Gotham War has by far been the biggest disappointment of 2024. Especially when compared to a lot of the Batman events we have had over the last few years Gotham War has just not measured up. Its too bad because this Batman and Catwoman crossover is set to establish the new foundation for the entire franchise. Which if your not Nightwing or Birds of Prey, that is not a good thing as things stand right now. Which places a heavy burden on the finale to deliver a strong conclusion. Let’s find out if that can happen with Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Scorched Earth.
Writers: Tini Howard and Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Mike Hawthorne and Nikola Čižmešija
Inkers: Mark Morales, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Nikola Čižmešija
Colorists: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
“THE GOTHAM WAR ENDS HERE! The final chapter of this epic crossover is here, and Batman and his family must find a way to overcome the endgame of an ancient enemy! Can the Bat and the Cat set their differences aside? Is this the end of the Bat-Family? Lives change forever in this action-packed conclusion!” – DC Comics
For better or worse Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Scorched Earth kept whatever moment this crossover event had going. The way this finale to Gotham War turned out it says a lot that the best scenes do not include Batman or Catwoman. Even as they are the leads of the event they are the biggest detriment to the story. Which leads to a lot of moments where a lack of commitment is shown for what could’ve been poignant moments.
As a whole Gotham War is an event that just lacked commitment. Tini Howard and Chip Zdarsky did not want to fully dive into a story where Batman and Catwoman’s ideals would truly face off. We got that in the opening chapter but that’s it. Right away they introduced Vandal Savage into the story just so they could have a villain be the true antagonist. By not committing to exploring how Batman and Catwoman respectively shape Gotham City through their ideals the entire concept of Gotham War crumbles.
The best example of that comes from Catwoman’s own inner monologue early on in The Gotham War: Scorched Earth. In a moment of self-awareness Catwoman realizes she can’t change the core of the nameless people who turn out to be henchmen for Gotham City’s villains. This is where the lack of build up really comes back to bite back at Howard and Zdarsky’s intentions with this story. Since we didn’t get time to see how Catwoman was able to change Gotham City while Batman was in a coma we never saw the true impact. The rushed nature of this event made it so this direction created by Catwoman was built on a flimsy foundation.
It does not help that when all is said and done Vandal Savage comes across as a generic maniacal villain. Howard and Zdarsky do not even attempt to make him complex or cool as he was presented the first time we saw him at the end of Batman #137. Everything Vandal did was completely telegraphed. Even forgetting the whole thing about Vandal creating the new League of Shadows under his vision was predictable. There are so many ideas thrown at the wall that ultimately what did Vandal in was the fact he is nothing more than a generic villain.
This all makes Batman and Catwoman appear as unnecessary as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Thanks to the actions of Red Hood everything was there for Vandal to just destroy himself. The only thing they added to the whole meteorite story was Catwoman falling into the new Lazarus Pit. That’s it. That was the big payoff for Vandal Savage stepping in as the main antagonist of the story.
The only positive in all of this is that at least Howard and Zdarsky recognize that Batman and Catwoman aren’t supposed to be leading Gotham City’s future. Gotham War proved why they weren’t made to have the spot they claimed to have. If anything, Batman and Catwoman proved they make things worse because of how tunneled vision they both are. Which is not a great thing to create excitement around Batman or Catwoman as lead characters.
Which is where the rest of the Batman Family come in. Batman recognizing it’s his family’s time by having Nightwing lead the rest of the Batman Family against all the villains showed that this. This was then proven with how Nightwing as the leader and Tim Drake’s Robin as the strategist they were able to defeat Two-Face and the other villains.
As cool as this was too see happen it does not erase how poorly developed the Batman Family where in Gotham War. Howard and Zdarsky simply did them no favors by making them look like children stuck in the middle of mom and dad’s latest argument. That did ruin their credibility within the context of this story. So while Gotham War: Scorched Earth did fix some of these problems its hard to see this as a payoff to the poor story build for the Batman Family.
It also doesn’t help that after all this we don’t see Nightwing, Robin, Oracle, and the others address what Batman did to Jason Todd. There are only offhand remarks by Nightwing about this but nothing big. There is more of a discussion about Bruce Wayne being, rightfully, disconnected from the Batman Family network and assets than what he did to Jason.
Speaking of which, Gotham War: Scorched Earth did nothing to justify why Howard, Zdarsky, and the Batman editors went with this new status quo for Jason Todd. The only justification made was that they needed a reason to break Bruce away from the rest of the Batman Family. Which in itself is a cheap plot device. It may have had some impact if because of Bruce’s actions it led to Jason sacrificing himself to save everyone. But through a comic book miracle Jason was left uninjured and walking just fine after hitting a meteorite with a Batplane that was still being worked on by Bruce.
Jason and Selina both shared similar fates in this way. Howard and Zdarsky do all this build up to make both of them have these big sacrifice moments. Then just a few pages later it revealed they are fine and just going to continue their lives. This takes away from how hard these moments are supposed to hit the reader.
Because of that what are now serious consequences for Gotham City with a giant Lazarus Pit under doesn’t have the impact it should. Mentioning Amanda Waller is taking charge of this development should play a major part in the larger story going on in the DC Universe. But because of how poorly executed Gotham War was the impact is left for other creators to explore in depth.
The same goes for the epilogue with one of Catwoman’s trainees discovering Bruce Wayne’s secret room storing his Batman gear. This should be a massive, game changing moment. But because of how Gotham War went this left no feelings of excitement or wonder about. Its something we know Bruce will figure a way out of his identity being revealed to the world. Having this feeling comes down to how this event failed on almost all levels.
On the art side of things Mike Hawthorne and Nikola Čižmešija did their best to deliver solid artwork. It was certainly cool to see the Batman Family taking on the Rogues Gallery without Batman. But even with all their talents they could only do so much and it showed with how certain moments felt rushed to get done.
Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War – Scorched Earth put an end to the most disappointing story of 2024. There isn’t a single character involved in this story that came out of this better or with more interest behind their futures. The best thing that can be said is that Gotham War is over and we can all move on.
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10