Well, DC, you’ve done it again. While having my coffee this morning, I saw tweets from The New York Times and DC Comics revealing spoilers for Batman #50… 4 days before the issue drops! I’m shocked. I don’t know why I’m shocked though.
This isn’t the first time that DC has gone out of their way to spoil one of their books. They spoiled Damian’s death back in 2013 ahead of the issue’s release, and spoiled Batman and Catwoman’s proposal just last year. The crazy thing about this particular instance is that Batman writer Tom King himself was taken-back.
To be clear, I understand that this is a marketing strategy from DC, but we need to take a moment to acknowledge what they are saying through their actions… This is a big “SCREW YOU!” to loyal fans. Nothing says, “you don’t matter” and “we don’t care” more than spoiling stories for readers. Especially stories that have been promoted and developed for more than a year. If you’re going to publish a story over the course of a year and include tie-ins and specials at an additional cost, you’re asking fans to make an investment of both their time and money. Deciding to spoil that story is a slap in the face to those who show up each and every week to keep you in business. But it’s clear that DC doesn’t care, otherwise they wouldn’t do this.
This action is DC’s way of saying they care more about making a quick buck than they do about you as a reader. They are so caught up with gaining new readers and increasing sales for one issue, that they’re sacrificing their core customers in the process. I look at instances like this and think, “Do you not realize what this does to you long term? You’re damaging your brand! You’re going to lose respect and loyalty.” I don’t know who signed off on this, but there needs to be a public apology from DC Comics.
Now, you might be reading this and thinking, “Dude, chill out. It’s just a spoiler. You’ll live. Get over it.” Well, no, it’s not just a spoiler. This “strategy” will have a lasting impact on the comic industry in general because, at this point, spoiling stories isn’t a mistake or an experiment, it’s a trend. Above that, it’s a trend that publishers know upsets their fans and hurts retailers! Yes, this goes beyond the mere enjoyment of us nerds. It hurts businesses, which is a shame because this spoiler comes on the heels of a brilliant business decision from DC that should help retailers…
Why should fans feel the need to pick up monthly issues if stories and events are going to be spoiled by publishers before their release? Readers might as well wait for trades so they can read the entire story for a cheaper price since the benefit of reading monthly is being taken away from them. Which then begs the question, “How heavily will this impact retailers? How badly will this damage demand for heavy buys or perks such as variant covers, exclusives, etc?” I can’t predict how large the blowback will be, but there will be blowback. In fact, it’s already happening!
Customers are already starting to request Batman get removed from their pull list, and it hasn’t even been twelve hours since this release of the spoilers. Local comic book shops are already struggling, and this only hurts them even more. Some retailers bought into this issue heavily knowing that it would drive many customers to their store. But with the results of Batman #50 out, there is no suspense. There’s no reason to buy the book because they had the outcome ruined for them. And it makes readers cautious because it’s not a matter of if DC will do this again, but when.
Will this blowback hurt DC? Yeah, eventually, but not right away. It’s going to hurt retailers first. All the additional units retailers have purchased, variant covers and exclusives they’ve purchased… They’ve already paid DC for these books. DC got their check. It’s the retailers that will get shortchanged. They can’t send their books back or get refunded. They have to find a way to get rid of them, and that will most likely come at the cost of the store.
So, DC, I urge you to apologize at the very least. Apologize to your fans and retailers who support your products. They deserve it. Beyond that, creators and employees of DC, if you’re reading this, demand a better approach from your company. Don’t tell fans to avoid the internet and social media. That’s counterproductive. That’s telling us that we’re the problem. The reality is, your employer did this! Your company chose to ignore us on previous occasions when we said, “This isn’t right! Respect us. We’re the reason you have your job.” So, please, if you value us, publicly speak out against this “marketing strategy.” It’s a simple request and will answer how you truly feel about your customers and your fans.
I want, more than anything, to be a fan of DC Comics… But these types of actions don’t make it easy.