Funnybook Babylon

August 16, 2008

Fun with Solicitations: DC Spoils the Crap Out of Their Books

A message board several FBBers frequent has been embroiled in a debate about what constitute “spoilers”: many posters feel like if something is revealed by official company promotional material (Nick Fury’s “Secret Warriors” will survive Secret Invasion and receive their own book, Darkseid successfully takes over Earth in Final Crisis, Character X will be appearing soon in Title Y) then those plot points don’t really constitute “spoilers”. Usually this sort of thing doesn’t constitute a “twist” or whatever, and so these topics are fair game for discussing upcoming comics. But DC seems determined to test this assumption with their November solicitations, as seen on Newsarama. So be warned, “spoilers” after the jump:

Yesterday Newsarama previewed the solicitations for the continuing “Kingdom Come” plotline in Justice Society of America, which will apparently spill over into a series of one-shots. Here’s one of them:

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: MAGOG #1
He was Lance Corporal David Reid of the Justice Society of America until he was killed in action and resurrected by Gog as his herald – MAGOG. But who is David Reid? Does he truly believe in Gog? And to what lengths will he go in order to find justice in this world?

Well. This is a fairly obvious development given what we’ve seen of the storyline in the issues published thus far, but it should be noted that as of the last issue published, David Reid is alive, and not Magog.

Would it have killed DC to write a generic solicitation about how “There is a new Magog! This one-shot examines his motivations and history!” or something less specific? The other solicitations make it plain that Gog’s “gifts” to the heroes, despite coming from an ostensibly-benevolent giant glowing-eyed fanged horned god, might have a “cost”, and that two factions of the Justice Society will come into conflict. I’m sure a lot of people think those reveals are “spoilers” too, though they didn’t particularly bother me. I suppose this is why people are having this argument.

Unsatisfied with this revelation, today DC “previewed” several other solicitations. Several other points here might fall into “spoiler” territory for some – that Cain is a primary villain in Final Crisis: Revelations, that some dude hilariously named Mandrakk the Dark Monitor is appearing in Final Crisis, and some details about how the Milestone characters are showing up alongside the super-ugly “Sightings” banner in Justice League of America. But check this out:

BATMAN #682
Two issues of BATMAN in one month! Now that “Batman R.I.P.” has concluded, the aftermath begins! If you thought mastermind writer Grant Morrison surprised you with “R.I.P.”, just wait until you see what he has planned for this retrospective story. In his last hours, Alfred the Butler tells the life story of the Batman as you’ve never seen it before in this two-part adventure which bridges the gap between the events of “Batman R.I.P.” and FINAL CRISIS. Learn the secrets of Batman’s early years! Witness the nightmare of a Gotham City where Batman never existed!

Maybe this is a huge misdirect, but even if this doesn’t make David do a Comics-Oracle-Victory-Dance, it certainly makes it sound like Black Glove or no, Alfred’s not making it out of “Batman R.I.P.”. Why would you mention this offhandedly in a solicitation?

I realize there’s a solid argument for trying to enjoy comics (and any entertainment really) as a self-contained experience, to not let the chaff of advertisements, reviews, interviews and crosstalk “spoil” you one way or the other. But this is going to end up in Previews in a week or two. Solicitations are covered on every news site on the Internet, and serve the same function as trailers for films. Is it that hard to avoid major plot revelations? Should we avoid reading ordering information lest we get major plot developments spoiled for us? Or are we all simpering manchildren for being so stupid to think that Corporations Care about our continuing enjoyment and purchase of their product?

18 Comments »

  1. as far as the Alfred solicit goes, it very well could be like batman 666 and set in the future. If so, no spoilers there because it’s the future and Alfred’s got to die sometime, right?. But if it’s not something like that, then good job DC! Not.

    Comment by J Ray — August 16, 2008 @ 10:04 pm

  2. The hilarious kicker to the Kingdom Come stuff?

    JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: THE KINGDOM #1
    Written by Geoff Johns
    Art by Fernando Pasarin
    Cover by Alex Ross
    Variant cover by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill
    Gog rewards those he deems fit. Starman has regained his sanity, Sandman his sleep, Dr. Mid-Nite his sight, Damage his pride and Citizen Steel…? What “wish” will the indestructible hero be granted? And more importantly, what drawbacks do these wishes come with? Plus, Starman’s true mission is revealed!
    Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Alex Ross), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
    On sale November 19 • 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US

    They make sure NOT to spoil what Citizen Steel’s wish might be…but spoil Lance becoming the new Magog? One seems slightly bigger than the other to me.

