Monday, October 2, 2023

Batman #138 Review


Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Jorge Jimenez
Colors by: Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Jorge Jimenez
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: October 3, 2023

Batman #138 marks part four in the Gotham War event wherein Batman goes to an extreme to stop Jason Todd's involvement, while the Bat Family goes to an extreme to shut Batman down. Meanwhile, Vandal Savage's presence is explained.
Is Batman #138 Good?

I can't tell if Chip Zdarsky got roped into telling a Gotham War story when he wasn't interested, or if he truly wanted a Gotham War story, got bored with it, and decided to move on to something else. Either way, Batman #138 is a bizarre comic.

When last we left Batman with Red Hood, Jason woke up after being drugged, and Batman explained he did something he wasn't proud of. Now we know what he did. Batman uses a Zur-En-Arrh-inspired machine to "infect" Jason's mind with a failsafe that creates debilitating fear in Jason when his adrenaline spikes too high, effectively neutering Jason's ability to fight.

Elsewhere, Nightwing accesses a Batbox he was given by Batman to shut down Batman's access to his network if Bruce should ever go rogue. Fearing Bruce has gone off the deep end, Nightwing attempts to access the Batbox when Damian and Bruce arrive for a family spat.

Meanwhile, Vandal Savage is in town to acquire a number of stones from the Lazarus meteors that Ra's Al Ghul has been hoarding for years. His plan? Create an immortal army by using the Lazarus stones to grant immortality to Selina's Henchmen Union if they agree to follow him.

Whew! There's so much to unpack here.

On its surface, this story is completely off the rails. The further you dig, the worse it gets.

Is Batman justified in infecting Jason with a "fear suggestion" to stop him from killing/harming people? Probably, yes, but it isn't much different than forcing a violent criminal to take court-ordered medication as a condition of sentencing. Considering the number of times Jason has killed, he's getting off easy. That doesn't make Batman's actions ethically correct, but it isn't the worst plan in the world.

By the way, how, when, and why did Batman build a mind-altering machine that can implant fear in people?

Watch our Batman #138 Video Review

Next, what in the world is a Batbox, what does it do, and why does Nightwing have it? The Bat Family shows up to fight like rabid dogs over it because it's supposed to stop Batman somehow. If an object is that powerful, why couldn't Zdarsky take one panel to explain what it does and how it's supposed to stop Batman? If all it does is disconnect Batman from his network, that's not nearly enough to put Batman down. Did Zdarsky create a literal black box as an excuse for the family to fight???  

Jim Note: The Batbox is from Scott Snyder’s New 52 Batman run (Issue #12).  Batboxes were used to secretly siphon power from the Gotham Power Grid, but also kept Batman from being captured on surveillance video and pictures in the area.  Harper Row began looking for and fixing the Batboxes, unknowingly causing more harm than help for Batman, though it eventually lead to her becoming part of the Bat Family.   It’s a bit of a deep dive to be played off so matter of factly here and should have been explained at least a little!

How in the world did this turn into a "Vandal Savage takes over the world" arc? Vandal comes out of nowhere and decides to use Ra's amulet to create a stronger source of immortality to make an immortal army. Why? What's Vandal planning to do with an immortal army, and why is he using Selina's collection of bumbling henchmen to do it? What happened to the Gotham War? Did Zdarsky decide the event wasn't to his liking, so he started a new arc in the middle? What in the world...?

What's great about Batman #138? Forget the plot. There is no plot. Batman #138 has a lot of great rough-and-tumble action. You truly believe all the Robins have the potential to seriously hurt each other. Also, the Vandal Savage "immortal army" development is a neat concept - it just doesn't belong in the middle of this event.

What's not so great about Batman #138? See the baffling questions above. Zdarsky has literally lost the plot. This issue is a jumbled mess of incoherence.

How's the art? Give credit where credit is due. Jorge Jimenez's art is outstanding. If you focus on the action (because that's the only thing worth focusing on), the art is great.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Batman #138 is a bizarre fever dream of nonsense storytelling. Zdarsky’s plot is all over the place and relies on things that most readers are likely unfamiliar with. Then Vandal Savage shows up to take over the world. What is happening? Somebody send out a search party for Chip Zdarsky because he might not be okay.



