THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team convenes for a roundtable discussion of the latest installment of “The Gotham War” and the debuts of Birds of Prey and Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville.

Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the discussion for our final verdicts.

Batman #137

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Jorge Jimenez

Zack Quaintance: Hey gang, we’re here for what feels like the first DC Roundtable in forever, and we’ve got A LOT of cool stuff to discuss. So let’s get right into it! What did you all think of Batman #137, “Batman/Catwoman – The Gotham War” Part 2?

Cori McCreery: I’m really liking where this story is going, it really seems to put the test to the age old question of whether Batman does more harm than good.

Joe Grunenwald: Yeah, the center of the story being an ideological conflict between Bruce and Selina is really a refreshing way to take a storyline like this. I thought this week’s Batman was great. It did a nice job building off of what happened last week, drawing the lines of the ‘war’ more clearly. I also think it helped clarify Red Hood’s role in things, which I’m pretty excited about personally.

Zack: This issue was fantastic. I don’t even really know where to start. I guess with one of the set pieces, which was when Bruce first-person narrated fighting (and losing to) the rest of the Bat Family. I loved that sequence.

Cori: Yeah, loved that sequence. He thought he had them all, and then they came together to drive him back.

Joe: Teamwork is the one thing he never expects.

Zack: He also lost and didn’t even really admit it to himself, which I thought was very clever.

Cori: “Dick is sloppy.” <Gets uppercut.>

Joe: That whole sequence in Alleytown was incredible, from the Year One homage of Batman’s entrance through a smoldering hole in the wall through the fight with the family and Damian’s arrival. Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey really outdid themselves here.

Zack: They really did. Just fantastic art throughout. The Damian ambush panel though — I almost felt that impact.

Joe: Damian coming straight at the reader. Such a great image. I’m also fascinated to see how the ongoing Zur-En-Arrh story feeds into this story. It’s fun to try and figure out which Batman is in control at any given moment.

Cori: And uh… Is Bruce… Homeless?

Zack: It certainly seems like it.

Joe: That’s also an incredible development. It almost feels like Chip Zdarsky is “Born Again”-ing Batman, just destroying his life one piece at a time.

Cori: Love to see it. Put Bruce through the wringer, Chip.

Zack: And it’s a natural thing to do to build on what happened in the Tynion run, which I think really started the fall. Or put him in a townhouse and took away his unlimited money, anyway.

Cori: Bruce has been through a lot lately, he needed that eight week nappy poo.

Zack: God, I’m so jealous.

Joe: Bwucey tiwed. Bwucey vewy, vewy tiwed.

Zack: Ahem. Anyway. I could keep going on this issue, which I loved, but the last thing I want to praise is the last page reveal. As it was becoming clear someone had bought Wayne Manor, I was trying to figure out who it could be that would make sense and be narratively satisfying. I kind of came up empty, but absolutely loved that it was Vandal Savage.

Cori: RIGHT. Good old Uncle of Arsenal, Vandal Savage.

Zack: He’s got unlimited money, and is always formidable. Him getting involved in what at first seemed like a street war storyline is a really fun twist.

Joe: The Savage reveal was perfectly executed, and it really came out of nowhere for me. Between that and the meeting of the villains earlier in the issue the scope of this story is definitely larger than I expected it to be, too.

Cori: I also like the hanging thread of the big villains conspiring.

Zack: It’s so good. Well done all. Actively excited for the next issues. Like old school excited for the next issue for me. I think it’s obvious at this point, but it’s a BUY for me on this one.

Cori: Absolutely a BUY.

Joe: Definitely a BUY for me as well. This storyline’s off to a fantastic start.

Birds of Prey #1

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Leonardo Romero & Jordie Bellaire

Zack: Next up, is the first new Birds of Prey comic in a good long while. I’m going to lay my cards on the table, but I also really enjoyed this comic too. Where did you all land on it?

Cori: Holy hell that’s the most fun a Birds of Prey book has been in years.

Zack: Right?!

Joe: I think this might be a perfect debut.

Zack: So glad I don’t have to fight anyone tonight. I freaking loved it.

Cori: It did a really good job of getting the band together complete with reasoning for each of the characters to be involved.

Joe: Yeah, the way the team came together was handled really nicely. I knew basically nothing about this book aside from who the team is, and I loved seeing them all meeting and interacting with each other for the first time. Kelly Thompson can write banter like few others.

Zack: The execution was fantastic, but the lineup choices themselves were so good. It’s such a great combination of characters, and one we’ve not quite seen before. Even the very commercially-friendly inclusion of Harley Quinn is fun in this book and handled well.

Cori: Love a wildcard.

Joe: Harley and Cass Cain was not a pairing I knew I needed before this issue.

Zack: There’s a lot of dynamics like that in this one. It’s going to be fun to see different pairings as the book goes. I think the thing that really sealed this as one of my favorite new superhero #1s in recent memory though was the artwork. Leonardo Romero colored by Jordie Bellaire is so, so pretty.

