Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spoiler: Spoiler Talk Ahead...Also, Spoilers

Well, it looks like they're doing it again.

Marvel has decided to once again leak major story points in one of their biggest books to a number of news outlets. And, once again, the leaks center around Brian Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man, this time with Ultimate Fallout, issue 4, on shelves tomorrow.

All you have to do is Google "Ultimate Spider-Man," and you'll get images that pretty much ruin the surprise of the issue.

In the grand scheme of the story, I don't think this reveal is that big a shocker, but at the same time, I just don't get this need on Marvel's part to spoil their stories the day before the issues come out.

If you're going to do something like that, why not do it on Wednesday morning, or, if you really like the Tuesday thing, why not make the book available for digital download on the same day the leak hits?

I know, I know.

Both of these suggestions have pretty major ramifications. Obviously, Marvel wants to have a day's lead-in so people who don't normally venture into the comics shops have some time to get to a store.

And releasing the book digitally before it goes on sale in comics shops means less sales for the shops.

But there are arguments to each of those points. To the first, remember the media hype when Captain America "died"? Major newspapers across the country ran that story, on Wednesday morning mind you, and comics shops all over the country sold right out of that issue.

If you weren't at a shop before lunch, you pretty much had zero chance of finding a copy.

And in today's (literally) up to the second news cycle, stories that hit news outlets on a Tuesday will almost certainly be completely forgotten about by Wednesday.

To the second point, why not just embrace the digital? Clearly, this is a larger point, but making the issue available for download on the day the story breaks--and perhaps include links to download right in online articles about the issue--would certainly lead to a bunch of sales from curious, casual readers.

To the larger point about digital comics, briefly. The longer we put it off, the more likely it will be that comics shops are going to end up like Borders Books and Tower Records. Deader than Steve Rogers. (But, you know, for real.)

Shops needs to accept digital and figure out ways to work with the publishers to ensure that brick and mortar stores are still important to the industry. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye towards it, hoping it'll go away.

Because, I promise (spoiler alert), it will not. Go away, that is.

Back to the topic at hand, though. Spoilers. Enough already with them, please. I understand that comics are seen as event-driven. But, really, they're story-driven.

By leaking these big, event-y things to places like USA Today on a seemingly regular basis, the casual reader will think the only comics worth reading are the ones when someone dies, or when someone new takes over for someone who has died.

And anyone who reads comics knows that's not a fair assessment of the industry and all it has to offer.

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