Over the weekend, DC began hyping Flash Forward #6, the forthcoming ending to the current Wally West-starring miniseries. The six-issue series, by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth, is a follow-up to last year’s Heroes in Crisis, and has Wally traveling the multiverse at the behest of cosmic being Tempus Fuginaut, protecting parallel worlds from the encroaching dark matter of the Dark Multiverse. Issue #5 ended with Wally learning that he must destroy one final Dark Multiverse world in order to save the multiverse — and it’s a world he accidentally created, and where his kids are still alive. On Friday, the DC Nation Twitter account shared this:
Flash Forward #6 is coming February 19 as Wally West has to make the toughest choice of his life—and you are NOT READY for the surprise ending. pic.twitter.com/QJVUusnReo
— DC Nation (@thedcnation) January 24, 2020
Followed by this, with an interior preview, on Saturday:
We said you're NOT READY for the surprise ending of Flash Forward #6 by @ScottyLobdell and @Demonpuppy, but here are some interior pages to tide you over until the issue is out on February 19. pic.twitter.com/yoV1FjhE92
— DC Nation (@thedcnation) January 25, 2020
Flash Forward #6 was on Final Order Cutoff on Monday, January 27th, and on Friday DC released via Diamond, as they occasionally do, a PDF of the issue to retailers, so that shop owners and purchasers could read the issue and adjust their FOC orders accordingly based on what they think demand for it will be.
Yesterday, an alert appeared for paid subscribers to Key Collector Comics, an app created by Nick Coglianese and used by collectors (and often speculators) to track ‘hot’ new comics and key back issues. The alert, seen in a screenshot here, features details of the ending of Flash Forward #6, and an image from the final page of the issue (the spoiler details have been blurred out):
Based on the combination of both the information and the image accompanying it, it seems safe to assume that someone leaked the retailer PDF of the issue to Key Collector. Aside from that being a really shitty thing to do, it’s also a serious offense for the retailer from the standpoint both of the publisher and of Diamond. Those advance PDFs are heavily watermarked, with a store’s account information all over them, to deter just this sort of leaking. A retailer caught leaking one of those PDFs could get in serious trouble with Diamond.
So how did Key Collector get their hands on it? There’s nothing on Key Collector’s website about where Coglianese gets the app’s information. A lot of the details found within the app are easy enough to find elsewhere, at least when it comes to back issues. In terms of new releases, though, it seems likely Coglianese gets story information — say, for the app’s weekly Wednesday morning updates with what that week’s ‘hot’ books are — from people (like retailers) with inside knowledge of what’s coming. In an interview with ICv2, Coglianese said, while clarifying that he’s not a comic seller himself, that he populates the app using tips from other people:
“So everything on the app, everything I put out, it’s…pure. It’s things that I’ve reached a conclusion on, or that people have told me that I’m passing along.”
A relationship between a retailer or multiple retailers and Coglianese/Key Collector, then, is not exactly shocking to consider. The Beat reached out to Coglianese regarding the source for the Flash Forward information, and his response was that he “was tipped off by an app user.”
Is everything “pure,” though, as Coglianese says it is? The potential for conflict of interest is strong here. Collectors/speculators use the Key Collector app to determine what to buy. There’s nothing to say a retailer couldn’t also be using the app to keep track of what people might be after in their inventory. If a retailer/retailers are providing Key Collector with information, they could be doing so to try to drive sales for themselves. How can the information from Key Collector on what’s ‘hot’ each week, or even on what’s ‘hot’ in back issues, actually be trusted if it’s coming from sources with a vested interest in selling those comics?
As for the leaking of the Flash Forward #6 information, who benefits from that? Again it’s retailers, who may see interest in the issue driven up by app subscribers who got the spoiler notification. Of course, any good retailer could’ve made the determination to up their orders on the issue already after reading the PDF provided by DC/Diamond. The wider dissemination of the story details to collectors/speculators puts more outside eyes on the issue, though, which could lead to higher retailer orders/sales than those placed even with the benefit of the preview PDF. DC would also benefit from the leak of the information, as retailers place higher orders to meet demand driven by the information on the app.
Did Key Collector receive their Flash Forward information from a retailer? There’s nothing to directly link any specific retailer or store to the leaked information, but given that retailers had access to the information, and the timing and content of the Key Collector alert, it’s the most likely conclusion. If that is the case, and if Key Collector has been receiving information from retailers all along, users may want to be wary of the information they find in the app.