WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Batman #50, on sale July 4 from DC Comics.
DC Comics and the New York Times spoiling the events of this week's highly-anticipated Batman #50 has left a sour taste in the mouths of some readers, particularly those who have been religiously following the book since Bruce Wayne proposed to Selina Kyle in Batman #24.
Many fans took issue with the spoiler, which could be found in the headline of the article, giving folks little to no time to properly react and avoid the critical plot detail. DC defended the marketing and public relations strategy, but, unsurprisingly, fans weren't placated by the publisher's rationale and overall handling of the situation.
With the backlash still going strong, especially on social media, and reader disappointment still being voiced, it seems DC might not have made the right decision after all.
John Cunningham, DC’s Senior Vice President of Sales, offered up five points rationalizing why this strategy was adopted -- basically, to create buzz and attract new comics readers or those who don't read the title on a regular basis. The hope there is that the lapsed or uninitiated will buy-in for the issue only to get hooked on writer Tom King's ongoing arc, but the fans who have been passionately following the story just aren't buying the excuses.
The logic is quite simple: Loyalists want to enjoy the experience of reading the story real-time. They want to soak in every moment and savor the ups and downs as they have done with King's engagement storyline in its entirety, tie-ins and all. To fans, the end of this issue is the culmination of an epic rollercoaster ride, and spoilers run the risk of lessening the event's innate hype. Keeping such a big development a secret might seem like a small thing, but it means a lot to readers who have stuck with this arc through thick and thin.
The shock of a final page is a payoff few fans are able to get in this day and age, especially in an internet culture where spoilers are omnipresent. Few comics can still pull off this magic, where a revelation can leave you breathless. Such a spoiler-forward article can potentially leave people feeling robbed of this cathartic experience of discovery.
Even industry writers have voiced concerns over the spoilers. Most of all King, who knows how fans have been invested in the future of Batman and Catwoman and the prospect of the Bat-family becoming the BatCat-family. Sure, he admitted he's "excited" by what's to come afterwards, but his admitting he was "pissed" also speaks volumes. The fact he was also telling fans to avoid spoilers, along with the likes of Scott Snyder and Dan Slott (who's has a torrid time with spoiler culture during his Amazing Spider-Man run), says a lot. From a business perspective, DC believes targeted spoilers make sense. But if it really helps the fan experience, why are seasoned writers denouncing the business move?