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BATMAN (2016-) #137 Review

Neil reviews the latest issue of DC Comics’ BATMAN. The second part of the Gotham War story arc is available in comic book stores now.



Batman #137 (DC Comics)

Batman #137 is written by Chip Dzarsky and published by DC Comics. Artwork and main cover art is by Jorge Jimenez, colours by Tomeu Morey and letters by Clayton Cowles. The story is part two of the current Gotham War arc and follow’s last week’s Battle Lines special.

Batman #137 is available now, in print and in digital platforms where all good comics books are sold.


BATMAN/CATWOMAN: THE GOTHAM WAR PART 2! Batman descends on Gotham City, full of rage and force, more driven than ever to save his home. But the new landscape has turned friends into foes. Can anyone stop his reign of terror? Should they? The Gotham War continues in this second chapter!


With the battle lines drawn, this week The Gotham War crossover between the Batman and Catwoman books it kicking in to high gear. It seems the concept of Catwoman arming the goons of Gotham with the skills to become high end criminals hasn’t gone down well with every reviewer but I am totally eating this story up. There’s something so Catwoman and melodramatic about the reactions in this book and it’s enticing to see where each of the Bat-Family falls as the dust settles.

The overall event is being co-lead by Catwoman writer Tina Howard and Batman scribe Chip Zdarsky. Whilst both took credit for last weeks’ special issue, it’s over to Zdarksy this week to forward the story in the pages of Batman #137. From the outset it’s clear that Bruce hasn’t taken well to what’s been going on in Gotham. In fact he’s hunting, something we know that the character does only when he’s mad. Zdarsky doesn’t paint Bruce a villain but he does push the boundary on his war against crime. It’s an extreme reaction to last week’s events but sits exactly where it should in the history of Bruce’s bad reactions. Nothing he does isn’t typical behaviour and so the issue feels in keeping with Batman’s characterisation.

In fact, much of what we see from Bruce in this issue is typical for his character. The intrigue really comes from seeing how other members of the Bat-Family interact with him in this scenario.

Selina has introduced a very philosophical wedge between these characters. It instigates an emotional push-and-pull which runs throughout this issue. Tim, who has become so central and who last week Bruce called “son”, wants to bring him back from the brink. But he also doesn’t want to be part of the extreme violence Bruce is unleashing on Selina’s trained goons. There’s also moments with Dick, Barbara, Steph, Damian and Jason, who has a larger role to play in the overarching story. Each has their own viewpoint and Zdarsky painstakingly lays those out for us know there’s only a finite amount of time left to get the story moving.

The fact all of these relationships are on the line are what is really the selling point of The Gotham War. Whilst there is some great action here, particularly towards the end of the issue, this is really story about the fragility of life on the front line. So far Zdarksy and Howard have done an excellent job of digging in and widening the cracks. Hopefully there is a satisfying way to land the story without simply returning to status quo.

Elsewhere there’s the matter of how the A-list villains of Gotham are reacting to Selina’s mission. We get a glimpse of that and I wonder if portents certain doom for Catwoman in the future. Could upsetting the likes of Professor Pyg, Scarecrow and Two-Face set her up for a huge fall should they attempt to overthrow power in the city? Perhaps the philosophical war is going to distract from a much more tangible one?

All that and there’s still an intriguing ending in store. Zdarsky isn’t one for nonchalant storytelling and so there are still lingering threads of prior Batman arcs to tug at. Developments in his personal life lead Bruce back to the cave and a head scratcher of an ending that I never saw coming…

Fans are in for a serious treat this week as Jorge Jimenez is not only cover artist but draws the entire issue. It, of course, looks fantastic. Batman’s arrival in the opening scene is chilling and feels like a panel from The Long Halloween. It’s instantly some of Jimenez’s most atmospheric work for DC. Elsewhere his lively style is able to really capture the ferocity of Bruce’s actions with every punch, kick and throw landing with suitable heft in the visuals. Having each of the Bat-Family involved also makes this book incredibly fun. Nod to Jimenez for the branded gear that Dick is sporting but more than that each of these characters looks their best. More Bat-Family Jimenez books please DC!


A speedy and somewhat ferocious second part to The Gotham War story, Zdarsky digs in to Batman’s psyche whilst pitting him against everyone he loves. Backed against a wall, what is the Dark Knight expected to do?



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