New York City has a new mayor in the latest issue of Marvel's "Amazing Spider-Man" -- but that's not what has the comics world buzzing about the popular comic. In what's quickly becoming a trend in the comics world, the "Spider-Man" publisher revealed the issue's last-page cliffhanger well before the comic hit shelves, in the pages of a widely circulated daily newspaper.
As the cover of today's AM New York announced to the world, the Marvel Universe replaced real-life NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in today's "Amazing Spider-Man" with a familiar face to fans of your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. After the jump, I've posted the newspaper's cover, as well as the final page of today's "Amazing Spider-Man" that was revealed by the newspaper. (So consider this the SPOILER ALERT you didn't receive this morning, folks.)
Yes, J. Jonah Jameson is the new mayor of New York City. The cigar-chomping editor of the Daily Bugle is sure to make Spidey's life difficult in the near future -- but was the impact of the moment spoiled for comic book readers?
Here's the last-page panel that was also revealed by AM New York in their coverage of the event, several hours before most readers could pick up the issue:
This isn't the first time a publisher has gone the "spoiler as promotional tool" route recently. In a controversial 2006 decision, Marvel presented the surprise ending of "Civil War" #2, in which Spider-Man reveals his secret identity to the world, in an edition of The New York Post that was published hours before the comic hit shelves.
But the House of Ideas isn't the only one warming up to spoiling its own surprises. Last year, DC decided to reveal the return of Barry Allen as The Flash in The Daily News well in advance of the "DC Universe" issue in which it occurred hitting shelves.
However, while the comic book industry is experiencing unprecedented mainstream awareness these days, are the lengths that comic book publishers are willing to go for a nod in the newspaper world worth it? Questions aside about daily newspaper circulation trends and their readership's likelihood to pick up a comic book, the most troubling development in this burgeoning relationship between comic book publishers and newspaper media could be the basic notion of bartering "spoilers" for coverage.
It's no secret that movie and television studios often offer clips and previews to promote upcoming projects, but few studios (if any) are likely to benefit from revealing the "surprise ending" of their latest film or TV episode. With "Amazing Spider-Man" consistently ranking among Marvel's most reliable ongoing titles, would a similarly stable series like "Lost" or "Heroes" find numbers on the rise if producers aired the cliffhanger finale prior to the episode's airdate? Heck, would each "Harry Potter" volume have sold another million copies by publishing its final chapter in The New York Times the morning it arrived in bookstores?
Still, what isn't in question is the fact that both the "spoiled" Spider-Man issue of "Civil War" and the Barry Allen "DC Universe" each sold remarkably well -- far better than initial predictions and well ahead of most other titles during the weeks in question. So, maybe there's an argument to be made that comic book publishers know something we don't when it comes to the benefit of using spoilers as bargaining tools.
Is today's "Amazing Spider-Man" spoiler just another step down a slippery slope, eventually forcing comic book fans to change their newspaper habits, or is J. Jonah Jameson's mayoral victory the exception to the rule and the price of building a wider comic book audience? There's no sure answer at this point, but the trend should certainly have every comic book fan's Spider-Sense tingling.
What do you think of today's "Amazing Spider-Man" spoiler? Let me know in the comment section!