WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman #63
Batman was just forced to watch another of his loved ones die. After Batman's failed marriage to Catwoman, he is once again helpless as Selina Kyle is shot, and killed in front of him... with one catch.
Thankfully, this death is even less permanent than usual for superheroes--because it didn’t really happen. The damage and emotional strain is the same, however, as Catwoman’s death was a product of the living nightmare Batman has currently been trapped in, thanks to a cabal of his most dangerous villains.
Batman #63, the latest issue of Tom King’s run answers some crucial questions about the series thus far. It’s confirmed that after running into the Flashpoint version of his father, Thomas Wayne, Bruce has been locked into a series of heartbreaking gauntlets. It's all part of a campaign to break the bat, with Bruce been forced to live out some of his worst fears (including the death of Nightwing). There seemed be no escape from this state… until the arrival of John Constantine.
Batman #63 picks up directly at the end of Batman #50 where Catwoman left Bats at the altar. In this dream world, though, Catwoman doesn't run out on Batman. Instead she shows up just as Batman's about to throw himself off the roof to tell him that she has changed her mind. Reunited, the two set out to live out some domestic bliss. It all gives a glimpse of what life would look with a happily married Batman.
Their happiness is short-lived, as no sooner do the two reunite than John Constantine shows up--on Batman's toilet, standing behind on him on a rooftop... the British magician is everywhere in Batman's happily ever after with Catwoman. This is all to inform Batman (and the audience) that everything happening is fake. It's not clear how John showed up in Batman's fantasy land, but the reason why is clear. Constantine is there to snap Batman out of his funk. It's Constantine who tells Batman that he's being tortured and that all of this will end with Catwoman's death. Sadly, Batman shrugs it off.
Batman's noncommittal response to Constantine's presence reveals that The Dark Knight knows, on some level, that this is all fake. Batman knows he's in a dream and this Catwoman isn't his Catwoman; he just doesn't care. Even more foolishly, Batman believes he can save Dream Catwoman from her doomed fate. Batman is wrong, of course, but this vain belief that he can be happy with Catwoman--even an obviously fake Catwoman--does expose a lot about Batman's state of mind.
It confirms that Batman is not over his cat burglar lady love. Batman is still in love with Selina and would take her back in a heartbeat even after she ran away on their wedding day. Batman also resolves to fight against his nightmare prison after Catwoman dies suggesting that she is the one person in his life who is inspiring him to fight. Nightwing was almost assassinated and lost his memory, Alfred was last seen in great pain on the floor of the Bat Cave. Catwoman and Batman's enduring love for her might not be just his driving force to get out of this nightmare but his overall motivation.
The ending of Batman #60 isn't confirmation that Batman and Catwoman will get back together. In fact, it's far from a suggestion that the couple has a happily ever after in their immediate future. It is confirmation that Batman isn't giving up on getting back together with Catwoman. Bruce will do whatever it takes to end up with Selina Kyle and that definitely should give fans a little bit of hope.
Batman #63 is available now from DC Comics.