Written by Tom King
Art by Joëlle Jones, David Finch, Mikel Janin, Various, Lee Bermejo, Frank Miller, José Luis García-López, Ty Templeton, Becky Cloonan, Andy Kubert, Neal Adams, Rafael Albuquerque, Mitch Gerads
If, by a miracle, you have avoided the spoilers on batman 50 and you haven’t read the issue yet, then stop now till you have then get back to us, the rest of you feel free to continue.
It’s pretty impossible to talk about the 50th issue in Tom King’s run on Batman without spoilers, because there’s only one thing in the issue to talk about. It’s the so called wedding issue, and that in itself has set alarm bells ringing as DC comics are already offering refunds to comic shops out of pocket on advertising materials for an event that doesn’t actually happen. You see we have had quite a big build up to this wedding, he proposes in issue 24, and we know King has said he’s pretty much set to do a 100 issue run, so a quarter of the way through he proposes, issue 50, the whole things off, and we get left with a cliched cliffhanger that looks set to establish the next arc, Batman heartbroken against his usual rogues gallery.
Speaking of gallery, the book looks great. There’s plenty of portfolio pieces of Batman and Catwoman from industry giants like Frank Miller and Neal Adams, and it’s obviously been written with affection by Tom King, but the whole thing is such a huge anti climax, that by the last page you just feel cheated. You see it’s taken us 50 issues to get to this point, only to be told it can’t work as Batman only really operates because of his dark and gritty misdemeanor. He can’t be happy or he just won’t function as the Batman we know. So all this build up, then nothing. It’s a cheat.
If they had really thought it through, we would have had the wedding then over time we could see how the logistics of Batman and Catwoman as man and wife simply couldn’t work, giving us dramatic stories where Batman has lost his edge and Catwoman spends her time doing his dirty work, literally a dynamic (duo) that just can’t work. We would have had as much drama watching the relationship crumble, as we had watching it bloom, and at least we would have had a Batman story that followed through on it’s direction, instead of leaving long term fans deeply unsatisfied. Personally I think this whole arc has been a mistake, and incredibly out of character in the first place. Knowing these players as well as I do, it actually goes against the grain that they would ever agree to a wedding in the first place.
Think of your favorite Batman stories, then imagine the Batman from that story getting married to Catwoman, feels odd don’t it. That’s because we have spent decades of watching Batman turn into a dark avenger of the night, driven by incredible guilt over the loved ones he has lost, and continually punishing himself for never being able to do enough to bring them back. He is a master detective with control issues who trusts nobody and is capable of taking out the rest of the JLA if he so desires. Not exactly marriage material. I’m sure in the meeting it sounded great, but at the end of the day it has gone the way of all the big events. Superman’s dead, but we knew he wasn’t. Peter Parker is the clone, but we knew he wasn’t. Wolverine’s dead, but we knew he wasn’t.
Characters in fiction have to be changed by the events that happen to them, but in comics they must always hit the reset button and return everything to a status quo. If they were brave enough to go through with it i would have more respect for all involved. If they had announced the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle it would have made much more sense, but instead we were given a beautiful looking comic that will probably leave fans like me with a bitter after taste. Inconsequential and disappointing, this is a low point in what should have been a better story and to be honest, I’m not sure I even want to bother with issue 51.