More Opinion: Character Deaths, Spoilers, and Marketing

Back in January, when Johnny Storm bit the big one, I published this piece about how knowing what happens in comics for the sake of mainstream marketing kind of blows for readers. And it does, most definitely. It's happening this week, with Ultimate Spider-Man #160 and Marvel Comics.

Yet at the same time, I have to admit some fatigue at the reaction to this practice. Yes, I am guilty of this as well, but man, with this Death of Spider-Man story, I've kind of had enough. For one thing, the story was called "Death of Spider-Man". They kind of have to deliver that. Complaining about having this story spoiled seems sort of ridiculous, and I've seen it all across the board, from fans on message boards, to pros on Twitter. And they're right, it does suck, but this is also the world we live in.

I hate to go back to this, but comics don't sell that many copies these days. The publishers have to do whatever they can to get sales, and what's starting to become clear is that there aren't so many tricks in the bag from a short term standpoint. Yes, they need to diversify genres, and fix the direct market, and make them accessible, and change the game, but they also need to show revenue growth for this quarter and next quarter, and if they think they can grab more attention by announcing the death of a character, that's what's gonna happen, over and over, until it doesn't work anymore.

And right now, it's still working. Just yesterday, I spoke with a retailer who said people are calling who never buy comics to come buy Ultimate Spider-Man #160. It's generating business that was not there, and in the end that is the most important thing from a company standpoint. Goal #1 is to maximize shareholder value. A bunch of happy readers on a book that's barely breaking even isn't going to bring one smile to the faces of at the stockholder meeting, and, yes it sucks, but more people have to realize it.

Then again, I will admit, you shouldn't have to. The purpose of fiction is create a fantasy world, and you're paying for that. But the comics audience has shrunk so much that the only people left are more than just occasional hobbyists. You're either way into comics, or you're not at all. You might as well know how things work, so you don't get so frustrated by what are business decisions. Because, in this paradigm, business trumps editorial, every time, at least in the case of Marvel and DC. If you want pure, unadulterated storytelling, may I please suggest one of dozens of independent comics that you're probably not reading. If you're going to truck in these circles, this is just how it works.

But seriously, enough with the indignity, and the idea that these companies are somehow "disrespecting" fans. You're owed nothing. It's not a personal relationship, and these characters aren't real. Enjoy them, have fun, and don't take it so hard. If you want Marvel and DC to keep making comics, then you'll just have to accept that they're going to try to market those comics to an audience much bigger than yours, and in doing so, it's going to compromise your experience. It is just the way things are.

Do you know what's great though? Regardless of the silly polybag, the it-tells-you-exactly-what's-going-to-happen title, and the griping, fans of Ultimate Spider-Man still seem to be enjoying the hell out of the issue.  It's easily our communities favorite book this week, and everyone wins. Marvel sells more copies and gets attention, retailers make more money, and the comics? They're still enjoyable.

Let's find something else to complain about, OK? Or better yet, let's find something to really be happy about.

Comments

  1. [sarcasm]But complaining is much more fun, Josh![/sarcasm] Good article.

  2. Honestly, there’s generally so many people talking about it that I know when to avoid spoilers and have 0 problem. They announce things the tuesday before so people can go out on wednesday. That’s one day of skipping some headlines and avoiding message boards. No big. In fact, when the Johnny Storm news hit I went weeks avoiding it with the vain hope that I’d read the book, but realized I wouldn’t and went on wikipedia. Weeks!

    I might get annoyed at a person for blatantly spilling the beans on my twitter feed, but it never even occurred to me to get mad at the company. The day I get pissed at comic companies for solid marketing practices is the day I kiss the medium goodbye, because I’d clearly have no interest in their success. It’s just silly. 

  3. It just pisses me off on a Tuesday night when I’ve managed to avoid all the spoilers completely ready to buy my comics wednesday morning my roommate says “So the Human Torch died??” I cussed him out. Then again, “So Spider-Man died?” I rationalized it saying well we don’t know if it’s metaphoric or what yet.

    No way to stop those spoilers. 

  4. Maybe this site should be called IStocks instead.
    We get it we get it we get it.
    Comics are a business.

    But to say the fan is owed nothing is oversimplifying everything.
    Fans pay money for a product- it’s an investment.
    A small- small investment- but one none the less- it atleast entitles a fan to voice his opinion.

    Why get so upset about that- this whole site is about comics opinions.
    It’s all in good fun and the end of the day Marvel-DC are going to operate like a business anyway so why not?
    I personally think if they aren’t listening to the fans to some degree they aren’t going to produce a top selling product but then there are times where you have to take drastic steps- like
    DC is doing – and while I don’t like some of the decisions they made I applaud it over all.

    But to say we should all bite are togue and be happy and shiny is missing a lot of being a fan-
    We cheer when we love something we jeer when we don’t.
    It’s our right to do so.
    Would you go to a sports game and Yell- “Hey everybody- let’s just enjoy game- no winners and losers here- let’s just play ball”

    Would you?

  5. I generally agree that the marketing is an unfortunate necessity.  I fortunately was able to stay unspoiled until I got the issue digitally as soon as Comixology made it available.  It’s a bummer, but if it helps them sell more books, and the industry gets stronger, they’ll make more good stuff and it’s for the best.

    I strongly disagree, however, that the name of the story being “The Death of Ultimate Spider-Man” has any bearing at all on spoilers here.  They just published, what, 12-18 months ago, a book called “Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem” after intimating that Spider-Man would in Ultimatum.  And of course, it turned out he wasn’t dead.  Birds of Prey recently featured “The Death of Oracle” storyline, in which Oracle did not die.  I’m sure with more digging we could find a few dozen other similar storylines that referenced death in the title in which the character didn’t actually die.  Just looking back to the original announcement of the name of the story, after numerous commenters expressed outrage over Peter’s possible death, Josh chimed in: “I do not learn from the past, and will therefore take this completely literally. Then I will bask in my outrage.”  Unless I’m totally missing Josh’s point, it sure sounded like he didn’t believe Peter was going to die, and certainly plenty of other commenters assumed it was at least possible that the title was not literal.  Spoilers in the mainstream media are something we will have to accept, but to claim that it’s not really a spoiler anyway because the name made the outcome of this event clear strikes me as a poor argument.

  6. great article Josh, really solid points. In the end we have to remember to have fun. 

    So are we to expect quarterly stunts like this from here on out? Agreed that the industry faces real problems and is trending towards complete irrelevance. There needs to be real strategies instead of stunts, but if this is all they got right now, then it is a bit sad. 

  7. @ericmci  It’s not an investment. Not at all. No more than going to a see movie is or buying a CD or anything else. You buy a product and have an opinion, yes. But Josh is right. They don’t us anything more than Pespi or Coke or whatever company owes us.

  8. Entirely valid and logic points, Mr. Flanagan. This sadly is the game being played, and the results are hard to ignore.

    Just as long as we can all agree that it sucks.

  9. How much do you think Marvel would have made had this been day-and-date digital? Just saying…

    -J. 

  10. @ericmci I couldn’t agree more! part of the FUN of being a fan is different view points and various points being argued/discussed. I for one NEVER pick up Ultimate Spider man but I was dying to see how the creative team kiled spidey off. Deaths along with the neverending #1 issues reboot always sell. It’s impossible nowadays NOT to have something spoiled, but people have every right to voice displeasure!

  11. “You’re owed nothing.” I wish more people were aware of this, I really do. So many people, not just comics readers, act like they’re royalty or something.

  12. @RapidEyeMovement  Exactly. We either buy the product or we don’t. Beyond that, there’s no relationship or entitlement of any kind.

