DC Comics has been hyping up Tom King and Mikel Janin's Batman #50 for what seems like forever,but mainly since October, when Catwoman accepted Batman's proposal. Retailers placed their non-returnable orders three months ago, with the unwritten agreement that DC wouldn't go and spoil the goddamn issue before it was released.
But here we are, three days before the release of Batman #50 and The New York Times, in collaboration with DC's PR department, runs a headline spoiling the entire issue. But why would DC care? Retailers placed their orders three months ago.
Spoilers ahead, obviously.
The headline The New York Times went with was simply "It Just Wasn't Meant to Be, Batman." The article starts with the history between Batman and Catwoman leading up to their courting, proposal, and inevitable breakup.
Ms. Kyle is assisted for her dawn wedding by Holly Robinson, a friend and protégée who was introduced in 1987. Ms. Robinson noted to Ms. Kyle that she had never seen Mr. Wayne so happy. "He always seemed to need his misery" to serve his crusade, she said, as the two prepare to leave for the ceremony. The observation begins to stir some doubt in Ms. Kyle, who later asks her friend, "Am I a hero?"
Mr. Wayne has his own confidant, namely Alfred Pennyworth, his loyal butler for 75 years, who often wonders if his employer will survive his evening exploits. Mr. Wayne complains that his wedding suit is "too tight," and Mr. Pennyworth is quick to jokingly scold: "Every night you wear a molded leather bat suit. You will be fine." In another sequence, Mr. Wayne expresses his doubts to Mr. Pennyworth: "Can I be ... happy?"
The answers to the questions are found in letters the couple have written to each other before their wedding day. Mr. Wayne's correspondence reveals an acceptance of Ms. Kyle, who in her time has been a jewel thief, a villain, an antihero and a mob boss. "You're not someone who can be figured out. Or solved. And never will be," he declares. He also writes that he can be "more than a boy whose parents are dead," that he can be "the man who loves you. Who will always try to love you better."
Ms. Kyle's letter lays out the truth as she sees it: "You're still a child, Bruce. A hurt child." Their happiness, she speculates, would kill Batman, who rescues everyone and turns pain into hope. "How can I do that," she writes. "To save the world, heroes make sacrifices."
In order to keep countless innocents safe, she concludes that she cannot marry Mr. Wayne. "My sacrifice is my life. It's you."
In the final moments of their story, the bride and groom end up at different locations in the early morning hours. In a silent page, Ms. Kyle sits on a rooftop, contemplating. She discards her veil and leaps toward the street. At the Finger Tower skyscraper, after an hour of waiting for his bride, Mr. Wayne realizes she is not coming. He throws off his tie and takes a similar leap, but in the opposite direction. Theirs is a story that is forever to be continued.
John Cunningham, Senior Vice President of Sales for DC Comics, took to a LCS Facebook group to list five reasons for the NYT article. Certainly not five good reasons, but five points nonetheless.
"1. DC Sales strongly advocated getting the news out ahead of the OSD, so that the Moment of Realization did not occur hours before events began. We even did our level best to try and spoil it here on this page over and over again (and failed). The NY Times article was posted here at 630 a.m. PST not out of "Pride" — please — but to get you the information as soon as we could.
2. In the abstract, we believed the news would break on Monday morning, given the arrival time of physical copies in store and the reality that a copy or a scan would end up being passed to uncontrolled comic book outlets (much like Marvel's wedding issue last week and every other major comic book event in the lat decade).
3. As mentioned here before, any discussion about financial remedies for problematic DC product must occur after the product is on sale.
4. While The Times piece is more fulsome that [sic] some might like, it does not spoil the shock ending of the book for fans. We're working on getting this posted here for you.
5. I stand by my belief that BATMAN #50 is one of the best single issue periodicals of the last decade, that it is a special moment in comic book history, and that if it's not the book we (think) we want, it's the book we need."
According to Cunningham, Batman #50 was so good that he needed to tell everyone about it before the actual issue came out. It was that damn good. Much to his chagrin, he hoped that the spoilers would happen on Monday instead of Sunday, leaving fans only two days to be angry instead of three.
Writer Tom King took to Twitter to express his feelings on the matter.
Im pissed about things and excited about other things. I have no idea how to comment on anything without spoiling everything.— Tom King (@TomKingTK) July 1, 2018
Batman 50 is still out Wednesday. I’m incredibly proud of the issue; I hope you pick it up. You have questions; the answers are there.
Art by @JimLee. pic.twitter.com/odnbbVW9YC
It's likely that King is pissed that DC spoiled the issue and excited that his DC checks are still clearing.
Casual non-comic fans will take this in stride, but it's a betrayal to fans, who've been invested in this storyline for the last two years. At least when Marvel decided to cancel a wedding, they had another planned.