I loved Tom King's run on Batman--let's discuss! (open spoilers)

(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?

Moved to CS (from GQ).

Thanks! That’s what I had meant to do.

Just dropped in to say that the first I heard of Tom King* was his VISION mini-series. Innovative, fun…and dark. The perfect thing to read while you’re watching WandaVision. I immediately looked up everything else he’s written.

*Can you get a more innocuous name? Hmmm, must be a witness protection program name…

Re: Comedian’s Button: This was a lead in to a miniseries starring Flash and Batman which I believe was a prequel to the intro of the Watchmen characters to the DC universe.

His Vision is really fantastic, Omega Men is also very good, but his Batman was definitely not to my liking. Felt out of character and maybe too big for him (King seems to be good at writing smaller, more intimate stories). Also, just about all his characters seem to be suffering from some kind of trauma. And killing A was the last straw.

I know! It makes it difficult to search his name.

Ah, okay. I’ll have to work that into my reading list.

Well, they sure should be. They dress up in costumes and hit people. Or they dress up in costumes and commit horrific crimes. I liked the idea that they were taking this kind of thing seriously.

I mean, I love superheroes, but as an adult, I have to consider that it would be so fucked up if someone tried this in real life. So, it’s refreshing to have that addressed head-on. Unless you’re doing it like the beautiful farce of the Adam West Batman.

This is an open spoiler thread, so I think we can say “Alfred.” By this point, I’m used to comic book characters dying. I’m sure he will be back. When I was a young comic book enthusiast, Barry Allen’s Flash was “permanently dead” after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Jason Bard/Robin was “permanently dead” after A Death in the Family and Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was "permanently maimed* after The Killing Joke. Nothing turned out to be permanent. I fully expect Alfred to be back. And in this case, I think it served to raise the stakes. it certainly made an impact in that one would usually expect this kind of hostage threat to either be a bluff or prevented somehow. It did get my attention that it wasn’t.

It’s been a while, since I read King’s run, but I really enjoyed it. The Swamp Thing issue, and the double date with Clark and Lois were fantastic. Lets not forget he had some of DC’s best artists working on it, which only enhanced the story telling.

I swooned with pleasure. I loved the relationships and interactions. I’m really liking this incarnation of Lois Lane too. I hopped on to her solo series, which features Renee Montoya as a sidekick. And I like the implications of celebrity culture that are affecting Lois and Superman. I wonder if this all might lead to Superman revealing his secret identity to the public? The way they show Superman working these days, he really doesn’t need a day job.

Absoultely gorgeous work, definitely.

And having read Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P., which was written by Tynion and Tomasi, not King, I really appreciate the exploration of the relationships between Bruce and his “family”–Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian, and Barbara–and the effect that Alfred’s death has on them. (I did not like the art in that sequence–I couldn’t tell the dark-haired men apart from each other. I had to keep looking back when they used their names to check to see which was one wearing a sweater, which one a necktie and glasses, which one a bowtie and vest, etc.)

I have to say though, I hate the whole “Ric Grayson” nonsense. All of a sudden he has to have a different personality and this crucial, relatable character is removed from the story? Dick Grayson is an essential node in this web, just as Alfred is.

Question: During Alfred’s memorial, it is stated that Batman has ensured that the city will not go unprotected, adn there is a panel showing the replacement protectors–Batwoman, Catwoman, and I think Duke Thomas and Cassandra Cain, is that right? Sometimes I long for the Stan Lee days when every appearance of a character in an issue was announced in a dialogue box with a footnote indicating es last appearance!

I just finished Heroes in Crisis. Wow, I loved it. A good combination of mystery, humor, and exploration of the emotional lives of heroes.

I was shocked that Roy Harper Jr. (“my” Speedy), and Wally West (my Kid Flash) seem to be actually, really dead (for now anyway). It looks like Poison Ivy made it through. I liked the relationship between Blue Beetle and Booster Gold–a nice callback to their friendship from the early 1990s Justice League.

The little therapy panels were great. Great ways to define the different personalities. I especially like the sequences of panels of Tim Drake (Red Robin/Robin III), Dick Grayson (Nightwin/Robin I), Jason Todd (Red Hood/Robin II), Damian Wayne (Robin V), and Spoiler (I don’t know whether it’s Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain). Boy, Wayne Manor has really become the Brady Bunch.

I do feel like Harley Quinn is getting a little overused.

Well, she’s currently in Harley Quinn, Harleen, Harley Quinn: Make 'Em Laugh, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red, a recurring character in Suicide Squad, has had several recent limited series, makes frequent guest appearances in other titles…maybe just a little.

Yep. …