Friday, November 04, 2011

Of Spoilers & Setups

Ed Brubaker (gentleman on the left in the picture to the right) put forth a Twitter tirade about his Fear Itself 7.1 story getting spoiled on comic book news websites (mostly directed at, I believe).

But he misdirects his anger...and I think even he might admit by now that he overreacted a bit.

No way to discuss this without acknowledging the spoiler, so, out of respect for his frustration, I'm putting the rest of the talk on a click-through after showing a few of Brubaker's initial tweets on this subject:


Why would I say he misdirected it? Because most readers were already fairly certain that Bucky wasn't going to stay dead due to how lackluster his "death" was in the Fear Itself mini. The Gutters affirms the notion in their blog beneath their parody of Bucky's rise/fall/rise/fall thus far. If odds were laid, Vegas would have probably had it at even money or 3:2 that he was coming back, at worst, while not even bothering to publish a line on Thor (but I digress...and pay far too much attention to NFL spreads these days).

Then there was Marvel choosing to release a teaser for the Winter Soldier series a few weeks back that was very clearly his star and similar to the teaser that led to Captain America: Reborn, which only further cemented the idea that Bucky was coming back...and, quite honestly, caused the race to post the spoiler information as part of updating the teaser discussion (for any sites that aren't beholden to an embargo or owe a lot of their traffic to keeping good relations with Marvel, at least).

To be fair, Brubaker slid further and further away from generally complaining about day-of-release spoilers to complaining about it being so immediate and then settling on the complaint being that the spoiler was built into some article titles, as to be virtually unavoidable for any reader visiting those sites involved. Where he settled is fertile ground: the weak setup and Marvel's inability to withhold hyping until the reader catches up offer no cover for slapping visitors in the face with information that they should be able to choose to know or not know. Even if Marvel had the Daily News run a spoiler, it doesn't mean you have to throw the same information in a headline.

But the irony is that, when fans respond to his work on Twitter in a fit of anger, rather than as rational discussion, he's justifiably quick to cut them to ribbons on it. If he took the constructive approach he lambastes others for eschewing, he could have had those offending sites pull the spoilers out of the titles of articles and hide them behind click-throughs, rather than impotently yelling into the ether and telling those who could manage to catch his signal in the overwhelming noise that is the average Twitter timeline to avoid websites before their trip to the shop. Approaching the sites directly (hell, even tweeting at them) would have been much more productive.

Brubaker's not a bad guy for his reaction at all. He's human and all of us have our emotions get the better of us from time to time. We, also, are guilty of criticizing actions from others that, upon reflection, we'd recognize we do ourselves from time to time. Not all of us are as talented at writing as Mr. Brubaker, though, and I can't endorse strongly enough his past, current and future works, especially the Criminal line.


  1. I'd like to think his attention was pretty well directed at Bleeding Cool, who put the actual spoiler in the title of the article. Rich tried defending his decision on Twitter, but anybody with half a brain could see through his excuse, that he was revealing the title of the book, but not who starred in it, which is a load of crap.

    There's a LOT of shoddy comics journalism out there right now. More bad than good, I'd wager to say. If sites aren't trying to manufacture controversy (Comics Alliance & Bleeding Cool) they're so far entrenched with the Big Two you never get any actual news out of them, or "real" commentary.

    Bleeding Cool runs some decent articles, but unfortunately more often than not they run crap like this or the Becky Cloonan article. Rich might have been fed a line of crap...but this isn't the first time he's done this either.

  2. I hear what you're saying, but, at the same time, Marvel put out the teaser with the Winter Soldier star saying "what if there were more than one?" So this would leave open the possibility that a Winter Soldier title wasn't about Bucky but one or more of these "more than one" folks.

  3. Agreed completely, Kevin. Furthermore, it's a dangerous standard for pros to complain about Bleeding Cool reporting on such a story "the morning of" new comics day when they are in fact way ahead of us. Out of respect for Erik Larsen, I keep our Q&A sessions embargoed until afternoon/evening since he's on the West Coast, but it's not fair to expect reporters to do the same for breaking stories and if Rich weren't reporting it at noon his time, Newsarama would be reporting it at 11am EST.

  4. See - that's a fair enough point about there possibly being more than one. But then again, the ending of the issue is the surprise that the Winter Soldier is coming back. Why spoil that in the headline, whether it's just a new series with a different character or not? No other site did - they simply said "Big surprise at the end of Fear Itself 7.1 - click here to find out what!" Rich put the spoiler in the title of the article. Based on reactions I read on Twitter - that was the issue, no whether or not news sites ran the story, though that did irritate some people (for whatever reason.)


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