Something has perplexed me in the world of comics, recently: The random whining over the work of current Batman writer, Tom King. For example:
I couldn’t understand where this was all coming from. I’ve seen it off and on for a bit, now. If you don’t know much about King, you can listen to his first interview on Bat Force Radio – which is ridiculously enjoyable, and I’ve listened to it more times than I can count. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Tom twice in the last few months – both at Fan Expo Canada and Planet Comic Con. It’s easy to gather from meeting him, or even just the podcast interview – Tom King is a fantastic guy. So, the complaints can’t be based on people disliking him as a person.
I thought more about the things people were complaining about, specifically. And this is where I found my answers:
People don’t understand what isn’t spoon fed to them. And, as we see frequently, people attack what they don’t understand.
I never have troubles understanding King’s work. I read a lot. I write a lot. And, most importantly, I am capable and ready to read between the lines and gather things for myself. Sometimes people are more geared toward doing that on their own.
But let’s use two examples that have cause some stir in the community, recently:
SPOILERS AHEAD for Batman 39-40, and 42.
Batman 39-40 – The WonderBat freak-out:
I’ll try to keep it brief – Batman and Wonder Woman agree to give The Gentle Man a break, they go off to fight an unending hoard, and – THIS IS CRITICAL, PEOPLE – they don’t realize years are going to pass to them, while hours pass back at home.
This is a huge detail many people seemed to forget.
Obviously, after spending oh-so-many years doing nothing but fighting a hoard, when you thought you’d only be there a day, you’re going to begin worrying that you’re stuck there, forever. And despite having Selina and Steve back home – there is a moment of chemistry during their down time.
That’s the moment at the end of Batman 39 that set the internet on fire, and fueled a whirlwind of hate. Outrage that King would turn Diana and Bruce into cheaters. Anger that he’d disrespect Wonder Woman like that. Etc. WonderBat fans were cheering while BatCat fans had their claws out.
While I sat back, mind-blown.
People weren’t capable of reading what wasn’t there.
When I read the issue, and this scene was unfolding, I understood: Bruce and Diana had no idea if they’d come back home. They were constantly battling the hoard. They hadn’t been home in YEARS. Not a day. Not weeks. Not months. YEARS, when they’d only accepted to trade with the Gentle Man for a day.
I didn’t need King to literally write out for me that because they’d been away for so long, with no peace or joy, that human nature to reach out for connection took over for a brief moment. It wasn’t disrespectful to any of the characters. It was human. It was real. And people couldn’t seem to realize that on their own.
Batman 42 – Catwoman vs Flash…es:
Again, I’ll summarize briefly – Ivy has control of everyone in the world except Bruce and Selina. She’s using other supers to keep tabs on them – using Superman to follow them around and listen, etc.
Now, in this particular complaint people have, Selina is seen taking out three different versions of a brain washed Flash in seconds. Again, the internet exploded with whines of plot holes, and that Catwoman couldn’t possible go toe-to-toe with one Flash – let alone three.
But here’s the thing: just moments before, King established something for us, and it was all I needed to explain how Selina dealt with her attackers.
Batman took Superman out with a whistle. It was immediately explained that if Clark had been in control of himself, he would have known when to listen. But Ivy is controlling Superman, and more specifically, she’s controlling his powers. She isn’t used to it.
This thought continued for me with Selina vs Flashes – they weren’t controlling their powers or their bodies. Ivy is using them. Ivy doesn’t know HOW to use them, though. Sure, a Flash in control of his powers couldn’t be dropped so easily. But instead, Selina used the anticipation of where they’d be to let them run into her arm and leg. For some reason, this explanation was missed by many, many readers.
Maybe the problem is that some people don’t have enough critical thinking skills. Maybe some people don’t understand or want anything that isn’t spelled out for them so they don’t have to think. Maybe people just look for anything to complain about.
Or, maybe Tom King is just too damn good for this world, and we don’t deserve his excellent writing. Which it definitely is – just look at the awards and nominations, etc.
Anyway, Tom King is former CIA. He dealt with terrorists as part of his JOB. I think he can survive the people on the internet with nothing better to do.
Keep up the fantastic work, Tom.
5 thoughts on “Comic Talk: Why Tom King IS the King”
Love Tom King from his work on Vision and recently Mister Miracle. It took a while for him to warm up to me on Batman…mostly because I was burn out in Bats..but recent stuff and this Poison Ivy arc really got me on his Bat-Board now. Great review!
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Thank you! I agree, this Ivy arc is great! I need to read Mister Miracle, still. But I’ll likely have to wait for the trade to come out, at this point. Haha.
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You’re mixing apples and oranges in your examples, so let’s focus on your Catwoman/Flashes example. There are two factors at work in all the King flack EXCEPT the one you started with Wonder Woman. First, Scott Snyder is typical of the Batman writers of the last 30 years in that he is frankly rather dumb. His Batman is dumb, his writing is dumb, and it has driven away most of the readers who knew HOW to read a comic, connecting dots from one panel to the next and filling in between the lines. Those who remained, what ability they had atrophied. These people need to be taught HOW to read, because as you correctly deduced, they don’t know how to look and think and carry thoughts forward. These people genuinely see “plot holes”.
The other reason is butthurt shippers. The “wonderbats” and rather delusional devotees of Talia al Ghul who foam at the mouth at the name Tom King, but know they seem childish so try to pretend it’s a problem with the quality of his writing. They bend over backwards to NOT see what is so simple to understand in all these well-constructed plots. They’re children who decide they don’t like you and make up reasons to justify it.
The Diana thing is completely different. Batcat people have been the victim of numerous bait-and-switch tactics over the last 20 years. They are hypersensitive. When something seems to be going their way, they look for the trap. That’s what happened here. It’s less a case of “seeing what isn’t there” but trying to anticipate what might be so it doesn’t hurt you.
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