WARNING – This article does, in fact, contain spoilers regarding recent comic book releases. If you have not read your comics, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
In this day and age it is very hard to keep things secret for too long. The secret cameo in Zombieland or the end of the fourth Twilight novel or that Bruce Willis is a ghost in the 6th Sense just to name a few. The big surprises are not longer allowed to surprise us because some people insist on ruining them for us because they want to show off that they were the first in the know.
Still other times, we often experience inadvertent spoilers because of marketing efforts. This is especially prevalent in comic books where the description of a comic in Previews gives enough information most times to allow the reader to know the end result of the current story arc as the next is already being promoted. Recent “big moments” like Magneto’s return to the X-Men series were ruined for anyone who picked up previews to see his face on the cover of an issue still two months from release.
It can be said though that someone is reading Previews “at their own risk” knowing that there may be spoilers within by the nature of the publication.
There is however no excuse for publishing and scheduling missteps, especially from Marvel or DC, that have huge spoilers within them for fans of a series. The worst offense of this came over the past two weeks from Marvel with the poor release scheduling of New Avengers #60, Captain America Reborn #5, New Avengers Annual #3 and Dark Avengers Annual #1. Based off the events that transpire within them, it seems the books have come in completely the wrong order. Because of this, fans read about the result of Steve Rogers’ rebirth in a last page “reveal” with Steve Rogers standing next to Bucky-Cap in Dark Avengers Annual.
Then, last week it was revealed that Luke Cage is apparently well on his way to recovery in New Avengers Annual even though the yet to be released and heavily publicized New Avengers #60 has not shown his fate. Along with the reveal of Steve Rogers coming back to the Avengers team at the end of New Avengers Annual, both “big” moments are already spoiled for the reader since they already know Steve is alive and well and that Luke Cage will be coming out of his brush with death with nothing worse than a little limp.
I understand that things like delays on certain books happen. Sometimes writers get sidetracked by other projects. Sometimes artists are overloaded with too much work. But there are solutions to prevent “moments” that should mean something from being lost in the shuffle as a confusing mistake and instead be given the power and meaning they really deserve.
he most common sense one is to just hold back a book that has a “spoiler” moment within it. And while some people can say that since comics are a business it is unreasonable to delay some book because another isn’t coming out when it is supposed to, there is an argument that the book in question should have been scheduled better in the first place. If you are on a super tight schedule, give yourself an extra month just in case of a delay that would ruin the big moments in a more important book.
Regardless of the solution, editors need to be conscious of planning out these big moments and the events that revolve around them. Especially books like Annuals which can be placed in any month of the year, it isn’t a huge deal to a reader if one of them were to come later if it helped save the integrity of the storytelling… which is after all why any of us is reading comics in the first place.