(Open spoilers for Batman (Vol. 3, 2016-present) issues 1-85 (and intervening Annuals) and Batman/Catwoman (2020-present) issues 1-2.)
I’m talking about comic book writer Tom King, who was the writer for Batman (Vol. 3, 2016-present) for issues 1-85 and is currently writing the 12-issue series Batman/Catwoman.
There is apparently some controversy over this run. Tom King was supposed to have a 100-issue run on Batman (starting in the Rebirth era), but was taken off 15 issues early. He was apparently given the 12-issue Batman/Catwoman series so he could finish his major story arcs.
From what I have read of the reasons that he was taken off, it’s not entirely clear, but some segment of the fandom was upset over the aborted wedding in Issue No. 50 and over the focus on Batman’s (and other characters’) mental health. I’ve also heard that D.C. felt that the series was too isolated from other ongoing publications in its themes and story lines and it being their best seller, wanted to integrate it more, and have more flexibility to do cross-promotion, especially across movie and television.
Here are my thoughts: Overall, I liked it a lot. And I absolutely loved the detailed exploration of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship. At times it was downright beautiful and inspiring and I even sometimes got teary.
This article goes over one of the key moments, and compares it to a notable terrible handling of their relationship — Batman #15 showcases why superheroes should have more sex
I absolutely loved the relationship arc, and the detailed exploration, and I liked the resolution, in which they acknowledged taht they were a couple, but they didn’t need to be married. I had always been partial to Silver St. Cloud in her 1970s incarnation and Talia al-Ghul as Batman’s “true loves,” but this arc has definitely convinced me that Catwoman should be part of the family. I found her character just so warm and delightful.
I also liked the exploration of the Batman family as a family, especially Alfred’s role essentially as Bruce’s father. The introduction of Thomas Wayne from a different timeline was a new thing to me, but I liked at the end when Bruce finally told him “You’re not my father.” I had been waiting for that forever.
I liked the incorporation of the idea that Batman has several sons, whether biological or legal or what—Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian, Duke—and maybe even some characters one might consider his daughters. I did want more of this, though. I thought they weren’t in it enough.
I liked the Gotham and Gotham Girl arc. I think Gotham Girl is a fine addition to the Batman Family. And it was an interesting idea to tie their powers to their lifespans.
Kite Man! Hell, yeah! Hilarious.
I liked the exploration of the psyches of different characters, especially villains like Poison Ivy.
I’m definitely going to look at some of Tom King’s other works, like Mister Miracle.
Some things I didn’t like:
This is a nitpick, but Joker was drawn way too handsome and the Riddler was drawn way too tough and stocky looking. I want a goofier-looking Joker and a wiry, lithe Riddler; not a brawler.
I have never been a fan of Bane. I was there for his original rollout in the early 1990s when he broke Batman’s back for the first time. I have never found him interesting, and it was a bit of a drag for me that Bane was the principal antagonist throughout the arc. It didn’t prevent me from immensely enjoying the series as a whole, but I frequently found myself flipping through quickly when Bane was on the page. And the whole story of the federal government ceding control of Gotham to Bane was too much of an echo of Christopher Nolan’s plot, which I didn’t much like either. And enough with the “break your back” line. It didn’t resonate with me and it also didn’t strike me as something Batman would fixate on. It’s not a clever or interesting thing to say over and over again.
Possibly as a result of this, I found some of the story lines a bit too complex and confusing, with all the different betrayals and counter-betrayals. I’m still a bit foggy as to who was planning what at what time.
The violence was too bloody.
There were often too many characters and I couldn’t always identify them all. It seemed like some of the villains, in particular, who might have been redesigned or re-imagind since I last encountered them, could have been introduced a little more clearly. A little more explanation would have helped.
It seemed like I was missing something from the Flash/Thomas Wayne story line. I didn’t quite understand the role of the Comedian’s smiley-face button. I guess I need to go back and read some Flash stories? Or was it in Justice League?
I liked the Batman/Wonder Woman story line but I think they chickened out. There was no reason for them to not engage more intimately in those circumstances, and their partners back in the real world should have been understanding. Characters like Batman and Wonder Woman, especially, are natural for opening up the idea of polyamory/non-monogamy. That wouldn’t work for Superman, but it sometimes seems silly the way characters are made to adhere to traditional monogamy so much.
I think I’m probably going to go back and read it again.
Just a question: Why would there be any people left in Gotham City? Either they would be dead from all this or they would have fled. I think future stories should tone down the “hell-hole” characterization of Gotham—just dial it back a bit.
So, please, let’s discuss! Did you read this? What are your thoughts?