  13. Anyone who is interested in selling a product knows they damn well owe the buyer something … otherwise, THEIR PRODUCT WON’T SELL! Now, does this mean they have some sense of allegiance to a market so small it hardly registers in the GDP? Maybe, maybe not. But clearly, the publishers strive to be attuned to what the market (i.e. READERS OF COMICS, in this case) tend to buy. The horrid circular logic here is that if we’re tired of being fed crap, then maybe we ought to stop reading crap …

    Oh … wait … looks like we’ve done just that … if recent SALES TRENDS are a reliable indicator.

  14. @JamesSeals – it was day and date digital. Marvel’s been doing this with most of the Ultimate titles for a while.

  15. @cahubble09  I totally believe that if you don’t want the product you shouldn’t buy it. Except that doesn’t happen. The books that this happened to sell through the roof. People complain verbally, and then back it up with product purchases.

    The publisher owes you a product that you are willing to pay for. That choice is yours.

  16. I don’t read Ultimate Spider-Man, but I’d like to comment on the larger industry picture.  Short-term stunting might get a lot of press and draw in more readers temporarily, but it’s very important that companies also have a long-term strategy and respect their readers.  Again, I’m not talking about the Death of Spider-Man specifically, I’m speaking in broader terms.  

    I trust Marvel writers and executives to have a longer view than the company’s quarterly profit figures because stunts will only work for so long.   How long will it take for readers, the mainstream media and the public to get tired of hearing about the deaths of superheroes?  How long before the reaction from the public is “they’re doing that again”?  

    Killing title characters can be a way to tell good stories, but after a while, it can feel like customers are simply being manipulated.  Marvel needs to make sure this doesn’t become the 90’s “foil covers” all over again.

     

  17. What I am even more put out with is that often these deaths are temporary. In those cases, it’s very clearly about marketing and sales. They can say it’s about “telling a good story,” but we’ve heard that so many times it’s become cliche.

    Both major publishers are guilty of this. Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen), Green Arrow, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and even Batman (in a sense) were killed and were brought back. That’s almost the who Justice League! Not to mentioned second-tier characters like Donna Troy, Superboy, Kilowog, Batwoman… the list goes on and on. I won’t even start on Marvel. There’s a pretty good list (if anyone cares) at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dead_comic_book_characters#DC_Comics

    The thing about the Ultimate Spider-Man death that I find stupid is that it’s in the Ultimate universe, so it doesn’t really “count” in the big picture. The Peter Parker we’ve known since Stan Lee created him is still alive and kicking. It would be big news if they killed him off. Sure, it matters in the Ultimate universe, but anything can happen there.

    It also completely eclipsed the death in this week’s Justice League book. Perhaps mercifully so, the issue was really terrible.

    I only hope the Ultimate Peter Parker stays dead, forever. And I wish DC would adopt some permanence in their rebooted universe.

  18. I’m goin to be that guy:  As long as they put in the work and the story is good and it looks good I could care less about all the other marketing junk.  

    Oh, and the spoiling sucks, but like you said, in this particular case the title is “Death Of Spider-Man.”  You can hope that it’s just hype, but it’s right there in the title.

    Swell rant Yah Shoo Wah.

  19. Best thing for Marvel to do is stop bending over for a media that just doesn’t care about comics. Let the fans who support them have their shocks and thrills and if they give us something great then we will share it and bring in new people. It’s tried and true.
    I dropped Fantastic Four for 2 reasons: 1) after supporting the book for years (I was nearing 100 consecutive issues) they totally screwed the fans by letting the news tell us what happened then 2) relaunched the series with another #1 issue. I walked away.
    I don’t read Ultimate stuff, the only good thing Ultimate gave us, in my opinion, is Marvel Zombies. But the leaking of the ending of this story still pissed me off.
    Spoilers can’t be avoided some people say…funny how it’s easy with a series like The Walking Dead where it’s almost an unspoken rule that you don’t spoil each issue. If they can do that for 85 issues I don’t see why Marvel can’t.
    But, I only get 2 Marvel ongoing books these days, they have all but forced me out of their universe. 

  20. Honestly Josh, it seems you’re going out of your way to justify the business practices of the big two;they are running the industry to the ground and there is no getting around that. I thought that by now people had made it pretty clear that they must change or die. Apparently they’ve chosen the latter. People are migrating away from their comics and all they know is to keep milking the cash cow with the same gimmicks and cheap publicity stunts that they’ve always used. I don’t think we should be making up excuses for them.

    I’ve found that my pull list contains less Marvel and DC everyday while I’m always interested to pick up some new indy. It all seems so tired and rehashed, nothing EVER changes, we just get the illusion of change. Maybe they can turn this whole thing around but you know what honestly pisses me off? How they used Jeph Loeb to tear the whole universe down, then left it somewhere in a corner with just Bendis writing anything we could care about (with the exception of Ultimate Thor which was incredible) and then just when Bendis would have made it out of the gate with some reclaimed dignity for the Ultimate Universe, they come out and spoil the story for a small spike in sales.

    And YOU KNOW WHAT? Stop saying that we knew Peter was going to die. We didn’t. Some  people thought he was going to die and others thought he was going to just give up the Spider-Man identity. Whatever the outcome, I wanted to read the story and see what happened. If Neil Gaiman’s publisher came out and spoiled the ending of his next book on twitter do you think we would be having the same discussion? Isn’t it about time we stopped with the whole “But they’re companies and are supposed to make money somehow” mentality and actually demanded that their schemes not interfeer with their product? Because every time someone says: “They don’t owe you anything” I want to punch them in the face and answer: “As long as I’m paying their bills they do.”

    P.S. And get rid of the stupid direct market approach as well. I hate having to go through the whole previews catalogue 2 months in advance just to make sure I don’t miss out on anything and therefore get everything spoiled…

  21. @nick7913  Publishers don’t owe you anything other than the oportunity to buy their products. Just like you don’t owe them anything either, including your loyalty and your dollars if you don’t like what they’re doing.

  22. I agree with @Doughboy – how many of the extra people who picked up USM this month will pick it up next month? (If there is a next month, I’ve heard nothing about the series itself ending). It’s short-term thinking, and I think contrary to what Josh has said, short-term thinking is actually BAD business. “Take their money today, who gives a crap if it upsets everyone”-style marketing might help you hit your targets this quarter, and maybe it’ll work a few more times but eventually it’s going to have caused more harm than good. I’ve worked in businesses that had to take that approach before otherwise they would literally have to close up shop the next day if they didn’t – Marvel is not in that position, and neither is USM which I had the impression was one of the highest selling comics in the industry? You have to weigh the short-term benefit against pissing off huge numbers of people who are your customer base. The people who bought this issue and this issue alone obviously don’t care that it was spoiled, it’s only the people who come back every month who you should be concentrating on making happy. People wonder why the comics audience is dwindling, I’d suggest the “Oh grow up, it’s not about you readers enjoying your comics, it’s about our business paying off their fatcat shareholders” attitude may well contribute to that. They may as well just put out a statement telling everyone to go screw themselves.

    Hell I read it in trade so I won’t even know what anyone’s talking about for months. And despite everything I’m sure I’ll enjoy it immensely.

