Batman Did What?! (Or the Fluidity of Comic Book Permanence)
If you haven’t heard the news yet this week, the latest issue of Batman has a pretty massive, life-altering cliffhanger ending on the last page. It’s the sort of big, momentous event that could change the entire course of a character’s life. It definitely has that effect on people in the real world.
But this is comic books we’re talking about here. I don’t really know if the fan response has been positive or negative, but I want to take a moment to explain my current thoughts on these sorts of big changes.
Will this new change be a permanent fixture in Batman’s life going forward? What about Captain America being a fascist in Secret Empire? Or what about that time Doctor Octopus swapped brains with Peter Parker and became the Superior Spider-Man? Personally, I think it all fits together in the general understanding of comic book fluidity.
Join me after the jump to find out exactly what Batman has done now, along with my thoughts on comic book story permanence and why everybody should just calm down.
Here’s the big SPOILER:
On the last page of Batman #24, he asks Catwoman to marry him!
First of all, that’s quaint. Marriage just seems kind of quaint in 2017, especially between fictional characters. And especially in light of the fact that DC continuity doesn’t really exist anymore. After the New 52 and Rebirth, these characters kind of exist in a quasi-permanent state where they’re basically just Batman and Catwoman in the general sense. Their specific continuity only really matters to their current storylines.
Like, who knows if anything from the New 52 has any impact on this version of Batman and Catwoman, let alone any of their history together from before the New 52. But that also doesn’t matter, because these are pretty iconic characters, and that is enough.
Second of all, I totally support this. The writer, Tom King, spent a few issues of the series telling a really romantic and sexy Batman/Catwoman story. They were very cute together. And this new issue was all about whether or not Batman is happy as a superhero, and whether or not he can be free to pursue things that make him happy. Solidifying his relationship with Catwoman will apparently make him happy, so he asks for her hand in marriage.
Third of all, I don’t think this is going to be permanent, and that’s OK. All that matters is whether or not we get a good story out of all this.
Comic book fans are quick to anger when it comes to change. Whether the writers kill Superman or mind-wipe Spider-Man or replace Thor, it doesn’t matter. If there’s so much as a tiny change to a comic book character’s status quo, the fans tend to get up in arms. Or, at least, a certain subset of the fandom does. And maybe once upon a time, I was part of that subset. I don’t really remember. I hope I wasn’t.
But here’s the thing that being an old comic book fan has since taught me: comic books are cyclical. Everything goes back to the beginning in the end.
Superior Spider-Man wasn’t permanent. Characters come back from the dead all the time. Dick Grayson returned to being Nightwing after stints as both Batman and a secret agent. Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage was undone.
So stop freaking out that Captain America is an Agent of HYDRA right now or that Jane Foster is Thor right nw. Things will all return to normal sooner rather than later. These new status quos only exist as far as the currently running storyline is concerned. And if you don’t like the storyline, don’t read the comic. I enjoy both of those storylines at the moment. The entire Jane Foster/Thor saga has been spectacular so far, and is doing great things for regular Thor in the meanwhile.
Anyway, what I’m saying is, don’t put a ton of stock in big, status quo-altering changes. They are not permanent, no matter what the publisher’s marketing team might say. I don’t think Batman getting married to Catwoman will be a permanent change (and she hasn’t say ‘Yes’ yet anyway!). And even if it is, it won’t last forever so there’s no point to worry about it. Just enjoy the story and trust in Tom King to tell a good one.
Though now that I think about it, they haven’t retconned the idea that Batman has a son…