SPOILER WARNING: This story contains some hints to events in tomorrow's "Amazing Spider-Man" #698.
In the comics business, it's not uncommon for publishers to spoil their own story to spread the word on a major release. Character deaths, weddings, status quo shifts -- all of them have made their way onto fans computer screens ahead of Wednesday comic releases.
But this week, a major spoiler for Marvel's "Amazing Spider-Man" #698 made its way online outside the publisher's notice and far ahead of tomorrow's ship date for the comic. The one-page reveal has been bouncing around Twitter -- though it seems to have been taken offline as of this writing -- leading to questions about whether the admittedly massive change in Spidey's status quo will remain intact as writer Dan Slott transitions from "Amazing" #700 to the Marvel NOW! relaunch "Superior Spider-Man."
More importantly from a business perspective, the early nature of the leak raises questions about how exactly this page made it online. While Diamond Comic Distributors' current policy sees physical copies of comics ship to stores in advance of Wednesday on sale dates, it seems unlikely that this leak came at the hands of an unscrupulous store employee. As the image appears to be scanned rather than a direct digital screengrab, it must come from an early printing of the comic -- printings typically only released to Marvel employees, Diamond employees and others involved in the printing end of the business.
Finding out who scanned the image or why the page was released is likely impossible at this point, but with more information making its way public earlier and from traditionally more reliable sources, the impact of the leak is yet to be seen. In the past, Marvel has limited programs involving review copies and PDFs in attempts to stop leaks, but an incident like this may lead to even more changes in the system in order to attempt to avoid similar leaks in the future.
And as far as the story of "Amazing Spider-Man" is concerned, while those who saw the leaked page in advance have had an early look as a major piece of Slott's mysterious puzzle revealed to them, it's likely far from the complete picture being painted as ASM rides into the sunset. The story still has two chapters left before things shift over to "Superior Spider-Man," after all.
Stay tuned to CBR for more on the final fate of "Amazing Spider-Man."