GOTHAM CITY: a dark, twisted reÞection of urban America. Overcrowded, overbuilt, and overshadowed by a continuous air of menace, this gothic nightmare is a breeding ground for the depraved, the indifferent, and the criminally insane. It's also the object of one man's obsession. Witness to the brutal murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne has dedicated his life to protecting this city, taking a form to inspire hope in the innocent...and fear in the guilty. He is the masked vigilante known as the Batman.
Now the battlefield has changed. Leveled by a massive earthquake that left thousands dead and millions more wounded, Gotham City has been transformed into a lawless wilderness -- a No Man's Land -- where the survivors are turning against one another, and where the city's protectors are torn by a crisis that may consume them all.
Fans of Batman are lucky to get Greg Rucka--the talented, gritty young author of Keeper and Finder, among others--sharing time with their favorite licensed character in this novelization of DC's complete No Man's Land comic series. (And fans of Rucka--assuming they get around to reading this at all--will still likely hold the opinion that Atticus Kodiak could take Batman in a standup fight any day.)
DC shook up Gotham--literally--in its 1999 Batman plot arc: a 7.6 earthquake rocked Gotham City, wreaking enough destruction to bring the broken, crime-ridden, runt kid-brother of Metropolis and New York to its knees. In the story line's most indulgent liberty, those fat cats in Washington decide to write off Gotham, à la Escape from New York, blowing up the connecting bridges, mining the surrounding waterways, and signing into law the Federal Declaration of No Man's Land, which makes it a crime to even set foot in the city. The usual suspects from Arkham Asylum, Two-Face and the Penguin, the Riddler and Dr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Mr. Zsasz, file out to begin running the show, strong-arming and manipulating the block-by-block turf battles that envelop the now-ultraviolent city. A conflicted Batman shows up fashionably late, only to find that these lunatics are the least of his worries: Lex Luthor, Superman's archfoe, has nefarious designs on Gotham too. Could this possibly get any better? Sure, No Man's Land is derivative fiction, but the appeal of Rucka--and, of course, Batman--can make this one worth the read. --Paul Hughes