Finally after six issues of going around in circles with Batman in different dream scenarios the “Knightmares” story arc has reached its final issue. It has been a long road to get here. A road that include a tie-in with Flash right in the middle of “Knightmares.” The length of “Knightmares” has not done Tom King’s run any good. But many of the problems with this story arc can be fix by King writing a strong conclusion. Will that happen? Or is it to late for “Knightmares” to recover? Let’s find out with Batman #69.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Bruce Wayne goes inside a mansion and tells Selina Kyle to dance with him. Selina tells Bruce to try again but this time ask her to dance. Bruce asks Selina to dance and she accepts.
Elsewhere Bane asks Thomas Wayne (Flashpoint Batman) to fight him one more time. Thomas says he has other matters to get to in Gotham City. Not listening, Bane charges Thomas to start a new fight. Bane initially pins Thomas down but is tripped up when Thomas sweeps his leg.
Back in Bruce’s dreams, while dancing with Selina, Bruce reveals he knows he has been place by the Flashpoint version of his father and Bane. He goes on to say he already realized they used Scarecrow’s fear toxins to put him in all these dreams to drive him mad. because he has exposed himself to every variation of the fear toxins.
Bruce then states that when he last saw the Flashpoint Thomas Wayne he was told “Don’t be Batman.”
Elsewhere Thomas and Bane continue their fight. Bane knocks Thomas down and proclaims that he broke Batman.
Back in the dream world, Bruce says he knows that the reason Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne are working together is to stop him from being Batman but he must get out of these dreams.
Returning to the fight, Thomas starts beating the crap out of Bane, while stating he is the world’s greatest detective and the Dark Knight. When smashing Bane’s face on the ground, Thomas states that all Bane has done all this time is play a game with a child who needs his father. Thomas then firmly states he is Batman.
Back in the dreams Bruce reveals he knew he became aware of the dream was when he teamed up with “Constantine” within his dream. With “Constantine” clues Bruce was steered to ask Selina a question but was given additional doses of the fear toxins to put him back into other dream scenarios.
Bruce says he kept fighting back until he got back to Selina because she is his way out this dream.
Elsewhere, Bane trips Thomas and pins him down again. Bane states he does not care whether Bruce or Thomas is Batman, they are both his. He goes on to say that Thomas is just a part of his plans and at the end of the day Thomas is nothing to him because he is Bane.
Back in the dream Bruce reveals to Selina the secret to overcome the fear toxins is to find his greatest fear. Selina asks Bruce what his greatest fear is. Bruce says his greatest fear is asking Selina something he should’ve asked from the beginning which is “Why?”
Elsewhere, Thomas pulls out a hidden gun and points it at Bane. Bane says Thomas is not like Bruce because he cheats. Thomas states he is not like Bruce because he wins and now he needs to get to Gotham City.
Back in the dream world, Selina states the reason she left is because of Bruce’s vow. She goes on to explain that Bruce can’t love anyone or anything outside his vow, which is Bruce’s real fear. Bruce tries to deny it, stating he loves Selina because he has to. With tears in her eyes, Selina says he does not have to love her.
Selina kisses Bruce on the cheek and walks away. As Bruce calls out to her, Selina says the dream is done as a bunch of bats cover Bruce’s vision. End of story.
The Good: Tom King puts in a lot of work to make sure Batman #69 closes the “Knightmares” story arc as strong as possible. For that he is to be commended. We finally get a major payoff to what this story has been about. At the same time, because of the length of this story arc, King isn’t able to overcome all the problems that appeared throughout “Knightmares.”
Finally bringing Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne into “Knightmares” was by far the best thing that King has done in this story arc. Up to this point “Knightmares” has been all about Batman battling his internal demons. Though initially an intriguing hook it was not enough to carry the story. This story needed to show us what the true antagonists of this story were doing. That is exactly what we got with Batman #69.
Watching as Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne went back and forth properly established were they stand with each other. These two are people that are used to being the Alpha of whatever room they are in. Though they may have some form of respect for each other that goes out the window when it comes to who is the dominant person in the room. Throughout this fight King did a good job in not making one go over the other. Both characters, whether they admit it or not, are people that will do anything to accomplish their goals.
Making their dynamic even more intriguing was the fact that they share the same goal of eliminating the Batman. Though, as Bruce explains to the dream Selina, the reason for Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne having this goal are very different. Clearly stating what each character’s motivation is for forcing Bruce to give up being Batman gives additional layers to the greater story King is crafting.
