The Internet is abuzz this morning over the shocking reveal of the identity of the new Ultimate Spider-Man. The only problem is the issue hasn’t hit stands yet, it’s hyped-for-months surprise ending being ruined not by the fans, but by the publisher itself.
The news article was published by USA Today last night (spoilers, obviously) and has already taken the Internet by storm, thus insuring that no one can remain spoiler free for the final 24 hours before what was supposed to be the official reveal in Ultimate Fallout #4. We shouldn’t be surprised that Marvel did this; after all, they revealed the death of Johnny Storm the day before the momentous issue hit stands (granted, some of us figured it out much sooner) and also officially confirmed the death of Peter Parker the day before the final Death of Spider-Man issue hit stands. Marvel’s not alone in this, either; DC let slip the returns of Pa Kent and Barry Allen, and it was fairly well known that titles like Green Lantern: Rebirth would be returning popular characters to the core universe.
I can’t really argue it doesn’t work, either. As I’m writing this article, I’m watching my Twitter columns scroll by, and I see a number of tweets and retweets of people excited for the new Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s a bit reflective of how we’ve changed as a society. Teasers no longer exist; movie trailers show pretty much the entire movie at this point, but studies have shown that that brings in more viewers. And similarly, comic fans in this day and age don’t want to be surprised; instead, it seems they want to know every little details of every issue before it’s out.
But still, is this not a nonsensical, bullshit practice? Marvel wants you to believe this is all part of a major self-marketing movement in order to beat other outlets to breaking news, but again I fall back on my old argument here: if the stories were good enough and the writers, artists and publishers had faith in them, would such over the top tactics be necessary? We live in an era now of instant information, where everyone must know everything at any moment, but the comics boom of the 90s, when the stories were at their best and the fans were drooling over them, happened at a time when the closest you got to insider information was the pages of Wizard. And that only happened once a month. Who exactly are they trying to outscoop? Big name comics blogs with insider info and contacts like Newsarama and Comic Book Resources? Those same websites can also be used as major marketing tools.
Maybe I’m just an old fart. Maybe I’m just stuck-up and can’t let go of better days. But maybe I’m also right that the publishers shouldn’t be spoiling major story elements in an effort to outscoop their own news stories.
Oh, and who is the new Spider-Man? It’s probably some big surprise that we can look back in old issues and see all the carefully laid clues which indicate this had been coming for years, right?
Oh, no, it’s just some random kid that has no ties to existing characters and a conveniently similar but different enough to be called new origin who was created on a whim to fill a spot. And while I have no qualms about the character’s race, I’m already seeing this being marketed way too much as the “black/hispanic Spider-Man”. Marvel and writer Brian Michael Bendis are again stepping up to assure us it’s not a marketing coincidence. In fact, over at ABC News…
“‘This was a conscious decision. Here at Marvel, we pride ourselves on reflecting the real world in all its diversity,’ Alonso added, adding that Morales’ stories would be on par with those of Parker.”
I really hope that’s the case, but only time will tell. Ultimate Fallout #4, which will be the first in-issue appearance of Miles Morales, hits stands tomorrow. The brand new Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, relaunching with a new #1 issue, will be in stores in September.