Cameron's Reviews > Batman: Cataclysm

Batman by Chuck Dixon
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's review
Aug 08, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels, reviewed
Read in July, 2011

A devastating earthquake hits Gotham City to (almost) everyone's surprise and Batman is faced with a problem he can't solve by punching it in the face: The overwhelming power of nature.

I love the concept of this story. Looking at just the premise, it gives us a chance to see how Batman and friends would handle a situation where there isn't some big bad villain murdering people. The situation is really just a large scale version of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with nature as the only real enemy. The opportunity to see Batman try and tackle something so far out of his scope is wonderfully nerve racking. Too bad that's not entirely what happens.

Don't get me wrong. There is some of that. After Gotham stops rockin' and rollin' and Batman realizes that the one thing he doesn't have in his utility belt is "Earthquake be-gone", he ventures out to help the survivors. We're treated to him, as well as Oracle, Nightwing, Robin and others, doing all they can to try and get Gotham on the road to recovery. But about halfway through the story, there's an attempt to put a face to the disaster and soon enough, the fisticuffs are at the ready.

My biggest problem with the fact that a supervillain is shoe horned into the story isn't that it's boring (it is though), but that it's a wasted opportunity. Pretty soon, rescue attempts are put on hold to chase after the Big Bad, but the story was so much more entertaining when the focus was on the rescue work. It's humbling to see someone like Batman, a freakin' superhero, struggling with a potentially very real threat for the reader. You could really have some great character moments with a concept like that, while also focusing on the real life people who make all the difference in situations like that. The potential isn't totally ignored, but it's not highlighted as much as I would have liked it to be.

Just like the story, the art is a mixed bag. There are panels that are made of pure awesome, such as splash page that depicts the Davenport Center becoming top heavy and toppling over. It's the kind of artwork that I wish I could blow up to the size of my bedroom wall so that I might be able to appreciate it fully. It's not the only one either. There's plenty of awe inspiring to go around in this story and the art is easily it's highest point.

That said, there's plenty of dull artwork as well. Most of the problem comes from when the story shifts focus away from the earthquake. The panels covering the villain portion of the story just can't compare, but even some of the panels that focus on the destruction of Gotham fall flat. Still, the art is less of a mixed bag than the story, leaning towards the positive.

A combination of pure awesome and utter disappointment. When the focus of the story is on the quake and the people of Gotham, the writing and art are superb. When it focuses on the superheroes and villains, the story and art suffer. Even so, Cataclysm is worth checking out and is sure to provide at least some high quality entertainment.
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