  23. @conor  Sorry Conor but I’m not sure if my point is coming across on my angry rant (which was mainly against the big two and not against Josh) so I’ll try again: I have already bought their product. What they’re doing is the equivalent of J.K. Rowling coming to my house when I’m four fifths through the book and saying “Hey, you know who dies?” The example might be far fetched but in essence, this is what they’re doing. 
    I liked the product. I paid $20 (since the beginning of the arc, not since starting out on Ult.Spidey) and have already pre-ordered this issue as well. It’s kind of naive to say that I don’t owe them my loyalty because it’s not about loyalty. It’s about them ruining a story that at this point I’m guaranteed to get. Plus, I would redirect the stock comment of “you don’t owe them anything” to the statement “I don’t give a rat’s behind about Marvel the company”. The reason I’m here is because I enjoy Bendis’s stories not because of any “loyalty” to Marvel. I go where I find good storytelling and it’s Marvel who has to court me (and any other person who buys their comics) and keep me happy if they want me coming back, not me who has to make excuses for them. 
    Unfortunately both Marvel and DC have forgotten that storytelling trumps all. That’s why they’ve reached the point where all they know how to do is create hype. I’m losing my interest and so are many others. It’s simply for love of comics and some of the characters in them that I’m being so vocal. I don’t WANT the industry to fail. But I honestly don’t see how they’re going to climb out of the hole the’ve dug themselves into.
     

  24. you sound like a battered wife josh 😉

  25. @nick7913  Your JK Rowling analogy is flawed. Marvel isn’t forcing the information about their story upon you. There are plenty of people who read comics who don’t go on the internet or read solicits or do any of that stuff and had no idea what was coming. Just this week my comic store guy told me that he had to inform a lot of his customers about the upcoming DC Reboot. Biggest story in comics in years and they had no idea. Why? Because they just go to the store every Wednesday and buy their books and that’s it. If you want to stay engaged then you’re going to pay a certain price and that is usually having things spoiled. Will it always be this way? Who knows, but that’s the way it is right now.

    If you don’t like how they do business, stop buying their books. It’s the only real power you have.

  26. I try to avoid spoilers and generally succeed. I had no idea about Spider-man.

  27. @conor …or if you don’t like being spoiled, stop going to iFanboy or any other comic news or comics community site.

    The Human Torch, Captain America leaks were a bit of a screwjob to fans of these titles but what can you do?

    I’m glad you asked… Marvel and DC should launch a duet of on-going, irregularly scheduled titles called “Marvel’s the Death of” and “DC’s the Death of”

    In these books creators from the Big 2 are tasked to write single issue stories where a character from the other’s universe dies. So you’d have “Marvel’s the Death of” Batman one month and then sometime later (a week a month, a year) you have “DC’s the Death of” Deadpool. And get this… each issue would come poly-bagged and you wouldn’t know who’s inside the bag until you open it up. You also won’t know who the artist team is.

    It’d be morbid. It’d be fun. It’d be surprising. It’d be heartbreaking. But it wouldn’t be in continuity.

  28. Marvel needs to keep its yapper shut until fellow comic fans can get to the comic store on Wednesday & read it for themselves.  Blap to the news media on Thursday. 

    I Matthew

  29. @conor  Actually it’s by and large what I have been doing. I have been dropping their books. So I am using the only real power I have.

    But that’s not the point. The point is that I find apologetic attitudes annoying. I think it was a bullshit move and I’m calling them out on it. The problem is that there is no choice other than buy-don’t buy. So if people don’t speak out against it, how will Marvel know how they feel about it. And let’s not be absurd about this. I don’t think that there’s people from Marvel combing this particular comments thread to find out how I feel about this whole thing. But it’s usually the case that when there’s negative feedback from a lot of people it spreads and it makes more waves.
    In any case, I still think it’s a bad idea to spoil a story the day before it comes out. Call me old fashioned (at 25 years old) but I like to keep away from this sort of circus publicity.
    Now about the guy at your LCS: So what? Some people are always behind the times. Plus with their convoluted system they’ve made it impossible to know what to buy without keeping reasonably well informed. I live in Greece and my LCS only stocks the bare essentials. Everything else has to be pre-ordered. So if I want to keep up with the hobby I love I need to get online.
    And who are we kidding really? It’s not the technology or the nature of our present times or any such nonsense that is the cause of this. Lost managed to make it through six seasons practically unspoiled (even if S06 sucked) while using teasers to keep its audience hooked. I was on the internet all the time back then and I didn’t get an episode spoiled once before it came out.  And Lost had a dedicated fan base of millions who were trying to find out what happened next.
    In any case, what I want to ask both you and Josh, as well as everybody else on the ifanboy staff is: Did you like it? Did you enjoy having the story spoiled? I don’t care about the why’s or how’s, or the reasons why you feel this is a necessary evil. It’s obvious that we’re not going to agree on that. And not just about this story, which was titled “Death of Spiderman” but also for “3” on Fantastic Four or any other case like this one. Do you like the fact that Marvel is going out of its way to give away the details for a temporary boost that has been shown time and again not to last in the long run? Or do you think that maybe its time for them to step up their game a little and try to change things? The way things are going, our hobby will die. All due to the shortsightedness of a small group of people at the two largest comic book companies in the world.

  30. On the plus side, I have to respect ifanboy for having an actual spoiler tag on the article when the announcement was made. Comicvine was the first place I saw it and they put it right there in the title. Amateurs…

  31. @Smasher  Yes, that’s what I said.

    @nick7913  Like I said, Marvel doesn’t care when you speak out against something. They only care when you stop buying. You can’t compare TV shows to comics. Lost didn’t need to attract more viewers. It had millions already.

    As for how we felt about the story, you’ll have to wait until the next show. But I will say that having the story spoiled took a lot away from it. I never said (and Josh never said) that these marketing practices are a GOOD thing we just said they are a REALITY. I wish that as many poeple bought Ultimate Spider-Man as watched Lost so that Marvel wouldn’t feel the need to have to resort to these tactics, but they don’t, so Marvel does. Right now.

  32. @conor Agreed. I wish there was a better ploy that the death of a character but it’s human nature. We love it when someone done get got.

  33. @josh  I try to be really disciplined about what I buy. I give myself one book per publisher per month (of the top five or six). Frankly, I love Red Robin (and am looking forward to Batwoman) and X-Factor, but don’t find much in the big two that really interests me all that much. With that said, I can be sucked in in a heartbeat by a promo or a snazzy cover. Many of the recent Batman and Robin covers have brought me back into that book. In the case of Johnny Storm, I complained about the fact that he isn’t really dead (IMO)–but reading the story also compelled me to buy the issues back to where I had stopped reading it, because it really has become a pretty decent book. In the case of Spider-Man, I’m not interested, I’m not buying, and I’m not complaining either. I’m not suggesting that people do or don’t have a right to complain. I’m just saying that when someone suggests a producer of any good or service “doesn’t owe you anything” they’re ignoring basic economic facts.

    Do you think it is possible to break down the buyers into subgroups? How many of those picking the issue up are folks new to the book who may or may not stay with it (but who probably don’t have much to say about the “stunt” itself), and how many are “collectors” who are buying the book because it is a “death” issue and for posterity (and who also may not have much to say about the story or the “stunt”), and how many are regular readers who are invested in the book and do perhaps feel put off by the turn the story as taken. I don’t think you can blame folks in that latter category for continuing to read while complaining at the same time.

  34. WELL SAID JOSH! “Nuff said”

  35. @mguy77  Publishers have systemic reasons for not keeping their mouths shut. Retailers make ordering decisions based on solicits. How would you feel as a retailer if you only ordered X copies of a key issue based on your store’s historic buying patterns, the publisher didn’t say anything, and you were left out in the cold when you sold out in 30 minutes?

