WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #63 by Tom King, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Batman hasn't had a lot go his way lately. Bruce Wayne recently got left at the altar by Selina Kyle, Nightwing was nearly murdered and now Batman is trapped in a nightmare by one of his enemies. It's not just a streak of bad luck that's befallen the Dark Knight, though. Batman's longtime foe, Bane, has been revealed to be the mastermind behind many of his recent troubles -- but is Bane also behind Batman's current predicament? If so, has he found some help from yet another one of Batman's many adversaries? Tom King and Mike Janín's Batman #63 strongly suggests that's possible.
Is Bane Literally Giving Batman Nightmares?
Over a quarter century ago in "Knightfall," Bane set out to physically break the Bat. This time around, Bane seeks to break Batman a different way -- emotionally. His indirect manipulation of Selina left Bruce heartbroken, and his presumed employ of the Beast was intended to take the life of Dick Grayson, who's been all but a son to Bruce. In the current chapter of "Knightmares," Batman's vision hearkens back to both recent episodes.
As the issue begins, Bruce's dream starts out idyllic enough, and he's all too willing to embrace it, despite some oddities, like the presence of John Constantine. In his dream, he's happily married to Selina and fruitfully maintaining his Batman career. But as his uncertainty about this reality reaches its peak, it cruelly and abruptly ends with Selina's murder by sniper, not unlike the attempt on Dick's life.
Seeing that these dual tragedies were both ushered in by Bane, it's not much of a stretch to think that Bane might somehow be behind the dream-turned-nightmare. If Bane's goal is to destroy Batman emotionally, such a tactic readily fits into the kind of master plan that he's demonstrated so far. But Bane doesn't have those kinds of abilities on his own, so he's clearly enlisted some help.
The Master of…
Losing loved ones to senseless tragedy is a common fear, and Batman's no exception. But who would have the power to instill this kind of fear? The obvious answer is Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow. And that villain, specifically his fear toxin, is the culprit that Constantine directly cites as the cause of Batman's hellish dream. In fact, Constantine is only an imagined facet of that dream, so it's actually what's left of Bruce's lucid mind that comes to this conclusion.
Bane has already conscripted the fiendish talents of the Joker, Bruce's alternate reality father and Psycho Pirate, among others. And he's adding more. The Penguin recently, and reluctantly, was among those also seen doing Bane's bidding. Scarecrow hasn't been a prominent character in King's Batman run so far, and Bane is amassing an ever-increasing roster of Bat-villains, so his involvement isn't out of the question. And if Bane's mission is to break Batman's mind, Scarecrow's fear gas would be a handy part of his arsenal.
The move would also be consistent with Bane's previous approach of using a large assortment of Batman's villains to wear him down before delivering the horrific coup de grace. If so, the Scarecrow won't be the last villain to lend his destructive powers to Bane's personal vendetta.