WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #68, by Tom King, Amanda Conner, Dan Panosian, John Timms, Mikel Janin, Paul Mounts, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
In the pages of Batman, the Dark Knight has been suffering from a series of fear toxin-induced hallucinations. Thus far, the aptly titled “Knightmares” story arc has seen Bruce engage in a bloody battle with Professor Pyg, relive his would-be wedding to Catwoman and even confront the Road Runner to his Wile E. Coyote.
However, in Batman #68, we witness Bruce’s worst nightmare yet: happiness.
Throughout the issue, we jump back and forth between Selina Kyle and Lois Lane indulging in drunken bachelorette party at the Fortress of Solitude, and Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent painting Wayne Manor beige, so to speak, with their own radically mundane celebration. That includes dining on Alfred’s famous soup, admiring paintings of Bruce’s ancestors and playing a rousing game of chess.
Eventually, the so-called festivities move to Bruce’s study, where he and Clark knock back a few drinks.
“This is your worst nightmare, isn’t it?” Clark asks.
“Your family, your city, even you,” he continues. “Everyone is safe, happy. Having a good time. All that’s left is to relax into it. Embrace the joy of not being needed.”
Bruce, of course, goes on defense, but Clark, even in the form of a hallucination, knows him all too well. As he points out, the dichotomy between them is that Clark loves being Superman but hates that he has to be. Meanwhile, Bruce hates being Batman but loves that he has to be.
This has long been one of the most prevalent differences between Batman and Superman, so it only makes sense that Bruce no longer needing to be the sworn protector of Gotham would be his worst nightmare. It also falls directly in line with what Selina said to Bruce in the letter she left him in Batman #50, which is that if he’s happily married to her, the city will lose Batman. What this issue does, though, is expand upon the notion that not only would Gotham lose Batman but so would Bruce, and that could prove too much for even him to bear.