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — August 17, 2008 @ 1:58 am

  3. The thing that gets me is they could just black out names and still make the solicitations interesting.

    In his last hours, {blank} tells the life story of the Batman as you’ve never seen it before…

    He was {blank} of the Justice Society of America until he was killed in action and resurrected by Gog as his herald – MAGOG. But who is {blank}? Does he truly believe in Gog?

    Everyone who suspects that they are talking character X will keep on suspecting.

    Comment by Kwaku — August 17, 2008 @ 8:05 am

  4. There is a happy medium between Marvel’s silly “TOP SECRET” solicitations post Civil War and World War Hulk and the solicit that tells you everything. I’m not sure whose job it is to writes these things (possibly Marketing?) at either company but I hope that they have an editor look over these things before they go out from now on to avoid things like this.

    Kevin Hux,

    Maybe his wish is to have Reid gotten, maybe cause he’s beat him in the JSA Soul Calibur IV tournament. Lance is just extra fucking cheezy with kilik.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — August 17, 2008 @ 10:18 am

  5. C’mon, it’s a Johns comic; we all know what Citizen Steel’s wish is.

    Comment by Dan Coyle — August 17, 2008 @ 10:45 pm

  6. To never be written by Judd Winick?

    Comment by The Ugly American — August 18, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

  7. I see the Alfred issue being more along the lines of Peter David’s Rick Jones-narrated swansong on Hulk years ago, with this being set in the future. That’s the vibe I get, anyway.

    Comment by Rich — August 18, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

  8. Look at the solicit for Batman 683:

    This special two-part tale narrated by Sir Alfred Pennnyworth reflects upon the life and times of Gotham City’s most celebrated citizen – and hints at what’s next for The Dark Knight. Grant Morrison delivers a story of past memories, present heartache and future promises. A spectacular, unforgettable farewell to The Dark Knight, mixing memory, dream and speculation as Alfred closes the casebook on the greatest crimefighter of all time. With guest appearances by Batman friends and foes from every era of Batman’s history, this epic adventure cannot be missed.

    It’s Batman’s last hours, not Alfred’s. Bad use of pronoun reference in the first solicit.

    Comment by Eric — August 18, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

  9. Well, the full solicits are out, and so far I’ve been spoiled on the Secret Six’s new member (based on the cover of issue 3). Still reading!

    I don’t actually mind, since even knowing the facts, the execution is more important.

    Comment by EndlessMike — August 18, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

  10. SIR Alfred Pennyworth! Yeah, maybe that _is_ in the future then…

    Comment by Douglas — August 18, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

  11. Actually, the house ads for Secret Six gave away the new member, since, well, there are very few characters with that outline.

    It’s weird to see that character, once so very important to a certain hero’s mythos, reduced to second or third banana.

    Comment by Dan Coyle — August 19, 2008 @ 10:52 am

  12. Er… well maybe it’s a nickname! Like Sir Charles Barkley!

    Comment by Chris Eckert — August 19, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

  13. Sir Mark Waid!

    Comment by Dan Coyle — August 19, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  14. Wasn’t bane the character they gave away and there’s still one left to reveal?

    Comment by David u — August 19, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

  15. When did solicitations come to “serve the same function as trailers for films”? The function they serve is to inform retailers about upcoming events so that they can order issues appropriately, isn’t it? I understand that these days the solicitations are reported to the public at large and perused by fans as well, but that’s their own faults. Trailers aren’t made for movie theater managers to see if they actually want certain movies in stock, those are made to entice people. Comics solicitations were a square peg forced into that round hole of being the fanbait.

    Comment by Mike Barrett — August 20, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

  16. […] 21st, 2008Author Tom Bondurant Last week, Funnybook Babylon had a good post about solicitations’ spoilerrific nature. It inspired me greatly, but I still have some thinkin’ to do before sharing any […]

    Pingback by Blog@Newsarama » Blog Archive » Vote with your wallet: DC Comics Solicitations for November 2008 — August 21, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

  17. Mike, whether they were “forced” into it or not, that’s the function they serve now. Marvel publicizes them directly towards readers on their web site. DC publishes them on theirs. And many retailers accept customer pulls/orders in the form of Previews forms. Solicitations are now, at this point, absolutely a fan-targeted phenomenon.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — August 22, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  18. […] More often, especially on the Internet, they’re petty mistakes. I flew off the handle and interpreted some Batman solicitations incorrectly last week. I was wrong. Rich Lovatt seem to have missed a plotpoint in Mark Millar and Bryan […]

    Pingback by Funnybook Babylon · Archives · Tough Love: Admitting You Were Wrong — August 26, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

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