WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Batman #39 by Tom King and Joëlle Jones, in stores now.
Recently, fan-favorite writer Tom King took to Twitter to reveal that it had come to his attention that the next chapter in his ongoing Batman saga bore similar storybeats to an old issue of Actions Comics, issue #761 by Joe Kelly and German Garcia. Unbeknownst to him, King and artist Joëlle Jones had concocted a story resembling a comic that saw publication nearly two decades ago.
“There are major overlaps and major differences,” the writer said in a subsequent tweet, “but had I read Action 761, I would’ve changed 39 significantly or I would’ve reached out to Kelly and/or Garcia and put in tributes to acknowledge the inspiration.”
Clearly, this is merely a case of coincidence, and no one can fault King for coming up with his own story. The comic book medium — and literature as a whole for that matter — is one so vast and large that it can be nigh-impossible to be aware of every story ever told.
But now that the two issues have been linked by the writer himself, CBR took a look at the similarities and differences between Batman #39 and Action Comics #761, asking the question: Which, ultimately, tells its tale better?
At their core, both comics tell a story of love, and relentless bravery. In King and Jones’ story, Batman is called upon by Wonder Woman so the duo may fulfill a promise they had made long ago to a hero called the Gentle Man. This hero fights in another realm, where he is all that stands between mankind and the horrendous Hordes of Gehenna, demon-like monsters whose numbers are endless. His battle is eternal, and his bravery unending. To give him a bit of rest, Batman and Wonder Woman journey inside this realm, to fight the Hordes in his stead — temporarily. However, time flows differently there, and what appears like hours on Earth equates to decades in this unholy realm of nightmares. Consequently, Bruce and Diana spend decades battling monsters at each other’s side, albeit without ever aging.
In Kelly and Garcia’s story, Superman and Wonder Woman, by happenstance or fate, are teleported to the Norse realm of Valhalla, where they meet Asgard’s very own Thor. There, they are recruited by the God of Thunder to help defend Valhalla from invading demons known as the Vrgismyth. In the realms of the Asgardians, however, battles, as well as time, are different. According to Thor, this battle should take no more than two thousand years. And so, Wonder Woman and Superman join Thor to battle a relentless enemy in a realm where time flows differently.
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