Teased to Death


Fifteen years into the life of the internet as we know it, there has been a breakthrough. Marvel have figured it out. They have finally cracked the code for a spoiler-free world.

For years, comic book professionals have been flummoxed by this eternally regenerating parade of halfwits who, when given the opportunity to ask them any question on a message board or at a convention Q & A panel—any question at all about how or why they’re doing the work they do, like a live on-demand DVD commentary—choose to ask them, “So, what’s going to happen next in that book I like?”

If you’ve seen or read accounts of these conversations over the years, you’ve seen the pros’ answers go from good-natured and jokey (“everyone gets killed, ha ha”) to curtly evasive (“no comment; just wait and see”) to sincerely bewildered (“Do you really expect me to spoil the book we just spent two months working on because you asked? Why would you even want me to do that? Don’t you even want to read the story we’ve been painstakingly drawing every day for weeks on end? What drives you people in your relentless quest to destroy all that I have worked for?! I cry myself to sleep every night, did you know that, you vultures?”)

“What’s going to happen next?” I wish I were oversimplifying. People actually ask. All the time.

It’s clearly begun to wear on the talent, but none of their answers from sarcastic to sincere have ever stopped the halfwits. They keep asking to be spoiled. They keep reading the gossip and sneaking the peeks and brainlessly breaking the goddamn embargoes and severely bungling everything up for the rest of us. With the internet as leaky as it is, and Previews as Previewy as they are, it started to seem impossible for anyone with more than a passing interest in Captain Whatzisname to pick up a book without knowing about its last page three months in advance.

Then, somehow, Marvel cracked the formula. I don’t know what they’re paying Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker down there in their dungeon Marketing Lab, but somehow whatever Spoiler Genome Project they’re working on has come up with the way to immunize us all.

You see, ever since February, Marvel’s mad scientists have been giving us near-daily inoculations in the form of teaser ads. An exciting little glimpse at an Avenger… the titillating silhouette of a Secret Avenger… the same Secret Avenger laid bare… some kid in a leotard we’ve never heard of in our lives. With each new image, they introduced a tiny amount of foreknowledge into the public bloodstream until, over (what seemed to be an interminable amount of) time, we started building up an immunity. Then, just to push us over the edge, we got a series of booster shots in the form of a rip-off “parody” campaign from Image Comics so ham-handed and wrong-headed that a friend of mine is still literally “almost positive” that Kaboomerang is a new Avenger.

And then came the X-Men.

It only helped that all the teams and characters seemed to have been put in the same vial and given a spin in the centrifuge. Beast is an Avenger! Blade is an X-Man! Spider-Man may be both! Wolverine is a Pet Avenger! Thing was traded to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants for Magneto and a player to be named later!

The end result?: You could, at this point, tell me absolutely anything about any one of these teams and I would not only believe it, I would swear an affidavit that I saw the ad in March. “Franklin Richards is the Red Hulk? No, yeah, that sounds about right. I think I saw that promo in the last issue of Nova.”

(Ha ha!, of course that’s outlandish. No one knows who Red Hulk is. Two years into his book. You know it’s a compelling piece of storytelling when two years have gone by and the identity of the character you’re reading about still doesn’t even matter. It’s like if Michael Bay was still directing a beer commercial that he started when I was in college. The mystery just keeps getting more gripping, and not at all tiresome. But perhaps I digress.)

It’s not just me, either. If you opened up this site tomorrow and saw a spread of the Punisher, Boom Boom and Galactus that said, “I Am A New Defender,” honestly, would you even bat an eyelash anymore?

The masterstroke is that I don’t think these ads are even telling me anything. Even as I see these teasers, released officially by Marvel to formally announce what is actually going to be in their new books… I don’t really believe any of it is going to be in the books. The simple fact that they’re straightforwardly telling me all this is like prima facie evidence that it’s a trick. I don’t for a minute believe that Spider-Man is going to break the X-Glass Ceiling and be admitted by that old racist Professor Xavier into his mutants-only social club, and I double-dog don’t believe he’s bringing Future Hulk Lady Whatever-The-Hell in with him. Oh, I’m sure they’ll be in whichever book that is long enough to “count,” but I doubt the housekeepers on Utopia are making up any of the rooms for these people. The whole thing will go more like this: “Elektra is among you!… to see if you have a phone I could use. My car won’t start, and this outfit does not really accommodate a cell pocket. I really should invest in some kind of form-fitting cargo pant. Anyway, just let me call AAA and I’ll be out of your hair.”

