Batman #63 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Reality Vs. Fantasy
Ray: The “Knightmares” arc has been a mind-bender so far. Coming off the cliffhanger where Batman was attacked by the Flashpoint Batman – aka Thomas Wayne – each issue has created a completely different scenario, from Travis Moore’s horrific tale of a boy murderer to Mitch Gerads’ high-intensity escape from the meat locker of Professor Pyg. The story shifts again as Mikel Janin jumps on for Batman #63, an issue focusing on an uneasy partnership between Batman and John Constantine. Constantine narrates the issue, a dark and reflective narration focused on his twisted past and his memories of the mother he never got to know. But the story picks up at a very familiar point – the moment when Bruce realized Selina wasn’t coming to the wedding. Only in this story, she does come back, having almost lost her nerve but realizing where she needed to be. She and Bruce are joined in marriage – but something is clearly wrong here. After all, it was Batman and Catwoman getting married in that issue, not Bruce and Selina.
From there, the issue gives us glimpses of Bruce and Selina’s married life, just enough to give us hope that it could work out. But Constantine is there too, popping into Bruce’s life seemingly at random to remind him that this is going to end badly – after all, everything in his life does. I’m not sure I agree with King’s view of Batman, that he’s such a deeply disturbed man haunted by tragedy that he’s one bad day away from breaking. I tend to subscribe to the slightly more well-adjusted Dini and Snyder runs. But while I might have some quibbles with the vision, there’s no denying how effective the issue is at conveying Batman and Constantine’s emotions. This is also the issue where we get a lot more information about what exactly is happening to Batman in this arc. The seemingly random issues that came before make a lot more sense in context, and we can see King tightening the screws around Batman. As we approach the third act of King’s Batman, there’s a lot of unanswered questions, and this issue makes me pretty excited to find out the answers.
Corrina: I loved the scenes with Bruce and Selina. It shows us why Bat/Cat could have worked. Or not worked. Or something. They are a tease, however, to the reader, because, of course, none of this is real.
In a greater sense, I suppose, none of fiction is real, but King is trying to tell a fictional story and that usually requires a narrative that makes some sense. Instead, he seems to be using the narrative to explore how messed up Batman is, using members of the Bat-Family to bring out that aspect. The last issue, it was perhaps Bruce’s son, Damian. (I say perhaps because maybe he’s an illusion.) This issue, it’s Catwoman. But there’s only so far you can go with an unreal story as a metaphor for what’s going on in your main character’s head, and, this is basically one bridge too many. I complained Naomi #1 was too plot-driven. Here, there’s little real semblance of a plot, especially since it’s unclear what’s real and what is Batman’s illusion. (Heck, for all I know, he’s been in a coma because of being passed out on the rooftop since Selina showed up. But that doesn’t work because events in Nightwing wouldn’t track.)
This may make some sense in the longer run. Right now, though, the narrative feels like it revels in confusing twists and turns and there’s no sign of any straight line. That might be the thing for some readers. Not so much on my end, especially since Selina isn’t here at all and is used as a prop for Batman’s anxieties. (Much like Lois is graphically killed during Superman’s anxiety dream in DC’s new Wal-Mart Giant issues though there is nothing that graphic here.)
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.