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?
King, 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:
I know things about a thing and it all means even better things. pic.twitter.com/q5YFi29OUP
— Mitch Gerads (@MitchGerads) May 22, 2019
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:
So many kind notes. You all rock.
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) May 22, 2019
More to come certainly…
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