PHILADELPHIA - Call it a relaunch bump and jump.
DC Comics overtook long-time rival Marvel for the first time since 2002 after figures for October sales of comic books showed the publisher of relaunched versions of Superman, Batman, the Flash and others, gathering 51 percent of the market share for the month compared with nearly 30.3 percent for Marvel.
They were followed by Image Comics, Dark Horse Comis and IDW Publishing.
That's according to Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., the Baltimore, Md.-based distributor of comics to more than 4,000 retailers worldwide. Diamond Comic Distributors released the sales data on Friday.
DC accounted for seven of the top 10 selling comic books last month, including "Justice League" No. 2 and "Action Comics" No. 2, while Marvel had three.
DC recently relaunched its superhero titles earlier this year, dubbed "The New 52," featuring new origins and costumes for its many characters.
"We like what `DC Comics - The New 52' is doing to bring new attention to comics and to comic shop retailers. And we like hearing that other publishers are being helped too," said John Rood, executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development at DC Entertainment.
The sales, while a victory for DC, were also a positive sign for the industry, which has fretted about declining readership and the availability of more and more titles on digital platforms from personal computers to smartphones.
Buoyed in part by demand for DC's titles, along with the conclusion to Marvel's epic "Fear Itself" mini-series, the start of "Wolverine & the X-Men" and "Incredible Hulk," the number of titles sold were up 32.1 percent from a year earlier.
"The market-share battle is not the one we care to win," Rood said. "We are battling to deliver great stories and characters, and to support comic shops so that they're the ones who win every month."