No Man’s Land moves towards its conclusion with Detective 738 (Nov. 99), in a story by Chuck Dixon, with art by Mat Broome and Sean Parsons. It’s the conclusion of a two-part story. Are you surprised it’s a concluding half? By now, you should be used to it.
Bane penetrates into the heart of the city – the hall of records. He sets off a (very) low-grade nuke, which destroys the building and renders the land it is on impossible to build on.
Two-Face also finds himself in trouble, with the Penguin’s men leading an assault against him. Batman and Robin watch both situations unfold. Robin wonders why Batman does not act to stop Bane. Batman is more interested in who might be giving Bane the orders to destroy the Hall of Records. They leave Bane to his bomb, and save Two-Face.
Fight or Flight, Road to No Man’s Land, and Chuck Dixon’s run on this book all come to an end in Detective 729 (Feb. 99).
Gordon and Sarah return to Gotham, and he finds a core of the police force also willing to defy the government and stay on their posts. Bullock, Montoya, Bock and Kitch are all there.
As the military close the bridges, a hooded man leads a crowd of stragglers, demanding to be let out of the city.
Despite Robin and Nightwing’s efforts, Mr. Scratch’s men blow the bridge.
They do rescue the hooded man, revealed to be Simpson Flanders, who has certainly seen better days.
Mr. Scratch’s plans come to an abrupt halt, when the Joker single-handedly wipes out his men. He has no interest in any newbies claiming Gotham.
Nightwing and Robin discover Wayne Manor gone, plowed into the cave. The Return of Bruce Wayne storyline, much more recently, would amend this, that only one wing of the manor was destroyed at this point. But that clearly goes against what is shown here, so I view that as being the result of Superboy punching a wall.
Don’t get the reference? Stick around, I’ll get to it one day.
Fight or Flight continues in Detective 728 (Jan. 99), part of the Road to No Man’s Land running through the Bat-books. Dixon, Rosado and Buscema are the creative team.
Mr. Scratch, more prominently featured in the other books, wants No Man’s Land passed so his gang can take over Gotham. He sends in a number of destructive felons to wreak havoc in the city, which Robin and Nightwing try to stop.
Gordon has an interview in another city, and feels that is went pretty well. But when he heads back, having left his glasses, he overhears what contempt he is held in. A soul crushing scene.
Nightwing and Robin fare better against the various villains, but there is little to be celebrated, as the government sets the deadline to shut off Gotham from the rest of the country.
The story concludes next issue.
Detective 727 (Dec. 98) is the beginning of the three-part Fight or Flight storyline, one of the threads of Road to No Man’s Land, which runs through the Bat-books. Each book took a different facet of the story to focus on, and Detective Comics sees Nightwing and Robin do their best to protect the city, while Bruce is in Washington, D.C., trying to fend off No Man’s Land. Chuck Dixon is joined by William Rosado and Stan Buscema for this, the final storyline of his long run on the book.
The Firefly is the main villain in the issue. This seems odd, considering that he was just captured last issue, but reference is made to him escaping 12 hours earlier.
Nightwing and Robin find it hard to take down a villain who cares nothing about being set on fire during their fights.
This storyline also deals with Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen. With the government discussing sealing off Gotham and letting it die, the Gordons decide to move on, and find employment in a more stable city.
Firefly gets set on fire twice in this issue, but isn’t down for the count until being hit by a cement truck. Bullock and Montoya are the police given some play in this issue, but only minor roles.
The story continues in the next issue.
Detective 1,000,000 (Nov. 98) is part of the DC One Million crossover series, which sees heroes from the 853rd century trade places with theirpresent day counterparts, but the evil sentient sun mess with the plans, releasing the Hourman virus. Nightwing tries to explain it to Robin, who followed that as well as you did. Chuck Dixon scripts, with Greg Land on pencils and Drew Geraci on inks.
That’s Batman One Million (as it’s easiest to call him), in the Batcave to the consternation of Alfred. He modifies the Bat-computer with his future tech, in order to see if there is a way to deprogram the nanite-based Hourman virus.
The virus drives people into paranoid mania, and Firefly takes advantage of this to lead people into burning their own homes.
The future Batman confesses to Alfred that even with his modifications, no computer with the present technology will be able to “cure” the Hourman virus.
He proves more successful at taking down Firefly, and his suit’s ability to fly makes it even easier.
In the end, he realizes that in order to defeat the future super computer sentient sun Solaris, they will have to create it in the present.
The story continues in JLA 1,000,000.
Chuck Dixon is joined by Brian Stelfreeze on the Joker story in Detective 726 (Oct. 98), an Aftershock story, although only barely.
