Spoilers for a major release below.
Really, stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Look, if you’re going to keep reading, it’s your own fault.
Yesterday, I wrote about how fans are too easily fooled by first-issue twists, not giving credit to comics companies for playing a long game over a six-month or longer publishing schedule. One factor that I hadn’t considered in all this is how much popular comics websites might also play into this.
Comics websites exist to inform, but they’re also businesses and a source of revenue for the people who release them. News needs to be sexy and interesting, so that a large amount of traffic can move in that site’s direction, so that ad revenue can be earned. (News isn’t free, you know.) So when it comes to the entertainment industry, and comics in particular, speculation is very popular because it attempts to connect the dots in stories and predict where it’s going. If you doubt me, run a search on “Who did Negan kill?” and see how many people are trying to “call” this season’s Walking Dead premiere.
So: Detective Comics #940 is out today, and numerous websites have been predicting that “Red Robin” Tim Drake would be killed. (Let’s be fair: three of those articles came from Rich Johnston.) So when you read through today’s issue, you’ll see that prediction totally come true, with Tim being gunned down in the line of duty, and Batman has tragically lost another Robin.
Oh, except he totally hasn’t. You’ve been fooled again, internet.
The epilogue to Detective reveals that Tim is actually alive and is being held hostage by “Mr. Oz” as part of the larger “Rebirth” plot running through DC right now. We can argue separately about whether this cheapens the issue somehow–both Detective and Teen Titans #24 have the characters mourning Tim’s death in pretty meaningful ways. But let’s be honest: this is not the first time a character’s been “killed” only to actually be revealed as still alive to the readers but not the characters. Anyone remember “Heroes Reborn”? Neither Detective nor Teen Titans is a bad issue on the merits, and it’s not like the revelation that Tim is actually alive is hidden from the reader.
No, the problem here is that DC played just coy enough with its solicitations and press releases to get the buzz going. It’s the media sites that connected the dots–incorrectly–and ran with it to get you excited, so that you would come over and read them. (OK, one of Rich Johnston’s articles at least speculated in the article that Tim could be kidnapped and not killed.) It’s their job to do that, but it’s also a bit of an emotional yo-yo. I expect that Tim Drake fans won’t know how to feel just now. Happy that he’s alive? Annoyed that the story didn’t have the hyped payoff?
My point is this: with all things comics, don’t believe the hype. Never believe the hype. The story is rarely what you or anyone else expects it to be. Once in a blue moon, somebody may correctly call it (the Hulk’s death in Civil War II was very badly telegraphed), but a lot of times, they don’t.
Tim Drake is alive, for now. Somebody else will be killed in the future (maybe Tim), and then they’ll be back. The press may try to convince you of one thing or another, but experience and insider info notwithstanding, they don’t know much more than you do. Don’t overstress this stuff too much and just enjoy the story as it happens.