Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Scorched Earth #1 is published by DC Comics, written by Tini Howard and Chip Zdarsky, pencils by Mike Hawthorne and Nikola Čižmešija, inks by Mark Morales, Wade Von Grawbadger and Čižmešija, colors by Arif Prianto and letters by Clayton Cowles. This is the final part of the Gotham War. The heroes must put their issues aside to stop Vandal Savage and a cabal of villains from reaching immortality.
There are parts of this final chapter that are reflective of regular crossovers and big stories. It reunites those tearing each other apart for several issues, with a much bigger threat now fully unleashed. Everything is on the verge of collapse, the Bat Family is broken, and the villains are on the streets. The emotions in this book are captured perfectly, with a set of stakes that only gets higher as the plot progresses. The issue is double-sized, and the structure and pace fit that extended nature, with the air of a season finale. The story splits in two.
Batman and Catwoman are hunting Vandal Savage whilst the rest of the family deals with an onslaught of criminals. The tension that has been simmering underneath is unleashed in a long conflict, with a terrific exploration of both. Even though they have been brought back together, the ramifications are still felt throughout the book.
Actions have consequences, and whilst they aren’t concluded definitively, Zdarsky and Howard distinctly ensure that the actions of both Batman and Catwoman don’t go unanswered. The stakes in the comic reach a pinnacle that is rarely seen in a Batman comic, putting the whole of Gotham at risk, and very little that the street-level heroes can do to stop it. The ending features a lot of sacrifice, disappearing to revert immortality for many characters in an extremely satisfying conclusion.
One of the most poignant parts of this final issue of the crossover is an apparent separation between Batman and the rest of his family. Where the group has been left after such a brutal and devastating war is devastating. Jason is broken, with his body chemistry broken by Batman. Even his closest family members have had their trust and faith in Bruce Wayne shattered.
What hasn’t wavered is his faith in them. The fragility of his own mental state has led to him being unreliable. But the relationship and the strength of the community of his sons and their associates is powerful and heartwarming amid all of the pain. During the all-out action against the cabal of criminals, the brilliance of the Robins, Batgirls, and others comes to light, especially Tim Drake.
Likewise, the villains shine in this book. Vandal Savage and his daughter Scandal are separated, with Vandal’s own machinations becoming clear towards the end of the book. But they are just two of a whole assortment of the most depraved citizens of Gotham. The dialogue is deeply emotional and full of love and pain alike, with Batman being as vulnerable as he’s ever been.
The art is awesome. This series has had an ever-changing lineup of artists, and it ends being illustrated by Hawthorne and Čižmešija. The lineup of villains is some of the best and most iconic villain designs. They are in classic comic book costumes, superbly celebrating the amazing return of the villains after so long in the shadows. The fight between them and the Bat Family is phenomenal, with so much carnage erupting across the Gotham streets.
The artists screw up character faces so they look demented and twisted, leading to the effects of Scarecrow’s gas and other characters all the more effective. On the other side of the city are Batman, Catwoman, and the Savages. The book switches between the two as the pace ramps up, and the intensity is magnificent. The punches and kicks have a definitive weight to them., and there is a constant change in combatants to keep the book interesting.
The colors are stunning. There’s a beautiful mixture of light and darkness, with a palette that frequently shifts depending on the location. In the huge fight in Gotham, there are so many costumes, gasses, and other pieces of comic book chaos, and yet one color never overpowers the rest. The lettering is exceptionally dynamic and always easy to read.
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Scorched Earth #1 is a powerful ending. So much damage has been done to further break this already troubled family, and it’s important that those decisions have lasting consequences. It’s great to see so much of the team fighting alongside each other, gathered like they belong.
There is something to be said about the inevitability of Gotham, but this final issue ushers in massive amounts of change. Characters are lost, and others are altered irrevocably. Even the city itself has new features. It seems that nothing in the world of Batman will be the same again after the final page.
Batman / Catwoman: The Gotham War – Scorched Earth #1
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Scorched Earth #1 is a powerful ending. There is something to be said about the inevitability of Gotham, but this final issue ushers in massive amounts of change.