There is no time to rest for the Batman Family and Gotham City in the aftermath of Knight Terrors. That’s because Catwoman has decided to take solving crime in Gotham City into her own hands. This solution is going to cause all the simmering tension between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle to go beyond its boiling point. It all will be exploding in the new Batman event titled The Gotham War. With such a title this is an event that will likely set the course of the future of the entire Batman Family line in 2024. Let’s find out how it begins with the first chapter in Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1.
Writers: Tini Howard and Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Right after stopping Insomnia, Batman passes out. Deep in mind, Batman of Zur-En-Arrh reminds Bruce Wayne he is his Pure Batman.
Bruce wakes up eight weeks later from a coma. Before Oracle can catch him up on what’s been going on while he has been in a coma Bruce decides to go on patrol and cuts off communication immediately.
While on patrol Batman fails to catch thieves who steal a diamond from a museum.
Meanwhile, Catwoman is training a group of criminals in her ways of thieving when she learns Batman is back. Catwoman decides to call a meeting with the Batman Family.
After helping Robin (Tim Drake) defeat Maxie Zeus, Batman learns about the meeting Catwoman is calling.
At the Kitty Kat Club, Batman, Nightwing, Oracle, Robins (Damian Wayne and Tim), Batgirls (Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown), Batwoman, Red Hood, and The Signal have gathered. Selina Kyle makes her proclamation about how through her training program she has taken the “goons” who used to work for Joker and other villains to become high-class thieves which has resulted in crime being down 75% in Gotham City. She asks the Batman Family to leave her thieves alone.
This plan creates tension between the Batman Family as they are split on who wants to see Selina’s method play out and others who are against it. Batman speaks up against it which causes him and Selina Kyle to have an argument that brings out all the repressed emotions of the state of their relationship. Batman storms out saying he won’t be for any plan that still allows crime to happen.
Afterwards, Red Hood breaks into Catwoman’s house and is taken down by Eiko and Dario (two of Selina’s trainees). Red Hood says that he wants to work with Selina as her inside person to convince the rest of the Batman Family.
Later, Batman meets with Commissioner Renee Montoya, who mentions crime being down during Batman’s absence and restates her dislike of him. Putting that aside Commissioner Montoya wants information on a jailbreak that Selina Kyle led. Against Commissioner Montoya’s wishes Batman goes out to investigate it himself.
All this happens while Riddler watches from his hideout.
Batman goes to the normal places but finds them empty because of Selina’s plan.
As he thinks that Selina possibly accomplished her goal, Batman gets a police alert. When he answers it he finds one of the guys Selina was training shot dead after his failed heist. Batman uses this as evidence they should stop all crime rather than simply going with Selina’s method. End of issue.
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1 does exactly what it needed to do to set up the new event in the aftermath of Knight Terrors. There is certainly a lot of rushing that happens due to the timing so close to DC Comics’ latest big event. Luckily the concept for Gotham War has a strong hook that helps this first chapter not fall apart.
Right away we see the ramifications of DC Comics putting all of their titles on pause for two months so Knight Terrors can take over their entire publishing line-up. Because of the two-month hiatus, the development time for the Gotham War was truncated to take place in the first half of Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1. The lack of development time causes Tini Howard and Chip Zdarsky to rush things that could’ve used two months to make this first chapter a culmination of what is going on.
Avoiding the rush completely hampering the impact of this first issue was the focus on Batman continuing to feel his age. This has been a running theme throughout the Batman titles for the last few years. Bruce Wayne has been running purely on his willpower as he has had to deal with one big event after another. Whether that was Gotham City-based events like Joker War and Fear State or DC Universe events such as Dark Nights: Death Metal and Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths, there’s basically been no rest for Batman.
Taking the approach that when you add up these events along with all his injuries over the years this is a time where Bruce should be feeling his age. While he has had plans to take on all sorts of threats the one thing he never really planned on was his age slowing him down. It is all happening at once as would a normal person. While he is certainly a legend as Batman the man behind the mask is human.
Bruce’s feeling his age has also been going on as we have seen teases of Gotham City changing. The combination of City of Bane, Joker War, and Fear State has seen Gotham City basically burnt down and having to rebuild like no other period in its history. With that would obviously come change, with teasers of the city development starting to go towards the Neo Gotham look from Batman Beyond.
This is where Selina Kyle’s plan to curve crime by training criminals who were stuck in the cycle of being “supervillain goons” and going through the jail system is so intriguing. Utilizing Knight Terrors as a way to take Batman out of the equation for a short time at least made sense. This gave Selina the time to execute her plan without Bruce interfering from the start. While certainly rushed, with the majority happening off-screen, it was presented effectively.
This is all where Selina’s credibility plays a major factor in getting over the concept of training all of Gotham City’s goons to become elite thieves. Selina is the one character that can be believed would fully commit to this direction. Most importantly, it was her choice and not some outside force. This made her speech to the Batman Family have such conviction that she was able to split the room as everyone but Batman and Damian Wayne’s Robin was against it.
Because of this we immediately see how Gotham War will be a game changer for the united front status quo the Batman Family have had the last few years. There appears to be a split of some kind looming. that outside of Damian Wayne’s Robin, Nightwing, and Oracle, we don’t have defined roles or titles for the rest of the Batman Family, Gotham War certainly feels like what will set the tone for the franchise.
A wild card in the Gotham War event is how the GCPD will serve in this story and beyond. We once again see how Commissioner Renee Montoya makes sure to let Batman know she is not Jim Gordon straight to his face. The relationship where Batman got near unlimited power in his investigation is gone. And now that Commissioner Montoya has the data of crime falling 75% during Batman’s eight-week absence the GCPD status quo is also something that will see change.
Mike Hawthorne’s artwork was solid throughout Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1. There are moments where we do see the oversized page count does rush some of the artwork but nothing to get in the way of the flow of the story. When needed to get across the immense tension in the air as Batman and Catwoman argued. You certainly felt like the parents were fighting while the kids were in the room sitting uncomfortably watching.
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Battle Lines #1 works overtime to get the latest Batman Family event started. There is a lot of catch-up done for the concept of Catwoman taking over organized crime and Batman’s reaction to it. While messy, by the end of this first chapter, there is enough solid work to buy into being on the ride that Gotham War will be taking us on.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10