  36. @conor  I was just stating my opinion that this is the wrong way to go about expanding their readership. This approach has been tried so many times that even non-comic book readers are starting to catch on. Didn’t Captain America die? Didn’t Batman die? Didn’t Torch die? The deaths are kind of starting to pile up. Say what you want about the gimmicky 90’s but they only really had one major death (Superman) and Batman being crippled (plus a lot of stuff that was unpleasant but I digress). I don’t see this having any long term benefit and I don’t see either of the big two actually having a long term plan. Does anyone really think DC’s 52 thing is going to work? How many of those titles will start below 20.000 orders and how many will fall to those numbers in 5-6 months?
    The reason that Marvel dominated the industry over DC was that during the 60’s they had a very tight line-up of books that one man could oversee and ensure quality across the board, with tight continuity where it mattered. As soon as they started expanding the stable of books and rebooting franchises to undo character development that had been made up to that point they started steadily losing readers. Ssee for example how they brought Sue and Reed back to FF after they had moved on around issues 300-350. Plus they undid the Thing’s breakthrough where he had finally accepted himself for who he was. To preserve their franchise they made it stale and uninteresting by making it perpetually return to the status quo.
    Marvel saw a resurgence during the 80’s with the X-titles, because (Uncanny X-Men in particular) they had classic characters as well as new ones introduced all the time, they had people growing up, changing, evolving. Kitty Pryde came in a child and went out a Samurai tech-wizard. And yet as soon as they started the endless crossovers and reboots they lost all flavor.
    It’s not a surprise that Ultimate Spider-Man was as good as it was. Overseen by a single writer from beginning to end, it presented Peter’s journey from boy to… Damn. I wan’t to say man but it’s just sad… But he became a man damnit. The world around him changed, his relationships changed, JJJ changed and it felt plausible and real. We went from point A to point B and it was a hell of a journey, instead of just going round and round. Now if they could only take the lessons learned from what is essentially a niche title as well as from their overall history and apply them to their mainstream titles, maybe they can find a better recipe than the one they have right now, which is basically a recipe for disaster. 

  37. I should never have picked up the first ultimate collection spider-man less than a month ago.  If I touch it, it’s only a matter of time before the story goes sour (I have a handful of other examples, too.)  Getting over it involves ditching this and finding something else until that goes poorly; and I thought a continuity of over 70 years would be something stable to become “addicted” but I’m being proven wrong there, too, (thanks DC).

    Anyway, I’m getting USM #160 to read the end and may call it quits with Ultimate Marvel when Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates concludes (of Fallout), but no new number 1s I’m thinking, even with Spencer and Hickman coming aboard.

    Anyway, I guess I’ll do the best I can to make the figures hurt and eventually call it quits.  The closer we get to the end of August, I’m finding it easier to say good-bye to the comics industry and find something else to enjoy for five years before it grows corrupt and disappointing.

  38. [[But seriously, enough with the indignity, and the idea that these companies are somehow “disrespecting” fans. You’re owed nothing. It’s not a personal relationship, and these characters aren’t real. Enjoy them, have fun, and don’t take it so hard.]]

    And I have a problem with this.  Clearly, I’m one of the people who does develop a “personal relationship” with these “aren’t real” characters.  They aren’t and only irrational fools would do such a thing as grow attached, but the ideas are very real and empowering.  When I see something like that fall, it all falls apart but that’s me being an irrational fool.  I get what you’re saying, but it’s easier said than done and I’m still fighting it, have been for many years and not seeing any change in the future.  Any way, charachters not real, ideas very much so; when idea falls apart, it all does. Oh well.

  39. I reserve the right to complain when a story I’ve been reading for a long time gets spoiled for press. I don’t care about Marvel’s financials, I’m sure they’re doing better than I am.

  40. Crackin’ eggs!  Life lessons!

  41. @cahubble09   It is just 24 hours give me time to read the comic before spoiling it.  Promote spoil do whatever you want on Thursday the day after.

    Spoilers are bad if I cant experience that comic for myself.  Tell me something big happens just dont tell me what the big thing is. 

    Matthew

     

  42. Thank you, Mr. Flanagan. I enjoyed this piece.

    I’m very torn. On the one hand, I get the business move: attract readers and make money. And, I know reading comics is strictly entertainment. However, I do have some personal investment in the books I read, similar to what jlddlj11 writes above. And I get slightly annoyed when storylines are spolied or new spins on old characters are weak, reused gimmicks. 

    Even if it’s a very, very small message to the company, I can choose what I purchase. In fact, not that it matters at all, I plan on dropping some books from the Big 2 soon. Maybe it’s finally time to pick up some of these Indy books that everyone seems to rave about?

  43. As ifanboy has gotten more involved and more friendly with Marvel and DC and the people that work there, I’ve noticed a lot more agressive defence of their more unsavoury practices which you would probably not share were you not so “inside” and which you probably wouldn’t have felt the same about just a few years ago? I bet I can find examples on the podcasts to back this up. You may say this is growing up, I think its giving up.
    I don’t think anyone comes to ifanboy to read articles defending poor struggling multibillion dollar household name corporations and you shouldn’t have to be their attack dogs.They are big enough and ugly enough to take care of themselves. You might have a platform on which to stand up and say “you’re wrong” to everyone, but how can we be? How we feel is how we feel. Saying “this is the reality, deal with it” is a sign of defeat and resignation – has Steve Rogers taught us nothing?
    After “knowing what happens in comics for the sake of mainstream marketing kind of blows for readers. And it does, most definitely” everything else in the article is just noise – if it blows for the readers then that can ONLY be a bad thing and no amount of justification makes that spoiled experience any sweeter for the people it was spoiled for. It’s escapism, do you really think people should be reading it thinking “this would have been so much better if I hadn’t known what was going to happen, but business blah blah economics blah blah quarterly sales blah”? Is this what comics are about from now on? Disappointment and resentment and making justifications because of reasons that have nothing to do with the actual telling of stories?
  44. I don’t know why people have to get so worked up over this kind of stuff. People who don’t like mainstream comics don’t have to buy or read them. Even if you already know a character is going to die in a book or event, if the story is compellingly written, that should be all that really matters. People who want a different kind of experience, or expect mainstream comics to be what they are not, can either but a different type of comic book, write and publish their own comic books, or choose not to read comic books.

    I guess it’s just easier for some people to bitch and moan.

    When I finally get around to reading all 160 issues in trade, I don’t really think that knowing the broad strokes of the ending is going to diminish the experience all that much for me.

    Cheers. 

  45. Hey I didn’t make my post go into giant sized text, I wouldn’t even know how to. :/

  46. @player1

    I guess it’s just easier for some people to bitch and moan.

    No it’s not. It would be easier to shrug it off and forget about it and accept it. How can getting on your keyboard or getting on your soapbox be easier than NOT doing it? 

    Getting angry about wrongdoing is important, what would happen to mankind once we’ll just accept anything? Getting angry doesn’t make people immature or haters or anything else of the sort that I so regularly hear. In fact I’m pretty sure I remember a spectacular several-page rant by Peter in the pages of USM when he is saying says something along the lines of “Aaaarrrgh, when does this happen? At what point do people just give up on their beliefs and turn into these horrible broken, resentful adults who don’t stand up for things any more?”

  47. Smiling and shrugging is the new complaining. A plague of pointless saccharin non-chalance that demonstrates far more contempt for a serial creative artform than having a negative reaction to stupid cheap stunts and other assorted non-committal tangents.

    These annoyances and stunts once came from an interesting growth in a serialized medium, but evolved into [often] pointless cyclical interruptions to creativity.

    Comics have a long and storied history — that’s cool! That should be a selling point! The corporate owned characters that drive the biggest machines are always going to be around, destined to a bare minimum of change, and saddled with this long history. Why fight it? That’s kinda cool! That’s potential consumer reassurance rarely seen in these uncertain times!

