DC Comics' decision to spoil key elements of Batman #50 — the issue featuring the much-anticipated wedding of Batman and Catwoman — in the pages of The New York Times just days before the comic's release has been generating discussion and backlash since the story broke over the weekend.
Discussion of one of the most hyped single issues of a comic book in recent memory has now been dominated by the response to the spoiler rather than the story of the issue itself, and most readers won't even get their hands on it until Wednesday. In light of this, the writer of the issue — Tom King — has offered a brief response, the writer of the Times piece has offered a lengthier one, but we haven't heard anything from DC itself. Not publicly, anyway.
**Spoiler warning: There are spoilers for Batman #50 below**
SYFY WIRE has confirmed that John Cunningham, DC’s senior vice president of sales, has issued a response in a Facebook post on a private DC retailer page (the post was first reported by ComicBook.com) that was later leaked.
In the post, Cunningham lays out five key points of response to retailers, attempting to explain why DC made the decision to spoil the issue, and offering some reassurance. Here's the response:
“1. DC Sales strongly advocated getting the news out ahead of the OSD [on sale date], so that the Moment of Realization did not occur hours before events began. We even did our level best to try and spoil it here on this page over and over again (and failed). The NY Times article was posted here at 630 a.m. PST not out of 'Pride' — please — but to get you the information as soon as we could.
2. In the abstract, we believed the news would break on Monday morning, given the arrival time of physical copies in store and the reality that a copy or a scan would end up being passed to uncontrolled comic book outlets (much like Marvel’s wedding issue last week and every other major comic book event in the [last] decade).
3. As mentioned here before, any discussion about financial remedies for problematic DC product must occur after the product is on sale.
4. While The Times piece is more fulsome [than] some might like, it does not spoil the shock ending of the book for fans. We’re working on getting this posted here for you.
5. I stand by my belief that BATMAN #50 is one of the best single issue periodicals of the last decade, that it is a special moment in comic book history, and that if it’s not the book we (think) we want, it’s the book we need.”
So, Cunningham's response indicates a couple of key things, one of which is that DC was concerned that spoilers would come out anyway, even if the Times had been more mysterious with its reporting. That's not an unfounded concern at all.
Second, the DC response notes that the wedding, while central to the issue's plot, is not the only thing readers should be coming to the issue for. There are other reveals to be had here that will continue to propel the story in the Batman title forward. A writer like King doesn't spent a year building to a special 50th issue only to then undercut everything it was building to.
Much of the rest of the statement is crafted specifically to address retailer concerns, as it was only aimed at them in the first place, but if you're a fan now wondering if you wasted your pre-order, you might find a little reassurance here as well.
This response, while thorough, isn't going to end the controversy. Some fans and retailers are still going to be angry, and some of them will still wonder if it was all worth it after the issue arrives Wednesday. We're getting a good look at the complexities that come with balancing storytelling, publicity, and sales all at the same time in the comic book industry. That's often a frustrating process. The good news is that readers will still be able to figure it all out for themselves when Batman #50 goes on sale July 4.