Unless that doesn’t happen, and they’ve faked me out by not faking me out. You see? The teasers have been so unrelenting and bewildering that they have made me begin to question the nature of Truth. It’s ingenious.

Most importantly, I do not want to think about another preview, teaser, ad or spoiler again as long as I live. I have never before been so not-quite-literally beaten into submission. Every time a piece of news hits my iFanboy inbox now, I reflexively begin crying and confessing to an unseen torturer. The other day, I checked my mail while I was at lunch and ended up telling the waitress my social security number. I will certainly never ask anyone, “What happens next in that book I like?”

And convention season just started. We haven’t even hit the news-heavy part of the year. Pray for me.

Then again, maybe it’s just because I work here, and it’s my responsibility to stare at it all until it numbs me. (I give for you, and I give and I give.) Maybe the rest of you are paying just enough attention to be psyched, so help me gauge the zeitgeist. Am I alone in this? Are you only getting more and more tantalized with each nugget that reaches your brains, or are we all in this together? At this point, the only thing I can keep straight about any comic is that it probably launches in July.


Jim Mroczkowski almost inserted a few of his own joke ads into the teaser image before remembering, “Oh, yeah: everyone who ever had so much as AOL access did that already, back in February. Then, a month later, so did Robert Kirkman. Ten times.” Similarly effed-out jokes can be found via Twitter.


  1. Amen. And amen again.

  2. I know this are getting a little out of hand.  I gave up on previews and now we have these to watch out for.

  3. I don’t believe what is happening in X-Men either.

    Then again when you hear the ridiculous concept there is good reason I don’t want to believe it.

  4. Well said as usual, Jimski. I’m actually getting a bit annoyed at the whole slow release kind of thing, especially after I found out in some article that there are actually more New Avengers not including the ones we already heart about. Slightly ridiculous in my opinon

  5. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’ve generally enjoyed the slow reveals. Sure I don’t care about all of the reveals (ex: Avengers Academy), but I enjoy reading all of the wild speculations and reactions to the reveals. I figure if I get sick of it, I don’t have to click on the article or image. Granted, Jimski is obligated to keep in the know on most of this stuff, so I guess that’s a different issue.

  6. The ads were done (for the most part) based on the strength of the character.

  7. The downside is that critics and fans base their critiques largely on the marketing.  Even on the iFanboy podcast, you can hear their critiques are heavily influenced by the marketing, and not the stories.  It taints what is suppossed to be a true critique, and instead we have a critic basing 80% of his critique on the marketing, not actual story.  This has happened on the iFanboy review podcast countless times.  To truly critique, these things must be separated.  If not, the critique fails every time.

  8. Would you mind citing a few examples of iFanboy engaging in the behavior you describe?

    Think of it as a quality assurance survey. Your call may be monitored so that we may serve you better.

  9. @Kickass-I love that you do so many of your blanket statements without any reference point or citation. 

    BTW, not saying that you are incorrect, just saying that you rarely make any reference back to prove up your point.

  10. I gotta go with Kwok here. I like the slow reveals, especially when it comes to the team rosters, as that’s one of the most fun aspects of launching a new team book! Anyone remember those awesome old Avengers issues, where the entire book was devoted to figuring out "Who will be the NEW Avengers?" Lots of fun, I say, and focusing these teasers on the roster and not spoiling any of the story points is tantilizing me without annoying me. Bring on con season!

  11. Great article Jim. Not sure how I feel on the subject, but that’s mainly because I only just now discovered that it WAS a subject after reading this article.

  12. And now X-Force has that Secret Avengers like teaser with only Wolverine revealed.  I think.  That one did happen, right?

  13. This is probably the worst time to say it but… I am an Avenger… I was gonna tell you eventually, I swear!

  14. The truth is, we’re all secret avengers.

  15. Specifically, it would be when critics cite marketing and respond with "This is not as good as we were told it would be."  A recent example would be "Sweet Tooth" where a big moment or change was to take place in issue #3 or #4 I believe.  The response on the podcast was "Wasn’t as good as we were told it would be."  There are numerous responses to marketing like this, many on Marvel & DC books as well, moreso with Marvel. 