A young girl has been kidnapped by a recent release from Arkham Asylum. It’s the anniversary of Jason Todd’s death, and Batman correctly suspects the Joker to be the mastermind, and goes to Arkham Asylum to confront him.
Each two page spread has a full page picture on one side, showing Batman in action. Only towards the end of the book is it clear where he is going, and that this takes place between two visits to the Joker. The opposite page shows Batman questioning the Joker in his cell.
The design gives the story its only real touches of Aftershock, as we see the ruined city.
The Joker finally reveals the location of the girl, but it’s in the back of a trunk in a car on a sinking ferry, and there is little chance the girl will still be alive.
Except that the Joker ensured she would be, with a respirator. Batman is puzzled, and the Joker explains that, Batman being who he is, he likely always proceeds with the idea that the victim is dead. Now he will have hope – which the Joker will have more fun crushing.
Nasty piece of goods, that Joker.
Chuck Dixon, William Rosado and Tom Palmer are the team on Detective 725 (Sept. 98). It’s an Aftershock story, dealing primarily with the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
Batman and Nightwing patrol what might once have been the streets of Gotham. His new Batmobile sprays a smelly dye on rioters, marking them for the police. Dick talks about the good old days, though Bruce doubts that it could ever have been called good.
Dick also discusses his plans to become a police officer in Bludhaven, doing openly what he has been doing in secret for so long.
Bruce commends Dick, on how Robin and Nightwing are simply extensions of who Dick Grayson is, while Batman has always been an identity for Bruce Wayne to hide in.
Nothing big or super-dramatic. Just a good story about the two men.
And we’re back to Aftershock with Detective 724 (Aug. 98). Dixon, Aparo and Hodgkins pull off another great story in the ruins of Gotham.
J Devlin Davenport, Bruce Wayne’s obnoxious neighbour, is causing problems all over the place in this story. As Alfred and Harold, in disguise as workmen, try to cover up the hole exposing the Batcave, Davenport keeps coming by to complain about how the work messes up his VCR.
Marion Grange gets a good scene, barking at reporters in a way most mayors would love to do.
Davenport is also causing problems in downtown Gotham, refusing to allow the city to demolish his fallen building, claiming that it is still his property. With communication down, and so much disorganization, no one is around to countermand him.
Batman takes things into his own hands, stealing a bulldozer and plowing right through the centre of the building.
It’s a victory of sorts, but just continues to show the sorry state of the city.
Detective 723 (July 1998) is the second chapter in Brotherhood of the Fist, a martial arts heroes crossover. It has two big strikes against it. One, it’s not Aftershock. Suddenly we are pulled out of Gotham and into a big crossover. Secondly, it’s very much a middle chapter, and largely consists of introducing the line-up for the rest of the storyline. Chuck Dixon is joined by Alexander Maleev and Bill Reinhold on the art.
Batman and Connor Hawke are stuck on a snowy mountain, fighting ninjas, but still find time to discuss Oliver Queen, and Batman’s relatively low opinion of the man.
The Silver Monkey has returned, and there turns out to be three of them. Judomaster, Katana and the Question have already been pulled into this saga.
And Oracle contacts Black Canary, who in turn calls in Bronze Tiger. Robin and Nightwing are also in the issue, fighting a horde of non-silver, but still monkey costumed, ninjas.
The story continues in the next issue of Robin.
Detective 722 (June 1998) is part of Aftershock. Following the events of Cataclysm, Aftershock is not so much a storyline, as the overall title for a collections of stories, in the various Bat-books, that deal with the effects of the earthquake, and tie up some loose ends. The fact that they did not try to weave it all into one story is likely what made Aftershock tales work so well.
Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo and James Hodgkins focus this story on a little girl who cannot find her mother in the devastation left by the earthquake. Batman and Robin spot her, and feeling that she would respond better to Robin, he takes control of the situation.
Robin gets little information out of her, and leaves the girl with Bullock and Montoya, while he begins his search.
One page beautifully illustrates why even Batman finds getting around Gotham difficult now.
The story also touches on Sarah Essen and Jim Gordon, who had not been in contact with each other since the earthquake struck. Essen uses her authority to force a civil servant to do his job amid the chaos and lack of command.
They do get in touch with each other, and re-unite towards the end of the story.
The mother’s boyfriend is a small time hood, and Robin goes to see the Penguin at his new club, the Glacier Room. The Penguin seems barely affected by the quake, and the story neatly reinforces the status he holds in Gotham.
The Penguin gives Robin the information he needs to find the girl’s mother – only to find the mother has no interest at all in the girl, and was planning to abandon her anyway. Robin picks up on the fact that there is money stashed in the girl’s doll. Although not re-united with her mother, the girl winds up on a farm with loving grandparents, and a college fund unwittingly donated by her mother.
A great little story.