    When’s the last time a major stunt pulled something positive off that couldn’t have just been done by doing it? Where’s the savvy? Most parties seem to agree the merits for these stunts aren’t often creatively motivated — but does the attention grab last? Are occasional spikes a business model that’s keeping the industry bouyant, or just teaching a new generation bad habits? Grinning acceptance of stupid stunts and a pattern disregard for good serialized storytelling seems to be the legacy of Gen Y’s readers.

    Maybe if everyone stopped desperately pretending to be well adjusted we could finally accept the nature of the medium and end the cycle of pointless stunts. Comics should be the home of an enlightened mastery of the on-going form that has almost no equivalent! Not an industry that thrives on burning the fossil fuel of its lush past!

    Maybe some bitching and moaning is exactly what we need!

  48. I’m going to sidestep a lot of the slinging about what companies should and shouldn’t do…  at the end of the day you can buy or not buy and thats what is going to resonate with the companies.   For the people who are complaining about spoilers in their comics, keep in mind that in the literary world there are many types of stories that are told.  Most often there is the story where we dont know how its going to end…and if the ending is given away, you have a legitimate gripe about a spoiler.   Sometimes a story is told where you already know the ending, and the story is in the journey to how you got to that point.   “Death of Spiderman” as a story, we know the result because of the title…  you can complain if someone spoils the how they got to that point for you…but its not a spoiler to say Spider-Man died!  At the beginning of this thread, someone mentioned the Death of Oracle storyline and saying that Oracle was not killed. They probably should re-read the story because A death of Oracle was reached…but again, the story is in how they arrived at that point.

  49. @nick7913  I got tired of Superman. So I stopped buying it. Does DC give a crap about me? No. Do I give a crap if they don’t give a crap? No. You should chill out a little. Gonna give yourself a coronary at a young age. Dude, you’re in Greece. The god damned Parthenon is there. So much history. Walk away from the computer.

  50. I saw LOTS of people on this very site say they were buying multiple copies of #160. The marketing gimmick worked. They moved more units. Corporate wolves were called off for a few weeks. 

    some are asserting that the iFanboys are apologizing for the big2….way off base, i just see a reality check. 

    If you don’t want spoilers stay off the internet, stay off comics sites, stay out of Previews. I didn’t find out which one of the FF died for 2.5 weeks and i was on the internet (and this site) almost everyday. Its possible.  

  51. I love that people think that bitching is ‘doing something’.  It reminds me of college. 

  52. For the record, I very much resent the implication that we’re somehow influenced by our relationships with comic publishers. It’s been coming up frequently. If our body of work, and the story linked at the top of this very piece, that I wrote, as well as the dozens of legitimate criticisms we’ve had of the industry don’t prove that we’re in fact level headed and fair minded towards the comic industry, then you’re just not paying attention. I’m not apologizing for jack nor squat in the industry. And I take that very seriously.

    You can definitely have a different opinion than me, but please lay off the “iFanboy are pawns for Marvel and DC”, because frankly that’s a massive crock of horseshit, and it’s offensive.

  53. @josh &conor: I’ve been listening for years, and I agree with a few posters that you guys have become much more cynical. I feel like the comics climate is to blame. Because of the site’s popularity, you fellows are in a sort of leadership position among fans. What we need is some Winston Churchill-esque inspiration, not thin apologies for stupid corporate fucknuts. Don’t accept the tasteless gimmicks of the big two, you’re too badass for that. I’ll stand up against corporate fuckery

  54. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @petevaldez  You’re calling them cynical apologists? These things don’t go together. 

  55. @petevaldez  Churchill-esque inspiration?  That’s a bit grandiose.  If you have been listening to them for years, then you also must have heard them say (many times), that if you do not like what the big two are doing, go pick up an ‘indie’ book. 

    A weatherman doesn’t apologize for the weather, he just talks about what is coming and why.  That is exactly what is going on here.  They report the news and theorize on the ‘whys’.  And you know what, most of the time, they hit the nail on the head.  This is the new climate, learn to enjoy or move somewhere warmer.  But don’t bitch about the weather.

  56. @PaulMontgomery  The Cynical Apologists was the name of my one-time improvisational jazz quartet.

    It didn’t end well for us either.

  57. @petevaldez  You’re way off base, along with the others criticizing this site and it’s creators. I can see where there’s a division in comics fans because many of us are growing tired of the impossible to please fanboy attitude. If they killed a character it sucks. If they bring that character back, it sucks. If so and so is on this book, it sucks. If so and so is taken off that book, it sucks. I can’t speak for the fanboys, but that shit gets old. FAST. I come to this site because they are level headed and the articles aren’t fanboy rants. There are generally really good discussions in this comments, too, so I know it’s not just me. But really, what makes it tiring is that you have the choice to walk away. No one is forcing anyone to come on the site and read the articles. Same as no one is forcing you to buy that comic you keep complaning about. Walk away from the computer. Take a breath.

  58. @daccampo  I remember your cut “Ironic Expectations.” Good stuff.

  59. @josh   I find that you guys are fair with your coverage. Of course you are going to report on trends, big events, and news-worthy things. But you report on indie books as much as Marvel and DC, which is a big plus. And you guys are critical in your evaluations of individual issues, events, and marketing. I would be much more suspect of you being “pawns” if you guys adopted an “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” attitude and only gave positive reviews. Instead, you guys are not afraid to go on record and call ’em like you see ’em.

    Sometimes it does seem like it’s a DC guy, a Marvel guy, and an indie guy, each pulling for their favorite publisher or group of publishers. For example, when Ron has some Marvel pick of the week that totally doesn’t jibe with the reader consensus, some may think he’s pushing some agenda. What they need to realize is that, to quote Lebowski, “…that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” It’s what whoever had the pick liked best, and if they have more invested in a particular universe or genre, that’s going to influence their pick to some degree.

    I think this is a good thing, actually. It ensures that there is a fairly balanced coverage of all publishers. And the other two are usually quick to point out when they disagree or the reader pick doesn’t match up.

    My only suggestion is that the official pick of the week should not be announced until the weekly podcast is available. Otherwise, you might be influencing the reader POTW percentages. And it doesn’t give many enough time to read all their books before the pick is announced.

  60. some see the advertising on the site and in the books as well as the ownership and make insane assumptions that all content on the site is purchased by publishers. That’s just stupid. All you have to do is read and comprehend the articles and listen to the shows, and you’ll find that these guys are pretty fair and honest with their opinions. They’re fostering discussion and offering honest opinion and criticism in a world of ‘cut and paste-press release’ comics sites…that’s a good thing. 

    If you don’t like what’s here, go away.  

  61. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @kennyg  That last bit isn’t going to happen. The system is in place. We trust readers to choose their own Picks on their own. 

  62. @wallythegreenmonster  Amen, brother. All you have to do is read Paul’s honest Green Lantern review while the site is skinned with its Green Lantern theme and you’ll realize that one thing does not lead to another. 😉

    It’s funny — I’ve listened to these guys for a long time, I’ve met them, hung out with ’em — they don’t strike me in any way different in terms of their feelings about the industry. They’ve always given their honest opinion on:

    – What books and creators they like and don’t like
    – what industry moves they like and don’t like
    – what fans/readers/posters say that they like and don’t like

    I think they have greater INSIGHT into the industry than they did before, and I see a greater appreciation and respect for the medium and those who help create it, but they also strike me as aware that their honesty is what got them to this point, and I don’t see any holding back when they don’t like something.

