Batman: No Man's Land
|"No Man's Land"|
|Publication date||March 1999 – February 2000|
|Writer(s)||Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Devin K. Grayson
|Volume One||ISBN 1-56389-564-1|
|Volume Two||ISBN 1563895994|
|Volume Three||ISBN 1563896346|
|Volume Four||ISBN 1563896982|
|Volume Five||ISBN 1563897091|
"Batman: No Man’s Land" is an American comic book crossover storyline that ran for the whole of 1999 through the Batman comic book titles published by DC Comics. The story architecture for "No Man's Land" and the outline of all the Batman continuity titles for 1999 were written by cartoonist Jordan B. Gorfinkel.
The lead-up story began with the "Cataclysm" story arc, which described a major earthquake hitting Gotham City. This was followed by the storylines "Aftershock" and then "Road to No Man's Land" which resulted in the U.S. government officially evacuating Gotham and then abandoning and isolating those who chose to remain in the city. "No Man’s Land" covered, in detail, a period in the lives of the residents of the city, explaining all events from the time of isolation, until its time of re-opening and the beginning of rebuilding.
The main storyline ran through the monthly Batman titles Detective Comics, Batman, Batman: Shadow of the Bat, and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight with other spin-offs serving as tie-ins. In all, "No Man's Land" encompassed 80 regular monthly issues, 4 specials, and the Batman: Harley Quinn graphic novel, which introduced Harley Quinn to the DC Universe.
The storyline is divided into several arcs. A part of the story would continue from one Batman title and then to the next Batman title that would come the following week, much the same format used in the Superman comics for that time. Unlike the Superman comics, where a creative team is maintained for one monthly title, the same creative team is maintained for the duration of the story arc.
The core storyline was originally collected as trade paperbacks in five volumes. However, because of the large number of issues that were devoted to "No Man's Land", only 40 of them made it into the original collections. DC has since released a new collection of "No Man's Land" that includes issues previously uncollected.
A novelization of the story line was also written by Greg Rucka and released as hardcover in January 2000.
Gotham City suffers the results of a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in the Cataclysm storyline. In response, the U.S government declares Gotham a "no man's land," destroys all bridges leading to the island and sets up a military blockade to prevent people from entering or exiting.
Gangs and various supervillains Batman had battled over the years swiftly carve up the city. The city's police's commissioner, James Gordon, and several members of his department, who dub their gang the Blue Boys stay behind to protect civilians. Oracle and Huntress also end up on the inside. Bruce Wayne leaves the city to lobby the government to continue aid to Gotham, but fails. Gordon and his men wait for Batman's return, but he disappears for months, leading the police to believe that he has abandoned Gotham. A bitterly disappointed Gordon denounces Batman and refuses even to speak his name.
Huntress attempts to keep order, fashioning a Batgirl costume. She soon discovers that criminals fear her more as Batgirl than they do as Huntress and succeeds in holding territory of her own. When Batman returns, he allows her to continue to use the costume. However, when she fails to hold off Two-Face and his army of men and loses Batman's territory, she abandons the costume.
Batman and the police work separately to reclaim Gotham, piece by piece, by battling and subduing the gang leaders and then marking the reclaimed territory with graffiti. However, a schism erupts between Gordon and SWAT Lieutenant William Petit, whose militaristic, take-no-prisoners methods shock and outrage Gordon; the Blue Boys subsequently break into two separate factions, with most of Petit's officers siding with him to form the Strong Men.
Various subplots emerge through the battles. Poison Ivy takes up residence in Robinson Park, and Batman — after helping her defeat Clayface's attempts to control the park and thus Gotham's fresh fruit supply — allows her to remain there as long as she cares for various orphans who had retreated to the park, as well as distributing food to the rest of the city. Superman briefly visits the city to restore some degree of order, but quickly realizes that the city's current state of anarchy and 'might-makes-right' requires a greater effort than the 'quick-fix' he had been expecting, and departs. He later returns as Clark Kent to visit Batman and advise locals on how to improve their burgeoning agriculture.
A simultaneous story in JLA reveals that the Justice League keeps an eye on Gotham during this time by preventing various villains from claiming the territory for themselves. Robin's (Tim Drake) father, Jack, discovers that his son is in Gotham, and believing Tim entered the city for some sort of dare, petitions the government for a search and rescue Tim which inadvertently attracts media attention and further public support for the city's revival.
