WARNING: The following article contains experience-altering spoilers for Batman #50. 

Happiness can be an elusive emotion, especially for those who commit their lives to the memory of a personal tragedy. Batman has always been a beacon, a force who refuses to indulge the erosive darkness that would consume lesser men. That’s why, at the end of the day, writer Tom King’s decision to cancel the wedding is thematically brilliant, conceptually consistent, and beautifully predictable.

Batman #50 was supposed to feature the first appearance of Happy Bruce, a version of the character that, in actuality, can’t ever exist. He’s not meant to be happy, which is tragic for him and for the asses he kicks.   In fact, more surprising than the called-off wedding is the fact that both Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle had entertained the idea to marry at all. Preceding issues tried to prep readers for the “twist”; writing in villains who interrupt wedding plans (see Batman #48) simply reinforces the idea that Bruce Wayne should never give himself to another person. Grief galvanizes him. It defines him. If he’s happy, Batman dies. If he settles down, his parents truly leave him and his sense of purpose evaporates. This truth has always been implicit, which is why King’s explicit reminder jars with anything previously written on the Bat.

Batman is married to this memory, and no one, not even Selina Kyle, can convince him to betray that vow. He fights crime not simply to avenge his parents, but to cope with and combat the powerlessness he felt that night. It’s compelling, and it illustrates why, in hindsight, expecting a wedding in the first place is absurd.

So no, angry Bat-fans. Tom King didn’t deliver the sappy shake-up you secretly wanted. He reminded us that Bruce Wayne is Batman and that that won’t change. It’s quintessential Batman, and it’s beautiful.