7 Down, 45 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)

Batman: No Man’s Land is supposed to be Batman’s darkest hour. Gotham City’s suffered a debilitating plague and a devastating earthquake in quick succession. Its citizens have left, the criminals released from Arkham, and basic law and order broken down. The US government blows all the bridges leading to Gotham and declares the city to be No Man’s Land and no longer US territory. The key villains such as Penguin, Two-Face and the Joker stake territorial claims all over Gotham and Commissioner Gordon is left alone with a skeleton GCPD to try to take back the city.

This trade paperback chronicles a year from the declaration and Batman’s struggle to win back control of his city. Pretty interesting, especially now when the Bat family has expanded to include Knightwing, Robin, Oracle, Huntress, Azrael and Batgirl. Much as we like Batman as a dark loner, it’s a testament to the character’s rich history that his various disciples are as well-formed and fascinating as his various long-time foes.
I like that the focus is not all on Batman, and also zeroes in on “real” Gothamites like GCPD’s Renee Montoya or Sarge, a WWII veteran who refuses to leave the house he built. Really, Batman: No Man’s Land is as much about them as it is about Bruce Wayne and his extended Bat family.

My only real problem lies in the inconsistent writing, which is overall pretty good except when Larry Hama takes the reins. I cannot emphasise how wrong this guy is for Batman. For some reason, someone thought hammy, 50s comic book dialogue would be a good idea.

Here’s a cringe-inducing exchange between Batman and Bane as they beat the shit out of each other in the sewers:

Bane: I knew you would still be here, Batman! Your precious city has fallen into the long night… and the DARK is your element!

Batman: I prowl the night because that’s where the evil lurks, Bane.


But still a pretty good storyline lah, just skim over the Larry Hama stories. I really do recommend it. It’s spread over 5 volumes though, quite a heavy load to bring home.

Batman: No Man’s Land
(ISBN No: 1563895641) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

Since the elections are coming, my next book will be Prof Chua Beng Huat’s Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore.

1 Response to “7 Down, 45 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)”

  1. 1 amateurish February 25, 2006 at 17:12

    Have you ever read “The Dark Knight” series? I thoroughly enjoyed them — it had the gritty feel one would expect of Batman.

    What makes Batman great is that he is a true anti-hero. When it comes down to it, he’s not doing good for the sake of doing good. In a way, he’s pursuing self-gratification. It appeals to people so, over Superman or Spiderman, because unlike them, Bruce Wayne chose his path. He’s real because we can all empathize with teh dark hero that he is.

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