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BATMAN #63

[ FANCY A QUID, JOHN?
There once was a wizard called John, who never really knew what was going on. Until, one night, to his, delight, he realized that he was smoking a humongous bong. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by Tom King, Mikel Janin, and published by DC Comics in February, 2019.

TO QUOTE Frida Kahlo: 'I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality'. 

THE REVIEW:
Do you honestly think everything would’ve turned out for the best if Catwoman married Batman? After all, the two of them loved each other very, very, much, and they were always close by in order to fight crime, have a kiss, have a cuddle, and do all of those things married couples usually do, wink-wink!

But, as we all know, Catwoman didn’t marry Batman, and that’s why life looks rather strange since the two of them are now together, as if nothing ever went wrong! So strange, in fact, that John Constantine, otherwise known as Hellblazer, has penetrated Bruce’s mind and is now trying to figure out what is real, what is false, and what is neither here nor there. Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 63 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) HELL YES:   John Constantine made his comic book debut within the pages of ‘Saga of the Swamp Thing’ (issue 37), cover dated, June, 1985; and since then, he’s gone on to appear in a number of other comic books published by both DC and their mature readers imprint, Vertigo. This includes titles such as ‘Hellblazer’ (1988 to 2013), ‘The Trenchcoat Brigade’ (1999), ‘Justice League Dark’ (2011 to date), ‘Constantine’ (2013 to 2015), as well as many many more. He’s also starred in a major Hollywood movie (played by Keanu Reeves), a feature-length JLD cartoon (voiced by Matt Ryan), plus a couple of TV shows broadcast on the CW Network, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ and ‘Constantine’ (Matt again).

Now, according to Alan Moore, he was encouraged to create John by his two co-creators, Steve Bissette and John Totleben, because they were big fans of the British rock group, ‘The Police’. Or to be more specific about it, their lead singer, Sting, as they wanted to draw a character that looked like him. Which they did, eventually, once Alan came up with an idea that involved John being a cynical Liverpudlian with dubious mystical tendencies!

Please note: That I did say John’s a Liverpudlian (like Ringo Starr or John Lennon), not a Londoner (like myself or Michael Caine), which I mention because there aren’t many writers out there who can differentiate between these two popular British cities. Such as Tom King, for instance, who depicted a version of JC (for issue 63 of Batman) as if he were a lethargic London lad rather than a surly scouser. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, but in real terms, it's like seeing someone who was brought up in Brooklyn now sporting a Texan twang. Regionally, this can be taken as a slur of sorts, even though most of us can understand that this is more to do with artistic reinterpretation than anything else (Please click here to listen to an authentic Liverpudlian accent).

Having said that, though, Tom did manage to get a couple of things right about John's personality, mainly, how he was able to define him as being a ‘working class hero’ who doesn't brag about his transcendental talents. Well, let’s face it; he doesn't usually talk a lot about the mystical realm, as he normally seems more focused on smoking his next cigarette than talking about ghouls and ghosts. Which to me, makes sense, up to a point, as well as making John appear relatable, down to earth, and a very compelling character by design.

Part Two) DREAMING OF A ZZZZZ:   Between you and me, I’ve never been a big fan of stories which end on everything being a dream. After all, why bother reading it in the first place, if it’s only going to end with a slow snore instead of a solid roar? Tonally, at least, because I’m fully aware that most stories are fictional stories (allegedly, ha!), and that they’re generally not real in any way, shape, or form.

So, why do they do this? Why do writers attempt to end their adventures on a remote and enigmatic note, rather than a more pertinent one? Do they do it in the name of art, perhaps? Or could it have something to do with them being lazy or devoid of any new ideas? Either way, whatever their motives, writers are always going to write dream inspired conclusions, that's for sure, regardless of what anybody thinks. Just like what Tom King did for issue 63 of Batman. 

Although, to be fair, his story wasn’t a complete snooze! Not totally, anyway, because Mikel Janin's artwork was super-bold and super-sexy, John Constantine's inclusion did give the overall adventure a bit of an edge, and it was nice to see Bruce and Selina together again as a loving couple, no matter how imaginary it was. But, apart from that, no, no, no, and no! I don’t like hypothetical scenarios! I don’t like disposable dramas! And I don’t like the idea that you can link together three separate adventures via one single panel.

Yes. That’s correct. I did say that a single panel linked this issue with the previous two, mainly through a conclusion that was so silly, so inane, and so -- dare I say it -- lazy, I had to re-read it a couple of times just to make sure that I understood it properly. You see, without giving too much away, the last two episodes of Batman -- which featured Master Bruce (issue 61) and Damian Wayne (issue 62) -- were lightly linked to this episode via a fourth scenario that was briefly mentioned in only one panel. A panel, I hasten to add, that literally came out of nowhere in order to justify each story being joined together through this current ‘Knightmares’ saga.

I mean, seriously? Is this the best that Tom could come up with? A surrealist three-part psychological adventure that can only be resolved via a non-existent subplot that may or may not exist? No! I don’t think so. Not at all! Because in my opinion, Tom can do far, far, better, even though, for some unexplained reason (probably editorial) he hasn't done so in this case. So much so, dear reader, that for the first time in a long time I’ve been severely let down picking up a Batman comic book.

How about you? What did you think about this issue? Did you hate it like me or did you enjoy it like someone else? Although, when I say hate, I must confess, that I did like the art (amazing splash pages), the muted color palette (that was very nicely designed), and the emotional and jovial exchange between Bruce and Selina and John (say no more). Well, whatever the case, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

THE MUSIC:
For this month's musical match up I’m going to partner this episode with the Roy Orbison song, ‘In Dreams’, for fairly obvious reasons. 




THE COMPARISON:
Yes. That’s right. You've seen the picture provided and now I'm going to compare this comic book to a bed, because… yawn... because… uhhhh... because... zzzzzzzz... reasons.

Comparison made. Good night.

THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of this issue, John turns to Bruce and says to him, what? What do you think he says to Bruce? Let’s see if you can guess out of the following eight options? Which include...

  • Do you have a wall around Wayne Manor?
  • May I ask what you called Catwoman’s private parts?
  • Do you fancy some pie and mash and jellied eels?
  • Why are you blue? Bats aren’t blue! Bats are usually brown. Racist.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • Can I borrow a couple of quid?
  • Just another dream becoming just another nightmare.
  • Can I bum a fag? (An English joke for you Americans)

Nuff said. 

BATMAN #63 BATMAN #63 Reviewed by David Lee Andrews on February 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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