DC Comics readers and retailers were rocked over the weekend by a story in The New York Times that spoiled one of the key plot points of Batman #50, the upcoming July 4 release set to feature the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. It's been a year since the proposal, and longer than that since the plan was put in place by the creative team, but DC let one of the big secrets of the story out days before anyone in the general public could even read it. Now the writer of the issue, Tom King, has responded.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Batman #50 below**
King, who was handed the reins of the main Batman title back in June of 2016 during the Rebirth event, has spent the last two years building a complex ongoing narrative for his version of The Dark Knight. Through it all, King's stories have been keen to explore a key question: Can Bruce Wayne ever really find happiness while also continuing his career as Batman? Can the two things co-exist, or is Bruce doomed to let the great tragedy of his life -- the death of his parents -- govern every decision he makes, even if that decision is to walk away from it entirely?
Bruce Wayne's proposal and engagement to Selina Kyle is a key part of that story, and while Bruce himself may not have figured things out yet, Selina believes she has. After a conversation with The Joker (who believes Bruce can't be happy and be Batman at the same time, so his wedding would end Batman) in Batman #49, Selina leaves Bruce at the altar in Batman #50, writing him a letter in which she explains that she's willing to sacrifice their marriage and her own happiness if it means that Batman is still out there saving people.
We, and many other DC readers, know this because The Times spelled it out via careful coordination with DC's publicity team, in the Weddings section. Though there are certainly still other surprises in store in the issue, fans and retailers were shocked, and many were angry. As for King, who likely had little input on the decision to publicize the wedding spoilers ahead of release, here's how he weighed in Sunday:
This is, of course, a difficult position for a creator to be in, and King responded with a rather level head given the circumstances. King is not quoted in the Times piece, and it's pretty clear that it wasn't his idea. As with various high-profile deaths and other major events in recent years, this was a comics publisher trying to grab headlines among people who don't normally read many comics, which is understandable from a publicity perspective.
For King, it means fans reaching out (often angrily) on Twitter to ask why such a big reveal was offered up first not in the comic itself, but via a spoilery newspaper article. With the news already out there, all King can do is keep telling his story, which was never just about the wedding in the first place.
We've reached out to DC for comment on the decision and will update this story with any response.
UPDATE: George Gene Gustines, who wrote the piece in question for the Times, has responded to backlash over the reveal. Gustines, who covers comics for the paper, said in a statement to Vulture that he was initially approached by DC to do a piece on the wedding as part of the Times' popular "Vows" columns, the idea being that it would be covered like any other real-life marriage documented in the paper. It wasn't until after the assignment was given that Gustines learned the wedding would not actually take place in the issue. He went ahead with the story and the reveal, but now wishes the spoiler had been obscured more instead of tipped off by the piece's headline.
"After I pitched the story, I learned the wedding would not happen. It seemed disingenuous to write the story without revealing the ending, which is why I included the reveal," Gustines said. "But I should’ve asked for a non-spoiler headline. We should have given more thought so that the casual reader, flipping or scrolling through the Style section, would not know the twist by reading the headline."
One of the most frequent complaints about the spoiler reveal was specifically that it was teased by the Times headline "It Just Wasn't Meant to Be, Batman" rather than hidden under spoiler warnings. Gustines now says he "would handle it differently" if he could go back.