Image Comics sent out a press release yesterday boasting that Kieron GIllen and Jamie McKelvie's The WIcked + The Divine #1 sold out and will be going back to press for a second printing. Indeed, the debut issue of this new series has received near universal praise from the internet, with even The Outhouse's own Amanda Comi, who this reporter has never before seen actually like a comic she reviewed, calling it "what orgasms aspire to be." But while it might seem to make perfect sense that book by two popular creators that everyone agrees is pretty great would sell very well, The Outhouse finds it a little suspicious that exactly 53,000 copies sold out.
The first issue of the feverishly anticipated new series from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, has sold out instantly at the distributor level and is being rushed to a second printing.
"Isn't that number a little too exact," I asked Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson in an exclusive interview I scored by breaking into his house in the middle of the night, sneaking into his bedroom, and staring at him until he woke up.
"What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?!" Stephenson attempted to deflect. "I'm calling the police!"
As I yanked the phone cord out of the wall - yes, Image Publisher Eric Stephenson uses a landline in 2014 because it suits this narrative - I laid out my evidence. "Why would Image print exactly 53,000 copies of this comic. It's almost as if they knew it would sell almost exactly that many!"
"We did know that, you moron!" Stephenson protested. "We try to figure out how many copies a comic will sell and print about that many. This is a business!"
"Is it?!" I wondered.
"Yes!" he insisted. "What's wrong with you?!"
"It just seems suspicious to me," I explained. "This conspiracy only gets worse the deeper you go. My mind is pulsating with doubt and misgiving."
"We're still talking about the comic, right?" asked Stephenson as he pulled his blanket tightly around his shoulders.
"Take the title of the book. Is that plus sign a cutesy substitute for the word 'and,' or is the title itself a mathematical formula revealing Image's secret plot to print the exact number of copies of this book that would later be purchased by readers? What's going on here, Stephenson?!"
"Wow, you really are an idiot," the angry publisher barked. "It sold exactly that many because there were no more copies to sell. That's what a sellout is!"
But I wasn't listening. I started putting things together. 53,000. 53. That's one more than DC's New 52. What were the numbers trying to tell me? What was Image up to?! There are 9 letters in The Wicked. 9 in the divine. 9. 9. 18. 53. There was something there. I knew it. I'm not insane, like all those doctors have been trying to tell me!
I went back to the press release:
Hot off their hugely successful run on Young Avengers, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie have returned to Image Comics with THE WICKED + THE DIVINE. Every ninety years, twelve gods are reincarnated on Earth. Two years later, they are dead. During their brief lifespan the gods are revered and worshipped as celebrities. In the modern day, that means interviews with the press and sold-out life-changing concerts full of their adoring fans. With colorist Matt Wilson and letterer Clayton Cowles by their side, Gillen and McKelvie have created a pop comic like no other, as the raves on the #wicdiv hashtag on Twitter and the instant sell-out of the first issue proves.
It went on to claim that Sex Criminals mogul Chip Zdarsky would be providing a cover for issue #2, just as Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley did the variant for issue #1. My god. What does Applebees have to do with this?!
Clearly, I've only scratched the surface of whatever nefarious schemes Image Comics is...
"Can you get the fuck out of my bedroom?" interrupted Stephenson.
"Shut up, Eric Stephenson!" I told him.
Clearly, I've only scratched the surface of whatever nefarious plot Image Comics is engaged in here. And I'm not going to stop looking until I find all the answers! I'll buy every issue of The Wicked + The Divine that comes out. Maybe even two copies. That would screw up their plans, wouldn't it?
"No, it wouldn't. We want people to buy this," Stephenson chimed in.
Aha! So you admit it!
"You know what? I'm just going to back to sleep. You can find your way to the door, jackass."
The joke's on Eric Stephenson. I came in through the window. Who's the jackass now?
Both the second issue of The Wicked + The Divine and the second printing of issue #1 will be in stores on July 16th, another chapter in this unraveling mystery. Though the first printing has sold out the distributor level, there may still be copies at your local comic shop. It's probably best if you buy one as soon as possible, for your own good.