Cori: The coloring in particular is just perfect.

Joe: Saying that I loved the art doesn’t quite cover it. Romero and Bellaire do such exquisitely stylish work here. I agree that the coloring in particular stands out wonderfully.

Zack: I can’t wait to see more of it. The action sequences were also fun, and this book has a lot of characters who it will be fun to watch fight stuff. It’s a trend this week (as I’m sure we’ll discuss with the third book), but this one also had a fun last page reveal.

Joe: Absolutely, another one that came out of nowhere but that utterly delighted me.

Cori: Yeah I had no idea what was going on with Sin until that last page, and now I’m all in.

Zack: Just when you thought this book couldn’t possibly be more fun, Future Maps is here and needs help stopping the end of the world.

Joe: The design for Meridian is so cool. Maps would love to know that she becomes a superhero when she grows up.

Zack: Great stuff all around. Plus, looking ahead this book is also probably going to involve a heist-style rescue from Themyscira.

Joe: I’m sure that will go smoothly with no problems whatsoever.

Cori: Especially with Harley involved.

Zack: Heh. Well friends, once again I’m a BUY on this book. Like, if there was a rank we had above that, this one would merit it.

Joe: I’m an INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS. (That’s an emphatic BUY.)

Cori: That sounds dangerous. I’ll just say BUY

Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1

Writer: Joanne Starer
Artist: Natcha Bustos
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover Artists: Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson

Zack: Okay! Last book of the evening…what did we think about Fire and Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1?


Zack: It picked a delightful tone and owned it so well.

Joe: It pairs so well with Birds of Prey. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Cori: It feels like a rom com in comic form. Just waiting for them to kiss. Let them kiss DC you cowards.

Joe: I was skeptical of the setup after the story in the Power Girl Special – I don’t really like Superman babysitting these two – but as a pretense to get them into a small, domestic setting, I’m fully onboard.

Zack: Yeah, the way the concept plays out, it’s really a fishes-out-of-water story, I think. Brazilian model and magic nordic princess…living above a salon in smalltown Kansas, hashing things out over Ma Kent’s pie.

Cori: I’m still not sold on the Superman babysitting them, but everything else I loved.

Joe: Joanne Starer & Natacha Bustos have really done a nice job capturing the tone of the classic Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League. L-Ron’s presence helps that along for sure.

Cori: I also really love their employee. She’s a perfect foil.

Zack: This comic — and the other two we discussed, as well — is just a testament to how important it is to get an artist whose style fits the characters and story. This is the perfect idea and story for Natacha Bustos.

Also, Tamra Bonvillain colors it to perfection, showing great range compared to the work she’s done on World’s Finest over Dan Mora‘s lines, an aesthetic that’s as different as it gets from this one.

Cori: She’s having a breakout year for sure. Glad to see it.

Joe: Bonvillain’s colors complement Bustos’s linework so well here. I does feel rom-com-y, but the colors also make it feel to me like a three-camera sitcom (but a good one).

Cori: Yeah it has both vibes, but the important part is that Fire and Ice should kiss.

Joe: I actually think the important part is another incredible final-page reveal. But we have different priorities, clearly.

Zack: Joe, you want to talk about the last page reveal? That character is kind of your thing.

Cori: Joe, go on, do tell us who it was.

Joe: Ambush Bug, baby! Fresh off his stint as part of the Suicide Squad and working at a Big Belly Burger, no less.

Zack: He’s been busy.

Joe: I was enjoying the issue up until that point, but that reveal made my jaw drop with glee.

Cori: For those not in the know, Joe is the singular Ambush Bug superfan in the world.

Joe: The Big Belly Burger of it all feels like it has to be a callback to the surprise reveal of Darkseid working at McDonalds at the end of Ambush Bug #2. I’m psyched to see him in future issues. And it’s another Giffen connection, which is pretty fun.

Zack: It’s another last page reveal this week that I didn’t see coming whatsoever, but it surprised me in the best way and also makes me excited to follow where the arc is going. I don’t know what’s been in the water at DC, but we got THREE of those perfectly executed in one week.

Joe: But I think we can all agree that this was the best one.

Zack: We don’t have to go into that. Anything else you all want to add about this one before we give our verdicts?

Cori: It’s a BUY, maybe an inject into my veins if they kiss in a future issue.

Joe: It’s a BUY for me as well. Super-fun setup, entertaining new characters, and AMBUSH BUG.

Zack: And a BUY for me too! Great week for DC Comics all around. And we didn’t even talk about Peacemaker Tries Hard or Shazam. But that’ll do it for us, thanks as always friends!

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!


  1. Zack: It’s another last page reveal this week that I didn’t see coming whatsoever, but it surprised me in the best way and also makes me excited to follow where the arc is going. I don’t know what’s been in the water at DC, but we got THREE of those perfectly executed in one week.

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