Batman #68 brings us part six of the Knightmares storyline, Solitude.
Bruce is still trapped somewhere, forced to experience nightmare after nightmare as a form of psychological torture. As mentioned in the review for the previous chapter, a lot of Knightmares is starting to feel like filler. To be frank, this is a storyline that’s overstayed its welcome at this point.
The contrasts between Bruce and Selina’s pre-nuptial partying drive our story. Lois and Selina trash the Fortress of Solitude while Bruce and Clark have an awkward, uncomfortable evening at home. There are a few chuckle-worthy moments here and there. Overall, though, the book reads largely like a passable sitcom episode, at least until the illusion of the dream is broken, only for it to go unremarked upon.
Characterization was also an issue in Batman #68. While most of the characters are awkward and uncomfortable, Lois actually comes across very cynical, even bitter at the state of her life.
The book’s core seems to be a representation of Bruce’s anxieties regarding what his life is outside of Batman. It’s natural for a character like Bruce to probe his own motivations, but the answers that turn up in Batman #68 don’t really sit right.
As one character explains it, “You hate being Batman. But you love that you have to be Batman.” The book suggests Batman derives his value from the fact that the world needs a Batman. However, that analysis doesn’t really seem to hold up. If anything, it seems antithetical to Bruce Wayne’s character; under all the gadgets and grimness, the defining trait which motivates Batman is compassion. It’s not a sense of masochistic responsibility. Thus, even if Knightmares is about probing into Bruce’s deepest anxieties, this one doesn’t feel especially motivated.
Amanda Conner takes on the bulk of the art duties for Batman #68. Her more wide-eyed, cartoonish style allows for a wide range of expression, driving a lot of the story. Conner also does a great job of laying out the pages to create a smooth transition between the two narratives.
The colors credited to Paul Mounts, John Timms, and Jordie Bellaire complement the art style. They’re bright and vibrant, which works alongside Conner’s rounded character designs. The colors also do an excellent job of defining the dual narratives, often matching the tone in a transition panel to the colors in the previous one.
The last several issues of the Knightmares story arc produced diminishing returns. The misses in characterization in Batman #68, plus the foreknowledge that it’s all a dream—let’s call it a “reverse-St. Elsewhere”—makes it pretty easy to skip.