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Spoiler etiquette - John C. Kirk

Mar. 9th, 2007

10:27 pm - Spoiler etiquette

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From:johnckirk
Date:March 10th, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm guessing that there's actually close to zero meaningful spoiler here too. I'd be very surprised if the picture that comes with the press release weren't also the cover of the issue in question - and it does give everything away.

Prepare to be shocked :) This is the cover of the relevant issue (Captain America #25) - it shows a newspaper with splatters of blood, and a red gloved hand in hand-cuffs, so there are hints towards the event but it's not that blatant.

More generally, comic covers tend to be a bit misleading (I have a longer post planned about this). For instance, last month's issue of "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" (#17) shows the Sandman attacking Spidey from behind (while he's in the black costume) and forcing enough sand through for it to come blasting out of various holes. This scene does not appear anywhere in the issue; the only time Peter and Sandman, he's in plain clothes, they're facing each other, and Sandman is actually trying to restrain him. So, in that context I don't think people would see the Captain America cover and immediately know what was going to happen inside.

If you take the naive view, and assume that the death of Cap is synonymous with the end of that comic book (even for a little while, before they get around to doing a resurrection story in a few years), then the message is "patriotism doesn't sell right now". If it's the precursor to a 90's superman style "Cap's big shoes" type story, then the message is "patriotism needs re-examining in the modern world".

I can see why people would come to that conclusion, but I'm not sure whether that's really what's going on. The article doesn't mention the reason that Cap was on the steps of the courthouse (or wearing handcuffs), and this is closely related to the recent "Civil War" storyline (which I'm also going to post about!). Without giving away too much, the basic premise of that storyline was a superhuman registration act - should people be able to run around anonymously in masks, or should they all have to be registered with the government? Captain America led the "anti-registration" movement, while Iron Man led the "pro-registration" group. While there are political parallels to that (e.g. the USA Patriot Act, national ID cards), I'd say that they're really about internal affairs rather than foreign policy.

"Best effect" for a publisher or a commercial writer is measured in sales.

For the publisher, yes. For the writer, I'm not so sure; I'd like to think that they're concerned with telling the best story they can, and I know of a few cases where writers have left a particular title because they disagree with what's been imposed on them. E.g. Bill Watterson stopped Calvin & Hobbes because he didn't like the commercial pressures for merchandising, and Peter David left The Incredible Hulk after a 12 year run because he was told to make the character stupid again.

Taking this further, I don't think that a company like Marvel is really a monolithic entity. Instead, there are various people who work there, who have different goals. One relevant example is the feud between John Byrne (writer/artist) and Peter David (now a writer, formerly in the sales department), as described here. Basically, Byrne was annoyed because he thought that PAD had publicised the ending of a particular issue (where a character died), thus spoiling the story for the readers.

Edited at 2013-06-12 06:01 pm (UTC)
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