Posts tagged ‘No Man’s Land’

Detective 741 – the bloody finale to No Man’s Land

tec_741

There is no real victory to be had in Detective 741 (Feb. 00), the final chapter in Endgame, the final storyline in No Man’s Land.  But there is a huge creative team, and a large cast of characters as well.  Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson are the writers, Damion Scott and Dale Eaglesham the pencillers, while the inks are divided between Sean Parsons, Sal Buscema and Robert Hunter.

tec_741_001

It’s Christmas, and a huge celebration is being planned by Lex Luthor, which the Joker is out to destroy.  The Huntress barely survives an attack by the maniac at the start of the issue (the conclusion of the previous chapter). She gets rescued by Nightwing, and even earns a word of praise from Batman.

tec_741_002

The Joker has had his men steal all the babies – all the children born during No Man’s Land.  Batman and crew are not sure what he plans to do with them, but don’t wait to find out.  Oracle co-ordinates as people spread out across the city, trying to find the children, but often finding caches of exploding dolls.

tec_741_003

Azrael and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain now) confront Mercy at Luthor’s huge christmas tree.  Mercy tries to get rid of them, but is lucky they were there to spot the dolls on the tree, which explodes real good, though all three survive.

tec_741_004

Batman has been chasing the Joker, but along the way notices the overtly acrobatic style, and is not at all surprised to discover that it’s Harley Quinn he has been chasing, in disguise.  She does give him the Joker’s location, but really, that’s only a sign that it’s too late to stop him, isn’t it?

tec_741_005

It’s Sarah Essen who confronts him, surrounded by babies, in the basement of the police headquarters.  She cannot shoot, and the Joker knows it full well.  He has no such qualms, and murders Sarah Essen.

tec_741_006

He then calmly walks out of the police station, and surrenders.  The scene almost dares Gordon to kill him, and Batman makes no move to stop it.  Gordon instead chooses to kneecap him, leaving the Joker lame (though unfortunately that just sort of gets forgotten).

A horrible, but perfect, note to end the storyline on.

And to give them credit, there really was never another attempt to recreate No Man’s Land, or hasn’t been to date.  It would be almost impossible.  The current series Batman Eternal is driving huge changes in the Batman world, but doing it in an entirely different way.

 

 

Detective 740 – Bane vs the Joker

tec_740

Greg Rucka, Sergio Cariello and Mark Buckingham bring the two-part Shellgame storyline to a close in Detective 740 (Jan. 00), as No Man’s Land draws to a close.

tec_740_001

The issue, which scans over a large group of people and places, begins with Oracle musing over Lex Luthor’s reconstruction of Gotham, and how he has played the media to make himself the golden boy hero of the city.

tec_740_002

Batman and Robin have been monitoring Pettit and the Huntress.  Their region has held off everyone, including all aid, and the people are starting to flee.  Pettit demands that no one be allowed to leave, as it will weaken them.  The Huntress tries to reason with him, but fails.

tec_740_003

Luthor gets frustrated at how his equipment and crews keep getting sabotaged and killed by the Joker, and enlists Bane to guard them.  The Joker brings Harley Quinn to help him, but Bane also has Mercy at his side, and fends the Joker off.

tec_740_004

We even catch up with good old Dr. Simpson Flanders, back on tv, hawking his new book about life in No Man’s Land.

tec_740_005

With Luthor’s rebuilding indicating a power shift in Gotham, the Penguin makes his move, with a large group of men, to demand his cut of the action.  Mercy takes out the Penguin’s men without even breaking a sweat.  Luthor gives the Penguin nothing but his own life.

tec_740_006

The issue has lots of ominous foreboding, but ends on a happy note, as Lucius Fox takes the airwaves to announce that the government has rescinded the No Man’s Land proclamation, and Gotham is open again.

But the story is not yet over…

Detective 739 – Two-Face prosecutes Jim Gordon

tec_739

Two-Face is at the heart of this 2-parter, by Greg Rucka, Damion Scott and John Floyd.  Detective 739 (Dec. 99) rounds out the publishing year as No Man’s Land nears its finale.

tec_739.1

This issue consists almost entirely of the trial that Two-Face puts Jim Gordon on. He accuses Jim of making a deal with Two-Face, and then reneging on it when Two-Face called on him for help.  Speaking of Two-Face throughout as if he were a different person, Harvey Dent goes on to show that, due to Gordon’s actions, Renee Montoya and her family were held captive for 5 months. Renee herself is forced to testify.

tec_739_001

It’s an insane, but masterful prosecution, and Gordon looks despondent.

tec_739_002

Renee then forces Harvey to act as Gordon’s defense. Part of the deal he made with Renee to get her to be part of the trial was to promise to turn himself in if Gordon was acquitted, so Harvey is fighting for his life, against himself.

tec_739_003

His inner sense of justice prevails, and Two-Face declares Jim Gordon innocent, and allows Renee to take him to jail.

