On Wednesdays, after I get through a stack of comic books, I usually notice something in a few of them in the stack that just, well, sticks out to me. Sue me, it’s Thursday. This week, the thing I noticed was the last page of a handful of issues.
I noticed it, because I didn’t realize I was at the end of the issue.
One of the main problems with these issues this week is that the last-page reveal, the cliffhanger that keeps me coming back to the series the next month, that thing didn’t exist. There was no last page cliffhanger. They made some kind of minor revelation, which, when I turned the page expecting to see something bigger revealed on top of it, led me only to a letters page or a “Next Issue!” cover.
The comic book industry isn’t in much of a state to be able to lose readers like this. I’m not saying that every reader who gets to the end of a comic that barely has a cliffhanger isn’t going to come back next month. There’s only so much action, so many cliffhangers that you can pull, and if you’re going to tell stories with a beginning, middle, and end, it’s hard to do. I get that. But if a reader feels cheated or is thinking, “So… that’s it for now?” then the writer isn’t doing their job. Someone dropped the ball somewhere along the line, or else they think we’re all blind fools who will come back next month just for the heck of it.
Now, will I be dropping any of those comics? Nope. I’m not a bitter old man yet, but I’m getting close. I’m not petty. I don’t think the authors owe me anything. But man, we’re selling nowhere near the number of comic books that we used to. We can’t afford to be ditching readers over something silly like a lame last page.
The worst part? I can’t name which series I was let down on, because it made those issues that much less memorable for me. The most recent issue of Uncanny X-Men left one of our main characters’ throats slashed in a surprise betrayal that has me ready for the next issue right this second. Heck, I’ll do you one better. The most recent issue of Namor: The First Mutant, which is getting canceled with its eleventh issue, left me with the last-page revelation that the mystery man we’ve seen skulking in the shadows of Atlantis isn’t a time-displaced version of Namor, but of Namor’s future son with the woman he just began dating at the beginning of this series. I remember these things. I remember what happened at the end of this week’s issues of Wolverine and Amazing Spider-Man and even Spider-Girl.
So that’s my first advice as a reader. I walk into a comic store each week with a list as long as my forearm, and if I didn’t remember your issue last month, I’m liable to forget to buy you this month. Hopefully not, but that’s a risk that this industry can’t afford to take right now, isn’t it?