SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #50 by Tom King, Mikel Janín, June Chung, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Trish Mulvihill, Becky Cloonan, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Frank Miller, Alex Sinclair, Lee Bermejo, Neal Adams, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Rafael Albuquerque, Andy Kubert, Tom Sale, Jose Villarrubia, Paul Pope, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Ty Templeton, Keiren Smith, Joëlle Jones, David Finch, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Lee Weeks and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
So, DC Comics spoiled Batman #50 last weekend, and that understandably sucks. It’s a problem the comic industry has had for at least as long as I’ve been reading comics; I remember reading about Captain America’s death post-Civil War in the free UK newspaper The Metro, a day before the comic hit the shelves. Whether it’s the death of a fan-favorite character, the return of another, or the will they/won’t they of a wedding, superhero comic publishers like to take the chance for a bit of a mainstream news bump by spoiling the events of the comic early with the intention of maybe getting a few more people to pick up a copy of the landmark issue.
Only this time, there seemed to be more backlash than usual. Perhaps it’s because two weeks before DC allowed The New York Times to spoil the Batman/Catwoman wedding, Marvel allowed the same outlet to spoil the Kitty Pryde/Colossus wedding in X-Men Gold #30.
Understandably, fans don’t want to feel like they’ve had their time wasted, and many do feel like DC has done just that, not just with the reveal of the spoiler, but with the events of the spoiler itself. What was the point of a year’s worth of Batman stories leading to his wedding to Catwoman if it wasn’t going to happen in the end? Why should people read the issue if DC feels comfortable spoiling it ahead of time? And perhaps the biggest question posed by a spoiler like this, why should we ever trust DC again?
DC messed up by revealing the events of Batman #50 ahead of time, but it doesn’t ruin the issue itself. It's one of Tom King’s best in his two years of writing the character’s titular ongoing, a title with such strong sales that it’s known to be an industry benchmark that all other comics are compared to. There’s few bigger gigs in superhero comic writing than the eponymous Batman ongoing comic, and it’s important to remember that keyword: Ongoing. As in, the story isn’t over. You can be mad at DC for spoiling the events of a single issue all you want, but to be mad that Batman and Catwoman didn’t get married misses the point of the story King has been telling since he took over the title.
The core of Tom King’s run has been based around almost a mid-life crisis for Bruce Wayne. Bruce has been Batman since he was eight years old. As soon as those bullets ripped his parents away from him, he became Batman; what that means is, Batman is a child’s understanding of how to cope with such a devastating loss. When faced with the death of his parents, Bruce decided he was going to dedicate his life to attempting to make sure it never happened to anyone again. We talk about superheroes as people who fight crime, but Batman is different -- Batman’s goal isn’t just to fight crime but to fight Crime, and his mission won’t ever truly be complete until the very concept is eradicated.
To that end, Bruce Wayne has been generally quite miserable for the last twenty-five years of his life. Recently, however, he’s been wondering if he can be happy instead. More, can he be happy and be Batman at the same time? He was already facing this existential crisis when he met his father from the alternate Flashpoint timeline, a man who urged his son to give up being Batman and find a way to be happy. In an effort to find a balance between the two, Bruce proposed to Selina Kyle, hoping to find some semblance of happiness in the arms of the only woman who has ever truly understood him.