DC Blew up Batman and Wrecked Retailers’ Revenues!

Monday , 2, July 2018 23 Comments

Wedded Bliss… ?

DC Comics is about to learn an expensive lesson: never f*** over the fans.

Yesterday the New York Times posted a thorough preview of the upcoming Batman #50, the issue wherein Batman and Catwoman are supposed to get married. The article spoils pretty much everything about the comic, up to and including the “let’s spit in our fan’s faces” ending.

It’s not a bright move, and bids fair to become DC’s The Last Jedi moment. Here’s the three ways they screwed people over:

Giving away the ending. DC colluded with the press to spoil the comic, front to back. This is IDIOTIC. People read stories to experience the story, and when you give the entire story away, it ruins people’s enjoyment. Imagine if, three days before its release, Marvel had posted the entire script for Avengers Infinity War online. Worse, imagine if they had a story in the NEW YORK TIMES which gave away the movie’s entire plot, with pictures depicting the action. Every key moment in the movie, spoiled. That ending, spoiled. Everything significant, spoiled. No one in their right mind would do this, because sales would tank.

Screwing over retailers by giving away the ending. The story was posted on Sunday, and retailers rapidly chimed in on social media, letting people know that fans were cancelling their preorders, and even taking Batman off their pull list. This is devastating, because in addition to their regular orders, DC issued 110 variant covers, most exclusive to one specific retailer or venue.

Don’t get me wrong, the art is PHENOMENAL. I’ve included a gallery of it below, because, seriously, you have to see this art. It’s some of the best cover work ever done in comics, and involves the majority of the top-name comics artists, all of which has a huge price tag. Stores purchase comics from the distributor, and if no customer buys their comics, they just eat the cost. Each unsold issue is a hit to the store’s bottom line. In an industry that lost 2.5% of its outlets in one year (and all the future sales they would have generated), whose sales are down 9% this year (on top of a 10% decrease last year), a huge, expensive flop like this could push many retailers over the edge.

Of course, the mere fact they spoiled the issue isn’t what’s caused the most damage. What really hurt was this: the ending just plain sucked.

(Gallery next, because there’s SPOILERS for the ending below it.)

Screwing over fans by writing such a crappy ending. The Batman-Catwoman nuptials is a medium-sized comic event spanning a dozen different comics. A dozen individual issues of romance, the proposal, complications, a last-minute attack on Batman by the Joker, and finally, the culmination of the entire series: Batman blue balls.

That’s right. After all that buildup, after all that fan investment, Catwoman leaves him hanging at the altar.

Now, I don’t think this was ever going to be the event DC thought it would be. But even if it were, this ending would have scuttled the whole thing. It’s a monumentally awful ending, one that deliberately spits in the faces of the fans.

Tom King—Batman’s writer—is lauded by many, and while the King Batman issues I’ve read had a few great moments, they also show that he just fundamentally doesn’t get why comics work. Example: In one of the issues leading up to the wedding, Catwoman reveals that she always knew Clark Kent was Superman. His disguise never fooled her.

This is STUPID. In one single panel, King changes Superman from a paragon of superherodom into a moronic chump, a chump who never once—in almost 80 years—thought that he should get a better disguise, because everyone else had already seen through it and was laughing at him. Yes, the glasses thing is maybe unrealistic—but not as unrealistic as people think, a conversation for another time—but comics and comic characters absolutely depend on certain “unrealistic” tropes, and subverting those tropes destroys the character and also destroys the cohesion of the comic universe.

Subversion is destruction, and Tom King indulges overmuch. He has genuine affection for the characters, and maybe he thinks of it as “realism”, but what comes out is anything but.

Now, I’m on record as saying that the marriage was a bad idea in the first place. Catwoman is a thief, an unrepentant thief, and she doesn’t deserve to nab Bruce Wayne, a moral paragon on the level of Superman. In a variant continuity, where “comic time” doesn’t exist, Catwoman went to jail for her crimes, reformed, and her and Bruce then got married. Their daughter—the new Huntress—took over for Batman when age and infirmity sidelined Gotham’s hero of the night.

