ANNAPOLIS — Bernie Coletta has already seen “The Avengers,” and if his nephew has his way, he will see it again.
Not that the Annapolis man is complaining. Coletta is a comic book fan who is always looking to expand his collection. Aside from Thor, he hadn’t thought much about “The Avengers” characters. But the movie has changed that, so he came to Third Eye Comics to see what else he could find on those superheroes.
“(Comics) have become more readable, less hokey,” said Coletta, who now adds Captain America as a second favorite Avengers character. “Now I have to start back and watch Iron Man again. It didn’t catch my attention the first time.”
“The Avengers” record-setting ticket sales is also having a trickle down effect to comic book stores. Local comic dealers said they have been getting an increasing number of requests for Marvel Comics, the makers of characters like The Avengers, Spider-Man and X-Men.
Prior to the movie’s release, DC Comics was the top contender with The New 52, a relaunch of its entire comic book line. With those, fans were able to read new series featuring DC characters like Superman, Batman and the Justice League. But in the months leading up to this year’s movie, Marvel began releasing its “Avengers vs. X-Men” comic book series, which is closing in on DC’s fandom.
Another showdown is expected this summer, with the July releases of Marvel’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and DC’s “Dark Knight Rises.”
“The majority of people that have seen (“The Avengers”) have seen it more than once. And they don’t like it; they love it,” said Bumper Moyer, owner of Twilight Zone Comics in Glen Burnie. “Marvel is starting to steal the thunder back from DC.”
In April, Marvel’s “Avengers vs. X-Men” No. 2 sold just under 160,000 issues nationwide, making it the highest sold comic that month. ICv2, which tracks these statistics, put DC Comics’ “Batman” No. 8 in second place, with just over 130,000 issues sold. But last year, DC Comics’ “Justice League” first issue was the most popular title with 231,000 orders nationwide, according to The Comics Chronicles. Marvel’s “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” came in sixth place last year, with the earlier spots belonging to DC comic books.
Local comic book dealers said they are getting more requests to have Marvel comic books set aside in their subscription boxes. In response, they are tailoring their promotions to their tastes.
At Third Eye, owner Steve Anderson arranges the merchandise so Avengers fans will be directed to standalone books featuring Nick Fury, Hawkeye and The Incredible Hulk. He was also sure to highlight DC’s New 52 when those came out.
“It made it easier for fans to jump in and start reading DC if they hadn’t been already,” Anderson said. “There were a lot of new faces (in those comics) and a lot of new fans came into the fold because of that. (But) Marvel is on a steady increase for sure.”
At Twilight Zone, when superhero movies are coming out, they are sure to put T-shirts at the front of the store.
“Superheroes, by far, are the main seller, the bread and butter for any comic store,” Moyer said. “The stereotype of the mostly male (comic book reader) is correct. Things like ‘Adventure Time’ and ‘Walking Dead’ get a much higher female audience.”
Hanover sisters Alise Matula, 23, and Kelly Crawford, 18, break that stereotype. Their father got them interested in reading comics, and in return, they are sending some to him while he’s in Afghanistan.
At Third Eye, they stocked up on nine titles, including “Green Lantern,” ”Birds of Prey” and “Avengers vs. X-men.”
“I like DC and Marvel equally,” Matula said. “I’m a big Wonder Woman and Batman fan, but I love X-Men.”