The comics world was destined to explode with the release of Batman #50 this week, but now that it’s here, fans have found themselves exploding over something very different. Just like this summer’s other big superhero wedding, the New York Times spoiled the events of Batman #50 just days before release.
So how did the New York Times wind up spoiling Batman #50 in a headline? And what happened in the issue anyway? Let’s break it down.
[Warning: This post will contain spoilers for Batman #50.]
Speak now or forever hold your [spoiler]
The New York Times’ article — in the Vows section, naturally — went up on Sunday, July 1, three days before Batman #50 was due to hit shelves, and committed that most original nerd world sin: putting a spoiler in the headline.
Writer Tom King urged fans to avoid the article and headline, or, if the worst had already happened, to give the comic a chance anyway:
Ugh. Batman 50 spoilers are now out there. Ignore/avoid them (or try to) and read the issue.— Tom King (@TomKingTK) July 1, 2018
New York Times comics correspondent George Gene Gustines, who wrote the piece, gave a contrite statement to Vulture explaining the piece and the headline that was selected for it.
“After I pitched the story [to my editors], I learned the wedding would not happen,” Gustines told Vulture. “It seemed disingenuous to write the story without revealing the ending, which is why I included the reveal. 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.”
But, as you may have guessed (or, hopefully, read) by now, the spoiler itself didn’t ignite passions because Batman and Catwoman jet off on their honeymoon into the red Gotham
sunset sunrise. Quite the opposite.
Batman #50 begins with Bruce and Selina deciding (while in the middle of beating up Kite-Man) that after all this preparation and attention from their friends and loved ones, they should really just elope. Bruce can find a judge, they’ll each bring a witness, and they’ll meet at dawn on the rooftop where Bruce proposed (more than a year ago in real time) to pledge their vows.
Right up to the ending, Batman #50 could be considered a love letter to Bruce and Selina’s nearly-80-year romance, a beat of punctuation on the work writer Tom King and a handful of artists have been doing over the past year. King has seen Bruce and Selina confront their romantic pasts and potential futures, battle the Joker and befriend the Justice League.
The issue is structured around two actual love letters, one from Selina to Bruce, the other from Bruce to Selina; flipping from one to the other over pinup pages of Batman and Catwoman tribute art from a bevy of the greatest living Batman artists. The other half of the issue shows Bruce and Selina’s present-day preparations. Bruce grabs a judge drunk enough to forget marrying two people on a roof at dawn, and Alfred, as a witness. Selina breaks her old friend Holly Robinson out of Arkham for one evening only.
It’s an innocuous statement from Holly that seems to change things for Selina.
At the end of her letter, Selina confesses that, in her mind, marrying Bruce is an act that would destroy Batman.
“I wish I could give my life, but I can’t,” she concludes. “I have to give more. My sacrifice is my love. It’s you. With all my love, Cat.”
Selina leaves Bruce waiting on that rooftop.
But wait, there’s more
As Batman goes off to... well, mope, probably... Selina drops Holly off at Arkham before leaving town. We see her walk through its hallways to a basement room where she explains what happened to a veritable who’s who of villains who’ve appeared so far in King’s Batman run. The Riddler and Joker, Dr. (Hugo) Strange and Gotham Girl and more stand before a throne of skulls.
“He is ... what I have made him,” Bane says from the throne. “The Bat is ... broken.
Not only do Batman and Catwoman not get married in their wedding issue, their breakup — maybe even their entire recent courtship — may have been a supervillain plot designed to mess with Batman’s head.
It’s a twist ending, but one with a bit more context than “Catwoman leaves him at the altar.” It’s context that is missing from that New York Times article, and especially the spoilery headline.