Comics Reviews

Catwoman: Lonely City Creates a New Dark Future for Gotham

In DC’s Black Label series Catwoman: Lonely City, an old Selina Kyle reveals a grim future for a Gotham City that’s moved beyond Batman.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Catwoman: Lonely City #1, on sale now

The DC Multiverse has plenty of visions of Gotham City’s future. From Dark Knight Returns to Batman Beyond or the timeline of Future State, all of them paint a picture of what Gotham could become in the years after the original Batman is no longer on the board.

The Gotham City of Catwoman: Lonely City #1 by Cliff Chaing is a radically different one than most versions of the dingy metropolis, however. It’s one where the eventual fall of Batman resulted in Gotham where peace has been established at the cost of a complete betrayal of Bruce Wayne’s legacy.

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Catwoman: Lonely City takes place ten years in the future from a modern incarnation of Gotham City. A decade in this world’s past, an event called “Fool’s Day” changed the city forever. Although the full extent of the event isn’t revealed in this issue one, some of its fallout is clear from the world that an aged Selina Kyle finds herself stepping into. It appears that, like the 2020 event Joker War, Fool’s Day was a massive city-wide attack. However, whereas the Joker War had few notable casualties and merely opened up the door for the tyrannical Magistrate, the damage left in the wake of the Fool’s Day was enough to set up a new status quo in Gotham. It appears that the Batman and James Gordon of this world were killed in the process, with the former sharing some of his final moments with Catwoman before she was knocked unconscious by an explosion.

In the aftermath, Selina was imprisoned for a decade, returning to a world that knew the now-deceased Bruce Wayne had been the Batman, who left all of his resources and funds for Gotham City. The city was largely rebuilt, and the public instituted a new Batman-inspired police force who used advanced technology — and guns — to keep up with any potential threats. Commanding all of this is the new Mayor of Gotham City: Harvey Dent. In the chaos of Fool’s Day, Two-Face surprised the world by actually helping the GCPD protect and save lives, earning him new popularity. In the years since, he’s seemingly come to terms with his darker half, and no longer refers to himself as Two-Face — just Harvey Dent.

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The ensuing crackdown on masked figures (both heroic and villainous) has left Gotham far safer than it ever seemed to be, even with the Bat-Family protecting it. Barbara Gordon is also the only apparent member of the Bat-Family still left, having seemingly left her vigilante time years ago. Now running for Mayor (and with a young son named Wayne), Barabra isn’t exactly happy to see Catwoman. It turns out that Nightwing and Alfred have also died in this timeline, although it isn’t confirmed exactly how or when they fell. The only notable villain still standing is the Penguin. Having created an off-shore island to avoid the militant police force, Cobblepot effectively made Gotham’s own version of Madripoor — a lawless region that as a result has become a hugely successful endeavor.

Notably, Dent’s police force effectively operates at the same capacity as the Magistrate in the current DC Universe and in Future State, trying to use advanced technology to counter the threats within the city. But unlike the modern DC Universe — where Batman, his allies, and his enemies have remained defiant to their plans or Future State, where a new generation of heroes was able to continue the fight even as the long-time heroes grew older or fell — it appears that almost all signs of resistance against Dent’s Bat-Police have been curbed and defeated. It’s a Gotham City that lost many of its defining traits. It’s a dour and depressingly quiet reality, one where Selina Kyle’s return to the world draws attention just for how unique it is to see someone like her still alive.

Hints about Dent’s overall ambitions being greater suggests there might be something operating behind the scenes, but it’s not clear yet what those could be or how overtly villainous they are. For now, this is a version of Gotham where a force similar to the Magistrate was actually more successful in sanding the rough edges off of Gotham than they were in Future State. They’ve up-ended Batman’s legacy and transformed it into one that uses fear to control the population instead of just criminals. It’s one where guns have been fully embraced to contend with conflicts, a deep-seated betrayal of Batman’s deepest motivations, with even allies like Barabra Gordon arguing the world is better like this than it was before. While it may be peaceful, it’s still a deeply depressing legacy for this world’s version of Batman.

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