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RU's Views: Civil War II Delays, Spoilers, & New Readers. An Argument in Three Parts

Written by GHERU on Friday, August 12 2016 and posted in Features

RU's Views: Civil War II Delays, Spoilers, & New Readers. An Argument in Three Parts

In which we bring quite a few different themes together.

Source: Newsarama

Part 1 – Delays

In the grand tradition of Marvel events named Civil War (or published since the first Civil War for that matter) it was announced that Civil War II would be even more delayed than previously reported. According to Newsarma:

The publisher has informed retailers that Civil War II #5 is now scheduled to arrive September 14 - four weeks after its originally-solicited date of August 17. A delay on the book isn't new, as in late July Marvel told retailers to expect a two week delay, but this pushes that back even further.

The delay is beginning to cascade into the title's subsequent issues, with Civil War II #6 now rescheduled from September 21 to October 5.

Marvel hasn't announced any schedule change for the series finale, Civil War II #7, which was originally solicited for October 19.

We here at The Outhousers will continue to follow this story as Civil War II gets delayed until Christmas.

Part 2 – Spoilers and Their Consequences

Admission time: A few weeks ago I published a Call For Responses in an effort to collect data tracking the impact of the Marvel approved Civil War II #3 spoilers published by The Daily News hours before fans could legally obtain the book. I was honest and sincere in my wish to research and publish what I could about this topic. Then I went home and was reminded that I have a full time real job and a wife and son that I actually enjoy spending time with and I realized that I just didn't have the time or resources to pull this off. I chose to drop it.

That does not mean I have stopped thinking about it.

For those of you who need a recap:

CALL FOR RESPONSES – On Tuesday July 12th at 9pm (EST), The NY Daily News (followed an hour later by Newsarama), in collaboration with Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso, Civil War II writer Brian Michael Bendis, and other Marvel dignitaries, spoiled a major death in Marvel Comics' Summer Event, Civil War II #3, three hours before anyone in the United States could legally obtain it.

Spider-Man writer Dan Slott defended theses spoilers saying:

Marvel is a business and they want to sell these comics to as many people as possible. And, in cases like this, they REALLY want to sell these comics to people who aren't regular comic book readers-- either people who haven't set foot in a comic shop for some time and might be lured back by this big news-- or someone who's never set foot in a comic shop at all, but is familiar with this characters from movies, TV, video games, cartoons, or what have you.

This theme of massive spoilers brining in new / lapsed readers contuses throughout Slott's essay. I will admit that there have been two Outhousers followers who have admitted that it was the spoilers to the end of the first Civil War event, Captain American #25 got them into comics. But, beyond the occasional anecdote, there is very little evidence that supports the theory that spoilers do more good than harm (to be fair, there same amount of evidence supports the theory that spoilers do more harm than good.)

For purposes of this article I am going to assume that Marvel approved spoilers in the national press do bring in new readers. That they do bring back lapsed readers. That these new / lapsed readers will not only buy Civil War #3 but will stick around for #4. In short, I will assume that spoilers are good.

Part Three – What about Issue #4?

But, here's the thing about those spoilers that brought in those new and lapsed readers; what about Civil War II #4? Civil War II #5? Civil War II #6? Et al?

Assuming that spoiling the five dollar third part of an eight part bi-weekly event mired in a continuity unrecognizable by non-readers "familiar with [these] characters from movies, TV, video games, cartoons, or what have you" does bring in a new fan base means that one also has to assume that the number of sold issues of #4 will increase from the expected pre-spoiler numbers.

In other words; if Marvel believes that the spoilers would bring in new readers they would have planned for an increase in sales from Civil War II #1 through #3. If this were the case, retailers would have been able increase the number of #4 they could order in time for its release (just two weeks after the release of #3 and its spoilers.) It only makes sense that a company would jump on the opportunity to make more money by selling more product by ensuring that their retailers had the ability to sell more product.

This didn't happen. I have contacted four different retailers and all of them told me that by the time Marvel was banking on a slew of new readers to jump on midway through a massive crossover the final order cutoff (FOC) – the last day a retailer can change their orders prior to the publisher printing the books – for Civil War II #4 had long since passed.

Marvel, who has been telling the world for a while now that spoilers will bring in new readers, gave their retailers no ability to capitalize on these spoilers. Retailers who are already struggling with overhead and have to limit the number of books they order were given no heads up that they should increase #4 orders due to a planned marketing strategy (spoilers) that will bring in new readers.

Look at it his way: A new reader comes in, buys Civil War II #3, likes it, and comes back in two weeks for #4 and it's not there. The retailer sold out, but should be able to have a second printing eventually, for the same price. This new reader, who found out about the comic due to an official online spoiler, will now have to wait even longer to get the next part of the story. In fact, according to the original schedule, a retailer might not get more #4s in until #5's release date two weeks later. That's $10 to drop as a new reader in one day on just two comic books.

At least, that would have been true before Civil War II's delays kicked in.

Conclusion: Pull the Other One

Civil War #5 will now be (at least) a month late. New readers promised a bi-weekly event are expected to maintain interest in a new product that, seemingly, changes its release schedule on a whim. New readers have yet to experience that it's not just the release schedule that can shift; wait until these new readers discover that the price, number of issues, and even page count are also subject to unannounced changes.

It's almost as if Marvel did not plan to use this event as a major jumping on point for new readers until the last minute. As one of the retailers I talked to put it:

If Marvel expected us to get new readers they would have planned for it and let us know to order more of #4 than we would have planned for. That they didn't tells me that the spoilers were more about bumping up the sales of this one issue so high that the over-all sales of Civil War II look better than they actually are.

In other words: The entire business model, practices, and publication process surrounding Marvel's Civil War II is in complete contradiction to the theory that the company expected their approved spoilers to have any effect on the sales of the event beyond the specific issue spoiled.

One could argue that Marvel's plan always included spoiling Civil War #3 and that it would have all worked out except for the unexpected delays. To that I say: You must be a new reader – do you have the time to answer a few questions?

Post Script - 

One has to wonder if the lack of a release date for Inhumans vs X-Men #0 (announced yesterday) is due to these Civil War II delays.


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About the Author - GHERU

RU, or as he’s known in the writers’ room: the cute one, is relatively unappreciated in his time.  RU’s YouTube show, RUviews is watched by literally multiple people every month and his Outhouse articles have helped line many a bird cage.  Before you send RU a message, he knows that there are misspelled words in this article, and probably in this bio he was asked to write.  RU wants everyone to know that after 25+ years of collecting he still loves comic books and can’t believe how seriously fanboys take them.  RU lives in Akron Ohio (unfortunately) with WIFE, ‘lilRuRu, and the @DogGodThor.  You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, & even Google+ (if anyone still uses that).


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