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Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War: Ending explained

Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War pit the Dark Knight against the Bat-Family. Here’s how DC’s superhero civil war shakes up the Batman mythos

Catwoman strangles Batman
Image credit: DC Comics

All is fair in love and war and the two decidedly mix in the recently concluded DC crossover event Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War. More than just a conflict between the Dark Knight and his ex-fiancee Selina Kyle, the story exploded into the Caped Crusader taking on the entire Bat-Family over his unwillingness to compromise in the tactics used for his never-ending war on crime. As the in-fighting brutally escalated, the supervillains around Gotham City took advantage of the chaos, nearly destroying the entire city in the midst of the superhero squabble.

Here is how Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War leaves its major players as the dust settles in the aftermath, what the big implications are for Batman and Catwoman themselves, and how the story impacts the wider DC Universe.

How does Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War end?

Two-Face leads an army of supervillains
Image credit: DC Comics

At the end of Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War, Catwoman is betrayed by Vandal Savage’s daughter Scandal, taking over Catwoman’s network of thieves to steal meteor fragments around Gotham to boost Vandal’s immortality. Meanwhile, an assembly of supervillains also working for Savage kidnap Tim Drake, with Nightwing leading the Bat-Family to rescue Robin in an all-out battle in the streets of Gotham. Batman and Catwoman confront Savage themselves, who is apparently killed by a meteor fragment colliding with Gotham Observatory after Jason Todd breaks up the main meteor with the Batwing.

Gotham is saved and the villains are defeated, with the site of the meteor crash turning into a Lazarus Pit closely monitored by Amanda Waller. Batman steps away from the Bat-Family, seeing himself as a liability, and reveals he secretly received help from the Riddler during The Gotham War, though their alliance is over. In the aftermath, Catwoman and Jason are both alive but changed by their experiences while one of Catwoman’s former thieves discovers Batman is Bruce Wayne.

Does anybody die in Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War?

One of Catwoman's thieves is killed
Image credit: DC Comics

The earliest and most consistent deaths throughout The Gotham War, are the thieves that Selina has gathered from across Gotham City. Though Catwoman trains these crooks and gives them the support they need to carry out heists across Gotham, primarily targeting the ultra-rich and corrupt, at least one criminal is killed after breaking-and-entering in a guarded facility. To make matters worse, several supervillains are incensed that Catwoman is stealing their muscle for her burgeoning enterprise and murder several of their personnel for leaving them.

The biggest unresolved question by the end of The Gotham War is the final fate of Vandal Savage. The eternal supervillain plotted to use an incoming meteor to share the gift of immortality with Gotham’s supervillains and rule the city uncontested. In the wake of the meteor crash, Savage’s body is missing and given his propensity for survival, the prehistoric enemy will inevitably resurface again.

Why did Batman quit the Bat-Family?

Jason and Selina vent at Bruce
Image credit: DC Comics

After Batman snaps when much of the Bat-Family see merit in how Catwoman deals with criminals, he brutally beats down many of his usual allies in the resulting confrontation. The Dark Knight went even further with Red Hood, incapacitating and brainwashing Jason to become overcome with fear whenever his adrenaline kicked in. To cut off the out-of-control Batman from his usual arsenal and resources all over the city, Nightwing had Oracle sever the Caped Crusader’s connection to the Bat-Network.

After regaining his senses following Savage’s defeat, Batman insists that Nightwing keep him locked out of the Bat-Network and leaves the Bat-Family in Nightwing and Oracle’s hands. Batman sees himself as a liability, with his more violent impulses fueled by his back-up personality, the Batman of Zur-en-Arrh, and would rather not risk harming any of family or friends again. This distancing is a self-imposed one, informed by Batman’s mounting guilt, though Nightwing makes it clear Bruce is welcome back into the fold if he changes his mind.

So who discovered Batman’s secret identity?

Batman leaps into action
Image credit: DC Comics

What’s quickly shaping up to be the biggest consequence for Batman coming out of The Gotham War is his secret identity being discovered by someone new. However, this isn’t another costumed figure in Gotham, but rather a common thief working among the former supervillain lackeys recruited by Catwoman to pursue non-violent crime targeting the rich and powerful. Breaking into one of Batman’s safe houses on what he believes to be a routine heist, the burglar examines his surroundings and immediately deduces that Bruce Wayne is Batman.

A growing number of characters have learned Batman’s secret identity over the past several years, with the Joker and Two-Face being among the more recent villains privy to this sensitive information. The unnamed crook marks a low-level figure discovering Batman’s secret, potentially setting him up to try to sell this information to the highest bidder. And with the thief no longer working for Catwoman, even Selina has no direct control over stopping this news from spreading.

So are Batman and Catwoman back together?

