Something is up with Batman. Multiple sources are claiming that writer Tom King’s run is coming to an end sooner than expected. Although the news has not been verified, some cryptic tweets seem to indicate that something is happening.
In 2016, King, hot off his the universal critical favorite The Vision, signed an exclusive with DC Comics and was immediately given the reins to their flagship title Batman; picking up from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s smash-hit run. While it’s remained a best seller, it’s also been controversial with some of the plot choices.
And recent press indicated that King had another big twist up his sleeve, this time one that would change the character for a generation and it would have kicked off with issue #75, the first chapter in the City of Bane storyline. While that storyline is still set to begin as planned, rumors are running rampant today  that King’s final issue of the series will be #85, far short of the originally planned 100 issues that he expected to utilize to complete his run.
So what’s going on? We’ve reached out to DC and are awaiting comment, but The Beat’s own sources are confirming that King’s run is ending early, though the details themselves are unclear. What is known is that after AT&T purchased Time Warner, and including all of DC, there have been a number of last-minute shifts and changes: from the Bat-Penis fiasco in Batman: Damned, to the highly anticipated Vertigo series Second Coming getting pulled at the last minute, is it possible that the new leadership got cold feet at this status quo alteration that King and his collaborators had planned?
batman tom kingKing, a strict Alan Moore disciple, seemed at the outset to be an unusual choice for DC’s biggest seller. And as it turns out, the cerebral approach that he employed in the aforementioned run at Marvel and with titles like Omega Men and The Sheriff of Babylon would not be toned down one iota for the Rebirth-era run. Almost immediately, King moved into a story where Batman revealed his own inner emotional turmoil and the possibility that he’s even entertained taking his own life. From there, he kicked off an even bigger twist, the engagement of Batman and Catwoman…one that led to the much-talked about (for better or worse) issue #50: The Wedding Issue that wasn’t.
Since then, King has had Bruce Wayne in a spiral, self-interrogating his own sense of justice in a 12 Angry Men riff, and setting off an elongated story sequence that parlayed Bruce’s fear-gas induced visions to the reader thanks to the machinations of his father from a parallel timeline (yep, there’s a Flashpoint and Watchmen tie-in here as well) and the key villain of the entire run, Bane.
While Batman is typically among DC’s biggest sellers, sales have dipped a bit from its usual 100k per month unit sales to around 87-88k as of April. Some of that is probably a consequence of the odder sojourns of the “Knightmares” arc, but maybe some of the bean counters didn’t like what they were seeing and would prefer a more traditionalist “meat & potatoes” approach to get back over that 100k hump.
Then again, longtime King creative partner Mitch Gerads, who currently has a follow-up to the Eisner winning Mister Miracle planned with King, hinted at another possible development:
 


Perhaps there’s a possible good end in sight, maybe even a separate standalone comic ala Morrison’s Batman & Robin/Batman Inc, while another creative takes a crack at the main title.
For his part, King tweeted:
 


More to come certainly…

14 COMMENTS

  1. King previously said he wanted to stay on for 100 issues so I’m not sure him leaving at 85 is that scandalous but it would be surprising

  2. Anyone familiar with my comments on this particular topic knows I don’t care for Tom King’s writing, so I’ll just say that if this is true, then I feel for his fans. Speaking as someone who loved Peter Tomasi’s Superman run and was crushed that it didn’t last very long (though, to be fair, it didn’t feel to me like long-term plans were in place for that book), who am I to crap all over the fans of somebody who also had their run cut short?

  3. I don’t like the idea of any writer’s run being cut short, if this should be true. But I also have always thought it incredibly irresponsible for DC or for Tom King to go about saying he had plans for 100+ issues. He has actually gone on record saying which issues were going to be which arcs, etc. As a comics reader of only 8 years, I know enough about the business to know that you never put anything in stone like that. To be honest, after the wedding fiasco in issue 50, I quickly lost interest in the book when I heard it was only the halfway point in a planned 100 issue storyline. I did the math and realized DC wanted me to spend at least another $200 to learn how all these interconnected stories were going to be resolved. Sorry, but at that point, the math didn’t add up to the story pacing and payoff I’d been getting from the book. Then several other terrible issues were published including the shooting of Dick Grayson in the head, Batman and KGBeast grunting in the snow, and Penguin recounting his love of an actual penguin to some poem. I got tired of it real quick, and I dropped the book. I don’t care about Bane or his naked sparring, so I don’t care to read this City of Bane arc either. And if readership is dropping interest in the series, his announced “change to Batman for a generation of readers” had to have been met with dead silence. I respect Tom King as a writer, but every writer’s run comes to an end at some point – usually when they start treading water in their story. I look forward to his next series and hope that it has a more focused approach than Batman has had. I really liked his Omega Men and Mister Miracle stories, and even much of his more self-contained Batman story arcs. And for DC, I hope they start tightening up their editorial control of stories being told and don’t let these protracted stories drag on. Comic books are too expensive for nothing to happen issue after issue. Otherwise that $7.99 per month Unlimited plan is starting to look a lot more attractive. I’m not an angry reader. I just want a little mutual respect from the creators.

