Fans of Batman have been treated to one milestone moments after another since writer Tom King took over in DC's Rebirth. But rumors now suggest his years-long plan to "change Batman for a generation" has been cut short. So, has DC Comics gotten cold feet? Or will King's story still be told... just not as expected? Either way, Batman fans shouldn't believe everything they read yet.
For casual DC fans, these rumors will seem stranger or harder to believe than usual--under Tom King's writing, the Batman series has been a top sales performer for 50+ issues, including several chart-topping events. Given King's warning that the culmination of his 100-issue plan for Batman would take the hero in a direction never before explored, controversy was guaranteed. But now reports claim DC will be ending his run early, short of whatever finale he had planned.
[UPDATE: As we suspected, DC has announced King's story will be concluded in the new BATMAN/CATWOMAN miniseries. The rest of the original article follows below.]
There is some evidence to suspect things aren't as heated, or scandalous as some may claim. For starters, Tom King Being removed from Batman is a headline that, while accurate, is hardly the full story. Once the rumor was verified by Bleeding Cool and corroborated by CBR, King choosing only to address messages of support via Twitter did little to calm fans' fears. But the most intriguing twist came when King's Heroes in Crisis and Mister Miracle artist and friend Mitch Gerads took to Twitter informing fans that "I know things about a thing and it all means even better things" with an accompanying image of a grinning Batman. So is this terrible news, or something else?
Gerads would emphasize patience with a faceplant gif warning what happens when "jumping to conclusions." It may be Gerads' comments which most strongly suggested that a more understandable shift may be in the works. Changes can be made for creative and logistical reasons, but that doesn't mean DC editorial doesn't want King's story to be told at all. The fact that no official announcement has been made, despite numerous sites now corroborating the Batman #85 cutoff, suggests there is more to the change of plans than an early ending.
Screen Rant has reason to believe that the full explanation may be more exciting than disappointing for some fans, but to understand just why King's planned story--and DC's alleged resistance to seeing it told in the main Batman book--may be problematic, it's important to hear just what King has had in store. He recently explained the conclusion, and the corporate apprehension, in an interview with THR:
I’ve been talking to, not just DC, but Warner Brothers and AT&T. What we’re going to do for the last 15 issues is something no one’s ever seen for the character. It’s something that’s going to change the character for a generation, or maybe more. Maybe forever. I never thought we’d get this kind of stuff approved; when you’re working with a corporate character, you think you’re going to have to reset. But this is a change that’s going to shake the world of Batman and it’s going to leave my mark on the character.
It's this description of King's finale that seems the most likely cause for any change of plans behind the scenes. After all, Batman can't be left at a point where King's successor (whoever that may be) is unable to continue the tale, or make a new start. Even King admitted he didn't expect editorial to approve his final chapter. No matter how good or satisfying an ending it may be, there's only so much DC can do if Batman and Catwoman actually did get married. Even less if Bruce trades the Batmobile for a jogging stroller to show the new child of Batman and Catwoman the brighter side of Gotham City.
But that doesn't mean King's final story can't be told in a standalone series, perhaps with even fewer restraints as a mature title under DC Black Label. Not an ideal ending, or the original plan... but a far cry from the full-stop removal being rumored--and one example of how this news needs larger context to be understood. We'll keep Batman fans updated as more news or a confirmation/explanation arrives.