On July 1, George Gene Gustines at The New York Times outraged comic book fans across the country with his review of the long-awaited Batman comic book, issue number 50, which featured the wedding day of Batman and Catwoman. Posted three days before the release of the comic, the article included a major spoiler of the comic book story’s ending in both the headline, as well as the first paragraph.
Many people, both fans and industry workers alike, took to Twitter to express their disappointment. Some fans went as far as to pull the preorders they had placed on the Batman comic. It is important to note, this comic was one that its publisher, DC Comics, had been centering a marketing campaign around for several months. Even people who didn’t regularly follow the series had planned to purchase this particular issue, as the romance between Catwoman and Batman is considered iconic for many fans everywhere.
Some comic book stores had planned their own promotions ranging from preordering expensive store-specific variant copies to even hiring local wedding planners to come out and set up a display for them. According to John Shine, manager of Beyond Comics in Gaithersburg, “DC did special variants where you had to invest, as a retailer, large amounts of money to get these special variants.” Some special variants may cost approximately $200.
Shine, as well as the staff at both Alliance Comics in Silver Spring and Big Planet Comics in Bethesda were all in agreement that they didn’t sell any fewer comics than they usually did for the title.
In fact, they all said that they ordered more copies than usual and even some of the extras had sold reasonably well. Shine and the staff at Alliance Comics attributed the potential problem with sales to entirely different things altogether. While staff members at Alliance Comics think that the New York Times article could have potentially been a problem, they expressed broader, more pressing concerns in the comic book industry, specifically, the steady drop of comic book sales for the last 20 years or more, due to poor choices by the management of various comic book publishers in being slow to targeting a larger, diverse audience, such as young women or other groups not always associated with comic readership.
Shine shared a different sentiment, as his dispute had little to do with the New York Times article and the spoiler material’s impact on sales, but the fact that it was spoiled at all. He said that New York Times publishing this article and in the headline including a spoiler to the comic book’s ending said to him that “New York Times doesn’t think comic books are real culture, because they would never do that for a Coen brothers’ movie.”