    Another would be near endelss complaints of delays, which again have nothing to do with story, yet are used in critiques as if they were part of the story.  Again largely influencing the critical discussion and replacing story elements with discussion of delays and anger towards the story.  It fails what is suppossed to be an actual critique at times. 

    That’s the marketing being interpreted as something negative.  It’s a downside to what comics marketing is, when it’s interpreted incorrectly by individuals.

  16. Well, the marketing worked for me on this one. I’ve been primarily buying DC single issues for a while but have been keeping up on Avengers happenings via trade. The teasers got me excited enough to preorder three of the series (AVENGERS, SECRET AVENGERS, and NEW AVENGERS) via DCBS. Iron Man, Thor, and Cap on a team again? Beast as an Avenger? Thing swapping his FF short pants out for a pair with a different letter of the alphabet? They got me. And by debuting these people one at a time it made it special when they debuted a character that I cared about.

    It did get a little old as time went on, but it didn’t actively anger me. It didn’t help that they did it for the AVENGERS ACADEMY, as those were all relative unknowns. The idea worked well when it was characters we already knew.

  17. I think the problem, at least for me, with long drawn out advertising promotions, is that whatever buzz and momentum you create with the first two or three announcements is quickly squashed by having it be long and drawn out. With the amount of information we all receive in this Internet age, it’s so easy to forget something as soon as you receive it. Honestly, I forgot Blade is an X-man until I read this post. Get to the point already. Someone at Marvel needs to sit their marketing person down and have a nice little chat with him or her.

  18. I would definitely agree there’s a problem with the sheer volume of these teasers, in that the numbers of them dilutes the effect of any that are actually something special.  Still, I think it’s important to draw a line between these endless teasers and actual news.  I steer clear of the previews we get in comics at the moment, who wants to read 5 or 6 pages of a comic I’ll spend $3-4 on in a couple of months.  On the other hand though, I do use Previews to order from my LCS in advance, as they can’t afford to order everything for the shelf and I want to know where my favourite creators will be etc.  I still take an interest in press releases like the one about Casanova coming back this weekend, but those endless X-Men images bored me to tears.

  19. Oh Kaboomerang….

    We need more puntastic names like that in comics.

  20. Oh, I GOT ONE!

    Invisi-blue. He’s a guy who’s dressed in Blue and can go invisible. 

  21. All along, I’d suspected but it’s true. WE are the problem!

    I’m sorry everyone. The show will be canceled immediately.

  22. I like the idea that marketing can be "interpreted incorrectly," like it’s Biblical text. Marketing exists to entice audience; marketing fails the reader, not the other way around. If you tell the audience that issue #3 is pivotal so they buy it, and then it’s not, of course it is going to shade the reader’s experience. That’s exactly what it was designed to do. It just did it really badly.

  23. @Kick-Ass- So your "recent" example of this deplorable behavior is from a comic that came out 6 months ago?

  24. So when a sitcom is sold to me as being ‘hillarious’ and then it’s not. Does that count as judging the product properly?

  25. Well, I’ve gotta go with @kwoktalk on this one. Of course, I work in marketing, so I am the Enemy. 😉

    But in this instance, I’m just the fan. Thus far, I’ve been intrigued along the way, and it’s kept me actively thinking about what’s coming up for Marvel. I’m not sick of them, haven’t felt overloaded, and if I’m at all representative of the market, they’ve been pretty successful in piquing interest in upcoming series.

    Of course, I see this "Marvel formula" as being at least partly an answer to the Internet and the direct market ordering system. I mean, there’s a reason these teasers are rolled out right before Previews pre-orders are due. Retailers can gauge interest based on the net buzz and their customer’s pre-orders. We no longer really exist in a system where the way to get your reader to read the next issue is by having a great cliffhanger at the end of the last issue. You have to get them to (get their retailer to) pre-order the series to guarantee it’ll be in stock.

    Maybe I’m in the minority, though. Maybe Jimski is on the bubble of the "marketing backlash." So… honest question: has anyone CHANGED their mind about the upcoming series out of annoyance of Marvel’s marketing? Has anyone though, "you know, i WAS going to buy Secret Avengers until they rolled out that ‘We Are The X-men’ campaign. Now I’m just done with Marvel." 

