Gotham War continues with the war between Batman and Catwoman heating up. Tini Howard now takes on telling the next chapter of Gotham War with Catwoman #57. After we got Bruce Wayne’s perspective on Gotham War we will see how things could change with Selina Kyle as the lead. Though expectations are low now after the first two chapters of Gotham War have been a disappointment. Tini Howard has been a writer that has created work that has lacked consistency in quality. This will be the first time I’m checking out Howard’s Catwoman so maybe with low expectations on Gotham War this chapter can surprise. Let’s find out with the third chapter of Gotham War in Catwoman #57.
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Lucas Gattoni
“BATMAN/CATWOMAN: THE GOTHAM WAR PART 3! While Batman finds himself more and more isolated, Selina is never alone.
With a volunteer army and two powerful generals by her side, the ballet between her and Bruce enters its next act with a shocking twist!” – DC Comics
Well, I’ll say this, Catwoman #57 is certainly an improvement over the first two chapters of Gotham War. The improvement is only incremental, thanks in large part to the appearance of Vandal Savage as a wild card in all this. Though the other part in the feeling of this being an improvement of the now low expectations for Gotham War.
A large reason why Catwoman #57 does not fully turn Gotham War around is the fact the rushed nature of this story is still apparent. As with Chip Zdarsky’s Batman #132, Tini Howard is unable to make up for the lack of set-up time Gotham War had. There is a level of uncertainty in how to write Batman and Catwoman in particular that is apparent. Which goes back how important the two months Knight Terrors took over everything would’ve been important to setting up this story. Because without that these characters don’t sound like we last saw them prior to Knight Terrors.
The inconsistency in the writing of Batman is particularly frustrating. Throughout Catwoman #57 it feels like we are getting two versions of the character, a pre- and post-Knight Terrors Batman. Howard desperately wants to write the asshole Batman who sees all the Robins and Batgirls as soldiers. But then it is almost as if Howard remembers that Bruce is at a point in his life where he saw all his proteges as family. They are sons and daughters to him. The back-and-forth nature of Bruce’s perception of the Batman Family is just tonely off.
Which makes the fight we get between Batman and Red Hood highlight this problem with Bruce’s portrayal. Here Bruce switches Jason Todd as a soldier and treats him as such. It would’ve made the whole distraction angle Jason was working hit better if Bruce felt the betrayal of one of his sons. That did not happen as Howard was more focused on drill sergeant Batman fighting one of his disobedient soldiers.
Howard had a much better handling of Selina Kyle’s interaction with Nightwing. Here we see that Howard does know how important history is to the Batman Family. Nightwing showing this by reminding her of the first they and Bruce went out as normal people when Dick Grayson was a teen. Drawing on their history is a good way to bring up how terrible Bruce and Selina have gone about their approach in communication. Drawing on the family aspect of the Batman Family will help Gotham War not feel as forced as it has does far.
Where the big improvement for Gotham War in Catwoman #57 was with the integration of Vandal Savage into the story. From the opening with Vandal Savage revealing he bought Wayne Manor, and taking claim of the Batcave, you felt Gotham War could turn around. It is just not good storytelling to simply have Batman and Catwoman be antagonistic to each other. That just left a void for a protagonist in Gotham War. That all changes now as Vandal Savage can fill the pure antagonist role for Gotham War.
Batman’s reaction to Vandal Savage’s presence is what puts over the villain as the wild card for the story. He is a completely unknown force in what is currently going on in Gotham City. And with Batman and Catwoman at odds with each other Vandal Savage can easily take advantage of this like no other villain can. This wild card nature is put over by how it is the final trigger to set Bruce Wayne off that he has lost everything he previously let in control of.
Vandal Savage’s meeting with Selina Kyle at the masquerade gala further cements him as a wild card. While Selina was able to be composed during their interaction there was feeling if the conversation went longer she would’ve lost her cool like Bruce did. We see this with how Selina loses it when Jason does not answer her call. This shows that Selina no longer feels in complete control anymore.
This made the reveal of Scandal Savage working as a double agent for her father as the Marquise of Selina’s organization even more effect. This further drove home how having both Vandal and Scandal Savage be positioned as the true antagonist is what this story needed. Now we have something else to watch other than just how the Batman vs Catwoman story breaks the Batman Family.
Nico Leon artwork worked well for the tone the story in Catwoman #57 took. This was certainly more vibrant compared to the art style in Batman #132. That works for Catwoman’s series as this is more told from her perspective. The masquerade scene in particular was where Leon’s art shined most.
Catwoman #57 is the start of the possible turn around the entire Gotham War storyline needed. The story still feels rushed but the introduction of Vandal Savage was a much-needed addition to the story. Hopefully Gotham War focuses more on the strengths shown in Catwoman #57 moving forward.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10