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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.