The “Knightmares” story arc has taken the Batman series into a direction that was unexpected. As we saw in the last issue with Professor Pyg’s involvement in the last issue brought up some inner demons that Batman has been fighting against. Now to continue Batman’s mental journey Constantine is stopping by to try to help the Dark Knight. What comes next in this “Knightmares” arc is anyone guess. Let’s see what Tom King has planned with Batman #63.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Finger Tower just as Bruce Wayne is about to jump Selina Kyle shows up in her wedding dress. Selina says she wanted many things but needs Bruce. They then kiss.
Afterwards Bruce and Selina have a honeymoon on a beach.
They then return to Gotham City. While they kiss as Batman and Catwoman, Constantine shows up to tell Batman that this is a dream. Batman tells Catwoman he has to go. Catwoman says she’ll see Batman at home. They then say they love each other as Catwoman jumps off the gargoyle they were standing on.
Constantine tells Batman that she is going to die in the end. Batman says he will protect her and that Constantine worries to much.
Sometime later Bruce gets ready to hop into the shower with Selina. Before he does Constantine is sitting on the toilet telling Bruce that in a few days he will holding a bleeding Selina in his arms as she dies. Bruce tells Constantine this is none of his business. Constantine says he is just trying to help as a friend. Bruce fires back that he doesn’t need help.
Bruce joins Selina in the shower. As they begin to make-out Selina smells some smoke.
Later Batman finds Two-Face waiting for him in the middle of a baseball diamond. As Two-Face begins his rant Batman knocks him out with one punch.
Constantine shows up and asks where Catwoman is. Batman says she is checking out he football stadium the clues also led to. Constantine question if Catwoman will be okay on her own. Batman says she is fine. Constantine reminds Batman about the recent events in the jail with child Bruce killing those children and Professor Pyg turning into Robin. Batman continues to say Catwoman is fine.
The next day at the Wayne Mansion Selina tells Bruce that using 10:48 as the code for the entrance to the Batcave being due to the time his parents died is not healthy. Selina then switches it to be 10:38.
After Selina walks out of the room Bruce tells Constantine to leave. Constantine tells Bruce if he wants to enjoy living a married life than he should continue living the dream. Bruce punches Constantine. Bruce tells Constantine with his powers he could’ve saved the world if he wasn’t such an idiot.
Later that night while driving the Batmobile Batman reflects that there is something wrong with how they recently solve their recent cases. Catwoman reminds Batman that this is Gotham so there is always something wrong but does sense that Batman is hiding something.
Batman stops the Batmobile and tells Catwoman to kiss him. Catwoman wonders why but Batman just keeps asking for a kiss. After they kiss Catwoman wonders if that was enough. Batman says it is never enough.
Constantine gets in an elevator and starts smoking. The guy in the elevator tells Constantine that he can’t smoke in there. Constantine responds that this is all a dream so it doesn’t matter.
Constantine reaches the roof and asks Batman if Joker killed Catwoman. While he holds a dying Catwoman in his arms Batman says it was a sniper just like it was with Dick Grayson.
Batman asks Constantine what is all this. Constantine says that someone has Batman strapped to a machine and is using Scarecrow’s gas to drive Batman mad within his dream. Batman asks if Constantine is there to help him. Constantine reveals he is not, his role is to tell him he can’t get out and that he will go mad.
Batman responds by saying Constantine is not real. Constantine confirms this. He then says like everything else he is just a dream that is being turned into a nightmare. End of issue.
The Good: With the emotional connection so many readers had to seeing Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle get married only to be disappointed that it did not happen Batman #63 makes great use of fans investment in that story. More so than in the previous two issues of this Knightmares arc, this built on recent events to enhance what we saw being developed. In the process Tom King is able to deliver the strongest issue in this Knightmares story arc thus far.
The exploration of Bruce Wayne’s psyche has been incredibly interesting to watch as things have gotten very dark during the course of this Knightmares story arc. Because of that it was good to see Batman #63 take a completely different tone to start with the twist of Bruce and Selina actually getting married. Right away we know that this isn’t right but for some reason, just like Bruce, you want it to be real. King properly plays with both the reader and Bruce’s wish for this to be how the wedding went to create a greater connection to the bigger picture that is going on.
Making Batman #63 was how King got Constantine involved. Constantine being that voice of reason that was trying to open Bruce’s eyes made everything about how the events after the wedding went much better. It drove home how this was all part of Bruce’s greatest wish and now that he has felt that it happened he did not want to leave it. Even when being warned on how the dream will turn into a nightmare Bruce kept pushing against it. This in turn made the ending much more heartbreaking once Bruce admitted what he did not wish was to be the truth.
Further making Constantine’s guest appearance better was the reveal that this was not the real version of the character. Like everything else in this Knightmares story arc Constantine was just a manifestation of Bruce’s own mind. This gave this Constantine guest appearance a much different tone when reading his dialogue on a second reading. It turns Constantine into the part of Bruce’s mind that is trying to battle against the people who are trying to make him go mad.
Now with Batman forced to admit to himself that someone is trying to making him go mad by there are a lot of questions as to where this Knightmares story arc goes next. King could continue to explore other dreams that Batman has to explore his character. Or we could start seeing how Batman can turn things in his favor by using all his training to wake up from these nightmares. Whatever the case may be it is clear that King intends to use this story arc to lead us into the next big story in this ongoing saga he is crafting.
Mikel Janin returning to draw Batman #63 added to the sense of importance in this issue. The chemistry Janin has built with King during this run has made his artwork standout among all the great artists that have worked on this series. Janin does a fantastic job drawing all the emotions we see on the characters faces throughout this issue. With how Bruce is the focal point to all of this Janin is able to draw on the pain he is hiding while trying to be happy in his dream scenario of being married to Selina. This made how Janin drew the ending have a stronger hook to it as we get to the next phase to the story.
Credit also to Jordie Bellaire and her coloring. Like her previous work with Janin she is gives an additional punch to making the artwork have a dynamic look. With how many different scenes King has Janin draw, Bellaire’s coloring is able to nicely hit the tone of the setting of each scene.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Building off everything that came before it, Batman #63 delivers the strongest issue of the Knightmares story arc thus far. Every character involved in this story played there role excellently. Tom King builds on the emotional tie that existed with the failed wedding of Bruce and Selina to craft a compelling story guest starring Constantine. With how things ended I am much more excited for what comes next than I was before reading Batman #63.