There’s a new kind of crisis threatening the heroes of the DC Universe, ripped from real-world headlines by C.I.A.-operative-turned-comics-writer Tom King: How does a superhero handle PTSD? Welcome to Sanctuary, an ultra-secret hospital for superheroes who’ve been traumatized by crime-fighting and cosmic combat. But something goes inexplicably wrong when many patients wind up dead, with two well-known operators as the prime suspects: Harley Quinn and Booster Gold! It’s up to the DC Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to investigate—but can they get the job done in the face of overwhelming opposition?
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Tom King (born July 15, 1978) is an American author, comic book writer, and ex-CIA officer. He is best known for writing the novel A Once Crowded Sky, The Vision for Marvel Comics, The Sheriff of Babylon for the DC Comics imprint Vertigo, and Batman and Mister Miracle for DC Comics.
King primarily grew up in Southern California. His mother worked for the film industry which inspired his love of storytelling. He interned at both DC and Marvel Comics during the late 1990s. He studied both philosophy and history at Columbia University, graduating in 2000. He identifies as “half-Jewish, half-midwestern”.
King interned both at DC Comics and Marvel Comics, where he was an assistant to X-Men writer Chris Claremont, before joining the CIA counterterrorism unit after 9/11. King spent seven years as a counterterrorism operations officer for the CIA before quitting to write his debut novel, A Once Crowded Sky, after the birth of his first child.
A Once Crowded Sky, King’s debut superhero novel with comics pages illustrated by Tom Fowler, was published on July 10, 2012 by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, to positive reception.
In 2014, King was chosen to co-write Grayson for DC Comics, along with Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin on art. After penning Nightwing #30, King, Seeley, and Janin launched Grayson in May 2014, featuring Dick Grayson leaving behind his Nightwing persona at age 22 to become Agent 37, a Spyral spy. King and Seeley plotted the series together and traded issues to script separately, with King providing additional authenticity through his background with the CIA.
A relaunch of classic DC Comics series The Omega Men was published in June 2015 by King and debut artist Barnaby Bagenda, as part of the publisher’s relaunch DC You. The series follows a group of rebels fighting an oppressive galactic empire, and feature White Lantern Kyle Rayner. The Omega Men, created in 1981, are DC’s cosmic equivalent to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, though significantly more obscure. King’s and Bagenda’s use of the nine-panel grid, popularized by Alan Moore‘s and Dave Gibbons‘ Watchmen, has been praised by reviewers.
In San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Vertigo revealed a new creator-owned project written by King with art by Mitch Gerads titled The Sheriff of Baghdad. The project, a crime series in the vein of Vertigo titles like Preacher and Scalped, was set to launch in late 2015, and was inspired by King’s time in Iraq as part of the CIA. Initially an eight-issue miniseries, it was later re-titled The Sheriff of Babylon and expanded into an ongoing series. The first issue launched in December 2015 to critical acclaim, with reviewers praising its “deeply personal” storytelling and the “intriguing” and “captivating” personalities of its characters. That same year, DC announced “Robin War”, a crossover storyline set for December that would run for five weeks through titles Grayson, Detective Comics, We Are Robin, and Robin: Son of Batman; King was set to orchestrate the crossover’s story-line and pen two one-shots to open and close the series.
As part of Marvel Comics’ All-New, All-Different relaunch, King was announced as the writer of The Vision, a new ongoing following the titular character and his newly created family, with artist Gabriel Hernández Walta, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and covers by Mike del Mundo, launching in November 2015. The Vision has been well received by the public, with reviewers calling the series one of Marvel’s “biggest surprises” and praising the narration, art, and colors.
In September 2015, DC cancelled King’s The Omega Men, along with four other titles, with the series ending with issue seven. After negative fan response to the cancellation, Jim Lee, DC’s co-publisher, announced that they would be bringing back The Omega Men through at least issue 12. Lee described the decision to cancel the series as “a bit hasty,” crediting the book’s critical acclaim and fan social media reactions as the reason the title would go on for the planned 12-issue run.
King penned a Green Lantern one-shot that ties into the “Darkseid War” Justice League storyline, titled “Will You Be My God?”, which James Whitbrook of io9 praised as “one of the best” Green Lantern stories.
King and co-writer Tim Seeley announced they would leave Grayson after issue #18, with King clarifying on Twitter that they were working on something “big and cool” and needed time. King and Seeley officially left the series in February with issue #17, with Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly taking over for its last three issues with issue #18 in March.
DC Comics announced in February 2016 that King had signed an exclusivity deal with the publisher, which would see him writing exclusively for DC and Vertigo. King revealed via his Twitter account that he would stay on The Vision as writer through issue 12, finishing the story arc he had planned from the beginning.
In March 2016, it was announced that King would be writing the main bi-weekly Batman series beginning with a new #1, replacing long-time writer Scott Snyder, as part of DC’s Rebirth relaunch that June. King has stated that his run would be 100 issues total, with the entirety being released twice-monthly, though this was later curtailed to 85 issues and 3 annuals, with a 12 issue followup maxiseries Batman/Catwoman to finish the story.
In August 2017, King and regular collaborator Mitch Gerads launched the first issue of their Mister Miracle series, with a planned total run of twelve issues. In June 2018 DC Comics announced King would be writing Heroes in Crisis, a limited series centering around a concept he introduced in Batman.
In July 2018, he received the Eisner Award for Best Writer, shared with Marjorie Liu.
In May and June 2019, King, DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee, and CW series actresses Nafessa Williams, Candice Patton, and Danielle Panabaker toured five U.S. military bases in Kuwait with the United Service Organizations (USO), where they visited the approximately 12,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in that country as part of DC’s 80th anniversary of Batman celebration.
In September 2020, DC Comics announced that King would be among the creators of a revived Batman: Black and White anthology series to debut on December 8, 2020. From 2021 to 2022, King was the writer on the eight-issue miniseries Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow with artist Bilquis Evely. Susana Polo, for Polygon, wrote that “with the final issue of Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow I can definitively say this book slaps front to back. […] The best thing Tom King’s done since Mister Miracle”. David Harth, for CBR, commented that since The Omega Men, “King has mostly stayed away from sci-fi, going for a more psychological take on superheroes instead”. Harth highlighted that Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow “is very much a sci-fi epic” and that the series is “even more imaginative than Omega Men’s sci-fi, as it has King flexing his muscles in different ways”.
King lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and three children.
[Latest Update: May 23, 2022]
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