Gordon briefly allies himself with Two-Face to reclaim vital territory, but Two-Face betrays the alliance to claim a greater amount of land for himself. Two-Face also hires David Cain to kill Gordon, but his mute daughter Cassandra, who has become one of Oracle’s agents, thwarts Cain. Cassandra later becomes the second Batgirl to help clean up No Man's Land. Later, Two-Face kidnaps Gordon and puts him on trial for breaking the alliance. Police officer Renee Montoya reaches out to Two-Face's Harvey Dent persona, whose defense leads to Gordon's acquittal. While cross-examining himself, Dent concludes that Two-Face had essentially blackmailed Gordon into the alliance; hence, any agreement between them is void.
Through the efforts of Lucius Fox, Batman succeeds in getting the attention of Lex Luthor, who arrives in Gotham with plans to completely rebuild the city. Attempts by the Joker to disrupt construction are thwarted by Bane, who has been hired by Luthor in exchange for his own private country. Bane, who has been causing trouble in No Man's Land before, is looking to get revenge on Batman, who convinces him to leave and claim his payment before Luthor reneges on their deal.
Bowing to intense pressure from the people and the media, the government reverses the No Man's Land order and allows Gotham to rejoin the United States. Gordon and his surviving officers are promoted. On Christmas Day, the Joker attacks Petit's compound. Petit is killed and the Huntress barely survives a battle with the Joker's men. The Joker later kidnaps all of Gotham's babies, hiding them in the police station. When Sarah Essen Gordon stumbles upon the scene, the Joker shoots her in the head as she scrambles to catch a baby he dropped. Batman convinces a grief-stricken Gordon to refrain from killing The Joker, in order to prove that their city can still maintain its morale. When the Joker, who in the course of the Post-Crisis narrative has harmed Gordon's entire family, mockingly asks Gordon if he has a son, Gordon shoots Joker through the kneecap instead; Joker laments that he may never walk again, but then laughs hysterically upon realizing that he did the same thing to Gordon's daughter Barbara. Gordon then breaks down as Batman comforts him.
Luthor's philanthropy is revealed to be a cover for his true intentions: to destroy the deeds to much of the property in Gotham and claim it for himself under false names. Lucius Fox, acting on a tip, discovers copies of the original documents and notifies Luthor. Luthor, feigning ignorance, attempts to kill Fox, but Batman intervenes and reveals that he is the one who anonymously tipped the Wayne Enterprises' CEO. He tells Luthor that Gotham is not for sale, and warns him to leave.
The story ends with the citizens of Gotham ringing in the New Year, while Gordon says his last goodbyes to his wife. Batman, placing roses at his parents' grave, prepares to spend another year as Gotham City's protector.
The story ran through the following issues:
- Azrael #50-61
- Batman #563-574
- Batman: Harley Quinn (graphic novel)
- The Batman Chronicles #16-18
- Batman: Day of Judgment (also part of Day of Judgment)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116-126
- Batman: No Man's Land #0-1
- Batman: No Man's Land Secret Files and Origins #1
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83-94
- Catwoman #72-77
- Detective Comics #730-741
- Nightwing #35-39
- Robin #67-73
- Young Justice in No Man's Land #1
Other comics took place in Gotham City during "No Man's Land", but were not cover bannered as part of the storyline:
Two of the storylines immediately following "No Man's Land" were collected as trade paperbacks with the subtitles New Gotham 1 and New Gotham 2, respectively, playing up the fact that they were set in the rebuilt Gotham City following "No Man's Land". These were "Batman: Evolution" from Detective Comics #743-750 and "Batman: Officer Down", collecting the story from Batman #587, Robin #86, Birds of Prey #27, Catwoman #90, Nightwing #53, Detective Comics #754, and Gotham Knights #13.
- "No Man's Land" introduced the character of Cassandra Cain, who would become the fourth Batgirl.
- An ongoing quasi-relationship between Two-Face and Renee Montoya started as a result to this crossover and came to a head in the pages of Gotham Central's "Half a Life" storyline.
- Sarah Essen, a police officer and the wife of Jim Gordon, is murdered by the Joker in the story's finale. This event, as well as getting shot in the back by one of his own officers, precipitated Gordon's temporary retirement from the force.
- Luthor rebuilds Gotham in a bid to claim it (as he had all the deeds destroyed). He is thwarted by Batman but gains enough public opinion to later win the candidacy of the President of the United States in 2000.
- Mercy Graves, who first appeared in Superman: The Animated Series, is introduced during No Man's Land.
