Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles (whole book)
Backup: Writer (James Tynion IV) Art (Guillem March) Colors (Tomeu Morey)
This is it. Tom King’s Batman end comes to an end (but not really as Batman and Catwoman’s story will continue in their own title). It has been divisive to say the least. Many people found issues with the way King wrote Batman, and I have not shied away from being critical. However, I would count myself as an overall fan of the title and Tom King despite some shortcomings. Does this issue stick the landing? If you have been reading this far you already know what came before so let’s get to the meat of the story.
This final issue basically goes through all the hanging plot threads and ties each one into a neat little bow. Expect conclusions from everything from Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, to Gotham Girl’s arc, to Thomas Wayne and Bane, and even Kit Man makes an appearance. Without spoiling too much this is a typical happy ending for our heroes and kharma for our villains. It effectively wraps the main Batman run with leaving the door open for Batman and Catwoman, without it being some backdoor pilot. There is no “to be continued” here (for King’s story). The backup, by the next creative team, is a tease for Batman’s next antagonist the *gasp* Joker.
I think your mileage will vary depending on how you felt about Tom King’s run as a whole. Personally, I enjoyed this comic a lot but it had the same sticking points I have always felt. Thomas Wayne continues to be a villain with clear goals and motivations, with inconsistent actions. His story ends in a way that is fitting for how uneven his arc has been. It felt cheap, but so did a lot of what was going on there. The real stand outs of this comic are King’s handling of Gotham Girl and Catwoman. Without spoiling Gotham Girl’s ending, it is uplifting and benefiting for a character that has had nothing but raw deals throughout “Batman.” It was heartfelt and meaningful, and shows a softer side of Batman. The best part of this book though is how it handles Batman and Catwoman’s marriage. There were a lot of tear shed over issue #50. I would argue all of these tears were shed in immaturity. I don’t know what people were expecting, as if Catwoman and Batman would live happily ever after halfway through the run. It makes more sense for them to hit a break before placing them back together. And the ending they get here, is more meaningful than any cliche wedding issue could have given them. If there is one thing Tom King consistently understands, it is how to write love stories. He is able to add nuance and complications to them without falling in the same traps many writers fall for. King has spoken how he is madly in love with his wife, and allows this to inform his main character’s romantic motivations. I went into this run not wanting Batman in a relationship. I have felt like every single relationship the character has had was shallow and pointless. Bruce’s love interests are usually nothing more than a plot device. Tom King came along and made me not just care about Selina and Bruce as a couple, but want to see them live together happily. Pulling that off alone makes this book worth reading, and this run on Batman is essential for it. King’s strengths are further highlighted with Tynion IV’s backup. We get a teaser for the next arc and it is just Batman vs. The Joker again. It is sad that DC needs to return to safe and secure storytelling. Tom King, for all his faults, took risks. I was excited to read and see what would happen next. I don’t need another Joker story. Tynion IV is a great writer, and nothing against him, but this new direction seems boring. I hope I am proven wrong. As a reminder Tom King entered the title with the introduction of new characters.
Multiple art teams but with an over-sized book, and multiple story-lines, this makes sense. Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus’ art compliments each other. They are stylistically different but never clash. Every page is beautiful and they were a great choice to carry out the finale. I am impressed they pulled this off for the final issue, as the book has had a problem with inconsistent and jarring art changes from page to page and issue to issue. It might be the downfall of the title. Why did they just figure this out now?