of the new Thor. As anyone familiar with the long-term slide in sales on most mainstream titles can tell you, it is a very rare book which sustains its numbers over the very long term.

To provide a more accurate comparison of sales on the two versions of Thor, we’ve broken down the sales on the first five issues of each series using data from Comichron, the same source used by Henderson in her analysis.

Source: ComiChron
Source: ComiChron

In terms of first-to-second issue change, the two books were nearly identical. The first issue of the 2012 Thor sold 110,443 copies at the distributor level and dropped to 65,533 for the second installment. This represents a change of 40.66%. Compare that to the 2014 version, which sold 150,862 copies of the first issue and 89,131 copies of the second, representing a change of 40.92%.

From there, the comparison shifts a bit more in favor of the 2012 version of Thor. The change in readership from issue two to issue three on that version was a drop of 9,986 copies, or 15.24%. Compare that to the 2014 version, which shed 16,568 copies in its third month, representing an 18.59% change.

These aren’t really vastly different numbers, and their similarity continues unabated to date. At 69,513 copies for the month of February, the 2014 version of Thor has shed 53.92% of its readership since it was launched. Compare that to the 2012 version, which dropped to 51,861 copies by issue #5, a change of 53.04%.

Essentially, the two versions of Thor followed almost identical sales trends in their early lives, regardless of the chromosomal makeup of the lead character. While the 2014 version started with an admittedly higher baseline, it has hardly ventured into uncharted territory.

Simply put, Thor is Thor. And that’s not a bad thing.

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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  • Craig

    Drop-off rates aside, female Thor’s sales are still consistently 35% higher.

    • Craig, thanks for the comment.

      That’s a fair point. Going into this month, I’d been hoping to see a rebound in sales for the new Thor in defiance of the historical trends. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it to see where it goes from here.

    • One thing I probably should have mentioned here is that, in terms of their market position, the two books are also nearly identical. Despite the 35% higher total number, both #5’s occupied the #11 spot on the monthly chart. That would suggest that at least part of the difference is attributable to the overall increase in the size of the market.

      Comichron data shows that the value of the Top 300 is up 22% from the same month in 2014, part of a larger trend of growth which has continued from year to year.

  • Pritchard Albee

    The original article also lists the first issue of Thor: GOT as having 47k less buyers than comichron states. In an article dedicated solely to sales figures, its a pretty large error. And that is besides the obvious problems with their methodology you outline here.

  • Keiji555

    And lots of the articles wanting to say that the female imposter is outdoing the original (And best) Thor are neglectful of older sales figures, like in 1969, Thor being the tenth best selling comic, at over 260 thousand.

    • Much as I’d like to be able to reference those numbers, it would be an even worse mistake to compare current comic sales trends to those from fifty years ago, as the market has changed dramatically in the intervening years.

      • Keiji555

        Well, they are making the claim that she has outsold male Thor, and only reference the 2012 version of Thor, claiming she is a better sell. Unfortunately, the bad stories today aren’t selling as well as they would hope. I would hope that they be honest, and try to compare sales over all previous series, if they want to make such a bold claim.

        • I won’t deny that the original article I referenced cherry-picked its data in order to push its desired narrative. That said, the further back you examine the data the more variables have to be accounted for, such as market expansion/contraction, cover price, distribution networks, and a lot more. Comparing the data on the 2014 run to the 2012 run eliminates all but a couple of variables, specifically the market expansion of roughly 35% in the two intervening years, which would account for the difference in initial sales numbers between the two volumes.