Posts Tagged ‘Tom King’

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Eppur Si Muove

September 21, 2019

The Boat, the Street and What Batman Rebirth Is Really About

(Contains spoilers for Batman 79)

It’s Batman Day, an event I often ignore in the spirit of hard drinkers sitting out New Years Eve, but this year, in light of Batman 79, I am going to break a rule and speak publicly about what Tom King is doing before he’s finished doing it.  Specifically the “We met on a boat”/“We met on the street” debate that’s been inserted into every major event in King’s batcat romance: First Bruce references the boat from the first Catwoman appearance in Batman #1 in 1940, Selina responds with the street, alluding to the 1986 reboot Year One.  Year One is known for introducing a darker, grittier continuity but fewer people grasp the cynical and corrosive nature of its approach which was mistaken for sophisticated mature content at the time.  (That’s not an off-topic aside. Put a pin in it; it will be important later.)

First, as mother said, if you can’t say something nice…  I can be genuinely complimentary about one aspect of this debate’s resolution in Batman 79: The Meta.  Tom King nails meta like a mind honed in counterintelligence; it’s absolutely masterful.  Batman 78, featuring the boat on the opening page, came out first chronologically, in the real world, before 79, just as the 1940’s boat meeting came out decades before Year One.

EppurSiMuove-we-met-on-a-boat-we-met-on-the-street

The Batman/Catwoman first meetings championed by Bruce and Selina are featured on the first pages of Batman 78 and 79, and there’s a rather nifty bit of meta.

Batman 79, out a week later and featuring the street, contains an editor’s note above the street-related conversation, informing readers that this issue occurred before the events of Batman 77, i.e. like Year One it comes out later than other stories chronologically, in the real world, and writers are flicking on Editorial God Mode to say “No, no, it really happened before other things that you’ve already read, ‘cause we can do that.”  That’s rather a nice bit of meta lawyering bullshit to make everybody right “from a certain point of view,” as Obi Wan says.  It is bullshit, but it’s clever bullshit.  So well done, Mr. King.

The resolution of this squabble is also quite brilliant on a meta level.  Bruce acknowledges that the street happened first and explains that’s exactly why it doesn’t count: he was not yet Batman, she was not Catwoman. It wasn’t until the boat when “my truth met your truth.”  Very nice, but that’s not the ultimate destination.  He goes on: “Maybe I’m more (than that truth)…Maybe we can meet again.  Here.  Now.”  And they agree “We met on the beach.”

And that, folks, is what we call Rebirth.  The first meeting in Batman #1, dead.  The Bruce and Selina of Year One, dead.  And “After what’s happened” as Bruce says, rising from the ashes of those dead continuities, something new is born.  This is the new Batman, the new Catwoman and a new “batcat.”  Welcome to 2019.

That concludes the “something nice.”  Now let’s talk about the problem.  This is some beautiful, elegant meta, but an awful lot of people who read comic books cannot see past the crudest and most literal reading of the biggest picture on the page.  What they see is Miller’s appalling vision of Selina on Page 1 as the price of admission to this issue.  You shall not pass into the beautiful episode that contains the consummation of the new batcat partnership without acknowledging/accepting the abomination.  The meta introduces that creature to reject it, but the people in most need of that message are able to see it validated.

And that is a problem because “rebirth” literally means Renaissance.  Do you know why Christopher Nolan’s Bruce and Selina end up in Florence, Italy at the end of The Dark Knight Rises?

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Christopher Nolan’s Bruce and Selina are last seen in Florence, Italy, the cradle of the Renaissance.

Because it’s the cradle of the Renaissance, the Age of LIGHT that follows the Dark Ages.  That’s where you take a Bruce Wayne that has finally evolved past the Gothic nightmare existence he’s been trapped in: a Batman “as sick as the villains he fights,” a Batman operating out of psychosis instead of selflessness, motivated solely by anger and hate not because he wants to prevent other people suffering the way he did, a Batman who fights because he hates the criminal in front of him not because he loves the city behind him, and the mother of all Simon-simple, you-cannot-believe-these-people-thought-they-were-writing-sophisticated-stories-for-adults ideas: “Bruce Wayne is the mask.”  Them’s the Dark Ages, folks.  “Heroes are sick and not noble” is a medieval mind at the cellular level, and calling the reboot REBIRTH says you are moving on from that.

It says you’re moving on from ‘Might makes right’ and ‘Hope is a lie,’ everyone is born in sin, corrupt and corruptible; tomorrow will be no better than today and there is nothing we can do to make it better.  People are no damn good, life is shit and then we die.  In the rain.

