It’s been more than a week since BATMAN #50, written by Tom King was spoiled days before its release. A New York Times article released on July 1, 2018, entitled It Just Wasn’t Meant to Be, Batman rocked the comic world with many disgruntled fans up in arms for a variety of reasons. Now, I’m not here to debate the purpose of the New York Times article or to choose sides. The point of this article is to take a step back after the hype, anger, attraction towards the issue, and spoilers have died down to piece together what we learned from the events of BATMAN #50.
So, who’s to blame?
Do we blame New York Times? Well, let’s face it: you don’t have to read the article to get spoiled. They did a fantastic job ruining the issue with the title alone. However, we find out later that John Cunningham, DC’s Senior Vice President of Sales, responded to a private comic retailer on Facebook in an article from CBR. In summary, DC Comics was aware of what they were doing and intended to spoil BATMAN #50.
Now, before everyone starts hating on DC, this isn’t the first comic company (cough Marvel) that had ever spoiled an issue or event before it was released. Technically, not even the first one that week. However, DC was trying to get their name out in a more traditional market to get more people to buy the comic, as well as related titles and issues.
Ok, so we find out that DC set this entire thing up. But, did King know?
King appeared upset and had no idea, but I have a hard time believing that the creator of this story, who went on Late Night with Seth Meyers promoting the issue, had no clue this was going to happen. The blame needs to be shared across the board. New York Times should have never put the outcome of the issue as the title of the article. That’s just bad taste.
DC Comics could have found other ways to promote the issue with traditional media without spoiling the story; such as interviews with King, interviews with artists on the book throughout the years, as well as discussions with DC executives.
Where should I direct my anger?
Honestly, I don’t know. But, I know where you shouldn’t direct it; at your Comic Shop. After talking to my local shop, they said that they were lucky to break even. BUT, one of the owners followed up by saying that they EXPECTED to make a massive profit off of BATMAN #50 and now they didn’t. Heck, some stores threw parties and ordered wedding cake for Midnight releases. Take a look at this article of a release party at Infinity Flux.
If you ordered variants and or usually ordered BATMAN, I hope you still picked up what you were supposed too. Don’t punish the Comic Shop for something they had no control over. However, if BATMAN magically comes off your pull list after this week, I don’t know if anyone would blame you.
Times are Changing
In defense of DC Comics, it’s not their responsibility to worry about comic book shops. Back when comics first came out, shops dedicated solely to comics didn’t exist. Fans simply went to newsstands to get their comics. Eventually, stores were created FOR the medium, not the other way around.
The same can be said for home video game systems and games. Initially, you could only buy them at a Toy Store or Department Store. Then, we had Video Game Stores like GameStop. Comics and Video Games existed first not the stores that personalize in them.
My Point is…
DC Comics can run their business however they want nor do they need to look out for the stores. As much as I LOVE tangible comics, digital issues are the future. At one time we had video stores, like Blockbuster, to rent movies. Now, we stream almost everything. Why buy music or video when you can just stream it?
DC was trying to find a way to expand their company in a way that benefits them. Comic sales are not doing as well as fans may think. If DC doesn’t adapt, they may be in trouble. Comic shops need to adjust, or they’ll be gone too. If the stores didn’t exist, more comics would be sold at Walmart and other large department and bookstores. Why do you think DC is putting the 100-page comics at Walmart? They’re testing the waters for the future.
BATMAN #50 was a hypothesis that was tested on the sample size of all individuals buying BATMAN #50. Will fans still purchase comics if we spoil issues and events ahead of time? Will fans buy comics from Walmart? Ultimately, do fans care or will they just forget in a day anyway so we might as well get the publicity? I bet the answer is yes to all of the above.
DC knew from preorders who was buying and will crunch the numbers on whether or not this publicity stunt hurt or not. We shall see when the sales numbers come out. But overall, this was just an experiment for the future. And I bet as a whole; sales were at least the same. But, many individual shops took some hits.
Why are you upset at Tom King?
Now, the answer to that question is in the pages of BATMAN #50. To summarize, Catwoman felt like she’d been holding Bruce back from being the Batman the world needed. And let’s face it, Batman hasn’t been himself since Rebirth. He’s had his mind on other things. But that’s not what I mean by the question above.
King gave us a proposal in issue 24 and spent 26 issues (off and on), as well as an annual and special wedding issues, for the Bat and Cat to NOT get married. King spent a year’s worth of storytelling to lead up to an event that was never going to happen. And he knew it and wasted our time. We had wedding one-shots of bachelor parties, deciding who the best man would be, suit fittings, and issues dedicated to dresses for no wedding. I hate to say cash grab but what else were the extra issues for?
We were given dating issues and arcs about wedding gifts. We were given long-winded proposals and fights with ex-girlfriends, all for nothing. A year’s worth of stories for NOTHING. Now many would say, “You can’t honestly think they were going to get married?” And to all of you, I say; yes! I’ve read every issue of King’s run, and it led me to that very conclusion as I’m sure it did for many others.
Sure, legally it wouldn’t make sense. Bruce can’t marry a criminal and alter egos can’t get marriage licenses. But the wedding, the feeling, and the emotions could all happen without it being “legal.” I feel tricked for the sake of being tricked. More importantly, this issue shakes faith in DC, REBIRTH, and its direction for the future.
I feel like DC, in general, has lied about the purpose of REBIRTH. In an interview from The Hollywood Reporter back in May 2016, Geoff Johns said he was going to bring back hope and optimism to the DC universe. What’s more hopeful than love? Marriage?
Tom King also said this:
I’m sorry, but I can’t wait for 50 more issues. You just gave us about 26 issues that amounted to nothing. Literally nothing. Are you going to give us a wedding at 100 or just another bait and switch? I’m sorry but 50 more issues from a writer I can’t trust and a company where my faith is shaken, maybe a bit too much.
How do I know you’ll get to finish 100 issues and tell your entire story? How do I know DC’s direction won’t change? You had 50 issues to tell your story which is more than most writers ever get. But, somehow that wasn’t enough. YOU NEED MORE?
Who do I blame?
I don’t blame the article. And, I don’t blame DC. I don’t even entirely blame King. However, I blame myself for falling for this storyline for over a year. But my hope is King can leave this storyline behind and give us something great. I think this wedding has held him hostage long enough. My recommendation Tom: move on, and move away from the Bat and the Cat.