This is the only way Selina Kyle could ever be worthy of marrying Bruce Wayne: by wholeheartedly reforming and paying for her crimes. Bruce Wayne might lust after Selina Kyle, as she is eminently lustable, but he would never, could never love her. She’s the femme fatale, the fallen yet consummately alluring woman the hero lusts after, while understanding that to attain her would bring damnation. The test of the hero is to resist her wiles, and find another, one worthy of his affections.

Tom King’s Catwoman is not worthy. King’s Selina Kyle is not repentant, has no desire to be repentant, and indeed has not even a faint belief that she should be repentant. She steals a man’s wallet while her and Bruce Wayne are on a double date with Lois Lane and Clark Kent. She steals a wallet when Superman—the Kryptonian who can see and hear everything going on in not just the restaurant, but the entire city—is in the same building as her. That’s not just criminal, it’s criminally stupid, and no matter how many times Tom King has Catwoman save Batman’s life from the Joker (this really happened, in issue #49), she’ll never be a fit mate for Bruce Wayne.

That beautiful wedding dress, above? She stole that. She’s marrying a billionaire, and she steals her wedding dress.

Under King’s pen, Bruce Wayne not only falls in love with this unrepentant miscreant, this foolishly criminal cat burglar, but she spurns him and his love, and leaves him standing at the altar. (Presumably in the rain.) (Presumably weeping helplessly.) This is not a fit ending to a romance. It’s pure subversion, and the audience hates it.

So yes, the entire storyline was stupid from the beginning, and yes, voluntarily spoiling it in the New York Times was even stupider, but this ending was the stupidest move of all: like Rian Johnson, turning Luke into a pathetic loser drinking green milk from an alien boob-testicle, Tom King has made Batman into a pathetic loser, endlessly waiting on a Gotham rooftop for the woman who left him at the altar, a woman he never would have fallen for in the first place.

Batman the cuck.

Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.

  • Captain Whitebread says:

    I saw this coming in #49 when Joker said if Bruce is happy, he can’t be Batman. He got through to Selina, which means this time, the Joker won.

    And the fans lost.

    I had the same issues with Selina as you did, but thought maybe, this would be the start of her road to redemption. DC/AT&T won’t allow that, though, so to stretch this tease out as long as they did was ridiculous.

  • Richard McEnroe says:

    There ain’t a book you can read, there ain’t a pill you can rake, there ain’t a,lotion you can rub on,
    STUPID IS FOREVER. — Ron White

  • Bill says:

    Former retailer, can’t believe anyone literally bought into this. An “illusion of change” media event from the start.But why would even they care about such a non-event?

    Mebbe DC may make this returnable to a degree.

  • Alex says:

    And like I said on Twitter, now The Gift retroactively makes 0 sense.

    Booster Gold wanted to give Batman an experience similar to Superman’s from the time he got to live in the reality where Krypton never exploded…

    So he went back in time and saved Bruce’s parents from Joe Chill. Needless to say, Booster made one hell of a mess (and gets Bruce’s parents killed in front of him as an adult when trying to set up a meet-cute with a Catwoman who in this timeline is violently insane), and Booster had to go back in time again and stop his past self from saving Thomas and Martha so they’ll die and the timeline will be fixed. The time paradox resolves itself when alt-timeline Bruce Wayne follows Booster Gold back into the past and witnesses his parents killed again and then kills himself.

    When he gets back to the main timeline, everything is back to normal, except Booster Gold has a breakdown and isn’t really able to explain to a very confused Batman just what the hell he’d done.

    Except, as a super hero from the FutureTM, Booster Gold would’ve known that the wedding would be called off and he wouldn’t have to have come up with his asinine plan for a “wedding gift”.

  • IvanVB says:

    The best detective in the world doesn’t know empowered women don’t get married.

