The evidence is in the Diamond charts. As a $3.99 title, The Magic Order by Mark Millar and Olivier Coipel placed second in the chart behind Justice League #1 in sales numbers. But it doesn't place in the top 10 at all for dollars raised. Diamond Comics Distributors tells me it placed 12 in terms of dollars.
The comic did have a special extra discount applied to it for all stores ordering the comic, but it doesn't seem like it would be enough to explain that discrepancy between sales and revenue.
When Mark Millar went to the big entertainment sites to announce that it was the biggest comic book launch of an original property for 20 years, he declined to mention that much of this was due to a deal — a six-figure bulk order from comic convention organiser Reed Pop, in exchange for Mark Millar coming to C2E2 and NYCC at 90% discount at cost price. We reported it as a rumour, but since then have had multiple corroborations from industry sources.
If you take out the bulk deal, it was still a strong performer but would not have entered the top 10. And series such as Paper Girls and Outcast launched at higher figures.
Still, it provided strong entertainment news headlines for Netflix and a claim that will be trotted out time after time for the next few years, at any available opportunity.
It did remind me a little of Platinum Studios' attempt to game the system for the release of the Cowboys & Aliens comic, trying to claim the media kudos of the best-selling graphic novel of the month. First by doing a deal with Top Cow so they could publish it at a low price through Image Comics but still claim it as a graphic novel on the Diamond statistics (they normally say anything below $9.99 isn't a graphic novel). But then giving certain key comic stores large cheques to buy the comic with, so that the charts would be gamed. Bleeding Cool pointed this out and the cheque-funded sales were not counted, so instead of landing at #1 it landed at… #12.
What a coincidence. Anyway, Platinum ended up just using one of the chequed-up retailers, claimed that they had the best-selling graphic novel in the industry on one store's results that they had bought, and made a movie.
Any chance we could rename The Magic Order comic to be Cowboys and Magicians? It does seem fitting… and that's before we've got onto all the retailers busting a nut over the cover to issue #3.