I’ll start with some spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises. Without going into too much detail for a chunk of the movie’s running time Gotham city is cut off from the outside world and some Bad Men take over. Right, you’re all up to speed…
After seeing The Dark Knight Rises I was reading some online forums and I saw a reference to a story called No Man’s Land naming it as part of the inspiration for the movies plot. I wasn’t familiar with the story so I looked it up. It turns out that in the late 1990s there were some big storylines featuring Gotham and the extended Batman Universe. The premise picqued my interest and figuring it was worth a look I ordered the first of four trade paperbacks.
The story starts after a cataclysmic earthquake has hit Gotham city and rather than fix things the government decides to evacuate the population. For whatever reason a lot of people stay behind, either because they are unable to leave or unwilling to leave. The city is declared No Man’s Land. And Batman is nowhere to be seen.
It’s not long before the city is divided up into different gang territories and the only way to tell which side of the border you are on is to watch out for the latest gang graffiti. Commissioner Gordon and some of the GCPD stayed behind and they control a small part of the island. The story starts with Gordon wanting to spread the influence of the GCPD ‘gang’ further into the island and he is willing to set rival gangs at each others throats to do it.
It’s a long collection featuring something like 22 different issues. There is little overall story arc at this point. Instead we get lots of individual stories, all with the theme of moral compromise; What are you willing to do to feed yourself or protect your family?
One of my favourite storylines features Huntress who discovers the Scarecrow has been given sanctuary in a church by a priest who is trying to protect his flock. The priest believes the best of people. Scarecrow believes the worst. Then the priest is manipulated into doing a deal with the devil to feed the people in his care. Will Scarecrow be proved right?
Eventually Batman returns and has to learn to play by Gotham’s new rules. He also discovers there’s a new Bat in town…
Overall I enjoyed the collection enough to order volume 2.