Batman #35 and the Case for Keeping Plots Secret

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Batman #35 has one of the best ending pages I’ve read in over five years. That’s a bold statement that comes loaded with a good dose of hyperbole, but stick with me.

Batman #35 is start of “Endgame,” a new storyline, whose details were being kept intentionally vague – going as far as to make the solicitation text and cover for the issue as short and sweet as possible (with the following issue solicts continuing in that same manner). Writer Scott Snyder had talked about how Endgame was going to be a major storyline, but offered little details beyond that, leaving questions surrounding the issue rivaled JJ Abrams‘ mystery box.

And after reading the issue yesterday, it was worth every ounce of not knowing.

I’m being intentionally vague here as to not ruin anything for those unaware, but while it can certainly be great to know in advance we’re getting a major status quo change to a major character, it is fun to be legitimately surprised by a story. And now that I’ve read Batman #35, I can say the issue had a big enough bombshell that DC and Snyder could have shouted it from the rooftops and gotten a major increase in sales.

I fully admit it’s a bit strange that I’m championing a book for showing restraint and giving a pat on the back to creators for basically just writing a comic (and there are certainly plenty of other titles capable of delivering ‘game-changing’ endings without the sound and fury of USA Today or the like), but Batman #35’s ending was something, that if announced months ago, would have sent fans into a spiral of excitement and would have gotten some good media coverage. Instead, we all got to discover it all together. Some of the best experiences I’ve had with art has been consuming something in a group without really knowing what to expect and then immediately getting to talk to those friends about it all. Batman #35 is the first comic in quite sometime to provide that same feeling. That uniqueness is something that deserves to be acknowledged and encouraged.

Because when an ending like Batman #35’s is deployed and used effectively, it’s not a laughing matter. It’s a gift. And sometimes that the best surprise.

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