    Not that anyone on staff at iFanboy needs any defending here, but I felt like I needed to get that off my chest. ‘Cause, you know, I’m here every day reading what you guys write. And your work is appreciated.

  63. I wish iFanboy would do the opposite of what @kennyg suggests! I wish the POTW would go up Tuesday night at midnight.

    I’m guessing the publishers do not provide enough advance preview copies, or that josh/conor/ron wish to retain the “going to the store” routine to remain grounded/in-touch. But I’d much rather know their POTWs before making my trip to the comic shop. I’d almost always buy each of their picks, if I knew what they were.

    But… In the current economy, the local shops are exceedingly risk-averse in their ordering, and if you don’t want to have to subscribe/pre-order everything, you have to be at the shop right at the opening minute on Wednesday in order to have a fair shot at picking up new issues and finding most things in stock. 

    As such, the POTW is often useless for me, unless it’s something that’s bound to stick around in-stock until the following week. Which doesn’t happen much.
     

  64. @Josh if you were referring to my comments, I never said you were pawns or that your opinions were bought, I said you seem to have gotten to that [st]age where you are more willing to accept things that you know are wrong. And it is perhaps the case that being “inside” as I put it, has led you to sympathise with them and see things their way a little more. Maybe you have forgotten there is always another way – or at least that there should be.

    I don’t know, maybe your article should have suggested some downsides to this tactic or some other ways Marvel could have played it?

    As an argument, “Face the harsh reality of life, when you read your superhero comics” just doesn’t seem to work, that’s all.

    Neither does the argument “You have the power not to buy it”. I have around 25 Ultimate Spider-Man trades on my shelf, which have cost me hundreds of pounds. It’s probably my favourite comic ever. I’m sorry but choosing not to buy the next one, the one I now know is about the end of Peter’s story, isn’t a viable option. It just isn’t, and Marvel knows that.

    On the subject, the argument “just stay off the internet then” is also pretty dumb, I work online for one thing and even if I didn’t, I’m going to what, become a hermit?

    We all know how Marvel can sort their numbers out for this quarter, the next, and every one after that. Day and date digital comics for $1.99. I know it and I think you do, so why don’t they? Why do they think screwing up a story they’ve worked so hard to craft for every single person who reads it [those who actually care that is] is the only option they have? 

    For my part I’m sorry if I offended you, I read the article as a “defence” of Marvel when in retrospect I think @MisterJ’s weatherman analogy was perhaps more fair. But I still feel a level of “acceptance” in the piece that I think is a shame.

  65. @boosebaster  You present an us vs. them argument with fans on one side and the comic companies on the other. Like somehow, the comic companies are just out to get you, and Josh i has played right into their hands. Well, if that’s the case, they seem to have won, since you then tell us that there is absolutely no option but to buy the next issue. You know who else says that? Crackheads. More importantly, though, you do know not going online doesn’t make one a hermit, right?

  66. @nudebuddha 

    I’m not presenting that at all, but you just twist it whatever way makes you happy. I don’t hate Marvel, I don’t think they’re against their fans. I do however think this was a short-sighted and daft decision.

    And I said trades, not issues. In my position would you seriously consider being the proud owner of the first 24 USM trades in Peter Parker’s story but not the last book that tells how it ends? C’mon, seriously? I don’t believe it. I don’t think that makes me a “crackhead”. It makes me “human” perhaps and a “comics reader”. It would be far more unreasonable – insane even – for me to refuse to buy it just because of this.

    It would make me a crackhead if I wasn’t enjoying it and still bought it (like Ron refusing to drop Flash when he hated it for like, years). I’ve enjoyed it all to date, I’ll enjoy this arc when I read it, no doubt. Doesn’t mean Marvel’s approach here was correct. And it doesn’t mean my enjoyment of it won’t be lessened because of already knowing how it ends. This makes me the bad guy how? 

  67. @boosebaster  To be fair, you ARE presenting this as though Marvel is CLEARLY doing something WRONG. And that Josh, by “accepting” this in his opinion piece, is allowing this wrongdoing to go about unimpeded. Right? Is that fair?

    My problem with this is that it presents your opinion as clear fact, and doesn’t allow for the fact that Josh may have his OWN differing opinion. He may not see it as a “wrong” from Marvel, but as an unfortunate but necessary marketing tactic. In that light, he’s not “accepting” a wrong, but rather suggesting that, in his eyes, this is the reality of the marketplace.

    Your opinion, BTW, seems to be that Marvel doesn’t need this marketing tactic because if they go day/date digital for $1.99, it will fix everything. That’s a wild and broad proclamation, and I don’t think there’s much evidence to back that up. Marketing and Sales and Distribution are all different things, with a lot of variables, and there’s no clear cut route to bringing in new readers, or Marvel and DC would have both already done it.

  68. To boil this down to the essentials:

    When is spoiling the end of a story that absolutely no-one has had the chance to read yet RIGHT?

    Forget the marketing, and the business, and think about the story and the readers.

    Josh pretty much states in his first sentence that he doesn’t believe this is right (Unless “sucks” means good). I don’t think (I could be wrong, often am) that his opinion on that point differs.

  69. I actually said it “blows.”

  70. 🙂

    I had carefully avoided any spoilers on this story for months since I read the Chameleons story. I didn’t read any articles about it, I skipped past the many times USM was reviewed on the podcast. And then everyone from Marvel is on Twitter tuesday night saying “Peter dies tomorrow, go buy it!” 

    I would have avoided Twitter that night – but I don’t keep track of monthly schedules, I don’t know when it comes out – trade readers don’t usually fully keep track of that, why would we?

    Quesada, Bendis, everyone at Marvel has said they don’t care if people are only on trades, they say it’s a perfectly valid choice, as long as we’re reading that’s what counts. But that’s not true, we are treated like second-class citizens. I don’t think they do it with malice. I just think the industry is so focussed on the monthly cycle they just forget us.

    I don’t think there are that many pure trade readers around, so maybe I’m just living in a different world. 

    A savvy issues reader at least had the chance, knowing from the ending of #159 I’d guess, that something big would happen in the next one – so they then could have avoided the net for one night and pick up their 160 the next day and enjoy it properly, as some have said they managed to.

    I still think it was the wrong call from the issue-reader point of view as well though! It blows!

  71. @boosebaster  –if you watch an old episode of “The Brady Bunch” they have a recurring expression…”You can’t fight City Hall”. In this case, city hall being Marvel or DC. Wrong or Right, they are going to do what they’re going to do so you have to adjust your day to day to keep the story from being spoiled. Assume that they will issue press releases for these mini events. IF spoilers really get your undies in a bunch, you have to be vigilante in staying away from the media outlets like yahoo, CNN, comic sites , twitter etc. Its just 24 hours like you say so no big deal. Really thats a personal thing, and if you want to be surprised at anything whether its comics, sports etc in this day and age of the 24 hr instant media cycle, you have to do the extra work if you want surprises.

    Case in point. i went 2 weeks before i broke down and sought out the spoiler for which member of the FF died. I didn’t want to wait any longer for the 2nd printing. And i went on the internet every day. 

  72. “Its just 24 hours like you say so no big deal.” But I just made this point – I wouldn’t have known for which 24 hours I was avoiding stuff!
    This is about two different things 1) spoilers and the fact that they blow – I was just thinking about how everyone involved with ifanboy.com goes to all possible lengths to help people avoid spoilers, they always make it clear something is coming up you might want to avoid and 2) the vast differences in the way that issues readers and trade-only readers consume their comics.

