Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 4th, 2023
Batman is on the ropes as the Gotham War heats up following a shocking betrayal in Batman #138 by Chip Zdarsky! It’s father versus son, teacher versus student in the knockout fourth chapter of this brutal war. But who is really pulling the strings in this explosive event? Thousands of years have led to this moment!
The story within the story. The hidden war inside the war. The person who is really pulling the strings. That my friends is what we get in this week’s Batman #138. By the end of the issue, fans will see the true story masked under the surface which adds a killer extra layer to this dip which very well could be the 7th layer. Now, if you’ve been following along to this point, Selena has set up her own criminal empire that kind of works for good. She was even able to get the Bat Kids on board. However, once Batman arrived back home from his multiversal romp, he not only came back to this mess that wasn’t “his” mission anymore, but he came back to Zur-En-Arrh basically being in charge. And this version of Batman is a bad$&@!
Nevertheless, we find that these aren’t the only layers deep down in this dip. Additionally, Vandal Savage plays a secret role, and Batman (Zur) has his own sinister plan lurking under the surface. What he does to Jason is downright twisted. Moreover, he later does something to the rest of the boys that seems almost ruthless. However, just when you thought these were all the layers, you also get Batman teaming up with a villain of his own while simultaneously trying to decouple all relationships from his psyche. Readers, Batman #138 is nuts and will no doubt keep you guessing the entire way. This is some masterful storytelling from Zdarsky.
Now, the only aspect of the issue I left scratching my head about was the fact that Batman was “working” with another villain. And yet his boys can’t set something up with villains to organize a sense of piece? It just seemed hypocritical. On top of that, what he does to Jason and why also seems hypocritical. If Jason is this “killer” he thinks he is, then he should be behind bars. But he’s not nor does he try to do that. So, again Batman showcases this double standard where it’s his way or no way at all. His vision or no other vision at all. And that part of Batman #138 just didn’t sit well with this reviewer. This made the character appear more arrogant and almost psychopathic. Moreover, it felt like Zdarsky kind of backed himself into a corner within the issue.
Batman #138 takes the Gotham War story and truly elevates it up to another level. Zdarsky provides so many moving pieces to this narrative that it could possibly make your head spin… but in a good way. Additionally, the action is pretty stellar between Batman and his Bat Kids. Plus, this Zur-En-Arrh Batman is just diabolically cunning. I probably shouldn’t even share this idea, but if you’re listening Zdarsky it’s all yours! Find a way to physically separate Bruce Wayne Batman from Zur-En-Arrh Batman. And from this, we will forever have two Batmen. The main DC Comic Universe needs Zur-En-Arrh Batman permanently. Imagine those two fighting each other. That would just be pure insanity. Again, feel free to take that idea!
However, the point of that idea and conjecture is that this version of Batman has added so much more versatility and unwavering gravitas to the character. This Batman is tough, powerful, even more cunning, and willing to do whatever it takes for the mission to succeed. Mix this Batman in with this clever story alongside all its twists and turns and fans will find a story that will keep them on the edge of their seat from start to finish. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!