When rumors broke that writer Tom King was being removed from DC's Batman comic ahead of schedule--leaving his 100-issue plan effectively unresolved--speculation and theorizing raged online. Thankfully DC has now explained the reports, announcing King's new series, Batman/Catwoman.
The publisher has now confirmed that King's upcoming "City Of Bane” storyline, previously intended to set up his years-long finale, will mark the end of the writer's run on the book when it concludes in Batman #85. However, as we suspected, it won't mean that King's grand plan has been scrapped.. but is now part of a much more complicated shift in DC's Batman schedule.
DC Comics has announced that the currently twice-monthly-shipping Batman book will switch to just once monthly, beginning in January 2020. At which point a new 12-issue Batman/Catwoman comic by Tom King and artist Clay Mann will begin its own monthly release, staggered to fill in the gaps. It's assumed that the shift in Batman release is part of larger narratives and universe-wide stories being told throughout DC's Universe, the upcoming "Year of the Villain" chief among them. With the announcement comes the first look the s cover for Batman/Catwoman #1 by Clay Mann and Hi-Fi:
For fans of Tom King's work, the chance to see his story reach its planned finale will not only be offered, but from the sounds of it, given more freedom (or at the very least, an improved focus on exactly how his epic love story between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle is going to end). No surprise, King is happy for the chance to finish his run alongside frequent collaborator Clay Mann, even if it's not in the exact way that fans expected:
To me, Batman and Catwoman is a chance to do what Morrison and Quitely did in Batman and Robin: launch an ambitious, accessible, beautiful, thrilling new series that concludes years of stories and defines what Batman is, can, and will be. This will be a comic about what the best Batman comics are always about, how our greatest hero turns fear into bravery, pain into hope, trauma into love. It’s the story I always wanted to tell, and I’m telling it with the man I consider to be the greatest artist in comics, my brother Clay Mann.
It’s tough to leave Batman. It’s a gift and a joy to be on that book. But I’m leaving it to work on the biggest, most ambitious projects of my career, comics I get to make with the best collaborators in comics. And that’s a gift and a joy too. Finally, I can't say enough how much I've appreciated the support of my fans and colleagues in the past few days. I remain in awe of the power of this medium and the compassion of its readers. As ever, as always, you all save me.
Thankfully, it appears that King's rumored "removal" was part of a logistics issue, and not a creative one, as we had hoped. With King promising to leave Bruce somewhere fans have never seen, and potentially "change Batman for a generation," the book's place within the larger DC roadmap would be a key factor. If that Batman story was spread out, or delayed past the planned 100-issue mark--as King's Batman has been--then the coming events and storylines relying on Batman would look more and more like a blade hanging overhead. It remains to be seen if ALL of King's planned story will come to fruition, but if he's sounding positive for now, than fans have every reason to be excited.
As to the teaming up of Bruce and Selina in a new, co-starring miniseries, one could argue that King's Batman was just as much a Batman/Catwoman series at multiple points in his run to date. In fact, the idea of wrapping up King's run on the main series early, but allowing him to finish the story in a joint Batman/Catwoman series was actually pitched by one Reddit user when the news first broke. And with the doomed Batman/Catwoman wedding taking place in Issue #50, and Bane the one to blame, fans have been expecting "City of Bane" to be Bruce's first (and most punishing) step in setting things right. Or, as right as they can be made.
Fans interested in seeing how King's story concludes will want to jump in for that very story, beginning in Batman #75 on July 17th, 2019. after running a total of 11 issues with artwork from prior standouts Tony S. Daniel, Mikel Janín and Clay Mann, King's run on the series will conclude with Batman #85 in December, as previously reported. In the January that follows, fans can begin Batman from the still-unannounced creative successors, as well as Batman/Catwoman #1. Considering how many pieces appear to be moving behind the scenes (not to mention King's teases of more massive projects soon to be revealed), this isn't the last surprise we can expect.
Batman/Catwoman #1 will be available at your local comic book store in January 2020, and direct from DC Comics.
Source: DC Comics, Tom King