Whoa don’t even know where to begin with this.

This Wednesday, Batman #50 will drop with the long-awaited marriage of Batman and Catwoman. Or Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne. Written by Tom King with art by Mikael Janin it’s one of the big event comics of the summer.

One of this summer’s other weddings – the Kitty Pryde-Colossus nuptials – was spoiled early in the New  York Times – also in the headline. And it seems DC wanted to follow suit. So they called up the same writer – George Gene Gustines – and planted a story in the “vows” column that was to be a cute story about the wedding issue.

Why spoil this at all? Well, it seems that comics retailers, moan all they want, can’t have nice things. They spoil everything as soon as they get the issues on Monday/Tuesday. Or rather one or two of them do, calling up a website known for “rumours” and ruining the story for those who don’t want to wait. Or post it on Reddit or wherever. It’s nearly impossible to lock these things down.

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It’s an extension of the obnoxious “first” mentality. And it’s the internet.

It should be noted that DC sent out the digital review copies of Batman #50 on Friday to its regular press list. So they really weren’t that concerned about leaks and spoilers.

What I think they *may* have been more concerned about was the New York Times actually leaking the ending in the headline. As they did with the Marvel wedding.

JUST IN CASE you haven’t read it the story in question is here. And it is a blow-by-blow account of the story and how it ends, just in case you were too lazy to read the issue.

Why.

The story dropped Sunday morning and all hell broke loose.  And it also broke loose on the DC retailer forum where this comment from dc marketing VP John Cunningham was reportedly posted, as leaked by Comicbook.com. I’m pretty sure this is the first direct quote from a secret retailer forum, so norms are definitely being reset here.

“1. DC Sales strongly advocated getting the news out ahead of the OSD, so that the Moment of Realization did not occur hours before events began. We even did our level best to try and spoil it here on this page over and over again (and failed). The NY Times article was posted here at 630 a.m. PST not out of “Pride” — please — but to get you the information as soon as we could.

2. In the abstract, we believed the news would break on Monday morning, given the arrival time of physical copies in store and the reality that a copy or a scan would end up being passed to uncontrolled comic book outlets (much like Marvel’s wedding issue last week and every other major comic book event in the lat decade). 

3. As mentioned here before, any discussion about financial remedies for problematic DC product must occur after the product is on sale.

4. While The Times piece is more fulsome that [sic] some might like, it does not spoil the shock ending of the book for fans. We’re working on getting this posted here for you.

 5. I stand by my belief that BATMAN #50 is one of the best single issue periodicals of the last decade, that it is a special moment in comic book history, and that if it’s not the book we (think) we want, it’s the book we need.”

So the leak was planned to be a controlled leak, not a “wild” leak on Reddit.

However this did not stop the outcry. Tom King, writer of the issue, was publicly sad on FB, and Gustines also posted publicly, a bit of a break for NYT writers.

 

Now, I can’t be CERTAIN, but it’s common practice for editors – not reporters – to write headlines. I’m guessing that it was the copy desk at the New York Times, perhaps unaware of the nature and makeup of “fans’ and “spoilers,” that decided to write a headline that ruined everything.

But as of today, they have learned, oh they have learned. 

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This story is still developing, as customers are vowing not to buy the issues, and retailers are angry over an issue that they had to order many extra copies of to get valuable variants.

But you know who has the last laugh? DC. Because – womp womp – these issues are not returnable.

At least they aren’t now. But maybe they will be. Because this issue is likely to be a big dud.

Also re that Mikael Janin art – kind of a weird take on 60s/70s advertising art for this story.  I’m surprised Bruce isn’t wearing a smoking jacket.

10 COMMENTS

  1. It really seems like Mr. Cunningham is basically admitting that (at least the sales department of) DC views the actual story of the comic is of lesser importance than the physical object itself. Actually that makes perfect sense since Warner Bros. only values the nebulous notion of characters which can be licensed onto various products. I think in deference to this honesty we should follow their wishes and buy Batman. Although I suggest instead of the comic we get bedsheets, I mean it is much harder to spoil a bedsheet. At least until they come out of the package.

    So this reminds me a bit of the thoughts I had after watching the Last Jedi for the first time yesterday. I was debating what is worse for a corporate IP: never being allowed to change or having the company admit the story is meaningless. Somehow DC was able to do both to Batman in one fell swoop.

  2. It is COMPLETELY SHITTY that someone leaked Cunningham’s direct comments that was intended strictly for retailers — it’s almost as bad of a betrayal as the one DC foisted upon us. I am seriously sick at heart that a) a retailer would be as staggeringly stupid as to leak a statement like that (because that’s how you get NO statements in the future) and b) that a professional website would run that without double checking with DC that they want it “in the wild”

    I try not to wish ill of people, but whoever the leaker was has nothing but my ire and disrespect and literally set the course of publisher/retailer relationships back a decade.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    -B

  3. HAHAHA. They’ve been stringing suckers along all this time with this storyline. I love it. I can see comic stores now upset by the ending being status quo.

  4. How is it a news websites fault for running that statement? If their source proved authenticity, they should run it. Cunningham’s statement is newsworthy. Less dependence on not ruining the precious PR of DC should be the least of everyones problems.

  5. I think its really really sad, that the only marketing strategy the comics industry has ever found effective is to spoil their own stories right before they come out. Speaks volumes to the state of things.

  6. All kinds of journalism class papers to be had in this story, it seems, both for the mainstream and for comics outlets.

    Probably the most important comics industry “leak” in the last half-century was DC’s Diamond agreement memo, which the Comics Journal ran in 1995. That was a clear case of a document that portended major changes for many of the businesses the magazine covered; it probably had to run, even knowing there was no way DC or Diamond was going to comment on it if asked.

    For this, my J-school professors would probably say that whoever got the initial message from the forum should have gone to the publisher saying, “We have this communication, and it’s of public interest; is it indeed from you, and do you want to take this chance to give my publication a statement that you intend to make public instead of this one, understanding that we still reserve the right to run the original?” In the internet era, though, post-it-all-now tends to be more the prevalent practice, for better or worse.

    The other is a bit more straightforward — a newspaper copy editor (and it probably was one here) who spoiled a movie yet to open in a headline would usually be up for reprimand. It wouldn’t be in readers’ best interests, and it would do harm to local businesses for no real benefit.

  7. Ehm, I NEVER expected them to get married. There was an upcoming Catwoman series planned! The sollicitation of #1 didn’t mention the wedding AT ALL! I don’t understand everybody being surprised. This is DC we’re talking about, the company that killed Superman and thought Doomsday Clock would make a good story. I admit their general level of quality is higher than Marvels’, and they know how to package and promote their collected editions better than Marvel, but at it’s base, it is a similar corporate company, not primarily concerned with stories, but with moving product, despite percieved best intentions of the creative people involved.

  8. Oh, I forgot: also the same company that pulled out of Batwoman’s wedding, thereby killing off a great series. So no, Corporate DC really doesn’t care about the stories as much as they pretend to do.

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