Earlier this month when a workprint of Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked in its entirety over bittorrent sites on the Internet, the blogosphere and the entertainment press erupted with reviews, previews, debates, examinations of the financial fallout and all manner of other reaction to the event.
As a comic book fan, though, this weekend isn’t, and never has been, “the week Wolverine will hit theaters” to me. Instead, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of DC’s Free Comic Book Day offering, Blackest Night #0 by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke. Imagine my surprise, then, to find out that with no fanfare or attention, apparently someone has also leaked that book.
Within three hours of the premature release of Wolverine to the web, I had friends, acquaintances and even the odd comic book professional professing to have seen it, and asking me what I thought–of the movie, the leak or whatever. Reactions were fairly mixed to the film itself, as has been widely reported, and while early critical reception of Blackest Night has been almost uniformly good, it took an entire weekend for anyone to comment to me that they had seen a copy of the comic online. No news sites–comics or otherwise–seem to have picked it up as a story, and certainly there has been no serious discussion of its long-term economic impact.
This latter piece of information is interesting. While Blackest Night #0 is a free comic book, and so people who download it might feel less guilty about getting the comic itself for free, it’s also part of the Free Comic Book Day event–designed to get people away from their TVs and computers and lure them into comic book retailers, where ideally they might give books a try that they ordinarily don’t. In terms of a long-term impact on the comic book industry, someone who didn’t go to a shop to pick up Blackest Night could easily leave a much larger footprint than somebody who skipped out on an $8 matinee of the newest X-Men flick if it meant they never pick up their first issue of Booster Gold or Dark Avengers. Obviously the movie cost a lot more money to make than the comic book did, and relies much more heavily on “buzz” to be profitable, but really–at least for those of us in the comics press–why is the leak of a major “event” comic book over a week before its release date not bigger news? Why isn’t it met with anger and controversy? Is it just because the non-comics press didn’t take notice?