Catwoman claws Batman's back
Image credit: DC Comics

After the final showdown with Vandal Savage, Batman assumes Catwoman was killed in the ensuing collision from the meteor striking the observatory. Some time later, after ceding leadership of the Bat-Family to Nightwing and striking out as Batman on his own, Bruce spots a silhouette resembling Catwoman on a nearby rooftop. By the time Batman reaches the roof, the figure has completely vanished, leaving behind only a flash drive with instructions to access it in case of emergency.

Batman and Catwoman had largely reconciled before the end of The Gotham War when mutual threats in Savage and his army of supervillains arose. Though the two don’t rekindle their romantic relationship, that tension between them remains palpable by the story’s end. Though The Gotham War ends on an ambiguous note about Catwoman’s return, the flash drive confirms she will always be able to back up the Dark Knight when he needs it the most.

What’s next for Batman?

Batman examines Joker graffiti
Image credit: DC Comics

Though Batman no longer has the resources he did as the head of the Bat-Family, he still remains as dedicated as ever to fighting crime in Gotham. Among the things that the Riddler gives the Dark Knight information over in The Gotham War is the existence of three Jokers currently active throughout the DCU. This revelation came near the end of the New 52 era after Batman temporarily gained cosmic awareness while sitting on Metron’s chair and was the crux of Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s 2020 DC Black Label miniseries Batman: Three Jokers, though this story’s canonicity is currently unclear.

Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s maxi-series The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing explores the idea of multiple Jokers running around the DCU from the Joker’s perspective. Solicitations for Batman #139 and beyond hint at a coming rematch between the Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince of Crime. With the mystery of the three Jokers resurfacing, Batman may find himself outnumbered without the Bat-Family to back him up.

What’s next for Catwoman?

Catwoman stands with angel wings
Image credit: DC Comics

Advance solicitation information for November’s Catwoman #59 and beyond reveals that Selina has since left Gotham as a changed woman from her experiences during The Gotham War - perhaps because of the new Lazarus Pit, with Nightwing theorizing that Selina may have been resurrected by its life-restoring properties. As Jason Todd can attest, resurrection through the Lazarus Pit always comes at a cost to the user’s soul and. If Selina underwent such a revival, this accounts for her recent changes.

Solicits further reveal that Selina embarks on a globe-trotting adventure that has her complete nine mysterious missions linked to her nine lives. Among the enemies that stand in Selina’s way is the Flamingo, a murderous villain that first contended with Dick Grayon when he temporarily replaced Bruce as Batman. Catwoman may have eluded death yet again, but she is a ways away from being back to her normal old self.

What’s next for Gotham City?

Batman coils rope
Image credit: DC Comics

More than just being featured in the Batman ongoing series helmed by Chip Zdarsky, Batman continues fighting crime with his son Damian Wayne in the recently launched Batman and Robin series by Joshua Williamson and Simone Di Meo. This series reaffirms the reconciled father-son relationship between the Dynamic Duo as Bruce raises Damian as a single dad and the Boy Wonder begins attending high school. Over in Ram V’s Detective Comics run, Batman is fighting the Orghams, an ancient family who have their own plans for Gotham, with Catwoman and Talia al Ghul among those who stand against them.

Other titles set primarily in present-day Gotham continuing on beyond The Gotham War include Birds of Prey, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing. Birds of Prey follows the formation of the latest iteration of the team, facing all sorts of threats across the DCU. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn almost function as companion pieces, with the couple trying to find romantic bliss amidst the challenges that Gotham and the DCU present. The Penguin follows Oswald Cobblepot as he rebuilds his criminal empire, brick by bloody brick, whereas The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing traces the cackling supervillain’s misadventures in Gotham and Los Angeles.

What does this event ending mean for the DCU?

Batman of Zur-en-Arrh appears in Bruce's mind
Image credit: DC Comics

DC has taken steps to make Batman less of a crime-fighter with a tool and vehicle for every purpose, separating him from his usual billionaire comforts to become more of a DIY hero. After losing his fortune in 2020’s The Joker War by James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez and selling off Wayne Manor, Batman’s disconnect with the Bat-Family is the latest step to make him a more grounded figure. Even with this progression, one of the Gotham War’s biggest antagonists remains active: The Batman of Zur-en-Arrh.

Zdarsky’s Batman run has revolved around Bruce’s fragile mental health, with his Batman of Zur-en-Arrh personality responsible for escalating the conflict against the Bat-Family. Though aware of his own growing instability, Batman is currently unable to regain control over his more violent alternate personality. The Gotham War may be over, but Bruce’s fight against his greatest inner demon is only just beginning.

Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War - Scorched Earth #1, the concluding chapter to The Gotham War, is on sale now. The issue is written by Chip Zdarsky and Tini Howard, penciled by Mike Hawthorne and Nikola Čižmešija, inked by Mark Morales, Wade von Grawbadger, and Nikola Čižmešija, colored by Arif Prianto, and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

A hardcover collection of the event is available for preorder now and expected to go on sale June 25, 2024.