Batman: No Man’s Land Volume 2 Review By Deffinition
No Man’s Land is in full effect. After an outstanding first volume that corrected many of the wrongs in the ‘Road To No Man’s Land’ sage, the overall destruction of Gotham storyline feels like it’s back on track.
Providing a brilliantly dower aesthetic, the harsh reality presented within No Man’s Land really grabs your attention and I can’t wait to dive back into the post apocolyptic world.
For this review, I am going through the New Edition of the book which collects some of the supplementary material.
So with that out the way, let’s get into Batman: No Man’s Land Volume 2.
The Mark Of Cain
Opening on the origin of the mysterious ‘Orphan’ we are given insight into the beginnings of Cassandra Cain. Unable to speak she was raised to communicate in body language. Whilst making her mute it also allows her to read people extremely well on a physical level. This means she can pre-empt many attacks and allows her to fight at an expert level (some would say even better than Batman). Potentially she is very dangerous and when the man who raised her returns to the city, it spells trouble for the Dark Knight.
Launching an assassination attempt on Commissioner Gordon, David Cain is an imposing figure. It’s a shame then that the relationship between he and his daughet, Orphan, doesn’t live up to its potential in this early segment of the book. A lot of interesting plot threads could’ve been implemented here such as what it’s like growing up as an assassin unable to talk, however, they end up getting dropped in favour of action. As Cassandra is unable to speak or narrate, it becomes difficult to follow exactly what is going on and the seemingly endless fight scenes get mind-numbing without context or any human drama to ground them.
I really wanted to like this book but early on it dropped the ball and failed to recapture the ambience set by its predecessor.
Scratch Out My Eyes
Unfortunately the narrative fails to really pick up from this, even when switching plot points and characters.
Nick Scratch throws a concert in Gotham and it seems to be purely contrived to present an opportunity for Azrael to take him down. If you’ve followed my last couple of Reviews then you know I find Scratch dull and a poor villain. This concert doesn’t redeem him in any way and it is by far the lowest point in the No Man’s Land run thus far.
Lacking all logic, the subplot betrays it’s main characterisations and therefore feels like a mess. Scratch openly hated Gotham and was the reason for its classification as restricted. There is no motive at all as to why he would return other than the heroes needed someplace within reach where they could take him down. Rallying up the crowd he abysmally calls them the chosen ones.
This is completely against his character and the public prejudice that he presented in the last few volumes is completely missing. Scratch would never make this move, ever, and every plot element seems forced and only present because the writers couldn’t think of a better way to handle the situation.
Not since Bane looked at Bruce Wayne and determined that he was Batman have I felt that there was such lazy writing. The creative team needed to get the plot from A to B and didn’t put much thought into it beyond that and the story suffers because of it. Taking a huge dive in terms of quality, I was struggling by the mid section of the storyline and was happy just to put it down.
‘Live from Gotham’
Luckily the book picks up after this and saves the somewhat sour taste that I had in my mouth. We get a selection of brilliant one shots that lift the quality of the story overall and add a touch of humanity, elevating the drama.
One focuses on a cable TV produced trapped in Gotham. Thinking no one is watching he still broadcasts his show, chronicling the events of Gotham. Whilst there is a tone of sadness to it, it must be, creating loads of content that no one ever views (What do you mean that sounds like me and my reviews?), it is uplifting. People outside of the city begin to take notice and it cements that this war must be fought with more than fists and brawn.
We also see Nightwing break into Blackgate to free the prisoners from the now megalomaniacal Lock Up. Lacking the grit that could’ve been provided by a prison state story it still is a fun pulp ride that acts as a metaphor for the book overall. Sure, it is lacking the authenticity that the prior entries had in droves, but there is still some fun to be had here and hardcover fans will enjoy it.
Acting mainly as supplementary material, this is a mediocre book. Sure it adds some extra exposition to the overall story but nothing in it’s twenty-two Issue is essential. There is a lot of filler which can be completely skipped and honestly this reoccurring problem seems to be one of the main downfalls of the No Man’s Land Collection. For every brilliant book we get, there is one which directly counteracts it and offers very little. This is definitely in the latter. Due to this I can only recommend the book to those who are completely engrossed in the No Man’s Land Story.
That’s why it gets a…
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