Nevertheless, the bond created between these two would play out big time in this book, over the next couple of years.

Detective 738 – Bane blows it up

tec_738

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.

tec_738_001

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.

tec_738_002

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.

Detective 737 – Harley Quinn plays the field

tec_737

No Man’s Land saw the introduction of Harley Quinn into the Batman universe proper.  Detective 737 (Oct. 99) concludes her introductory storyline, by Bronwyn Taggart, Tom Morgan and David Roach.  Notice how many No Man’s Land storylines conclude in Detective?

tec_737_001

As the Joker proceeds with plans to run in an election in No Man’s Land, Harley Quinn continues to play hard to get.  This is part of her “code”on how to win back his affections, after he loved her and then tried to kill her. The whole “tried to kill her” thing is not a major issue to Harley.

tec_737_002

Huntress, now aligned with Pettit, after both were ousted by their respective leaders, reports back to him on the Joker’s election plans.  Pettit has more or less taken command of the region abutting the Joker.

tec_737_003

Josh, the cartoonist who has been making the Joker’s election posters, finally acts on the blatant crush he has on Harley. He simply cannot figure out why she would be more interested in the Joker than in him.  She rebuffs him, but not before the Joker sees them together.

tec_737_004

The Huntress has her first confrontation with Harley, as she attempts to infiltrate the Joker’s campaign headquarters.  I really like the touch that Harley figures out that the Huntress is a schoolteacher, picking up on her use of words, after only a few sentences.  It shows that there is a mind in there capable of achieving her degree.  And fighting-wise, the Huntress also finds herself outmatched.

tec_737_005

Jealous, the Joker kills Josh in an explosion, which brings Harley running (to the Huntress’ relief).  The Joker and Harley re-unite. But now that he has her, the Joker no longer wants her.  And on and on and on with these two.

 

 

Detective 736 – Bane returns to Gotham

tec_736

Larry Hama, Mike Deodato, Jr and Sean Parsons bring Bane back to Gotham in the No Man’s Land story in Detective 736 (Sept. 99).

tec_736_001

It’s a pretty ballsy entrance, befitting of Bane. He rams a car carrier trailer into the barricade on the bridge, and then uses it as a ramp for a second truck, which leaps over the broken part, landing in Gotham.

tec_736_002

There is a surprising cameo in the story, by Sister Agnes.  Batman makes reference to their previous meeting, in the Joker’s Five-Way Revenge, a classic story from the early 70s.

tec_736_003

Batman discovers that Bane has returned, and tries to take him down right away, hoping to nip any plans he may have before they can start.

tec_736_004

Bane has bigger fish to fry than another bout with Batman.  He tells Batman he has planted a bomb in the church of Sister Agnes, and when Batman heads to defuse it, Bane goes off on his merry way.

This is one of the weaker No Man’s Land stories. It achieves its goal, but still feels like there could have been more to it.

 

Detective 735 – Poison Ivy cuts a deal

tec_735

Detective 735 (Aug. 99) sees Greg Rucka, Dan Jurgens and Bill Siekiewicz bring a three-part Poison Ivy/Clayface story to a resolution, part of No Man’s Land.

tec_735_001

Batman is busy battling Basil Karlo, who emerged from the earth with even greater powers than before.  Poison Ivy, trapped by Clayface, was freed at the end of the last part of the story, and takes quick vengeance on Karlo.

tec_735_002

She uses his body as fertilizer, basically, completely encasing him in plant life.  Batman is grateful, largely because she did not kill him.

tec_735_003

Intercut with this, James Gordon sends Renee Montoya to Two-Face, to inform him that the peace deal between them has ended.  Two-Face’s attempted hit on Gordon nullified the deal, in his eyes.

tec_735_004

Bane also appears, as a mysterious woman offers him a big payment on behalf of her even more mysterious boss, for Bane to return to Gotham.

tec_735_005

Two-Face was none too pleased with Gordon calling off their deal.  It was a peace pact with Two-Face, how could you expect not to be betrayed?  Two-Face is now holding Renee Montoya, and her family, as hostages against any action by Gordon or the police.

tec_735_006

Back in the park, Batman and Robin discover that the discs they went in to retrieve had been destroyed by Ivy long before.  With Ivy sheltering many of Gotham’s abandoned children, Batman has little option but to cede her Robinson Park, as long as the children are kept fed and safe.