  73. @boosebaster  Yes, Josh said it ‘blew.’ But he’s also saying (as I read it), that this is just the reality of the marketplace. His opinion piece is not about what Marvel is doing, but about how overblown this can all get. That’s not accepting that it sucks, that’s understanding that the marketplace — as you yourself have noted — is made up of a bunch of hardworking people who have to make difficult choices. So, no one’s saying that spoiling the story is “right” in terms of readers and stories — just that Marvel has decided that it can benefit MORE from spoiling it to the media. Spoiling to media = bringing in readers = sales = ability to continue to deliver stories to customers. So to put it bluntly: THAT’s when it’s “right.”

    (And, yes, I hate calling that a “right” — it’s more of a necessary reality, which is what I was trying to point out.) 

  74. Or to maybe say that more succinctly: Marvel is a business. They CAN’T “forget the marketing and the business.” It’s the very thing that allows them to keep bringing stories to the readers.

  75. Spoiling to media = bringing in readers” … is that necessarily a given?

    It does seem, unfortunately, that, the “character death gimmick” is the only thing that can get national media attention reliably. 

    But, say they didn’t alert USA Today until the morning it dropped, or gave them an embargo until noon that day… I can see where the marketplace realities reinforce the death gimmick, I just don’t understand why spoiling it the day before is necessary. This targeted audience of new readers aren’t in the habit of hitting up stores on Wednesday, so, if they don’t hear about it until Thursday, I don’t see why the “spoiling” is a requirement.
     

  76. @citizenmilton Marvel seems to think so. And retailers seem to confirm it, based on Josh’s account.

    I have my guesses as to why Marvel feels the need to use this tactic. But you can bet that they’re aware of how it comes across.

    Like any business, they’re not going to keep doing it if it has an adverse effect. So, obviously, if they’re contining to use this tactic (releasing the news to the media early), then it must be having some measurable effect — or at least no sign of an adverse effect to sales. Until that changes, we’ll continue to see this kind of thing.

  77. Like any business, they’re not going to keep doing it if it has an adverse effect”

    Businesses do things that have adverse effects all the time. Haven’t we all worked for one that makes bad decisions, adopts poor strategies, etc.?

    One could argue that death gimmicks, unreliable deadline/release-dates and event fatigue are among the activites that have created the adverse effect of overall industry-wide sales decling. But within the relative numbers of an overall decline, death gimmicks and event miniseries are among the best sellers. It’s possible for both to be true simultaneously.

    I’m just glad that sooner or later, some of these particular grievances w/ the status quo of the industry will be transformed by day+date digital delivery.

  78. @citizenmilton  Yes, and if they don’t LEARN from the adverse effects, they go out of business. If they learn and adapt, they thrive. Right? I mean, that’s the basic gist, as I’ve seen it.

  79. Aside from the wider issues, isn’t the fact that it’s an “alternative” Peter Parker who dies just going to confuse non-regular comic readers?  Seems like a weird book to push.
     

  80. Character deaths, new powers, new costumes, poly-bagging, spoilers etc. are all short-term ‘fixes’. In any business, from say plumbing to sales, short-term fixes do not induce long-term positive change on the whole but serve only as a temporary means. I think the more they’re used in a comics context, the less effective (and more eye-rollingly predictable) they become cheapening and diluting comics culture on the whole.

    Let’s hope the DC move is the sort of long-term fix that derives an increase in readers and good stories, removing the need for all these short-term ‘tricks’ completely. Kudos DC.

    Hopefully this can help the big two begin a way of solving industry wide problems without compromising current story-lines and characters or crossing regular readers in exchange foe brief, cheap mainstream-media-D-list-news-story-mentions. At the moment though, it seems like it’s a necessary evil.

    Long live funnybooks… Roll on September!  

  81. Can everyone just cut it out with the “Knowing what happens doesn’t detract from the story”? It’s crystal clear if you’ve read it that it’s supposed to be a surprise. At no point does it feel as if Peter isn’t going to make it. He does his usual routine, tells his jokes and if I didn’t know he was going to die I would have been sure that he’d get away somehow in the end. There is NO REASON to make apologies for the sad little coorporation that is going to rake in more money than any of us is likely to see in his lifetime.
    What they did totally spoiled the story for me and for a lot of other people. If it was justified or not is besides the point for me, the reader. I don’t believe they are justified but putting that aside, from the perspective of a guy who picks up a comic book to get a good story, I was denied part of it. And for what? It’s not like they couldn’t hype it without spoiling it. I thought “Everything changes” was their favorite line.
    Anyway, a few years down the road when me and others like me who’ve gotten fed up with these cheap stunts have dropped all of their titles and bestelling things that used to sell 200,000 issues, that now only sell 100,000 have shrunk down to a fanbase of 30-40,000 you can point to things like this when analyzing what happened.

     Last year my pull list had 5 DC titles in it and 10-15 Marvel ones. Now there’s just 2 from DC (just Vertigo) and 5 from Marvel. I’m done making excuses for those guys. Maybe you should too.

  82. @nick7913  I agree with you. I dropped Fantastic Four after they screwed me out of the surprise at the end of 3 in favor of some media coverage. 
    I only collected the series since 2003, stayed with it through some great runs and some horrendous ones. But having the ending put out to the media after telling fans it was gound to be polybagged to PREVENT the ending from being spoiled…then to end it just to relaunch it with another #1 issue, well, I dropped it. 
    I’ve gone from 10 or so Marvel titles to just two.  

  83. I’d also like to add that even though the Parthenon is in Athens, we’re pretty much third-class citizens when it comes to comic books. We get them with at least a two week delay. To avoid spoilers on Ultimate Spider-man, I illegally download the latest issue even though I still buy it at the store (I’m a strong believer in supporting what you like). But even those scans take up to a week to hit the web sometimes. So it’s not like it’s just 24 hours without visiting comic book sites or going online at all. And all for a temporary band aid solution that causes more problems than it solves in the long run.

    Have a look at the FF diagram on this page:
    http://enterthestory.com/comic_sales.html
    Does that look like a healthy business plan? That’s what’s destroyed the industry. 

  84. Sometimes I don’t check back on articles for ages, and then when I do it’s like the Internet threw up in the comments section.

  85. @boosebaster and @player1…I’m gonna have to go ahead and say Josh’s article points out the simple truths but doesn’t mean we have to keep buying mainstream books, at the same time not all mainstream books are suffering lack of good story telling, there’s plenty of good books out there mainstream and indie. I feel ya on the sacrificing good stories for sales or the is money all comics are about but if your a business, it has to be about both and if your not making money, there’s no room for any stories. I currently read a little bit of everything and shuffle it around,try new things and pick up classic trades I never got to read in both Marvel and DC/Vertigo to Image,IDW,Dark Horse,Radical,Boom, and whoever else puts out a good book I wanna read.

  86. i really don’t understand people being upset. it’s called the death of spider-man. anyway, I always thought that the ‘killing off a character only to be resurrected again later’ was one of the cool tropes comics had going for it. what other media does it so often. well maybe transformers cartoons but i don’t mind seeing how long it’ll be before optimus prime dies and comes back in each tv series. and there’s usually pretty good storytelling avenues opened up that wouldn’t have been available. reed dies and sue becomes a much stronger leader, cap and bats dies and their pals get to wear the duds for a while, supes dies and four dudes vy for everyone’s attention, kyle dies for like a minute and guy goes apeshit as a red lantern. barry dies and wally takes over for a quarter century. if mar-vell came back (or even khn’nr, because he was such a cool concept of a character: a skrull pretending to be a kree outcast earth-based superhero!) i would totally buy the shit out of that book for how such a cool cat could impact the modern gritty marvel u. even the sentry, yes i would buy that book too. it’s about the journey dudes!

