On Sunday, The New York Times ran an article that revealed the ending of this week's milestone Batman #50 and ignited a wave of frustration and disappointment among fans, retailers, and even Batman writer Tom King. Now, the author of that article says he regrets spoiling the issue.
In an interview with Vulture, veteran New York Times correspondent George Gene Gustines explains that, if he had a chance to do it over, he would have handled things differently.
"I've been passionate about covering comics for the paper for nearly 20 years and this story has been a roller coaster," Gustines says. "I think Tom King, Mikel Janin and everyone involved in the comic did a stellar job on this milestone issue. But if I had a Legion time bubble, I would handle it differently."
As many fans are aware, in Gustines' "Vows" column on Sunday, he wrote that the monumental wedding between Batman and Catwoman doesn't actually take place -- a twist that his piece reveals straight away in its headline. While the article was written with DC Comics' collaboration, Gustines said he didn't learn until after he pitched the piece that the wedding wouldn't happen but felt it was important to include in the story.
"I approached it like a typical 'Vows' column -- write about the story of the couple and what their big day is like, which is what I tried to capture in the piece, which quotes only dialogue from the comic and not the creative team, which is more typical of my reporting," Gustines says. "After I pitched the story, I learned the wedding would not happen. It seemed disingenuous to write the story without revealing the ending, which is why I included the reveal. But I should have asked for a non-spoiler headline. We should have given more thought so that the casual reader, flipping or scrolling through the Style section, would not know the twist by reading the headline."
Unfortunately, the twist was given away with the headline and many fans took to social media to express their anger over the reveal, with some going so far as to cancel their pre-order of the milestone issue. Comic book shops also were upset over the article, calling the move a "marketing gimmick" that is negatively impacting their sales.
"I've already had three people call to cancel their pre-order for Batman #50," one store manager wrote on Twitter. "I feel like @DCComics owes me money now. I've already paid for these issues. @TomKingTK, you really shot yourself in the foot dude. Thanks @nytimes for costing me money."
In addition to Gustines' regret over the impact the article has had, the New York Times has also taken a look at how the issue was covered and even went so far as to ask for advice on how to report on similar events in the future.
"What responsibility, if any, do journalists have not to spoil plots for our readers? What is the role of a headline or news alert for a story that contains such a secret?" The Times asked.
As for Batman #50 itself, writer Tom King hopes that fans will go ahead and read the issue as it's not the end of the story. He told fans on Twitter Monday that there's still so much more to come.
"Batman 50 is not the end," King wrote. "This is a 100 issue story documenting and celebrating the love of Batman and Catwoman. Whatever happens, whatever anyone says, nothing's going to spoil that."
Batman #50 goes on sale Wednesday, July 4th.