Thinking About … Spoilers!

Editor’s note: I did it again. I had a post all written and ready to go. And forgot about it. I had a final draft of this post 21 days ago. I’m awesome. It wasn’t until I heard today’s big news (which I won’t spoil until Wednesday) that I thought about it. Anyway, here you go.

Last month(?) on her Tumblr, Gail Simone posed a question about spoilers.

We live in a world where people want to see the sausage being made.
I understand, I have some of that myself, but now we want transparent casings on EVERYTHING. We want to see the works, we want to see the gears move.
Even with our very favorite media and storytellers, we like the previews, we read the advance reviews, we download the trailers that we KNOW will spoil the ending.
It’s interesting. Do you ever find knowing too much in advance ruins things?
Do you think it detracts from the experience of reading or seeing a story, or does it simply keep enthusiasm high?

What do you think…spoilers or no?

Spoilers are something that get brought up every time you mention the words “Breaking Bad” or “The Walking Dead” in public. But how much do I actually care? The simple answer is “it depends how much I like the book/show/whatever.”

To use the shows above as examples, if someone told me how the next eight episodes of Breaking Bad are gonna go, I’d be wicked pissed. But I gave up Walking Dead after Season 2. Tell me all you want. Who died? What’s the Governor like? Is Maggie still super hot? It won’t bother me.

And over at my comics shelf, part of the reason I go to the shop each week is to not get spoiled. I want to be part of the conversation on the Before Watchmen books and Batman. But before those discussions, I want to discover their twists and turns on my own, as the creators intended.

Spider-Man Spoiler

On the other hand, there are many books I’ve picked up because of the spoilers I heard. I like Spider-Man, but never enough to read his books up regularly. With the right creative team, I’ll pick up an issue here or there, but I don’t have the love I do for characters like Flash or Daredevil. When Amazing Spider-Man was approaching issue #700, Dan Slott warned readers and retailers “This is gonna be big. You are going to want these issues.” It got my attention, but I still wasn’t ready to buy it. Then #698 came out. I heard about the last page reveal. I heard how that reveal could change the way you read the 21 pages before it. Slott was right; I wanted that issue. So I picked it up on my next trip to the store. But only because I already knew what happened.

A month later I did the same thing. Issue #700 came out. (I skipped #699.) Again, it was knowing what happened that made me want to read it. They seriously let him die? I gotta read this. I gotta see what the loophole is. I need to have an opinion, a guess on how they bring Pete back.

And hell, I’ve read enough Batman stories for a lifetime. But every once in a while, I’ll pick up the first issue of a new story arc, flip to the last page hoping to see the villain of the story revealed. Penguin? Eh, no thanks. Mad Hatter? Now I’m listening.

And what about creators spoiling their own story? All-New X-Men #1 was never going to have a sales problem. But writer Brian Michael Bendis spoke loud and clear all over the internet about the hook of the series. In the interest of a good story, he spent the entire first issue getting the original five X-Men to the present. But he knew that last page moment was the hook. It would have come as a big shock to anyone coming in blind, but he knew that a little knowledge was going to get more people more interested. I’m not sure I would have picked it up the day it came out if I hadn’t heard. But I did and I’m eagerly waiting for issue #8.

Here’s another way to look at it: you ever read or watch a prequel? You now the big strokes about how this is all gonna end (this annoying kid will become Darth Vader, Laurie is going to follow her mother’s career and become Silk Spectre.) It can be that spoiler-ish information that makes the story interesting.

So being on those spoilers. Because the real question is not “What happens”? but “How does this happen?”

One thought on “Thinking About … Spoilers!

  1. I’m pathologically anti-spoiler, but a good story is a good story whether you know the ending or not. I’ll never get tired of watching Fight Club even though I know how it ends. But take something like The Blair Witch Project. The twist is pretty much all that movie has going for it, and once everyone found out what it was, it faded away pretty quickly.

    Side note: I wonder if it would be at all enjoyable to read the Watchmen books in chronological order.

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