Gotham War has been a major disappointment. This crossover between Batman and Catwoman as a whole been rushed out the door. It’s too bad because there are some intriguing ideas that Chip Zdarsky and Tini Howard are presenting about Gotham City. Now that we only have two core chapters left with the Gotham War crossover can they stick the landing? Let’s find out with Catwoman #58.
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Lucas Gattoni
“BATMAN/CATWOMAN: THE GOTHAM WAR PART 5! Every general puts their plans into play as Selina Kyle’s cat’s cradle threatens to pull the city apart. Red Hood, fundamentally changed, struggles to find his new role in this broken city. Claws fly, secrets are told, and hearts are on the line in the penultimate chapter of the Gotham War event.” – DC Comics
At this point, Gotham War is what it will be. There is no amount of story progression that will be able to hide the fact this was a rushed crossover event. Catwoman #58 was yet further proof that Chip Zdarsky, Tini Howard, and the Batman editors shouldn’t have rushed this to happen right after Knight Terrors. Because they did it forced Zdarsky and Howard to rush every aspect of Gotham War.
The opening to this issue with Catwoman confronting Batman is an immediate example of how much Howard and Zdarsky are rushing the story. Right when it looks as though Howard is going to continue Bruce Wayne’s mental breakdown with the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh persona it is all swept under the rug. Bruce doesn’t even bother to mention he almost let Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne arrested and their identities revealed to the world. That sub-plot does not matter because there is no time for that.
It also says a lot about how bad both Batman and Catwoman are looking that right where they are facing we see several explosions go off. With how clearly Nico Leon makes these explosions appear Batman and Catwoman ignoring these explosions is bad enough. Then when an explosion hits them they look absolutely stupid with their lack of awareness. You wonder if they both need a vision test for not noticing these explosions going off right in front of them.
This rushing along is continued with how quickly Vandal Savage becomes just another maniacal villain. Just as it appeared that Vandal Savage would be stepping up as the new leader of the League of Shadows that is completely ignored. With all the elements there to present Vandal as a cool, intimidating villain we see him unable to control his rage. It definitely felt that we were presented with two different people using the Vandal Savage name in Batman #138 and Catwoman #58.
Because of this Vandal going away from the League of Shadows to speaking with the Batman villains was an awkward transition. It made it seem as though Howard and Zdarsky didn’t properly communicate what Vandal Savage’s plan entailed. This action by Vandal immediately makes the League of Shadows return to their forgettable status since their new leader forgets them.
Not making things any better was how the Batman villains are used. Rather than going further into how Vandal spoke about them having Lord statuses they are then presented as grunts. Their facing off against Batman, Catwoman, and Red Hood is nothing more than a visual that Howard wanted to get on screen. A more meaningful ending would’ve been Vandal sending the League of Shadows after Batman, Catwoman, and Red Hood while the villains continued to do their things from the shadows.
With all the problems around Batman and Catwoman, it ends up impacting Jason Todd’s arc in this as well. Howard and Zdarsky have really dropped the ball by making the Jason story a swing and a miss. This was more about Bruce than Jason and Howard further emphasizes this with her writing of what Bruce did to Jason. It doesn’t help that the Batman Family disappear after it seemed that they cared for what happened to Jason. Their not being around is a wasted opportunity.
Nico Leon’s artwork is just fine. The opening with Howard ignoring the way Leon laid out the explosions in the background did no favors. The artwork just did not have any consistency. Leon’s style also clashed with the darker tone of Gotham War as a whole. It just doesn’t fit with the direction of this story.
Catwoman #58 continues the massive disappointment that Gotham War has been as a whole. Every problem with this Batman and Catwoman crossover appears here. The sooner this crossover is wrapped up the better it’ll be as the Batman franchise can move on to what’s next.
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