And that appears to be exactly what Tom King is setting up.  Batman’s rebirth is bathed in sunlight…

EppurSiMuove-bathed-in-sunlight

…And the Gotham described in these pages and what we’ve seen of the City of Bane encapsulates the Batman universe built on the rock of Frank Miller: “Everyone” sees Gotham as “a flood of chaos,” “a cesspit,” “endless crime waves,” or to use my own phrase: Mordor with street lights.  An absurd level of violence and cruelty for cruelty’s sake that shatters suspension of disbelief in its ludicrous extremes.  And the I-got-mine view of humanity DC has espoused since the Crisis reboot: “So what if people die, if villains ruin their lives. What if they’re all slaves kept in fear… No one gives a damn.”

EppurSiMuove-millersgothamiswhatwefight

… Well, nobody gives a damn except for Green-Shirt Guy, the bat-badass fanboy we all know who thinks it’s awesome that Batman is now a completely homicidal sadistic psychopath.  This is what has taken over Gotham and what Rebirth Bat/Cat are going to fight and reclaim their city from.

Holy shit.

(I mean that. Holy shit.  Tom, if you see this, it would be an honor to buy you a steak dinner and a very, very good scotch for what you’ve laid out here.)

But back to the problem: Rebirth Selina is still stuck with being that creature from the street in her past, and the problem with that is you cannot bring Dark Ages ignorance with you into the Renaissance.  Either you accept that the Earth revolves around the sun—you accept that the Church was wrong, you were taught wrong and everybody you know and admire and wanted to be when you grew up was fucking wrong— or you don’t.  And if you don’t, eppur si muove, it doesn’t change the reality that the Earth does in fact move around the sun and those cynical, fear-based I-got-mine values that have taken over a lot more than Gotham really aren’t working out too well.

The batcat-loving world isn’t going to care, of course.  They got their Bruce/Selina relationship back on track and a maxi series where King’s romance will hold center stage in January 2020.  If they perceive an ideological price, I doubt they’ll give a damn.  Writing Cat-Tales I scratched the itch years ago, so I have some Bat-braincells relatively unaffected by these beautiful pages.  I see what I see.

And I’m truly sorry it’s not a completely unqualified rave, because I believe Tom King is a tremendous writer who takes bold risks and sees them through and shares aspects of himself that few artists dare, and most of the time he does it for an audience a chunk of whom has no idea what’s going on.  King is an extraordinary person and an extraordinary writer. He’s brought that talent and sensibility to Batcat, and that’s unspeakably wonderful.  These two issues are fucking beautiful, and the motifs and melodies of this love song he is composing is, I believe, going to be epoch-making when he’s done.

Happy Batman Day, Tom King, Clay Mann, Jamie Rich and DC Comics.  You’re doing a big thing, maybe not perfectly but you’re doing it damn well.  It takes courage your Bat would be proud of.

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Batman and Catwoman Tie the Knot on the Anniversary of Bruce’s Proposal

January 30, 2019

“The moment we’ve been waiting for. Bruce deserves this wedding. Selina deserves this wedding. We deserve this wedding. And that’s what we’re gonna get, god damn it.” – Cat-Tales Forum

Years before Tom King had Bruce on one knee proposing with Bat-brevity, the long-running Cat-Tales series #CoughDidItFirst at the conclusion of Wayne Rises.  The proposal story, which began in the wake of the Dark Knight Rises giving its Bruce and Selina a Happily Ever After in Florence Italy, wrapped up on January 30, 2013.

If King’s bait and switch accomplished nothing else, it did prompt Cat-Tales scribe Chris Dee to get her Bruce and Selina marching down the aisle.  The wedding arc began in earnest with The Engagement Party

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establishing in a ruthless one-shot that while DC scribes may be afraid of Bruce Wayne’s world of privilege, Cat-Tales is not.  The tale introduced a society writer a la Dominick Dunne who has flitted throughout the story, determined to use Bruce and Selina’s wedding for his comeback novel, and delivering a well deserved education to the likes of Joelle Jones, “denizens of Bludhaven outlet malls” who think wedding dresses on this level are bought off the rack for $28k (assuming the bride pays instead of breaking in through a sewer and rolling around on the floor of the shop.)

What Ford’s ultimate role in the story may be remains to be seen, but he is a prime suspect in the Gotham Times headline mirroring the New York Times Spoiler of Batman 50: Sorry, Bruce, It Wasn’t Meant to Be

times-headline

It’s a testament to the trust Chris Dee has built up with her readers that, despite the years of head fakes from DC Comics, no one lost faith (too much) that Cat-Tales would deliver what it promised.