    I suspect that ‘not batting an eye’ isn’t really a bad thing. I think despite the weariness (and wariness) of the internet vanguard, a Galactus "I am a New Defender" teaser released tomorrow would still get dozens of responses and a lot of postulatiing on Twitter.

  26. Great article. I felt much the same when I noticed these ads.

    The only thing, Jimski, is that I really don’t think these ads were made to target the "parade of halfwits" who ask "What’s happening next?" at cons.

    Rather, it seems really obvious to me that Marvel (and to a slightly lesser extent DC) rolls out these teasers to suit the fanboys on the internet. I mean, no offense to iFanboy or any other site like this–because this is part of what you’re supposed to do–but Marvel knows they can count of you to make a "repeater" article for almost every "news" item and teaser image they release. So this atomsphere of obnoxious hype that a lot of readers are finding more and more annoying–well, WE (myself included) are all willing participants in it; in a way we encourage it even when we type articles and comments complaining about it. If you really don’t like it, then the only thing you can really do is ignore it, which is what I’ve been doing more and more lately.

    daccampo: "So… honest question: has anyone CHANGED their mind about the upcoming series out of annoyance of Marvel’s marketing? Has anyone though, "you know, i WAS going to buy Secret Avengers until they rolled out that ‘We Are The X-men’ campaign. Now I’m just done with Marvel.""

    *Raises hand.*

    I may not be the most pure empirical test subject since I had been looking for a reason to get out of almost all monthly books anyway, but, yeah, that’s pretty much what happened with me.

    I’m tired of being marketed to death and baited into overhyping everything and/or debating whether or not something is being overhyped.

    I’m just done with Marvel with the exception of cheap back issues, X-Men Forever, and the occaisional trade (usually trades of stuff from long ago.

    When I first heard that JRJR was going to be joining Bendis on a relaunched "Heroic" Avengers title, I was leaning toward buying the first arc in issues as it came out. I thought it sounded like a fun idea. I’ve never been a big Bendis fan, but I did love his Daredevil run and also liked the then-recent Dark Avengers Annual, so with that fresh in my mind I was pretty nonchalantly, casually looking forward to the upcoming Avengers series. But then the avalanche of hype happened, all of the "I Am an Avenger" teaser images, the different Avengers teams, and the "relentless" (to use Jimski’s great term) assembly line of mysterious teasers, more every single day. It got to the point where I felt that thinking about the prospect of reading even the one new core Avengers title was akin to signing up for a whole new "Avengers" lifestyle, where I was pressured to debate every little facet of the Avengers line, on cue, whenever a new gimmicky ad was released–before the titles came out even. So then I thought, "You know what? Fuck it. I was ready for a nice, fun, casual, open-minded purchase of a new title. But fuck it. You’ve spammed me to death and tried to bait me into caring 10000000x more about this stuff than I ever could possibly care. So fuck it."

    It was kind of the same with the "I am an X-Men" images. I had already made up my mind six months ago to slowly ween myself off the X-titles, because I was buying like six of them a month. And I wasn’t resentful or mad. I just didn’t want to buy them anymore because my enjoyment was a case of diminishing returns. I wanted to quit while I was ahead, before the annual big crossover X-event happened, so with each title I picked a good point to drop off. My last issue was the recent Uncanny where Kitty returned. I thought, "Okay, maybe I’ll come back to the X-titles this summer if I hear they’ve been good." But now that I see all these gimmicky, "shocking" ads about "I Am an X-Men"–I’m not predisposed to keep an open ear anymore. And I’m not going to actively try to check back in and get a pulse for the titles in the near future either, because what Marvel has communicated to me via this advertising is that the near future of the X-titles (AFTER this whole big derivative crossover is done) is going to be based on short-term gimmickery, like Spidey and She-Hulk being X-Men. If the comics are good–then cool. But these short of things are announced in such a gimmicky and obnoxious way by Marvel, that they don’t get the benefit of the doubt from me. I’ll wait till long after they’re over, and then maybe if I happened to hear that any of them were good, then I’ll pick up the trade or whatever, if I see it heavily discounted.