  87. @Matrix  And then they come back and all that character development gets tossed. Not a very cool trope after all.

  88. @nick7913  How exactly does the character development get tossed?  Last I checked, Sue is still strong; Superboy, Steel, and Cyborg Supes were still getting used; and Wally was still being used in the same manner while Barry was back, until his book sold too poorly.  So….

  89. Yea. Forget about these deaths, guys. Let’s start complaining about the “American Panther”… REALLY??…. really?

  90. Good discussion.

  91. @MisterJ  Last I checked, Mark Waid’s character development for Johnny Storm was completely tossed after he left, the Thing has gotten over his appearance many times and then thrown back to his original state for some cheap drama. Spider-Man refuses the one chance to move past Uncle Ben’s death by finally letting Aunt May to pass on and instead gets rebooted to an immature shadow of his former self, something that he’d never been even in the very first issues of his comic book. Bucky, one of the three deaths that were supposed to have been permanent, comes back in a cool way, gets great character development and Captain America dies, perhaps signaling the time for his legacy to be passed on. Then Captain America comes back and Bucky gets the shaft, because God forbid that somebody interesting should wear the Captain America armor and everything is back to the same status quo.
    And to give a DC example Barry comes back and Wally gets relegated to the back seat of comic books, just so a fanboy writer can write a character that he grew up with but which the world has left behind. Couldn’t Geoff Johns have created a new character instead of bringing in Barry? After all he’s totally rebooting him just like he did with Hal (another unneeded returning character). In fact, DC is the company with the most legacy characters. They’re the ones who could actually let their heroes age and eventually be replaced because newer readers do not care if Barry or Wally is the original. They care about the character you’re writing now. 
    I could bring a ton of examples of character development being scrapped. Any reader who’s been arround for a while can but I don’t see the point.
    Make no mistake, Marvel and DC HATE change. Their heroes are coorporate icons and should therefore remain unchanged forever so they can sell T-shirts and baseball caps with them on. Any significant change will be ultimately undone in the long run. (ironically, the Ultimate Universe is the one place where so far this hasn’t happened) The pieces keep getting shuffled around until everything is back in its original state. Then it starts all over again.

  92. @nick7913  DC and Marvel don’t hate change. The problem is that due to the nature of comic book stories, change is impossible to have. These are series that never end. When you are publishing a comic book for 20, 40, 60 years, you can’t have real change, because the character needs to always stay relatively the same.

    The biggest problem with monthly, on-going, super hero comics is that there is no third act. its ALL second ac. All of it. The nature of story is change. but change is impossible when you need Spider-Man, or Batman, or whoever to be essentially the same character month after month, year after year, decade after decade. It’s the biggest problem that comic book writers deal with. Some of them can pull it off and keep things fresh and interesting. most of them can’t. 

    If Batman ever figured out he was insane and got professional help and stopped dressing up like a bat and beating criminals half to death, the story would end and the comic would die. So Batman can’t ever really grow or change, or it’s over.

    It’s a flaw in the medium itself, not the individual companies. 

    Killing a character off is a way to bring some fresh stories in, as other characters then get to react to the deat, replacements can be used, new characters introduced who have new experiences, new situations. But eventually that gets stale as well, so they bring back the original characters to freshen things up yet again.

    It’s not great, but it’s the nature of the medium. There’s only so much you can do and still maintain the status quo. complaining about characters dying and coming back in comics is like complaining when a basketball team tries to put the ball through the hope. It is what it is. Either you accept it or you don’t.

  93. @JohnVFerrigno  It’s the nature of the genre of ongoing superhero comics, not the medium of comics in general, in which any kind of storytelling is possible. But other than that, yes.

  94. @nick7913  You misunderstood my point.  Matrix said that ‘death’ can lead to interesting character development.  You said that it did not.  I refuted your statement with the information about how Sue’s changes during Reed’s death stuck, how what happened with multiple Supermen stuck, and how Wally stayed the same after Barry came back.  My point was giving evidence to support Matrix’s idea.  This was not refuted in your response to me.

    My point was never about the generally static nature of the comic book medium, for all the reasons that JohnVFerrigno laid out, which I am in complete agreement with.

    That much having been said, if you think that Spidey is acting less mature now than he did back in the 60’s or even the 80’s, you need to re-read those books.  Beacuse it is exactly the same attitude with a little twist based on what is modernly ‘going on’ for young adults in that time period.  Also, who said that Bucky’s death was ‘supposed to be permanent’?

  95. @JohnVFerrigno  @josh  I have to disagree with both you gentlemen. I don’t think it’s the nature of either the medium or the genre that is the problem. It’s the particular approach taken by Marvel and DC. The problem lies in the brand recognition of particular heroes that is used for merchandising purposes outside of the stories. When the company tells you that you have to bring back that particular hero (no matter what long term plans you had for his replacement) because the movie is coming out this summer and you have to align the comic book version with the movie version, you have no choice but to do it.

    That’s probably the reason that I don’t find most mainstream titles that appealing anymore. Sitting around waiting for the latest crossover to finish so we can get back to the story, or jettisoning future plans just for a marketing trick is something I don’t find appealing and it seems to have crept into almost everything I used to love reading. That’s probably what I enjoyed most about the Ultimate Universe: It was a small tightly knit universe where changes made mattered in the long run. It’s a very weak argument that suits a coorporate executive mindset to state how difficult it is to keep stories fresh when you need to maintain the status quo. You don’t!

    We’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that this is the only way things can be done and lost sight of what stories should be about. It’s difficult to judge because there are very few series outside of the big two that have lasted long enough to be comparable. I believe Cerebus lasted around 300 issues with a clear end, right? Judge Dredd is getting older and will probably eventually be replaced. Which is the answer to the problem really.

    DC in particular had a very good plan for moving forward: Legacy characters. Almost all of their characters have some protege/sidekick who could eventually take their place, passing on the torch. Marvel good do the same by allowing older characters to pass on their roles to the newer ones, who may not be exact replicas, but who can do the job equally well. I don’t see why Fantastic Four has to be stuck in that same place for almost half a century. It’s a book about family, yet there’s no reason why is has to be that same family. Reed and Sue had children, Johnny could get married and have his own, Ben can stay on the team or retire. The universe will not be lessened if those particular characters slowly fade away and are replaced by new ones. I can still be reading the same comic my father read 30 years ago but with a newer generation og characters. The same goes for X-Men, Avengers etc.

    The problem with all these things is that by necessity they have to happen in the long run, something that has become impossible with the financial state the industry is in. Every solution is presented as the one that will fix everything easily NOW when the problem lies in the next 5-10 years. This is something Grant Morrison understood when he wrote the Death of the New Gods. Yes, Kirby was an amazing artist and his influence runs through many comics to this day. However it’s time to introduce the Fifth Wave of Gods into DC. The same applies to everything else. Also look at the sheer magnitude of content and changes he introduced to New X-Men, while preserving most of the things that made it recognizable. He brought the X-Universe into the present. Marvel responded by wiping all the changes he made in an attempt to mantain the staus quo.
    It’s not that they have no alternatives, it’s just that they don’t want to take the risks associated with the alternatives. That’s the problem you get when a creative company is run by businessmen instead of artists. Business men don’t understand this particular product. They try to distill it and come up with a formula that is guaranteed to be successful. Only problem is that no such formula exists, nor will ever exist. It’s the same reason that many big budget films lose that “something” that makes them special when going through Holywood bureaucracy. That’s the problem, not any limitation in the nature of the medium/genre.