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When a Spoiled Batman Comic Has Unintended Consequences

Sometimes, I’m offered the chance to report events of an upcoming comic, usually involving the most iconic or recognizable characters. Last month, I reported on the planned wedding of two X-Men, which did not occur, a day before the comic (a terrific issue) came out. There was no noticeable reaction to that spoiler, which definitely would have informed my thinking on this story.

Let’s talk about the headline

I understand that you had no malicious intention with your article but was including the spoiler in the headline necessary?

Ashly Lopez

Why wasn’t there a warning? I’m sure I wasn’t the only one roped in by the title. You couldn’t have thought what this means to so many people. I was heartbroken.

— Raven Rodarte, San Mateo, Calif.

LeAnn Wilcox, Weddings editor: There truly was no malicious intent. And, in fact, after DC agreed to running the article ahead of the publication date, I can honestly say the spoiler effect did not occur to us. It should have. If we had a do-over, we would have included a spoiler alert at the top of the article, and we would have had a less direct headline, but also an honest headline.

Timing of publication

Could you release something like this perhaps the day OF release or the Sunday after?

Also, don’t do it in the Styles section. It’s comics, which is literature despite what some might think.

— Daniel Kalban, Brooklyn, N.Y.

George Gene Gustines, Comics writer: In addition to making room for spoiler warnings, I will weigh even more seriously the right timing in the future, Daniel. Would publishing on Wednesday morning have mitigated some of the intense reactions? What time on Wednesday would have given the most fans a chance to read the book for themselves? Would publishing on Thursday or the following Sunday have had the same resonance? I will factor that all in the next time something major happens to an iconic character and I have the opportunity to cover it.

I don’t think that having this article appear in Styles besmirches comics in any way. A feature in the Vows section seemed like a creative place to cover this story, but my articles frequently appear in our daily Arts section, our Business pages, our Metropolitan section and, every so often, in Sports. If there were an appropriate comics story for our Food section, I would pitch it there.

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