It’s Only Comics: A Levelheaded Look At The Fan Outrage Over Batman #50

by Oliver MacNamee

[**Spoilers for Batman #50 below!!]

Didn’t we do this last year with Hydra Cap? And, isn’t it getting a bit trying now how we’re allowing a vocal minority with a keyboard to dominate the conversation over a comic even before it’s come out? This includes protests that they’ll never read Batman again and complaints that we never got the wedding we were promised. And yet, now that the book’s out, the tide is turning, albeit it slightly, as those of us who did buy the comic and read it, before passing judgement, have found it to be a great story with highs, lows, and an undeniable emotional depth that, for me, has always been Tom King’s forte in his comic book work to date.

That, and the promise that this is but the halfway mark in a 100 issue story. Hell, even Scott Synder plotted out an amazingly complex myth-building epic, and that was on a monthly basis. In case we’ve all forgotten, King is producing a book fortnightly and still maintaining a quality that should have assured readers that the Bat and the Cat are in good hands. Very good hands. After all, who’d be brave enough to follow in Synder’s ground-breaking footsteps? Well, an ex-CIA operative, that’s who.

That moment between Bruce and Alfred is worth the admission price alone and genuinely gave me goose bumps – and I’m a tough British northerner (we don’t do soppy emotions) – let alone that last page reveal which had me genuinely shocked and wanting to applaud King. And, given this was only a 50th issue, it felt more like a bigger anniversary moment with a virtual who’s who of comicdom’s best illustrators offering up huge, beautiful and diverse splash page images of Batman and Catwoman from all eras and other earths, illuminating and elevating the book as something to treasure.

Am I being hyperbolic? I don’t think so. And certainly no more than some of the responses I have seen online, even now. How indeed can King be held accountable for the machinations of a corporate beast like DC and their big daddy, Warner Brothers? It’s certainly false advertising, but I doubt anyone will ever be held accountable for a problem created by an invisible agent behind the scenes. So, it’s easier to aim vitriol towards King as the face of Batman. It’s like shouting at the bank teller for the Machiavellian greed of a few Wall Street types that led to the crash of 2008.

As for those people who claim they won’t be buying the book? Well, you’d only be cutting your nose off to spite your face and turning your back on an unraveling, intricate, and intriguing story that once again sees DC’s most resilient character come under the kind of pressure that once broke him and even killed him under Morrison’s guidance.

Batman is at his best when he is broken, when the world he knew, and we knew, falls form under his feet. Even if he doesn’t know who the big bad is behind this, nor for how long this guy has been plotting and planning. Superman will always be confronted by something bigger and badder than him, as we have seen recently in Bendis’s Man of Steel, while Batman was always a comic about psychology and mind games. If I was ill, I’d go see a doctor. If I want a psychologically tested Batman, I’d all in an ex-counter intelligence agency operative like Tom King, too. Who better to write a comic of this nature?

Besides which, I wouldn’t be casting accusations and the like his way anyway. He’ll probably know where we all live, right?

Batman #50 is currently out from DC Comics, and there will be more opinion pieces coming our way on Comicon.com about this landmark issue.

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