Writers: Tini Howard and Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 29th, 2023
Catwoman’s elaborate plan to fix Gotham City reaches fruition in Batman/ Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1, and she’s ready to take it to the next stage: involving the Batman Family in her plans. Her amazingly efficient approach to reducing crime in Gotham City sends shockwaves through the Batman Family, as some of them agree with her approach while others don’t and even has Batman facing something he’s never confronted before: self-doubt.
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Batman/ Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1 is as much about the henchmen of Gotham City as it is about Catwoman and the Batman Family, and that’s what makes it such a great and unique kick-off to this crossover story. The story opens with Roland Garner returning home dejected after being beaten by yet another of Gotham’s villains. He has been a henchman for The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and Professor Pyg, and he’s a single father just trying to eke out a living so he can support his daughter. It’s an insight we rarely get into the people behind Gotham’s master villains, people who have normal lives but have had to do extreme things to make a living.
Roland’s presence runs throughout the book as we see Catwoman’s plan to stop violent crime in Gotham running like a military operation, with Catwoman training former henchmen into an army of cat burglars who only target the rich non-violently. It’s her effort to take crime and random robberies off the board.
This story has been building up in Catwoman’s book for nearly a year and it’s great to see the whole thing play out over time, as Catwoman has brought in Marquise, Sondra Fuller (the female Clayface) and other allies over time. The most interesting part of the book comes when Catwoman brings the Bat Family together to tell them her plan and how well it’s working, immediately causing dissent within the Family, as some of the Bat Family agree with her and others don’t. I loved that each member of the Bat Family gets to voice their opinion, even Jason Todd, who stands so far away from the rest the others that he’s almost in another zip code.
Batman, who’s struggling with self-doubt and the fact his body is getting sorer over time, is sent into a deeper personal crisis at this, and we get to see him at some of his weakest moments. It’s great seeing Batman like this, since 99% of the time he’s written to be totally infallible and perfect. Many writers forget that he’s not an alien or a god, he’s just a regular mortal human being who’s doing the best he can and is a victim of his obessions. Throughout the story, Roland Garner and other former henchmen are spotlighted, training in Catwoman’s “army” and immediately realizing their lives are better for it. Or are they? Overall, this is a great start to the “Gotham War” story and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.
Mike Hawthorne’s art on Batman/ Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1 is wonderfully moody and gives the story a film noir-style feel. The personalities of the various Bat characters come out in the way they’re drawn, in their postures and expressions, and it enhances the scenes when they’re all together arguing/debating Catwoman’s plan.
Batman/ Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1 is a great start to what promises to be a crossover with real impact. It’s a fascinating character study of Catwoman, Batman and the henchmen who work in the shadows of Gotham’s criminal network. Recommended.