Book Review: Batman – No Man’s Land

It’s 2020 and that means a year of much reading and writing. My personal goal this year is to read 15 fiction books and 10 nonfiction. You can see my progress over on my Goodreads page.

The last book I read before this one was a Daredevils The Cutting Edge novel I thoroughly enjoyed this one. There are certain things that happened in this post-apocalyptic story that speaks more to the human condition once it is pushed to a certain point. Ultimately, a good story is about the characters. It is about relating to those characters. 

Batman: No Man’s Land by Greg Rucka is a novelization of the DC comic book series of the same name. The story is about Gotham City being thrown into a post-apocalyptic state from an earthquake that shatters the city. (glimpses from this story can be seen in the live-action movie Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan). Most of the denizens have left as the metropolis has been given over to the criminal elements and those who refuse to give up. Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and others on the police force have dubbed themselves The Blue Boys and are the unofficial arm of some semblance of order though they have no support. For a better part of this section of the book, Batman is nowhere to be found. However, he does show up and makes some progress but then tragedy strikes.

When I write a review, I like to keep notes on my phone so I don’t forget key experiences and scenes. For example, when I had written this originally, I had just finished Part 1 of the book and it was 3 a.m. I wanted to continue because it had me intrigued. Batman had just been led into a trap and the result was six men under his protection in his territory ended up dead. It’s poignant and serious. What makes this section sad is the way in which it was accomplished by Two-Face. In addition, Batman had entrusted a new Batgirl to protect the territory when all of this went down. Batman, once he returned, sees these six men displayed with the words, “Tails. You lose.” plastered all over the place. Batman buries the bodies knowing Batgirl is in the area and the only thing he says to her is “I trusted you.” I loved that scene.

A lot of questions hang in the air adding an element of mystery: who is this new Batgirl and why does Oracle not like her? Why is Commissioner Gordon so bitter at Batman? Is it simply because he wasn’t there when it all went down when he thought he should be there? Was it because he didn’t show up when he thought they needed him the most?

In addition, another question arises. Where has the Joker disappeared to?

There is one part where Oracle is writing in her journal and she realizes that Batman has rubbed off on her. It’s little scenes like these that speak to the power of the persona of Batman.

I had fun with this one. It was gritty, dramatic, and skillfully tragic. I suggest reading both the comic series and the novel though I would suggest reading the novel first though it came after the fact. There’s a depth to this story that you don’t get with the comics but the comics will bring the scenes you’ve read into a vibrant sequence of action.

And that ending. Man, that ending.

Go grab this book. Giving it a B+ or if this was percentile, somewhere in the 88% range. Just a really good read.

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