The Bat and The Cat
Any time a creative team is taken off a book early, it’s bad. But when news hit that Tom King would be leaving Batman with issue 85, twenty issues before his planned run was ready to end, it was near catastrophic. The acclaimed, Eisner-award winning writer behind Marvel’s Vision and the recent Miracle Man miniseries had done wonders with the Dark Knight, and it seemed like King was still going to have free range to finish out the story that he wanted to tell on the title. But now, that’s changed, and DC and King himself are making this seem like it’s similar to Grant Morrison’s run on the character, which spanned the initial Batman series before moving into it’s own title, Batman, Inc. But I’m not entirely sure that’s the case.
Rumors have long held that the higher ups at DC weren’t very keen on Tom King’s run on the character as of late, and while sales have remained steady on the flagship title (even keeping it as DC’s top selling title), it still saw a dip in sales after the controversial Batman #50, which saw the much-hyped wedding between Batman and Catwoman not happen. Lots of readers were understandably mad over this, but in my opinion that’s more a problem of marketing than of King, who never made any direct claims that the wedding would take place in that issue. But the book hit its lowest sales numbers with the recent storyline “Knightmares”, a strange storyline that bounced around segments, characters, and events in Batman’s life only to find out it was Bane using Scarecrow’s fear toxin to mess with Batman. Was it a weird storyline? Yes. Should it have taken six issues to tell? Probably not.
So DC, deciding to mix things up, is giving Tom King a new series called Batman/Catwoman that will team him with artist Clay Mann (who’s fantastic), and use that to allow King to finish off the story that he’s been telling in Batman. Like Grant Morrison’s run that spanned titles like Batman, Batman & Robin, and Batman, Inc, or Jonathan Hickman’s run on seemingly every book he wrote for Marvel leading up to Secret Wars, it’s putting the idea of the fans following the writer, as opposed to following the title character. It’s a move that’s worked in the past, for sure, but knowing about the controversies surrounding King’s run, it still doesn’t feel quite the same as those other examples.
In essence, DC’s trying to have their cake and eat it too. They’ll get a new writer on the main Batman title to hype up and try and boost sales, AND they get another title that will add to their sales that also allows Tom King to wrap up his story. And while it sure makes for some headaches when King’s whole story is collected, at least he’ll get to finish the story, which is all that matters I suppose.