- Harley Quinn makes her first appearance in the regular Batman continuity during "No Man's Land", in a one-shot titled Batman: Harley Quinn that also set forth the basis of the friendship between her and Poison Ivy. This is largely an adaptation of 1994's Batman Adventures: Mad Love. (Harley Quinn's first print appearance was in Batman Adventures #12 (1993).)
- Following No Man's Land, Batman changes his costumes from the all-black Troika storyline suit to a costume similar to the original, Year One Batsuit during the event.
- Behind the scenes, "No Man's Land" precipitated the exit of longtime writer and editor Denny O'Neil from the Batman family of books. In an interview, he stated that he retired three years before he was supposed to, due to the strenuous nature of editing. O'Neil was replaced by Bob Shreck.
Of the 80 issues under the No Man's Land banner, 40 were collected into trade paperbacks:
- Volume One (ISBN 1563895641)
- Batman: No Man's Land #1
- Batman #563-564
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83-84
- Detective Comics #730-731
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116
- Volume Two (ISBN 1563895994)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #117, #119
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #85-87
- Batman #565
- Detective Comics #732-733
- The Batman Chronicles #16
- Volume Three (ISBN 1563896346)
- Batman #566-569
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120-121
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #88
- Detective Comics #734-735
- Volume Four (ISBN 1563896982)
- Batman #571-572
- The Batman Chronicles #18
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #92-93
- Detective Comics #736, #738-739
- Volume Five (ISBN 1563897091)
- Batman: No Man's Land #0
- Batman #573-574
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #126
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #94
- Detective Comics #740-741
- Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice (ISBN 978-1563897030)
- Nightwing #30-39, Nightwing Secret Files & Origins #1
Modern "complete" editions
In December 2011, DC started re-issuing the storyline in "complete" editions that will collect all of the comics involved.
- Batman: No Man's Land Volume 1 (ISBN 1401232280)
- Batman: No Man's Land #1
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83-86
- Batman #563-566
- Detective Comics #730-733
- Azrael: Agent of the Bat #51-55
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116-118
- Batman Chronicles #16
- Batman: No Man's Land Volume 2 (ISBN 1401233805)
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #119-121
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #87-88
- Batman #567-568
- Detective Comics #734-735
- Young Justice in No Man's Land #1
- Robin #67
- Azrael: Agent of the Bat #56-57
- Batman Chronicles #17
- Nightwing #35-37
- Catwoman #72-74
- Batman: No Man's Land Volume 3 (ISBN 1401234569)
- Batman #569-571
- Detective Comics #736-738
- Azrael: Agent of the Bat #58
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #122-124
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #89-92
- Robin #68-72
- Batman: No Man's Land Secret Files #1
- Batman: No Man's Land Volume 4 (ISBN 1401235646)
- Batman #572-574
- Detective Comics #739-741
- Azrael: Agent of the Bat #59-61
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125-126
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat #93-94
- Robin #73
- Batman Chronicles #18
- Catwoman #75-77
- Nightwing #38-39
- Batman: No Man's Land #0.
In other media
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Elements of No Man's Land are used in the film The Dark Knight Rises; while there is no earthquake, Bane sets off various bombs that damage key areas of Gotham and destroy all but one of its bridges, forcing the citizens to remain inside Gotham as a nuclear bomb counts down, leaving them forced to band together as various gangs to survive the anarchy created by Bane's actions. Gordon is put on trial by Scarecrow that is reminiscent of his trial by Two-Face. Also used is the notion of Bane serving as an enforcer for John Daggett, who fills in for Lex Luthor with a similar agenda to take over Wayne Enterprises, instead of taking over Gotham. This is also a slight reference to Batman: The Animated Series.
Elements of "No Man's Land" are also used in the video game Batman: Arkham City, using the idea of a supervillain turf war after Gotham is cut off from the rest of civilization (Although in this case only part of Gotham has been cut off, with parts of the city turned into a prison to contain the various criminals).
The novel and audiobook
In 2000, DC Comics published a novelization of "No Man's Land" written by Greg Rucka. The story features many of the same characters as the comic book arc. It also describes other members of the GCPD. The book omits the characters of Azrael and Superman, who were present throughout in the comics.
There is also a shorter junior novel written by Alan Grant.
GraphicAudio produced an audiobook of the novelization which spans two volumes and features a full cast, music and sound effects. The first part was released in October and the second in November 2011.