  4. Easy fix – I stop buying Batman. Done, with #85. Follow King onto his next project.
    Frank Miller was right in seeking a B grade character like Daredevil because he knew he could get away with more than if he was on Spider-Man. Good on Dan Didio and Jim Lee for giving the biggest gig in Batman to King for such a lengthy run. DC has historically published many good-to-great things on approx 30% market share. I think they’re in good hands.

  5. @Nick
    “I don’t like the idea of any writer’s run being cut short”
    Mind you, that’s precisely the editor’s job description. That is what they used to do a couple of generations ago, before artists, then writers, began thinking they owned the house and started running wild. Removing someone who doesn’t deliver according the the boss’s expectations is what you do in any sound business.

  6. Tom King is DC’s best writer with the worst grasp on the characters. They still haven’t found the right place to utilize his talents yet. He’d be wonderful for Elseworlds projects like All-Star or Earth One. He needs to do more creator-owned books like the glorious Sheriff of Babylon. If he added his own characters to the DCU, I’m sure they would be tremendously valuable additions.

  7. DC’s PR team should never have OK’d the 100-issue run talk (which they certainly did, since King said it so often, in so many venues), but having done so, they should have the fortitude to stick with that plan for the 10 more months required. I didn’t feel short-changed by the Bat-wedding, but I’m already feeling short-changed by this. King and his collaborators should be allowed to tell their story to its planned conclusion.

  8. @JC Lebourdais, Oh I understand that part. I just didn’t fully articulate that. I meant to say that I generally feel bad for the writer as a creator when they don’t get to fully carry out an effort. In the case of Tom King’s run on Batman, 85 issues is hardly cutting anything short. And if everything in this rumor is correct, he has been given plenty of advance notice to wind down his time on the title with another 14 issues to be published before then. Plus, the issue 85 suspiciously lines up with when he said he was going to “change Batman for a generation or more,” so I suspect DC has gone a different direction on the editorial side and altered the plans past issue 85. None of this bothers me as a reader, except for the fact that I shouldn’t be privy to ANY of this information. Tom King never should have been talking about issues and arcs and overall plans for his whole run. That’s just prideful and assumes DC will never replace him or change story direction from the editorial side. If he hadn’t blabbed about it all, nothing would be “cut short” when they announced a change in creative team for issue 86. The other offender in that regard is Scott Snyder. He is constantly blabbing about arcs well into the future and how all these various series connect. It removes the mystery of the week-to-week storytelling, and then it leaves readers feeling cheated when things change mid-stream. I suspect Geoff Johns’ plans for Doomsday Clock were similarly altered after he made such a production of explaining how he wanted the series to tie-in with everything else being published. I say let the writers be writers and the editors be editors. The best part of the comics storytelling medium is that we get these serialized bits of story every month and have to wait until the next issue to find out what is next.

  9. @Nick
    Well, I echo your sentiment, but we now live in the Internet age, where every bit and nugget of info/speculation/rant about entertainment is scrutinized to the nth degree in endless clickbait “articles”. Not being at all on social media helps remaining sane, trust me. My phone still has a keypad and none of those mind-rotting apps. Some of it still filters into the mainstream media but that’s easy to turn off if you truly will. That leaves time to read, which is why we’re here, mostly.

  10. […] While shocking, this news was still not exactly surprising given all the upheaval that DC has undergone in recent months. So far we’ve seen the Bat-Dingus crisis that saw the whole adult-oriented Black Label imprint almost killed completely; a wholesale reorganization with three VPs laid off; a reduction in the publishing line; and most recently, Tom King’s long brewing plans for Batman suddenly becoming too hot to handle.  […]

Comments are closed.