Detective 734 – Batman and the Cains

tec_734

Detective 734 (July 1999) concludes a two-part story by Kilian Plunkett, Damion Scott and John Floyd, which introduces David and Cassandra Cain, a father and daughter assassin team.  This story falls during the No Man’s Land period.

tec_734_001

Cain has come to Gotham to fulfill a hit on Jim Gordon.  Barbara has gotten wind of it, and notified Batman.  Cassandra waffles on her loyalties, but chooses to help Batman and stop her father.

tec_734_002

We get a little of her backstory.  She has never been taught to speak, and apparently hasn’t figured it out on her own.  She speaks only a “language of violence” taught her by her father.

tec_734_003

Not being able to speak doesn’t cause her much trouble, and it does make the stories she appears in pretty quick reads, but the pair of them have always felt like the father and daughter Al Ghul’s, done lite.

Even still, she prevents Two-Face from doing anything about his plans to have Gordon killed.

tec_734_004

She also gets between her father and Batman, preventing them from killing each other.  David Cain escapes, largely because Batman has too much else on his plate to go after him.

tec_734_005

The story ends with Oracle thanking Batman, and Cassandra.  There is a bit with Barbara passing a photo of Batgirl to Cassandra, which is meant to convey Barbara’s acceptance that Cassandra will become the new new Batgirl.

Detective 733 – the crimes of Thomas Wayne

tec_733

Bob Gale, Phil Winslade and Sal Buscema deliver an excellent one issue story in Detective 733 (June 1999), part of No Man’s Land.

tec_733_001

The story sees Batman struggle to maintain some semblance of order in Gotham, and brings him to a very low point.  Jim Gordon bans him from the parts of the city controlled by the police, and resents that he has to deliver this news through the new Batgirl.  Batman stops what he thinks is a murder, only to find the “killer” has found a corpse, and started attacking it, in hopes that Batman will bring him to his prison, where he will be safe and get food.

The Penguin has been profiting steadily in No Man’s Land, but is dismayed to find that new foodstuffs have somehow made it in to the city, threatening his control of the supply.

tec_733_002

When Batman comes across two women fighting over a child, he tries the Solomon solution – and the women react to the idea of cutting the baby in half with rational disbelief.

tec_733_003

Distressed and dismayed, Batman talks to Alfred, who tells him a story about his father. Late one night, in desperate need of medication for a patient, Thomas Wayne broke the window of a pharmacy, took the drugs he needed, leaving a note of explanation, and the money.  The next day he was contacted by the pharmacist, who told him that others entered through the broken window and looted his story, demanding compensation.  This quickly degenerated into blackmail, and Thomas Wayne had no idea what to do.  Alfred saved the day, getting into disguise as a policeman, he and Thomas called the pharmacist’s bluff, getting back the note and publicly shaming him.

tec_733_005

Envigorated by this story, Batman sends Batgirl out to find the “killer,” and offers him work in his region.

tec_733_004

Batman also finds the quarreling women, and gets them to agree to put aside their mutual distrust, and raise the child together.

Another gem.

Detective 732 – Batgirl vs Black Mask

tec_732

The mysterious new Batgirl is at the centre of this 2-part story, which concludes in Detective 732 (May 1999), by Greg Rucka and Frank Teran.  It’s part of No Man’s Land, running through the Bat-books this year.

tec_732_001

The art is particularly well suited to the tale, making it all look like a horror film.  Batgirl has less trouble taking on Black Mask and his gang than might be expected, but that’s fine, as there are other things equally important going on.

tec_732_002

After Batgirl turns Black Mask over to Batman, she tags along to find out what he does with his prisoners.

tec_732_003

We find a jail, now under the command of Lock-Up, with the KGBeast as his assistant.  They have less trouble keeping people in, than keeping people out, who are starving and want some security.

tec_732_004

Barbara Gordon observed the battle between Black Mask and Batgirl.  She has figured out who it is, and confronts Batman, furious that he turned over her secret identity to someone else.

tec_732_005

Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen are having a fight of their own, both frustrated with the situation in No Man’s Land, and their inability to effectively change things, venting on each other.

tec_732_006

Although, as Montoya awkwardly discovers, the fight between the Gordons has a happy ending.

tec_732_007

The story closes on an unusual trial, with an unseen judge, and the Tally Man serving as executioner.  A tease for an upcoming storyline.

Tag Cloud