Batman: Why Tom King Is Leaving After Issue #85

We caught up with Batman writer Tom King, who explains to us why his Dark Knight epic was cut short on DC's bestselling book.

When it was announced that writer Tom King would be ending his Batman run a bit earlier than originally intended, it didn’t take long for the internet to start speculating about King’s sudden departure. After all, the award-winning Batman and Mister Miracle scribe was well on his way to his planned 106 issues when his run was cut short, with December’s #85 set to be the end of his time on the book. While some corners of the web theorized that King had been “fired” from Batman for one thing or another, the real reason behind his exit comes down to logistics, according to the writer.

“So what’s going to happen is, or what did happen, was that [DC] needed some major DC stuff to be told in the Bat books,” King tells us at NYCC 2019. “And that would have conflicted with the Batman/Catwoman focus.”

This makes sense. While the book has featured a few smaller crossover events in the last few years, King’s Batman has mostly occupied its own corner of the DC universe, and has rarely acknowledged anything happening to the Dark Knight elsewhere in the line. Even the publisher’s big Year of the Villain initiative has largely been absent from King’s epic.

Yet, it seems like DC wants to tell more cohesive stories through its entire line of books by unifying its universe’s timeline and pushing bigger events. If that’s indeed the case, keeping Batman, DC’s most popular book month to month, isolated from the rest of the line just doesn’t make much sense.

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King seems to agree. He says that “the rest of the run leading up to 100 was going to be ‘Batman loves Catwoman’ and just exploring that relationship.” It doesn’t sound like this focus would have allowed much room for DC to push major new storylines into the book.

“This way they can tell that major DC stuff and we can just tell the Batman/Catwoman story. And I like it better this way,” King explains.

As for what that “major DC stuff” might be, King wouldn’t go into detail, but DC has begun to tease what’s coming up in Batman. Jumping onto the book to take King’s place in 2020 will be James Tynion IV, who will kick his story off in issue #86 with art from Tony S. Daniel. Tynion has said that his run will begin by tackling the aftermath of “City of Bane” and rebuilding Gotham City after that catastrophic event, describing his take as an “action horror book driven by exciting mystery” and that “the central driving relationship of the series will be Bruce and Gotham City.”

Batman #85 ends the big Bane arc that has run through the series since the very first issue. Batman/Catwoman, which King is working on with artist Clay Mann, will continue the other major thread of the run: the relationship between Bruce and Selina — the major highlight of King’s Bat-work, in this writer’s humble opinion. What does King have in store for readers in this 12-issue limited series? Something “bigger and deeper” and “more impactful” than he could have realistically written on a twice-monthly Batman book.

“If you think Vision changed Vision forever, Batman/Catwoman will change Batman and Catwoman forever.” 

Batman/Catwoman and Batman #86 hit shelves in January.

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John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9 and make sure to check him out on Twitch.