“The Gotham War” – Chapter Two
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne
Batman #137 continues the “Gotham War” saga, with an issue that takes a less cerebral approach than its predecessor in favour of something more action packed, complete with a cliffhanger ending that has to be seen to be believed.
Chip Zdarsky lights the fuse on the escalating tension between Batman and his adopted family of crimefighters in a grand way. Their opposing viewpoints on Catwoman’s methods for a less violent Gotham City have seen an inevitable collision course loom nearer and nearer, and here we get the first, blow-out, physical pay off. To see Batman engaging in full on fisticuffs with Nightwing, Red Hood, Tim Drake, The Signal, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain all at once is a real thrill.
What Zdarsky does so well is accompany the brutal ballet with Batman’s internal monologue. As he takes on multiple foes at once, the reader gets to understand his rationale for every movement, every split second decision made in the heat of battle. This all helps to allow us to get into the Dark Knight’s head more, to understand what makes him such an amazing combatant. He’s someone who’s always several steps ahead of the opponent(s) in front of him. Zdarsky’s choices here feel very authentic to the character and his motivations, and I applaud it.
The recurring theme of Batman being at the end of the road in terms of his physical and mental well being is very prevalent again in this issue. Stretched so thin that he could snap at any moment, this is a Caped Crusader literally hanging on by a thread. The constant spectre of Zur-En-Arrh is hanging around the periphery of this issue and it’s surely just a matter of time before he breaks through again and becomes the dominant side of Bruce’s psyche. When that happens, expect the Gotham War to become a much more dangerous situation, with the potential for casualties being a very real possibility.
As always, Jorge Jimenez brings world class art to this issue. He has the ability to juxtapose moments of real violence with softer, more introspective scenes that show the vulnerable side of our heroes. His depiction of a forlorn Batman, slumped in the depths of the Batcave, truly lost in every conceivable way, is a run of panels that stand out as the visual highlight of this issue.
I don’t wish to spoil the aforementioned cliffhanger, but suffice to say it is a real game changer for the Dark Knight. Involving the deeds to Wayne Manor, it just highlights how the financial world is a Savage place…
Batman #137 moves the narrative of Gotham War along perfectly. It raises the stakes and severs ties in ways that may not be retrievable. The sense of impending doom is tangible and I cannot wait for Catwoman #57 to hit the shelves so we can see just what happens next!
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment