John Constantine joins Batman in an examination of what might have been had Selina gone through with the wedding instead of leaving Bruce at the altar. Buckle up, Gentlefolk. Things are going to get teary.
In my review of the last issue, I spoke a little about Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes and the importance of psychological integration. The recap, in case you missed it, is that every human consciousness is composed of several figures (archetypes such as The Wise Old Man, the Anima, Animus, and the Shadow — or Alfred, Selina, Batman, and The Joker) who represent aspects of the person’s personality. In this case, the person is Bruce Wayne. They play certain roles. The Anima, for example, is both the mind’s ideal woman and a representative of the feminine aspects of a male mind. If a man is aware that there are ‘feminine’ aspects to his personality, the Anima is a very positive force, enabling him to be more empathetic, nurturing, and creative (yes, I’m aware that these are not really ‘feminine’ things. Jung was writing in the 1920’s-50’s so the language is sexist. Nevertheless, they are useful terms), but if the man is a Toxically-Masculine misogynist-type the anima can transform into a very dangerous customer indeed. Basically, archetypes (even The Shadow) are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in themselves. They merely present in those ways depending on the general health of the mind they’re a part of.
As I said, Margaret Atwood put forward (or at least amplified) a Jungian reading of the Batman mythology which posits that every character, hero or otherwise, represents an archetypal figure in the mind of Bruce Wayne. After reading the previous issue, I suggested that (whatever else is going on in this story) Tom King is leaning pretty hard into this reading and the events of issue # 64 would seem to confirm this assessment — even if only as a metaphor. The Nightmare Gas that Batman is inhaling is leading him on a dreamlike tour of his own psyche, with the intention of breaking his mind.
Batman is being forced to explore his Shadow: that vast repository of things which he would much prefer to forget. John Constantine (this dream-guide, this unvirtuous Virgil) is his own unconscious projection, trying to help him to make his way through the layers of internal horror, so that he can bring the Shadowy aspects of himself into the light.
From a psychological perspective, whoever has captured The Bat might hope that facing these nightmares, facing the dark truths of his mind, will break him, but it’s obvious that whoever-this-is (*cough* Bane *cough*) hasn’t been reading the right books because this is exactly what patients do as a part of their therapy.
Batman is getting his mental house in order. Batman is fixing himself.
When he’s done, it’s clear, Batman’s gonna kick some ass.
Of course, since this is a comic series, it’s pretty obvious that any progress that he makes as a character will be undone at some point. Every character, in every main book, is basically Sisyphus. But it’s still extraordinarily interesting — and very well-done.
Review by Bethany W Pope
The stories that Tom King is telling with Batman will prove to be part of an historic run. This issue adds another piece to his unspeakabe puzzle. It is a masterful story.
Batman #63: Till Death Do Us Part
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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