Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Scorched Earth #1 review

Casper and I are back (Casper’s thoughts will be in black), working together to review this final issue of The Gotham War. Neither of us came out of the opening chapter excited to keep reading this event and as you may have seen in our ensuing Batman and Catwoman reviews, things have not gotten any better. But here we are at the very end, so let’s see how the closing chapter fares.

I want to be clear on this: I feel incredibly uninspired to even discuss this comic. Not only is it utterly boring, it’s also just of extremely low quality. For me, that starts with the dialogue. We get lines like, “…Unless you want Vandal Savage to give you the opposite of immortality with his blade.” It’s a really clunky sentence, it doesn’t flow, and it’s way overwritten, and as a result, it doesn’t sound threatening at all. Honestly, throughout this entire comic, it’s like the writers are trying so damn hard to sound badass, that they just end up sounding edgy and cringey. It’s like nobody bothered to edit the dialogue at all.

But then we get to the actual story itself. Of course, every preceding chapter has been a colossal waste of energy, but, believe it or not, this issue even takes that a step further. All the villains and heroes really do is just kind of punch each other a lot while talking each other’s ears off, and I don’t even feel one iota of urgency or excitement. It’s just the same old stuff that I’ve seen a million times already.

I completely agree and I have very little to add other than to point out how much the plot of this comic has morphed from the first issue to this point. Both directions are equally bad, just different. What started as a poorly thought out, terribly executed, social commentary comic, told through character drama, has now become a save the world from being destroyed by an outlandish threat (introduced in the final issue) fight comic.

Nothing in this comic manages to make me care about what’s going on. For example, Tim gets jumped by a bunch of rogues, but why even try to create this scene? Literally everyone knows that Tim will get rescued by the others, so what’s the point? Of course, the rogues get defeated. Of course, Vandal Savage gets defeated. Of course, the heroes win. This entire story has had the most nonsensical premise, and what follows has been a nothing-story that delivers a conclusion that’s not only filled with basic, stock scenes, but which is also just a massive chore to get through as a result of poor execution.

I’m baffled by how bad this is. I guess the concept of reimagining Zur-En-Arrh as an entity that possesses Bruce sounds kind of interesting, but after all that Bruce has been through over the course of 80+ years of publication history, mind-attacks should be the least of Batman’s worries. Perhaps a Batman at the start of his career would have struggled with something like this, but even then mind-control stories have been done to death at this point. Besides, Zur-En-Arrh hasn’t been defined/established very well within the context of this story; I guess we’re just meant to take all of this at face value or something because it really doesn’t seem like anybody thought this all the way through. Speaking of face value, so Vandal just promises various villains eternal life, and a brawl between heroes and villains ensues, and Vandal himself just wants eternal life, and so does Scandal, I guess? What kind of thin, basic plot is this? If this isn’t a crystal clear example of what “creatively bankrupt” means, I don’t know what is.

Right. When every level of the storytelling is this weak, how can I make my point stronger than “don’t read it?” That hardly seems enough. This comic is not “so bad it’s good.” It’s just bad.

Speaking of “every level” let’s take a quick look at the art. When Battle Lines came out, I criticized it pretty strongly. My opinion has not changed but I have been presented with some new information. Mike Hawthorne posted some of the pages we talked about on X without colors or inks and it turns out his pencils are totally solid.

You can see what I’m talking about here. This page isn’t even the worst inking seen in Battle Lines but it’s a good example of how flat and stiff everything becomes. 

For reference here is the published version of one of these pages:

Every flaw I pointed out in the Battle Lines review is a result of the inking changing the appearance of his work. This month, Hawthorne has different inkers and the work looks slightly better though still very poor.

Regardless of the reason these inkers can’t do Hawthorne’s pencils justice, someone needs to take notice and get him paired up with an inker who is better suited to the task.

Quick note: Nikola Čižmešija draws an epilogue in this issue and his work is as fantastic as usual. 

Recommended if…

  • I’m not even going to bother trying to come up with anything.
  • Yeah, no comment.


Gotham War has been a low point in DC’s history as a publishing company and a story I hope I can excise from my memory as soon as possible. In short, I’m disappointed and I seriously hope the next Batman event has nowhere to go but up.

Look, I’m tired of bad comics. Reviewing Batman hasn’t been fun, and I don’t see this improving in any way in the near future. I don’t want to expose myself to such poor-quality storytelling anymore, so I’m stepping away from reviewing Batman. Fortunately, there’s a ray of hope in a bleak DC universe–I’ll see you all in the glorious pages of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest!

Score: 1/10

DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.