If you spend even a portion of your day plugged in to social media, particularly if some of that social media time is devoted to the various fandoms you enjoy, then at one point or another you've likely had something spoiled for you. It could be a TV show that just aired, a comic that just came out, or a movie that's been screened in another country that hasn't made its way to you yet. Whatever the case, you've felt that sting.
Some DC Comics readers felt it all over again over the weekend when The New York Times ran a story about the upcoming Batman #50, the much-anticipated Batman/Catwoman wedding issue, that spoiled one of the issue's key plot points. To be clear, this was not a leak or a case of the Times seeing an advance copy and just breaking an embargo. The piece was a calculated publicity move from DC Comics to draw mainstream attention to the issue, just as they did in the past with stories like the New 52 reboot and the famous death of Superman. Comics fans may also note that this isn't even the first wedding issue spoiled in the press in recent memory, as Marvel did a version of the same thing with an issue of X-Men Gold just weeks ago.
The story, like all major spoilers, spread quickly, and while many news outlets (including SYFY WIRE) placed careful spoiler warnings in their coverage of the announcement, elsewhere on the internet the news was right out there in the open whether you wanted to see it or not. Some fans took measures to dodge the spoilers entirely until the issue arrives on July 4, but others weren't so lucky. If you were among the unlucky ones, and you're frustrated right now, you're not alone. Former Amazing Spider-Man and current Tony Stark: Iron Man writer Dan Slott has your back.
Slott, best known for his decade of Spider-Man stories that included major events like the launch of Superior Spider-Man (following the divisive death of Peter Parker) and the recent arrival of the Red Goblin, is no stranger to battling spoilers regarding his own stories. The writer used to frequently take to Twitter (a platform he's now left) to warn fans of spoilers floating around and rail against readers and news outlets who posted key plot points virtually the moment his comics were released (if not before).
Now, he's railing against spoilers against, this time on behalf of Batman readers. Batman writer Tom King has already weighed in with his own, very brief, response to the spoilers, but Slott was not so restrained. He posted a lengthy "rant" to his Facebook page Sunday in which he decried "spoiler culture" at the expense of creators trying to tell their stories.
"I hate this spoiler culture we're in. Storytellers WANT to tell you the BEST stories possible," Slott wrote. "To do that, some of the most important tools in our toolbox are surprise reveals. If you rob us of that, you can kill the heart of a story that MANY people have poured months of our lives into- writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers, and editors. For a lot of us TELLING that story is more rewarding than any paycheck-- it's why we do what we do."
Slott, who takes over as the writer on Marvel's Fantastic Four this August, acknowledged that in many cases (as with Batman #50), publishers released spoilers on purpose to draw in mainstream attention, and while he agreed that it "still sucks" to see that, he took particular aim at readers (whether fans or journalists) who are so eager to let everyone know they have a secret to share that they seem to just blurt it out.
"When gossip or comic news sites spoil things ahead of time, they're doing it for clicks. When fans find out stuff and spoil it ahead of time, they're doing it for attention. That's frustrating," he wrote. "It's even more frustrating when a fan reads something ahead of time, LOVES IT, and wants to SHARE that love with you. They want to let you know what cool thing is coming up because they're genuinely excited about it. And it's paradoxical, because they're going to spoil the thing they want you to experience-- instead of experiencing it ON THE PAGE the way that THEY experienced it!"
Again, this is not the first time (not even close) that Slott has experienced this particular form of frustration, as either a writer or a reader. It's, sadly, become one of the side effects of navigating certain corners of the internet. News sites obviously want to cover major plot points as they break, but even careful spoiler warnings can only go so far, and nothing is preventing fans from simply blurting out everything they know on Twitter as soon as they know it. So, what can creators do? Well, they can do what the Russo Brothers did ahead of Infinity War and playfull demand that fans keep quiet, they can simply warn that spoilers are coming, or they can keep their heads down and just keep trying to tell their stories. Whatever the case, Slott is not alone in his frustration, and there's no easy fix for it.