In its canon usage, the 'Parker Luck' is Spider-Man’s way of explaining away just how unfortunate his life can be at times. If he’s sick with the flu while fighting Electro? The Parker Luck. Having to miss Aunt May’s birthday party because the Green Goblin has kidnapped the entire staff of the Daily Bugle? The Parker Luck. Running out of web-fluid just before facing off against a villain with a phobia for spider’s webs? The Par — Well, I think you get it. When it comes to the real world business of monthly comic book publishing, however, the Parker Luck isn’t a bad thing — indeed, it’s something that most publishers would love to have a little bit of.
Based on all available information, Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man is not only topping the sales charts in the comic book stores at the moment, but it’s been reliably placing at the top of the charts for a matter of years at this point. Outside of special events, much-hyped crossovers, and highly-promoted new launches, Amazing Spider-Man is arguably Marvel’s best-selling title — which means that it’s one of the best-selling titles in the entire comic book industry — and has been reliably so for a long time, even as the title has been relaunched with different creative teams.
The idea of character having such a devoted fanbase is not necessarily a new one — there was a period where comic book speciality sales were measured in an index centered around the sales of DC’s monthly Batman title, because that was such a stable seller — but it’s become an increasingly rare thing in today’s marketplace. No matter what, though, Spider-Man’s stayed strong, with Amazing Spider-Man regaining the position it held in the 1970s for what was then officially known as Marvel Comics Group: the flagship series, featuring the company’s flagship character.
It says a lot about the loyalty of Spider-Man fans that they’ve kept ASM as the best-selling title that been for the past decade or so, whether it was Dan Slott, Nick Spencer, or current writer Zeb Wells at the helm, with the countless new directions and status quo upheavals the series has undergone during that time… especially given that they’ve also supported spin-off and ancillary tales including multiple titles simply called Spider-Man, as well as Spider-Woman, Spider-Verse, and other books that have come and gone. (Remember Morbius and Alpha?)
There’s something to be said for a character who commands such loyalty that the core audience will stick with them seemingly no matter what; admittedly, it should be noted that, as much as Marvel has played with the formula since the 2007 'Brand New Day' soft-reboot of the character — one that separated him from his wife by rewriting the past, but also brought a number of long-missing characters back into play for an updated take on the classic status quo of the book’s '70s and early ‘80s heyday — it’s maintained a level of quality, and a sense of what best serves the character that demonstrates Marvel’s awareness of the importance of the property.
In a market that has become increasingly volatile and mercurial, Marvel has discovered one thing that it can always depend upon: Spider-Man fans. Given the unreliability of seemingly everything else in the comic book publishing world — an unreliability that can include sudden and unexpected drops in both interest and sales on long-stable titles for seemingly no reason — it’s good to have something that can be relied upon month after month to do well. If only every Marvel title could boast even a little bit of the Parker Luck.
Starting next year, there’ll be a new Ultimate Spider-Man… but who is that going to be?