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Creator / Tom King

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"In the CIA, the sort of thing you do is you pretend to be other people so you can get across borders, get into places they don't want you to know that you're CIA. And most of my colleagues (bless them) wore suits like this and very much like James Bond-ian kind of, cross as nice businessmen. And I would always cross as the supernerd comic book writer. I would go on an airplane, I would spill on myself, I would read comic books, I had graphic novels with me. I'd basically be me and they'd be like, 'That guy could '''never''' be CIA.'"

Tom King (born 1978) is an American comic book writer. He's currently well-known for his run on Batman (Rebirth). He's also a former CIA operative.

After quitting the CIA and writing his debut novel (about superheroes, of course), King teamed up with Tim Seeley to co-write Grayson, drawing from his experience in espionage to add to the authenticity (which he ironically defied so Grayson is a Bond pastiche with hints of Jim Steranko's Nick Fury added for good measure). King was later responsible for rebooting The Omega Men, as well as another personal project called Sheriff of Babylon. While Grayson gave him marginal success, King's solo career was launched into stardom with the twelve-issue The Vision (2015), about the titular Avenger trying to start his own family while continuing work as a superhero. It's creepy.


The Vision receiving critical acclaim and his "Trilogy of Best Intentions" complete, King signed on to work exclusively for DC Comics and took on the role of Scott Snyder's replacement on Batman. What began from there was what King planned to be a one-hundred issue bimonthly epic that asked, "Can Batman be happy?" It got creepy. That 100-issue plan was scrapped in mid 2019 due to a variety of factors, but he would receive an opportunity to conclude his story in a maxi-series for DC's Black Label, Batman Catwoman.

Simultaneously, King worked on The Vision's Spiritual Successor Mister Miracle (2017), which is basically Jack Kirby's New Gods meets Jacob's Ladder. It's very creepy. A year after Mister Miracle wrapped, King was announced to be writing the forthcoming live-action New Gods film with Ava DuVernay, who will also be directing.


Spinning off from his Batman run WAS also the Crisis Crossover Heroes in Crisis, said to be a thematic sequel to the infamous Identity Crisis. It's...divisive, to say the least.

King's work is notable for tackling the psyches of his characters, darker leanings that hearken back to the 2000s, somewhat topical undertones, slow-paced rhythmic dialogue, Dissonant Serenity-brimmed stories and for implementing many of stylistic trappings of his own favourite authors — most notably Alan Moore and Frank Miller.

Suffice to say, he's living the dream.


Tropes about him and his work:

  • Arc Words: King seems to love this considering individual issues of his work has some. For examples:
    • The Omega Men: "We will not hurt you. We are friends."
    • The Vision: Behold!
    • Mister Miracle: "Darkseid is." Also someone says to MM himself, "Scott Free. Stand." to which he replies "Yeah, I know. Standing."
    • Batman: "It's not impossible. It's Batman."
  • Author Appeal: Out of all the Batman Mythology Gags, King seems to really like referencing Batman: Year One. He's gone as far as to take it as canon over the supposedly canon "Zero Year".
  • Author Avatar: The titular characters of The Vision, Mister Miracle, and Strange Adventures are very clearly King as he goes through the motions of whatever's happening at the time of writing mixed in with his own personal issues leaking through. Adam Strange is even a writer who is consistently praised for his past "service" at book signings.
  • The Bus Came Back: Taking a few pages from Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns's books, King also brings back silly and oft obscure characters to tell darker stories with them. For example, Kite Man (hell yeah).
  • Broken Bird: They flock his books. Heroes in Crisis in particular deals with the consequences of having superpowered beings with untreated trauma.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Almost every story he's written is entirely comprised of these, edging dangerously close to Dissonant Serenity. Especially in Mister Miracle.
  • Cerebus Callback: Standard modus operandi of a Tom King story: everything established in the canon of the characters is true; EVERYTHING; including the deaths, rebirths, loss of loved ones, ambiguous rapes, multiversal wars and backstory change; and then it gets worse.
  • Continuity Porn: He seems to be trying to one-up Grant Morrison in that regard considering the slew of references to Batman's comic history (among other things) during his run.
  • Creator Thumbprint: King has a habit of utilizing the nine-panel grid in his work, probably because Watchmen did it.
  • Darker and Edgier: Most of the books he works he turns into this, as most of his stories focus on the mostly unseen side of superheroes: the trauma that comes from their grittier exploits. Whenever he writes The Vision, Batman, and Mister Miracle, expect him to depict them as emotionally-compromised, mentally-scarred badasses with issues so deep it'd make Zuko say, "That's rough, buddy". This, however, is a big reason why he's a polarizing figure.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In any of his books, there are brave people considered heroes by many who have gone through traumatic situations that no normal person should ever have to go through and their lives are changed forever. They're unable to fully acclimate back to normalcy and their built up issues lead to even more disasters, most of them personal.
  • Friendly War: With Tom Taylor, mostly due to the two being frequently mistaken for each other. They're both somewhat notorious for taking friendly potshots at each other on social media.
  • Mundane Horror: Mister Miracle and The Visions place heavy emphasis on the more creepy, disturbing and destructive aspects of the superhero lifestyle in juxtaposition to the eerie calm of domestic family life.
  • Repeated For Emphasis: Many of his characters will repeat what they say, from single sentences to long poems. Repeatedly. Repeating them. Repeatedly.
  • Shout-Out: King confirmed in a tweet in memory of Stan Lee that he insisted on having the titles of his stories be preceded by the phrase "DC Comics Presents" as a reference to "Stan Lee Presents." When he told this to him, Stan just snarked that King should write for Marvel.
  • Surreal Horror: Mister Miracle, The Vision, and Strange Adventures all have traces of it.
  • Symbol Swearing: King admits that even when given the go-ahead and freedom to curse in his books, he will always stick to this because he feels it's so ingrained into the comic medium that doing anything else feels wrong and unnatural to him.
  • Write What You Know: King has gone on record to say that a lot of his superhero works draw influence from his time in the CIA. What results is a noticeable amount of comparisons between superheroes and military veterans and the trauma both have to deal with on the field. The mental health consequences of this trauma is also often explored as a result of King's own personal issues after coming home from Iraq.
    • Subverted with Grayson where King went out of his way to avoid the gritty realism of actual spy work in favor of sci-fi fun in the vein of Nick Fury and James Bond — This is despite him being brought on specifically to lend authenticity to the work.


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