Boom Studios is making a big push on Hellmouth, the new limited series in October that they're billing as the First Ever Buffy and Angel comic book event – including being featured on the cover to Diamond Previews.
Yes, Dark Horse had their versions of these series crossover, but Boom is making a direct comparison to comic book events like those from Marvel Comics, with a core limited series and ongoing series tying into that main story – think Absolute Carnage in structure and importance.
The closest thing Boom has done to this before was last year's Power Rangers event, Shattered Grid, but even that only had a few tie-in specials and otherwise was limited to the two Power Rangers series crossing over – not an event like Hellmouth. No one had ever done a Power Rangers event before and Boom surprised even their biggest cheerleaders with numerous sell outs and total sales over 300,000 copies.
And when Boom has done a First Ever (or First Appearance) with their Joss Whedon books, it's always been underordered by retailers – and fans are still discovering the series.
Boom took a gamble this year by rebooting Joss Whedon's beloved Buffy franchise – for the first time ever in January, but that paid off quickly – with the first issue selling out before it hit stores () and with retailers scrambling to keep up with demand as issue #3 outsold issue #2 (). The series remains one of Boom Studios top-selling series each month, with sales of issue #8 at nearly 20,000 units.
And then in another first ever for the Whedonverse, Angel was rebooted in a surprise launch in April (as we warned you about first) that has been a bit of a sleeper hit. We told you that issue #1 was generating some heat with speculators, but the series has also been underestimated by retailers with the big First Appearances of Winifred "Fred" Burkle in Angel #2 and Gunn (both his cameo in Angel #3 and first appearance in Angel #4).
These First Appearances have pushed sales in a big way – with Fred's first appearing driving Angel #2 orders to 15,445 units (and with a third printing on the way). While Angel #3 had a typical dip in orders, the first appearance of Gunn drove those Angel #4 orders to up over 12,600 units – an increase of 20% from issue to issue. And the Hellmouth prelude in Angel #5 brought sales up another 10% to 13,760 units, which – along with multiple printings of earlier issues – make it clear that retailers are still finding their ceiling on this series as more fans rush to stores (no doubt due to increased attention on the franchise as part of its 20th anniversary).
And Angel #6 is primed to continue that upwards sales trend, with the First Appearance of Team Spike– and I'm told it will be Spike, Gunn & Fred defending Los Angeles while Angel is in Sunnydale. While those characters have shared the screen in Angel Season Five, this is a much different take on the characters and a much different reason for them coming together.
We haven't heard what happens to the core cast of Angel after Hellmouth, but it's fair to believe that if these issues hit with fans, there very well could be some kind of Spike spinoff book. And this would be the First Appearance of that very same team, which could make Angel #6 the most sought after issue in the series thus far.
This all makes Hellmouth a perfect storm of opportunity for retailers – another First Ever for the Whedonverse, the first meeting between Buffy and Angel, and what I'm told will be some big First Appearances from new teams to all-new characters.
As fans continue to discover the new Buffy and Angel series, with even more attention on both franchises due to the Angel 20th anniversary celebrations in October, this is the perfect starting point for all the fans who've been hearing about these reboots but haven't taken the plunge yet – both because it's a #1 and the biggest Whedon story from Boom yet. But will retailers have enough copies to meet demand or will this be another book with fast-tracked printings before the book goes on-sale?