The Odd Relationship Comics Have With Spoiler Culture

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An interesting thought hit me this morning. Between the DC Rebirth and now the Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 spoilers, it’s kind of shocking to see how many people (comic people) are posting and debating the merits of these spoilers so freely online. Spoilers that, if they were for a movie or TV show, I’m fairly confident the internets would be readying their pitch forks and torches, but with comics the reaction has been “meh” whenever someone calls foul.

And see, THAT’S what I find fascinating. Now personally, spoilers almost never bother me. Something gets spoiled for me and I’ll still watch/read it with the intent of analyzing how they they got their plot twist to work. It’s kind of a weird side effect of being a comic creator I think. I can’t really watch or read anything without trying to pick it apart for tools I can add to my ol’ war chest of ideas for my own work. (Which as I type that out, I think I may have just figured out why I watch so much sports and so little scripted TV… Huh, look at me being my own personal shrink.)

But that’s not the point I wanted to make. See, I’m curious if spoiler culture actually HELPS the comic medium at the expense of the die-hard fans. Now these are the half processed thoughts of a guy that’s deliriously packing Kickstarter orders, so if I’m a bit off then cut me some slack. That being said, if I’d been a long term Captain America reader, someone who faithfully had read every Cap book over the last couple of years, the spoiler that came out today would have driven me nuts. All of that time and investment into a story, only to have the payoff ruined by a Bleeding Cool headline, a headline where the post image is the actual spoiler itself. Good lord, those people should be going insane today. Which makes me wonder, why the heck do so many people do it so freely for comics? The very book whose website you’re currently reading this on HAS a plot twist ending, one that I really want to protect, so I’m more than a little invested into this topic.

My only thought on this is more of a wandering question. Have comic sales dipped so low that these “spoilers” and shocking reveals are leaked early just so collectors will believe these issues could become “key” issues and that they should buy them up for potential resale value down the road? With the DC Rebirth spoiler, a certain past issue of a comic series that was panned by so many, (wrongfully so in my opinion but I digress) just jumped out of the clearance bins and is now going for like $100 a pop on Ebay. Along that train of thought, I bet a lot of comic shops are fielding emails and calls from customers asking them to hold a copy of Captain America for them this morning. Now the cynical part of my brain has to point out that I BET most comic shops had absolutely no idea that this issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers was gonna be this important. Yes it’s a number one, so they more than likely ordered a couple of extra copies, but I bet it no where meets the demand now that the spoiler is out, making these books instant collectors items.

To go a little further down the conspiracy train, I can’t think of any comic spoilers outside of Marvel and DC books that really had this effect BEFORE the book was for sale. Sure the Walking Dead has had a couple of the shocking deaths in the book leaked before hand, but the very premise of that book is “no one is safe.” Sitting here typing this, I can’t imagine a major spoiler for say, Saga being released by the various comic news blogs and everyone just sitting back and being cool with it. Actually I bet folks would be equally as ticked as they are with a Game of Thrones spoiler. So maybe this speaks to the current level or rather kind of storytelling in Marvel and DC books as opposed to everyone else?

I don’t really have a concrete answer or anything, maybe a loose hypothesis, but that’s all. Essentially I sat down and wrote this all out here because A) not doing so would have filled my brain with this crap all day and B) this would be a REAL long Facebook post. So hey, welcome to the Torchlight blog! Interesting way to start things here but at least they’re started. If you feel like chiming in on whether or not I’m barking up the right tree with this, please feel free to. Just know, I’m trying to keep this blog family friendly so try and keep that in mind.

Ryan Fisher

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