While it took a while to get Bruce Wayne to deal with what happened with Selina Kyle the payoff King provides works to move Bruce into position for what is next. King skates a fine line with what the dream Selina tells Bruce about how he was forcing himself to love her. There was enough of what Selina knows about what motivates Bruce as Batman. That sense of reality made the answer what Bruce needed to hear without being the final resolution of Bruce and Selina relationship. It will at least help Bruce escape the bubble he put himself for over a dozen Batman issues.
Through the dance King was able to place a big spotlight on one of the important aspects of the relationship between Bruce and Selina. Much like what Lois Lane and Iris West are to Clark Kent and Barry Allen, respectively, Selina is Bruce’s lightning rod. She more than anyone in Bruce’s extensive supporting cast is the one person that can truly ground him. It is because at the end of the day Bruce and Selina see each others as equals. That is the strength of their relationship and also why it falls apart as they know each other better than anyone else.
As has been the case with this entire “Knightmares” story arc, the artwork throughout Batman #69 was top notch. Yanick Paquette did a great making all the changes of the different eras of Batman and Catwoman’s looks. Paquette, along with colorist Nathan Fairbairn, also did a good job in making the Batman and Catwoman dance have a different tone compared to the fight between Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. The energy of the two scenes was unique enough while still feeling as though they are part of the same issue in Batman #69.
The Bad: Batman #69 is no doubt an improvement for the “Knightmares” arc. Unfortunately it came too late to save the story from all the problems that was burying King’s intentions for this. The thing that King never overcame with Batman #69 is the feeling he was having us, the reader, go around in circles in every issue of “Knightmares.”
There is nothing new that King does with Batman #69. Everything in this issue just rehashes an idea he has already explored in past issues. That includes Bruce revealing that he has exposed himself to all the versions of Scarecrow’s fear toxins.
This is where the length of “Knightmares” shows itself as the biggest problem for what King intended this story to be. With how Bruce ends up getting himself out of this continuous nightmare scenario it does not come across as a big revelation. Rather it felt more as though King made it through working with his dream line-up of artists so he was ready to move on to the actual story he intends to tell. That wouldn’t have been the feeling Batman #69 gave off if King made “Knightmares” a tight three to four issue story arc rather than the seven it became.
For Batman #69 itself, bringing in Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne this late in the game was unacceptable. For one thing, because of how Flashpoint Thomas Wayne looks exactly like Bruce it was not clear if this was just another dream. It wasn’t until the second cut to this fight that we found out that it was Flashpoint Thomas Wayne that was fighting Bane.
This is something that could’ve been avoided if King at some point established the partnership between Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. With this “Knightmares” being seven issues long King have more than enough of an opportunity to get this established. But since he didn’t it was never clear if this was part of Bruce’s dream or not.
Making this worse was the fact that in Batman #66 and Batman #68 King showed that Bruce could have a dream where he wasn’t actually a part of. In both instances we saw only Question and Lois Lane with Selina Kyle. Since that was established in earlier issues it was tough to fully get behind with the fight between Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne being actual character development for both characters.
King also still has a long way to go to put over this heel turn for Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. Given what we know about Flashpoint Thomas Wayne it is still tough to believe he would turn into a villain to stop Bruce from being Batman. For him to do something that would likely lead to Bruce possibly dying doesn’t seem in character from how Flashpoint Thomas Wayne was developed in “The Button” story. That further made having his character plugged into Batman #69 come across as forced into the “Knightmares” story at the very end.
Another big problem with this development from Bruce’s side of the story is that going back to how the vow is the most important thing to him being Batman was nothing new. There was no new twist given to further the importance of Bruce’s vow when he became Batman. It was just all a big reinforcement of what King fully explored in Batman #66.
Just rehashing that same concept made the feeling that “Knightmares” was a story that was stretched out more apparent. This finale to “Knightmares” would’ve been much stronger if it happened after the story in Batman #63. There was a natural transition point with Batman’s interaction with Constantine in that issue to what happened in this issue. It would have not only made “Knightmares” a much tighter story but also explain why Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne were brought in at the end of this arc.
Overall: Batman #69 was an improvement to the “Knightmares” arc that came way to late into the game. How long it took Tom King to get to this ending just further cemented the fact that “Knightmares” was a filler story arc. In the grand scheme of things this is a story readers can skip and still grasp what King is doing with his Batman epic.
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