Batman #137 – Chip Zdarsky, Writer; Jorge Jimenez, Artist; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: When The Gotham War was first solicited, I wasn’t that excited about a war between Batman and Catwoman, but the first issue shocked me with a huge twist—Batman is essentially the villain here. He’s returned from the multiverse with a prosthetic arm and a whole hell of a lot of trauma, and now his demented alter ego Zur-En-Arrh is increasingly asserting himself. The result is a Batman who has rededicated himself to the war on crime—no matter who it hurts. Selina’s new plan to essentially unionize the goons of Gotham and freeze out other villains has made Gotham safer—and split the Bat-family down the middle. Batman and Damian are dead-set against any crime being allowed to function in Gotham, Jason has openly joined Selina’s side, and the rest of the family is mostly worried that their patriarch is letting his obsession turn into something toxic. And a tragic death of a well-known goon sets the spark aflame.
The stage for the conflict was set in the first issue, and this chapter is where it all explodes. Batman has been tearing around the city, brutalizing Selina’s goons to send a message. It’s clear just how brittle and dangerous he is when we see him threaten Tim to arrest him if he tries to protect any of the low-level criminals Batman is taking his wrath out on. Selina, so far, has been taking the more even keel in this story, but as Batman makes one escalation after another, she considers striking back in a deeply personal way. As dramatic as all this is, the most interesting conflict in the series may just be Batman’s with his own mind. The idea of Batman always required a man who wasn’t entirely well, but I don’t think any writer has ever taken that as literally as Zdarsky. We’ll have to see how the Howard chapters play out, but this is a fascinating story of the unraveling of the Batman so far, with a great last-act surprise.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.