The last chapter saw Selina survive the murder attempts that have stalked her through the bridal plans and discover who was really behind them, and the story concludes in Ever Fixed Part 4: Just Us.

Though we should mention that the mystery of the Times headline has not been tied up, and Dee indicated on social media that the arc itself continues for 2 more stories.  As with Tom King (Uh oh), the wedding is at the half-way mark.

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Buyer’s Guide for the Batman-Catwoman Wedding Issue

June 5, 2018

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On July 4, the 80 year relationship between Batman and Catwoman will culminate in “Holy Matrimony” by Tom King, the wedding issue in Batman #50.  It’s an important milestone in DC Comics history, and they’re going all out with the widest possible selection of artists creating variant covers.  With so many choices, the gang at Cat-Tales (who made a home for lovers of the Bat/Cat pairing when nobody else bothered to serve that particular niche) have organized the all the information into a constantly-updated buyer’s guide.  Here you can look over all the images we’ve seen, who they’re exclusive to and where you can order one.

From Joe Jusko’s vibrant Selina, which Chris Dee described as “capturing the joi de vivre that defines Selina as I know her and eludes everyone DC Comics has allowed to write her” to the soft romanticism of William Louw’s celebration of Selina, to Neal Adams deliriously vibrant cape-ripper, there is something for every taste…

Batman 50 Variant Cover Buying Guide

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Bruce and Selina’s Wedding Gifts (It Can Actually Get Worse)

May 4, 2018

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If you enjoyed the Intermezzo but have been wondering what Selina saw in the pages of the Gotham Post, great news! That scene appears in the new Cat-Tales: Gifts by Chris Dee and Wanders Nowhere.

You will see Bruce Wayne’s bachelor party.  You will see Selina’s bachelorette.  You will see there are actually worst wedding gifts than Booster Gold’s…  Oh.  So, uh, maybe not great news, more like, eh, news.  News of an indiscriminate nature.

The story begins today on the Cat-Tales website

Cat-Tales 74: Gifts
By Chris Dee and Wanders Nowhere

And the mobile-friendly mirror, Cat-Tales.mobi

 

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New Chapter Drops Pearl Part 6: East End

October 6, 2017

Over in the Gotham Post, Batman scribe Tom King has said Bruce’s reaction to Selina’s answer will be… to do something illegal.

This is getting weird.

Anyway, in Cat-Tales: Pearl Bruce and Selina’s wedding gift to each other is one Thomas Pearl, a new criminal cover for him to inhabit a la Matches Malone (except that he’s nothing like Matches Malone.)   No rough edges here, Tommy is the criminal Bruce would have become if he’d gone that way, and he’s targeting Luthor’s money men.  There was no way we were going to get through this tale without going to a Caribbean tax haven…

Caribbean Tax Havens

The East End of Grand Cayman, or as Selina puts it “Everyone’s second favorite Caribbean tax haven”… What? What other East End did you imagine we might be talking about?

Pearl Part 6: East End on the main Cat-Tales website and mobile-friendly mirror Cat-Tales.mobi

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Namascray: Tom King Gets Real on a Batman-Catwoman Marriage

July 24, 2017

“I’m married to the best woman who ever lived, and she guides me through everything.  She sees how messed up I am, and she loves that part of [me].  And I see how messed up she is, and I love that part of her.  Because of that, we can live together and be happy.  So I think that’s how it would work.” -Tom King, Tom King explains what a Batman-Catwoman marriage would look like, Los Angeles Times

Marry Me - Batman Proposes to Catwoman

“Marry me”

I haven’t said anything about Tom King’s Batman run (despite an impressive number of inquiries,) because—I’m sorry, this is no secret—DC has given us no reason to trust anything they do with Catwoman. (Or with Batman.) (Or and most especially with Bat and Cat together.) Nothing that’s happened in recent weeks changes that.

But I will say this about the above quote: it demonstrates the only mature, intelligent, real take I’ve seen on a Bruce-Selina relationship that, well, I didn’t have to write myself.  And quite frankly, it’s the most mature, intelligent, real take on any relationship I’ve heard from a DC writer in any medium.  It describes a real, human connection—a real partnership—between adults who care about each other.  Namascray, as the meme says, the crazy in me recognizes and honors the crazy in you.  Our crazy fits, so together we’re something more than we are separately, and together we tackle what life throws our way.*

I love my readers, but I remember a hella-disconnect when Bruce proposed in Wayne Rises.  As y’all might remember, he wasn’t as smooth as his Batman 24 counterpart.  He botched it on a truly epic scale.  When life went on a chapter later, I started getting comments bewildered that they were still together, that Selina was still living at the manor and, despite understandable tensions, everyone was still capable of civility and even affection.  There were people who passionately wanted the marriage yet expected the relationship to be over because he messed up.

