Torrents, leaks and spoilers Oh my!

Posted: December 19, 2012 in Editorial Not, Marvel, Rants
Tags: , , ,

At least the cover is awesome. A great way to celebrate a milestone. Property of Marvel Comics.

By Alex Headley
So, Amazing Spider-Man #700 has been leaked online. Presumably by someone involved in the printing process. Marvel and writer Dan Slott are understandably upset about the whole thing. Though I don’t care about Marvel’s feelings as much when they plaster spoilers all over any news outlet that will let them; it hasn’t happened in a while but it seemed like, for a time, we were getting big news from USA Today instead of the comic shop. I do feel for Slott though, as a creator this is his lifeblood and while I don’t particularly like Spider-Man or the direction he is taking the story anyway, the leak puts a negative spin on the whole thing from the beginning. Now instead of waiting for feedback on a story he obviously cares a great deal about, he’s receiving death threats (WARNING: there are numerous spoilers in that article) before its even been published. That’s a real downer for a guy that makes his living off of pleasing fans; not to mention its freaking crazy. I know fans are passionate but death threats are just ridiculous. Not exactly good PR for comics nerds like me.

I’ll keep this spoiler free, mentioning only what we know from solicits and interviews. This story sets up the new ongoing title Superior Spider-Man which sets an edgier tone for Spidey and takes Peter Parker out of the mask (which seems like odd timing what with the new movie franchise). We’ve known this before but the question has only been of who might take up the mantle, 700 sets that up. The idea of a new guy taking over for a classic hero has been done so many times it’s a trope. And using that in an attempt to make the character edgier and unpredictable is a particularly tired trend in comics.  Jean Paul Valley, Bucky Barnes, Guy Gardner (or any of the Earth GLs), Eradicator, Scarlet Spider, etc; the list goes on but the status quo always bounces back. It’s the nature of comics. Plenty of heroes have been replaced with edgier versions over the years, Spider-Man included, and like all of those examples, this will blow over. That said, I’m sure some good stories can come out of it. A writer like Slott doesn’t just decide on something like this overnight. He’s been planning and he has a story that he wants to tell and Marvel has decided it is worth telling. It seems like this was Slott’s plan all along, which is interesting and makes it a little more fun. Why did he want to do this, why in this particular fashion? Since its, supposedly, an editorial mandate by the head honchos at Marvel I think we might be in for an enjoyable ride with Superior Spider-Man. It’s not on my pull list anyway, as I said I’ve never been a Spidey fan, but I hope fans are willing to give it a shot and find it enjoyable.

The cover to Superior Spider-Man #1. Notice how edgy it is. Property of Marvel Comics.

But the real issue, to me, is how people learn about big changes like this. The Internet has changed the way entertainment operates and not always for the better. This has affected movies in an obvious way, rumors and set leaks are a dime a dozen these days. Cracks, hacks, torrents and other illegal downloads have plagued video games for years now. What makes it particularly rough for comics though is that it’s mostly in suspense of what’s to come that people but the books every week. The serialized format is full of cliffhangers and what-if moments that keep people coming back. Take away that suspense and your weekly pull is much less exciting. Now, I’m sure some people download comics just to scratch that itch and then still pay for the book at their local store but many more read their books completely free of charge and ahead of schedule. Thanks to Disney, Marvel isn’t exactly hurting these days and Warner Bros. can support DC but where leaks and scans really hurt is at the smaller publishers. Image can’t fall back on a multi-million dollar movie if no one buys their stuff. Neither can IDW or Boom! or Valiant. But I think most of the damage is to the retailers. Comic shops are a rare breed. They typically sell one thing and cater to one type if customer. Most are independent, especially in the rural parts of the country. And in a recession, even chains can be hurting. Now say what you will about the future of the industry as a whole but I still believe that brick and mortar stores are important if for no other reason than for the water cooler affect. The interwebs just don’t provide the same sense of community or the real chance to get out of the house and meet other people with the same hobbies. Many shops embrace games like Heroclix and Magic as well, giving gamers a valuable gathering point. Without the local comic store, the hobby becomes much less interesting and fun. So, while I’m not going to state that torrents and downloads are unequivocally wrong I will say that it spoils the fun a bit. It kills that buzz we get off of not knowing, takes away that anticipation each week. The Internet gave us the information age, but when it comes to storytelling sometimes it’s better to let yourself be surprised.

  1. raheadley says:

    Very well said. My take on all of this potential “spoilage” is to just ignore it as much as possible. It’s like eating the forbidden fruit instead of waiting to be fed. It may taste good at first, but it will leave a bitter taste in your mouth later.

    Enjoy the surprise and the suspense. I feel it only makes the experience better when you have the real deal in your hands to pour over.

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