Marvel's choice to make Thor a woman paying off in comic sales figures

Contributed by
Mar 19, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT (Updated)

Last summer, Marvel Comics caused a bit of a stir in the world of comics fandom when the company announced that the mantle of Thor would be taken over by a woman, who would both wield the iconic hammer Mjolnir and claim the name "Thor" for herself. Even before the particulars of the story came to light (the series has run for six issues, plus an annual, so far), some readers were divided over the decision. Many were excited about the change and eager to get to know the woman with the hammer. Others were confused, frustrated and, well, just plain losing their minds with hate over the idea.

At the time the change was announced, writer Jason Aaron (who scripted Thor: God of Thunder prior to this development and kicked off the new Thor title with artist Russell Dauterman) insisted it was not a stunt but a natural development of his Asgardian tales, while editor-in-chief Axel Alonso stressed that appealing to a diverse audience of readers was a priority for Marvel. Readers who were angry about the news cried "Pandering!," of course, but what about the business side of things? Creativity aside, Marvel keeps the presses running by selling comics, right? So how's the new Thor doing in terms of pulling in readers? As it turns out, pretty well.

Over at Fusion, writer Danielle Henderson decided to look into just how well the new Thor book is selling, in comparison to the previous, male-led Thor: God of Thunder, and found that the book is surpassing its predecessor in more than one way. 

"The first four new Thor books are currently selling more copies than the last four Thor books from 2012 by close to 20,000 copies per month, not including digital copies," Henderson wrote.

It's true. According to numbers compiled by Comichron and amplified by Henderson's article, the new Thor series is doing well, and it remains in the top 15 single issues sold per month as of February 2015 (March numbers aren't available yet because, well, March isn't over). "But wait," you say. "It's unfair to compare the first issues of Thor to the last issues of Thor: God of Thunder, because new series almost always sell better than older ones." Well, that's a fair point, but here's the thing: From the start, Thor was outselling its predecessor. Thor: God of Thunder #1 sold 110,443 copies when it debuted in November 2012, while Thor #1 sold 150,862 copies when it debuted in October 2014. 

Henderson's also not counting the more than 10,000 print copies Thor #1 sold in November 2014, the month after its release. These numbers also don't factor in digital sales, which draw plenty of new comics readers who might just fall into that growing audience Marvel's targeting (Ms. Marvel, for example, has killer digital sales). Of course, these numbers aren't broken down demographically, so it's entirely possible that more men are buying this comic than women. Whatever the case, the book is selling, and for the moment it's proving that trying new things is good for Marvel Comics. I don't know about you, but as someone who wants to keep buying single issues at his local shop each week, that makes me happy. 

Are you one of the readers buying the new Thor, or are you still not a fan of the change?

(Via Fusion)