The 2018 edition of Comic Con International just wrapped, and there were a lot of news to come out of it. Some of it was great (Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp on Green Lantern), some was bad (what the fuck was that Titans trailer?), and some was interesting (Uncanny X-Men is coming back… creators TBD). But in addition to news regarding more content for comic, movie, and television fans to digest, there was a bit of unfortunate news regarding the fallout from Batman #50.
Because of the Batman 50 death threats they got me a bodyguard for the Con. This is David. He is presumably already very bored with endless looking for toys.
For my uh kids. pic.twitter.com/snbBYMHwcx
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) July 19, 2018
Yup. Tom King, recipient of an Eisner over the weekend for his writing, had to be escorted throughout SDCC by a bodyguard due to the threats against his life. Why? Because a fictional wedding between two fictional characters with a history of a will-they-won’t-they dynamic didn’t happen. While I personally wasn’t thrilled with how DC handled the lead-up to the #Batrimony, most of the blame has been put firmly on the shoulders of DC’s editorial and marketing departments for hyping up and selling readers on an event that they clearly knew was not going to be fulfilling.
Sadly, King is not the first comic creator to experience the threat of physical violence from fandom. Back in 2012, Dan Slott received death threats for “killing off” Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man #700, a death which didn’t stick because… comics. Nick Spencer also saw death threats come his way with the reveal “Hydra Cap” in 2016, which also didn’t stick because the Big Two loves the status quo.
King wasn’t even the only DC writer to receive death threats, as Eric M. Esquivel saw a fair share himself ahead of SDCC thanks to his Vertigo title Border Town. There’s also the harassment Marvel’s Chelsea Cain experienced while writing Mockingbird, and the vile racism that forced Titans actress Anna Diop to leave social media. These are just a few examples of what has increasingly become a disturbing trend.
Increasingly, social media has enabled the very vocal and very disturbed parts of fandom to attack individuals without the fear of consequence. Undoubtedly some of these attacks come from pure trolls that find a bandwagon to jump on for their own evil sense of enjoyment. But for the ones that truly consider themselves to be fans, who constantly are reading stories of sometimes flawed but virtuous heroes, these actions are sad and ironic. Would Batman be okay with death threats? Or Spider-man? Or Captain America? The answer is obviously no. Also, these are fictional, make-believe stories. So chill the fuck out.