That made me wonder what they thought this marriage they wanted was.  Because husbands and wives mess up, a lot.  We’ve all got that cray-cray, and when you say “I do,” you’re agreeing to work through whatever comes along.  If a silly thing like his particular brand of screwy producing an utterly awful proposal is a deal-breaker, well, you’re not ready to marry anybody.  When his particular brand of screwy makes you want to  smack him in the head and just—Argh! Jackass!—but you still love him in spite of  because of the thing that makes you want to smack him… that’s your husband.

Mrs. King is a lucky woman.

No joke, Tom gets that and Mrs. King is a lucky woman.  That doesn’t necessarily mean Batman readers are.  See above, Charlie Brown, DC has done nothing in the last 30 years let alone the last 30 days to make you run at that football again.  King, however, has done a bit to establish that if it’s going to be done, he’s got the human toolbox (which has zero overlap with comics/continuity sensibilities btw) to do it well.

Once upon a time, DC’s Powers that Be made some absurd proclamations about their characters being in permanent, happy relationships.  As now, a lot of people were messaging me for a response, so much so that I finally replied with a rather curt announcement that if I had any opinion on DC’s collective grasp (of marriage and the effect it would have on a character like Bruce) you would have heard at least one song from Company by now.

Tom King, this is for you.


*If you want realism in your fiction, that’s how you get it.  Not making the Batmobile into a tank, not doing insanely violent things while quipping like a ’90s action hero.  By starting your answer about a Batman-Catwoman marriage with your own.

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“Maybe we’re entangled particles” Celebrating Couples that Are Meant To Be in the Cat-Tales Gallery

June 25, 2017

“Marry me.”  With those two words on the last panel of Batman 24, Tom King electrified social media as even non-niche publications like USA Today and The Daily Beast carried the story: Batman had at long last proposed to Catwoman.  Most comic shops reported the issue was sold out before it officially went on sale, guaranteeing a second printing which was released last Wednesday.

Cat-Tales, whose Bruce Wayne had delivered that same two-word proposal in Wayne Rises, wanted to salute the occasion and produced a new work reproducing the image with our own characters for the Cat-Tales gallery.*

Marry Me - Batman Proposes to Catwoman

“Marry me”

A Long Time Coming: Batman’s Proposal to Catwoman Makes It Official: This Is DC Comics’ Greatest Relationship proclaimed The Daily Beast, whose Ira Madison III began by quoting Selina in Batman Returns “I would love to live with you in your castle… forever, just like in a fairy tale.”

Batman Returns: Kiss by Romano Molenaar

“Selina… Catwoman is the reason why Tim Burton’s 1992 masterpiece works so well. “

And Cat-Tales is thrilled to announce two pieces by the incomparable Romano Molenaar:  The finished Batman Returns: Kiss seen above, and Catnip, the penciled version that first caught our eye.

In a stunningly romantic touch, King has Bruce propose with the diamond ring Selina tried to steal at their first meeting back in Batman #1. While she wasn’t wearing her classic Golden Age threads at that encounter (she was in disguise, after all,) we know it is the spirit of that true, original Catwoman that captured his heart on day one. Thus, we present DC’s Power Couple by Elena Casagrande:

Batman and Catwoman: Power Couple by Elena Casagrande for Blastoff Comics

Batman and Catwoman: Power Couple by Elena Casagrande

Golden age, Bronze Age, the Batmania of the 1960s, Elseworld after Elseworld and Era after Era, it is always Bruce and Selina.  That was the message in String Theory, where the universal constant is the crucial element unraveling a cosmic crisis.

Bruce and Selina in the batcave "Maybe we're entangled particles"

“Maybe we’re entangled quantum particles”

Tom King’s story continues in The War of Jokes and Riddles, and while we at Cat-Tales do not read the Gotham Post, we will be observing it with Jokes and Riddles Week. 

Riddler and Game Theory at the Iceberg Lounge

Riddler and Game Theory at the Iceberg Lounge

Bruce and Selina may be DC Comics’s ultimate Power Couple, they may be the entangled particles that are meant to be, but they aren’t the only soulmates in Gotham. The lady who began her career as Cognitive Dissonance has certainly won Eddie’s heart and it’s high time she took her rightful place in the gallery.

Jokes and Riddles Week begins Monday, June 26.

*Please note that Chris has received multiple requests for “Marry Me” to be released in the full array of wallpaper sizes and ratios, but it is only available in the one size at this time. Making the full slate of wallpapers is a huge undertaking and if we pursue it, may be weeks or months before anything ready.

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