  1. Part 1:Does anyone gonna mention the fact that Bruce never forced anyone to take his side in this war, despite being absolutely right but still, and yet they have been the ones jumping him every single time in the past with FORCE and violence, see Frontlines and Batman 137 and when he rightfully defends his position, he gets shown like this unhinged maniac when almost every other character in the family seems unhinged???? Jason times and times again attempts to seriously injure or even kill people even his own family, beating them bloody and making things worse but when Bruce takes him seriously and makes moves to restrain him at least for the time being, he is the violent one? Did Dick forget he was the one who put Jason in Arkham along with his murderer or is that not canon anymore? Don't get me started on how utterly out of character Dick is. Yes, he is the optimistic hopeful one, but he can and has been downright ruthless when he needed to be in the past. Beating Joker to death, putting Jason in Arkham, manipulating his teammates etc etc. Sometimes he even is more cynical than Bruce with the rogues gallery yet here even before finding out about Jason, he yells i won't let you destroy the peace Selena created!!! What peace???? What on earth is he on???? How on earth none of the henchmen take advantage of the useful skills they're being taught for free to do horrible stuff without being caught by the police and Selina??? She is teaching them to be more professional criminals! Are you telling me every single one of those guys especially the ones who work for joker, the ones who take women and children captive and pump them with joker venom, or do worse you know what i mean, are you telling me none of them exist???? Cause if they did the rogues would still have enough henchmen so the comic is telling me that every single one of those people did it for..what??? Ok maybe half of them were forced or whatever but all of them couldn't find anything else to do??? They just had to work for serial killers??? .

  2. Part 3:even if they say this is fully Zur taking over i don't trust the writers after this level of incompetent writing to make that distinction clear enough as befitting of the character whose name is the TITLE. look if they hate Batman, if they can't see how a hero like him would exist, why do they keep insisting on writing him just to give him these stuff that are not even written logically so i can interact and engage with it? I am not even saying i like evrything about Batman, i don't, there're plenty of stuff in his history i have problems with, he has made plenty of mistakes as a father, but this is entirely unfair and downright nasty and disgusting and out of character. All I could think reading this was that no Dick, you guys are not making a strong point for why Zur is wrong that you guys are a mistake he made and this is coming from a person who prefers Batman with family and sees the prefer to be alone character writing to be out of character for Bruce considering his more than 70 years or so history. It has been years since reading something made me so ill as i was reading 138 which surprised me cause I am normally detached from fandom and stuff. In fact this is my first comment about comics in years or ever even, can't remember. Anyhow thank you for your review and sorry for giving a headache with this extremely long rant in broken English. I just couldn't keep silent and I am not even a comics or Batman fan, the writing in this issue bothered me that much!

    1. Same person here, Thank you so much for reading all that. It was one in the making since the start of this war. I actually wasn't against the idea of a feud between family (though it has been done too much with Batman, his family is apart more times than they are united at this point) but the fact nothing from logic of the situation to the character writing works makes it impossible to enjoy on any level.

  3. That was an epic rant, but loved your points. This issue was more interesting to me than the others, but the core foundational aspect of this story is so bizarre. Maybe if Batman had more allies than his son, whom writers insist on making out to be the lunatic violent one this story would have more nuance though I have my doubts.

    1. I mean it sure was more eventful and felt more like "war" than the others but the action was so unearned and illogical that it made it more frustrating. I actually think Damian at the start of this issue when he was fighting Dick and Tim was still way more correct than whatever position Dick holds now. I didn't see Damian as the ultra violent one, Nightwing sounded wayyyy more unhinged and out of character. Andvyou are right that it is bizarre that this is supposed to be a 'decisive ' ideological spat(it really isn't), yet only one family memeber sided with Bruce and all the others are team Catwoman-let's-give-criminals-and-psychopaths-more-ammo-and-emotionialy-betray-our-head of-the family-who-saved-us . Do none of them see how this could go so wrong so quickly??? I would think at least, at leastttt the commissioner's daughter would be team Batman or did Jim Junior commit murders only with henchmen too????