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DC Comics Wants You To Know Robin Dies This Week

I would say that this is a giant spoiler alert, but the headline in The New York Post this week spells it out for you – in this week’s Batman Incorporated #8, Damien Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son and the current Robin, will die.

It’s considered one of the big moments in Grant Morrison’s run as writer on Batman, and while I could discuss the implications for the story (there’s still 4 more issues of Batman Incorporated after this, so lets not assume that this is really the end for Damien) I think there’s a bigger issue to discuss – why the blue hell do DC and Marvel insist upon major press publicity for plot twists, before the issues come out.

It’s not a question of spoilers – that’s what happens and it is what it is – but it’s a trick which I’ve never understood.

For one, this only happens when characters die – sure, the 1993 Death of Superman got a lot of mainstream exposure, but considering how regularly DC and Marvel play this card in the press, it leads non-comic readers to assume that comics are nothing but random characters dying and coming back. Honestly, they aren’t that far off, but I don’t think this will cause non-readers to turn a corner. Why get invested when everything is blown apart immediately?

Who does this bring to the comic stores then? Speculators. People who come in and buy a dozen copies of these “key” issues, even though this type of event happens twice a year (at least) and everyone eventually comes back.

Also – how does this benefit comic retailers? They don’t get to increase their orders of these key issues – the announcements hit two days before the release of the book – shy of re-orders (which are usually second prints, which speculators never want), this doesn’t really move the needle in a positive way. If anything, DC and Marvel send people to the shops who just want to turn a quick buck, and possibly even cause dedicated readers to miss their favorite book.

It’s short-sighted, it’s a carny move, and no one really wins.

For as much as DC and Marvel wish that their platform of choice was seen the same way as movies, they forget how movies succeed – they make great stories that play to universal audiences – and more importantly, they market the quality – not the shock. It’s not like the ads for The Sixth Sense were “HEY GUYS BRUCE WILLIS IS DEAD IN THIS ONE!”

The Avengers the film played to millions of more people than will ever read the comics because it told a great story, plain and simple – it didn’t try to shake up the “status quo of filmmaking”.

Until someone at DC or Marvel gets it, they will always be seen as a part of a lesser form of art – and that’s sad. And if they keep this up, maybe the death the news outlets will be reporting on is their own.

Source: The New York Post