Batman Cataclysm Review By Deffinition – Contains Spoilers
Batman Cataclysm takes place during the mid point of Chuck Dixon‘s legendary Batman run. After surviving the Apocalypse virus that ravaged Gotham, the heroes finally feel like they’re making headway in the war on crime.
However, that can easily be stopped when Mother Nature gets involved.
I’ve never read Cataclysm before but I’m a huge fan of Dixon’s work and the ‘real world’ problems that he often pits the Dark Knight against. It’s going to be interesting if he can deliver on the work that has preceded this book.
So, with that out the way, let’s dive in to Batman Cataclysm.
‘I took down the bat’
The book opens in an exceptionally unique and creative way. One that I’ve not seen thus far in my Batman Chronological Canon Read Through. We see a prisoner lying to inmates about his run in with the Batman. Side by side we view his telling of the events vs the reality. In one stroke Dixon expertly gives insight into the criminal minds in Gotham, whilst elevating the myth of The Batman. It really opens the book with a human touch and throughout the introduction we are treated to a personal side of Gotham through taking the perspective of it’s citizens.
It’s this citizen’s perspective that carries on thematically throughout the graphic novel. This adds weight to the story and makes it easier to related to with the impending doom that is to follow.
The Earthquake devastates Gotham in a breathtaking way. Ripping the streets, Wayne Manor and even the Batcave apart . We see the majority of the Bat family in peril and it is a unique situation to pit our characters in.
Dixon has once again depicted a real world scenario and puts to page how the fantastical would deal with it. This mesh of reality and the absurd is something that always elevated his books previously and here it is no different.
It’s common knowledge how Batman would deal with super villains but tragedies of this monumental scale are rarely touched upon in the comic book genre. Metaphorically we are able to see how the Bat family act as emergency services and it never really struck me till now that the heroes of Gotham are the police, fire and medical department in one.
Nothing is as cruel as Mother Nature and through this book we are able to view first hand the event and aftermath from both citizen and superhero perspective alike.
Bedlam at Blackgate
Gotham is rife with criminals and they too are unable to escape the effects of the quake. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing from their perspective. After being freed from their cages due to the seismic force tearing through Blackgate island it’s up to Batman to go in and stop the criminals reaching mainland Gotham.
We view the breakout through the eyes of a wrongly convicted Death Row inmate. Truly getting a glimpse at the humanity and good will that is often brought forth from such tragedies. It’s an epic arc for such a no name character. Dixon does well to get you invested in this stranger and his eventual outcome will have you in disbelief. I really recommend picking up the book for this arc alone as it’s one of the best standalone isues in the canon read through thus far.
Wicked One Shots
During the mid section of the book we get some absolutely brilliant one shots. Mixing in opinions and perspectives from the likes of Ra’s Al Ghul and Two Face to Robin and Nightwing we are granted with a full spectrum of survival tales. One of the most harrowing centres around a man screaming for help, eventually rescuers descend on his location. He believes himself to be saved but when they pick up a baby from the rubble and leave, missing the man, he’s hit with the crushing realisation that they did not hear him under all the rubble. He is truly doomed.
It packs a real punch!
It’s aspects like this that really laid a dramatic foundation for the main story to catapult off of. This was no longer a Batman story, it was a Gotham story. One that is easy to translate to real life and the book should be regarded highly because of this.
Contrasting Contagion we are given more of a full picture of the pleas of the quake survivors and due to this are able to connect with the strange characters in a deeper way than we can most main stay heroes and villains.
Holding the city to ransom The mysterious QuakeMaster claims to have been the force that cause the devastation upon Gotham. Initially I was put off by this, preferring that the quake was just a random event, however as the book goes on you learn it was just that. The QuakeMaster, when unmasked, is shown to be another of Batman’s rogues attempting to get rich quick.
I’m glad that the creative team decided to go with this as it could have been make or break for me. Instead they are able to have their cake and eat it. Allowing Batman to deal with the forces of nature whilst also providing a more run of the Mill comic book tale to whet the appetite of action seeking fans.
It’s this balance that allows the story to finish with a well developed Climax that segways beautifully into the next arc: Aftershock.
Batman Cataclysm rights the wrongs of Contagion, providing a grounded, insightful story to the way that the mystical comic book superhero would handle a real world event. Being shown primarily from the perspective of regular Gothamites allows us to connect with the tragedy in a way like never before.
It’s a firsthand view of how devastating an event like this could be and this grounded aesthetic adds to the books authenticity.
I had a brilliant time with Cataclysm and it perfectly invests you in the major arc that is to come: No Man’s Land.
That’s why Cataclysm gets an…
Leave a comment whether you agree with my ranking or not.