    But as far as the whole root subject of more and more and more premature spoilage goes, that’s why I like Morrison’s Batman stuff so much: because the actual spoilers ("Who is the Black Glove?" "Who is Oberon Sexton?") haven’t EVER leaked prematurely, and the nature of the mysteries themselves are usually so complicated (almost to the deteriment of the story, I admit) that learning the answers wouldn’t really mean much anyway: Rather, the important thing is following the story and seeing HOW things play out and uncovering the reasons WHY things happened. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but that sort of slow-burn thoughtful appreciation is a lot more satisfying to me than any of this gimmicky Marvel stuff. Notice how all everyone focuses on are the questions of WHO is going to be on what Avengers team–never the WHY or the HOW of these teams’ origins.

  27. @flapjaxx — Fair enough, though you admit to that often funny fanboy trend where we’re "looking for reasons to drop titles" (which is an article in its own right.

    But on your last comment — I think the point of the teasers is to purposely focus on the "who" rather than the "how or why." Because for the most part, the WHO just opens up avenues — oh, "why is so-and-so still there?" etc. Whereas, the moment you start getting into the how and why, you’re starting to give away what you want to REVEAL in the first issue. That’s content, in my mind. The "I am" posters are just simple images that keep it on your radar but keep the mystery going. That’s personally why I find none of these ads to be overbearing.

  28. I only pay enough attention to get excited for stuff. I don’t want to know exactly whats going to happen in the books, so a little teaser like marvel has been putting out is perfect for me.

  29. As much as I loved Flash #1 that teaser in the back really pissed me off.

    It’s the first fucking issue don’t tease something coming at some point in 2011, really really irked me for some reason. 

  30. I continue to, to a greater or lesser degree, be entirely successful in ignoring previews and spoilers. They don’t break my tender heart if I see them, but I like to be surprised as much as I can. Believe or not, it isn’t that hard to do.

  31. Teaser images like the Avengers have become oversaturated in a matter of weeks. Much like the holofoil cover before it, I just don’t care anymore. Instead of beating one horse into the ground why wasn’t the next set of teasers dialogue quotes from the first arc? Why not out of context panels? How about some tongue in cheek “who won’t be an avenger”? Perhaps a one page strip about Jarvis being the only butler for all 75 Avengers?

    I love the tease, but there’s a reason there’s more than one dancer in the club.

  32. I just have to say, I take "Blah blah blah is a Fantastic X-Venger" over "Many will be wounded, several will die" every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  33. Let’s be honest – who here didn’t have at least one moment of glee over one of the revealed characters?  If it did happen at least once, the campaign worked.  If you buy one of these, even to see if this is a Hindenberg-level crash and burn, the campaign worked.  Also, if this means writers get to start telling their stories without having to do six-issue "getting the band together" arcs, more power to ’em.  Or, now that we know who’s in the band, it will be more fun watching it get together. 

  34. I just saw an Arby’s commerical where the word "kaboomerang" was used.

  35. @BC1 – SCENE: New Avengers Issue 1

    Jessica Jones: "No, I don’t care what you say Luke, I can’t do it. I have a baby to raise! I’m not going to be a New Avenger! I just won’t!"

    Me: "Oh don’t pull this #$%^! Yes you #$%^!ing are! I’m not waiting six issues for this! Go put that costume on!"

    (Just kidding!)

  36. I don’t know why, but I’ve really been enjoying the Marvel teasers. Enough that I might jump back on one or more of the Avengers books. Maybe it’s because I don’t pay any attention to Previews and those teasers are all I’ve seen. Also, I only see those teasers when I want to click on the link, they aren’t thrust into my inbox every day, so that might help too. I even enjoyed the Image parody, but then not so much the actual reveal (don’t know why).

    @Kick-Ass – Mentioning a delay while reviewing a book seems entirely reasonable. Comics use serial storytelling and a main component to keeping people hooked and making the story good is momentum. A 6-month delay will kill the momentum and defnitely tarnish a person’s experience with the book. Mentioning it is something that has to be done when talking about the book.

  37. Hey, if we say nothing on delays, all books will end up like Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine.



  38. Jim makes me not want to log on ifanboy. Ever-again! I think I have ad-phobia: previews and spoilers and sneak peaks oh-my.