  • MegaBusterShepard says:

    What is with comic writers turning all Superheroes into dysfunctional, childless weirdos? They broke Scott Summer and turned Cyclops into the ultimate jackass. Peter Parker sold his soul to the devil to save his aunt (never talked to Johnny Blaze I guess) and lost his marriage, never hooked up with black cat for some reason.

    The Richards (fantastic four) have no shortage of relationship issues. Hank Pym is a wife beater. They even try to break up Lois and Clark on occasion.

    Why is marriage such a bitter pill for comic writers to swallow? Why are happy relationships so wrong to portray? Look I’m not even a fan of the Bat/Cat dynamic (Bruce and Talia forever) but it’d be nice. It’d be nice for one to see a happy couple in comics for once. I’d like to see Peter and MJ have a kid, he doesn’t need to be a teenaged bachelor forever. Those stories can be interesting….. But I guess we will never get them.

    At least John Carter and Dejah Thoris had epic adventures even after having kids. Guess that’s asking a bit too much of the comic industry….

  • Tesh says:

    Comics writers are addicted to stringing along their readers, but their pathological aversion to character development, happiness and *normal* life isn’t winning them readers.

    Also, where do you go from here? Oops, never mind, we’re really doing this next time sales are in a slump? Batman steps out of the shower, and it’s all a bad dream? Selena redemption arc for the next 20 years? Batman forever waiting for her to reform, ever the complete fool? There aren’t any good options that I can see.

    • MegaBusterShepard says:

      I have this theory of mine that comics as a creative force died in the eighties, not that we haven’t had good stories since then but I believe the rot in the current industry started around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

      • Andy says:

        I think that makes sense. The Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles of 1984 were probably the last comic book concept that has left a truly major pop culture impact (and even then, it was really the cartoon that made them huge). Crisis basically killed the DC universe and Secret Wars more or less did the same to Marvel. Late 80s/early 90s were the speculator boom/crash and things have never truly recovered from that.

  • Jabrwok says:

    “she and Bruce”. Don’t mean to be a jerk, but “her and X” is incorrect and the misuse of pronouns drives me nuts.

    Otherwise a good essay. If I hadn’t given up on comics a long time ago this would tick me off. But the entire comic book industry ticked me off a long time ago and I have better things to waste my time and money on now.

  • JD Cowan says:

    You can either have episodic stories like the Golden Age of comics, or you can have weaving storylines that go somewhere, develop characters, and have an ending.

    It’s time for this industry to stop pretending every series can do both at once.

    They can’t.

  • Xaver Basora says:



  • Stephen K says:

    Never talk to the media… DC edition?

  • BLUME says:

    I can see a catwoman marriage and then redemption arc but this? I don’t see how you realistically have any kind of relationship between catwoman and batman that isn’t extremely antagonistic. This is just awful.

  • El Bearsidente says:

    They could have gone James Bond.

    In one of the movies (I think the one with Lazenby) Bond marries, but then he and his wife get ambushed and she dies.

    So… kill off Catwoman. They marry, the Joker drive-bys them, and that’s it. Done.

    I never got thing between Batsy and Catwoman. Even as kid it made no sense to me. I’m glad I’m not a kid anymore and have to see this nonsense.

    • Terry Sanders says:

      Not these guys. If they thought they could get away with it, they would kill Batman and keep Catwoman. Because grrl power. But marrying her off and then killing her? How is that Empowering?

  • Terry Sanders says:

    “In a variant continuity, where “comic time” doesn’t exist, Catwoman went to jail for her crimes, reformed, and her and Bruce then got married. Their daughter—the new Huntress—took over for Batman when age and infirmity sidelined Gotham’s hero of the night.”

    That was the pre-(first)Crisis Earth-2, the reality of the original comics from the Thirties and Forties. And yes, it makes more sense than anything they’ve done since, with either character.

    Somebody’s been playing with an interesting variant–an alternate history that’s quite well done in spots. https://cat-tales.mobi is the phone version.

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