"Batman: Cataclysm"
Cover of Batman: Cataclysm trade paperback.
Art by Matt Hollingsworth.
Publisher DC Comics
Publication date March – May 1998


Main character(s) Batman

"Cataclysm" is an 18 chapter DC Comics crossover story arc that ran through the various Batman family comics from March to May, 1998. The plot of the storyline centers on Gotham City being hit by a massive earthquake, the epicenter of which is less than a mile from Wayne Manor. In the wake of the destruction, Batman and his allies join the frantic rescue efforts around the devastated city, which soon spirals into chaos. This story arc would act as a catalyst for the Batman comics and its spin-off titles, signaling the beginning of nearly 2 years of storylines that would spring forth in the earthquake's aftermath, culminating in the year-long "Batman: No Man's Land" saga. "Cataclysm" itself takes place a short time after the events of "Batman: Contagion" and "Batman: Legacy," two crises which also nearly resulted in Gotham City's destruction.


Seismologist Dr. Jolene Relazzo believes the Gotham area was due for a major earthquake as her gear began registering hits nearing the city.[1] Oracle (Barbara Gordon) loses connection with the Batcave at 7:03 p.m. while giving a report when a 7.6 earthquake hits Gotham City. Batman is swept up by the rising currents from an underground stream and Alfred falls into the cave from the crumbling Wayne Manor above. Oracle heads to Gotham City Police Department HQ to find her father and rally the troops.[2]

Shortly after the quake, it appeared Wayne-owned buildings were the only ones left without major structural damage. Bruce Wayne had seen to it that all of his buildings were quake-proof up to 8.5. However, Wayne Manor and the Batcave were destroyed. With all the exits blocked, Batman strapped on scuba gear and promised Alfred he would be back soon. Barbara Gordon rallied the police force, and Detective Harvey Bullock had found Commissioner Gordon. At 8:52 p.m., the first aftershock hit.[3]

Dick Grayson (Nightwing) had learned of the earthquake from TV while at work. He bolted, grabbed a boat, and headed to his former home. He was taken aback by the sheer destruction in Gotham City. He began helping victims trapped under a collapsed highway as soon as he got ashore.[4]

Azrael and Nomoz arrived in Gotham City by helicopter to deliver Bane to the GCPD. After the quake hit, Bane escaped. Azrael tracked and captured him after he killed two civilians in a bank.[5]

Helena Bertinelli was on the subway when the quake hit. She quickly changed into her Huntress garb and began getting survivors to safety. Batman surfaced in Gotham Harbor and was horrified seeing the city he loved in flames.[6]

Catwoman was stealing night-vision binoculars for an up-coming job when the department store was destroyed by the earthquake. After having a young girl die in her arms, she began getting the survivors to safety.[7] Later, she started tracking Poison Ivy and stopped her from spreading super-fertilizer into Gotham City's water supply.[8]

Robin (Tim Drake) performed CPR on Lady Shiva as Dava attacked Dorrance and his men. Shiva was revived by the drug still in Robin's system. Dava was shot in the melee and Shiva went berserk on Dorrance's people. Robin got Dava to her people and left her there. Tim's flight home was diverted to Blüdhaven. He saw Gotham City on fire from the plane.[9] He stole a motorcycle and headed toward his home.

The quake and the ensuing tidal waves hit Blackgate Prison hard. The island and many cells were flooded, and prisoners were set free. A land-bridge formed from the island all the way to mainland Gotham City. Batman, just surfacing in Gotham Harbor, realized what was going on and made his way to the prison. He quieted the rioting prisoners, though many had been killed and others escaped via the land-bridge. The aftershocks removed the land-bridge as S.W.A.T. helicopters arrived.[10] Batman reached the mainland and began helping victims. Later, he spoke with Penguin about his "enterprises."[11]

At Arkham Asylum, many inmates were freed into the public areas of the facility when the quake hit. Joker, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Riddler, and others took three guards hostage and killed two of them. They decided to tell stories to the third man, a new guard going to school to become a psychiatrist. They scared him into dementia before Arkham's generator kicked in and they were rounded up.[12]

An odd band of small time crooks hired by WayneCorp saved a group of people trapped in a building. A young boy was convinced that Batman had sent them. Penguin, walking through the rubble, decided which people to help based on how they could repay the favor. Robin arrived and helped out in the excavation while thinking of his own family and friends.[13]

Nightwing and Robin met at the clocktower to see if Oracle was okay—it was the first time Barbara and Tim had met face-to-face. No one had seen Batman because he was saving victims from rubble in the guise of a police officer. Nightwing and Robin then checked out the destruction at Wayne Manor and the Cave. Tim rushed off to check on his father, while Dick located Alfred and Harold.[14]

Batman searched for Dr. Rellazzo, who had been abducted earlier. GCPD reviewed a videotape delivered to them claiming responsibility for the earthquake: the "Quakemaster" wanted $100 million. Barbara Gordon readied a fake ransom payment and Batman stowed away on the pick-up helicopter with it. He gathered the henchmen who picked up the ransom, but their boss got away. Later, he met with Robin and Nightwing to discuss the situation.[15]

Stephanie Brown, caught in a mall during the earthquake, quickly changed into her Spoiler outfit. She slipped after rescuing a small child, but Huntress swooped down and caught her. Cluemaster, Ratcatcher, Firefly, and others made way for Gotham City after crossing the land-bridge from Blackgate. They arrived at the mall and began looting. Huntress and Spoiler battled them, capturing all but Cluemaster (Stephanie's father).[16]

Robin continued to investigate the Quakemaster's tape while Nightwing and Batman went out. Quakemaster's people kidnapped Detective "Hardback" Bock and held Commissioner Gordon and Mayor Grange hostage in the Mayor's office. Believing he had a lead on the Quakemaster, Robin headed out and met up with Bullock and Renee Montoya.[17] Robin rescued Bock, and together they took down Quakemaster, who was Arnold Wesker's newest puppet. Nightwing saved Commissioner Gordon and Mayor Grange, while Batman continued helping survivors.[18]

Collected edition

All of the stories (except Robin #52, Azrael #40, Catwoman #57, and Batman: Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness #1) were collected into a trade paperback.[19]

See also


  1. Detective Comics #719
  2. Batman: Shadow of the Bat #73
  3. Batman #553 (April 1998)
  4. Nightwing #19
  5. Azrael #40
  6. Detective Comics #720
  7. Catwoman #56
  8. Catwoman #57
  9. Robin #52
  10. Batman: Blackgate - Isle of Men #1
  11. Batman: Shadow of the Bat #74
  12. Batman: Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness #1
  13. The Batman Chronicles #12
  14. Nightwing #20
  15. Batman #554
  16. Huntress/Spoiler: Blunt Trauma #1
  17. Detective Comics #721
  18. Robin #53
  19. Chuck Dixon et al. (1999). Batman: Cataclysm (Paperback). Titan Books. ISBN 1-84023-095-9. 

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