Money is at the heart of the Gotham War - the DC event that has rippled out of the horror-themed Knight Terrors. Catwoman's scheme to reduce violent crime has been to retrain the thugs of Gotham as elite cat burglars with rules and a strict code of conduct. They only target the rich, in a Robin Hood-like effort to redistribute the city's wealth, and they no longer assist monsters like the Joker.
So far it seems to be working, but Batman is not impressed. Partly out of genuine concern and his hatred of criminality, and partly driven by the Zur-En-Arrh "backup personality", he's become increasingly hardline in how he deals with the criminals unlucky enough to cross his path. This is causing serious rifts in the Bat Family and in this week's Batman #137, by writer Chip Zdarsky, artist Jorge Jiminez and colorist Tomeu Morey, it's clear that it's costing Bruce Wayne dearly and in more ways than one. Spoilers ahead.
While the Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War - Battle Lines one-shot suggested that the Caped Crusader's allies were divided on the effectiveness of Selina Kyle's scheme, Batman #137 makes it clear that Bruce is pretty much entirely on his own now. His friends have grown increasingly worried about his more violent approach to crime-fighting and while he's delivering a particularly brutal beat down to some of Catwoman's crew, he's confronted by the Bat Family.
It starts with Jason Todd, who leaps into the fray, but is easily bested by Bruce. Tim Drake jumps in to intercede, but is also shrugged off by his former mentor. Then Dick Grayson, Stephanie Brown, Cassie Cain and Duke Thomas all get involved and Bats is forced to retreat, with only his son Damian siding with him. It's a thoroughly dispiriting encounter which forces Bruce to reconsider whether he has gone too far this time.
Interestingly, this issue slightly walks back from the precipice that the end of Battle Lines left Bruce on. That issue strongly implied that the Zur-En-Arrh personality was now fully in control of Batman. #137 makes it clear that while it has more influence than before, Bruce is still somewhat in control, with the alternative persona caged inside his mind - for now at least.
But the issue's most surprising moment is unrelated to the showdown with his former friends. Bruce's finances haven't been in great shape for a while now. Much of his fortune was stolen by the Clown Prince of Crime in 2020's The Joker War event, and Wayne Manor was confiscated by the government, with Bruce forced to move into a downtown Brownstone. He's still pretty wealthy, but his resources are severely depleted.
That hasn't had much of a knock-on effect on Batman's operations so far, with the Batcave still accessible and no one living in the Manor - until now. In the issue's closing pages, Bruce learns that Wayne Manor has been sold. He suspects this is Selina taking revenge for his attacks, but when he gets to the Batcave, he discovers the Manor's new owner is none-other than Vandal Savage, who now knows Batman's secret identity.
The online reaction to Gotham War has been, so-far, pretty mixed with many criticising the naivety of Catwoman's plan and Bruce's turn to the dark(er) side.
This issue gives us a fuller understanding of where Bruce's head is currently at, while continuing to chip away at the foundations of his operations. He's running out of money, his friends have turned on him, a violent alternative persona lives inside his head rent free, and now a supervillain has bought his family home. All in all, he's had better days.
Batman #137 is published by DC Comics today.
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