Batman: No Man’s Land Volume 4 Review (New Edition) By Deffinition
Batman: No Man’s Land has been a defining arc in the Dark Knight’s history. Reshaping the landscape of Gotham, the cataclysmic Earthquake has really pushed the Caped Crusader to his limits and there have been some epic moments throughout the saga.
Finalising this legendary arc is No Man’s Land: Volume 4. If you’ve been keeping up with my No Man’s Land read through then you know that I’ve had some problems with the series but have enjoyed it overall. It will be interesting if this book can give it the send-off it deserves but as always I will be honest in my opinion of the work, even if its reputation proceeds it.
There will be full spoilers in this review so it might be worth giving it a miss if you want to go into the closing chapter with fresh eyes.
With that out the way let’s dive into Batman: No Man’s Land Volume 4.
Is there a Doctor in the mansion?
We follow Doctor Leslie Thompkins as she deals with a wealth of patients in her No Man’s Land clinic. This unique perspective that reinvigorates the landscape and provides a new pov on No Man’s Land.
Leslie is inspiring, her calling in life is to help all creeds whether they are cruel or kind and I imagine all readers will find something to gravitate towards, within the character.
It’s a powerful opener and one that really embodies the desire to do good when all hope seems lost. This motif is often touched upon in comics but seldom given the motive or relatable aspects that are present here. Batman must wrestle with the morality of giving Zsasz blood while innocents need it too and Thompkins comes into the crosshairs several times throughout the opener. She really makes the characters around her (and readers) question what it means to be a hero and this introduction was a thought-provoking journey from start to finish.
When Leslie stumbles into danger I really felt for the character, but she triumphs above all on her compassion and instantly makes the graphic novel a must read for this issue alone.
The People Vs James Gordon
Succeeding this is the seminal story ‘Jurisprudence.’ This tale centres around Commissioner Gordon being tried by Two-Face for aiding him earlier in the run. Morality wise it asks a lot of questions that put scrutiny on how the police must operate with lawbreakers in order to enforce rule in the city. It’s a sanctimonious and schizophrenic situation for all characters involved and it’s drastic pace and constant changing of tone and dynamism makes it a real page turner.
It’s one of the most introspective looks that we’ve ever had at Harvey Dent’s psyche and I was besotted with watching him flip back and forth between his dual personalities. It’s a credit to the creators that the story manages to move away from the Caped Crusader yet still retain its consistency. A majority of these stories don’t involve The Dark Knight as their central character and are better for it.
Batman Vs Commissioner Gordon
Batman and Gordon’s falling out was a highlight of the run early on and it’s breathtaking to watch the two reconcile here. Gordon, angry that Batman left during the Knightfall saga simply cannot trust the Dark Knight. Other Police Departments mock him for needing a vigilantes help and he is bitter that his reputation has forced him to remain in Gotham.
However, he is grateful that Batman was there when he needed him and the dichotomy that comes from their discussion adds complexity to the work and showcases how they need each other to operate in Gotham for the greater good. It’s an astounding character study that elevates the work phenomenally. Batman even goes so far as to take the cowl off in order to show Gordon he truly values him as an ally. Gordon as stubborn as ever however refuses to look at the man behind the mask.
The book is peppered with everlasting moments like this. We see Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson rekindle their relationship, Huntress carves out her own identity away from the Bat Family, and much more. As standalones they are brilliant but part of this collective they work even better and catapult the graphic novel to a necessity for Bat fans.
‘I made a vow’
At the books midsection we are treat to an awesome flashback Issue of Bruce’s initial actions during the crisis. It’s a stellar look at the psychological side of Batman’s dual personality and perfectly encapsulates the drive within him to do good for his city. Like most, he is filled with doubt and has to recapture hope when all else is lost.
With callbacks to Batman Year One, it stands as an exemplary piece of nostalgia that evolves age old concepts and modernises them for the conflict in the NML run.
I loved watching Bruce doubt himself and realise that through using intelligence and preparation, he could overcome any obstacle. It’s one of the more fascinating aspects of the character and age old fans of the dark knight owe it to themselves to seek out this section.
Lex Writes Cheques
Teased throughout is a mystery benefactor that is going to invest in Gotham and save the city. Revealed as Lex Luthor, this has the potential to spell doom for the Dark Knight. With Lex now having a hand in rebuilding the city, he has the potential to uncover things about Batman’s true identity and the constant second guessing that was done throughout is brilliantly handled.
Obviously, we as readers are aware of the dangers Lex poses. Even if he is Gotham’s new Golden Boy, due to his sinister secret side, tension is at an all time high every time he appears on a page. If the city is rebuilt in his image then who knows what secrets it could have? This motif beautifully rejuvenated the old 18th Century city and added a whole new dynamic for both the reader and characters involved in the plot.
Lex beautifully points out Bruce’s failings. Both Billionaires had the resources to save the city, however only one acted upon it financially and we can see the regret that has come to define the dark knight resurface which helps to add to his multi faceted personification. It’s a wonder to behold and all of the creative team do an outstanding job at pitting the two DC rich boys against each other in a corporate espionage aesthetic. It all comes to ahead when the No Man’s Land sanction is lifted after Bruce intervened to carry out his own development and it appears that he has beaten the Metropolis Megalomaniac even if their conflict soon gets overshadowed by another.
The Jokes On You
The Joker has been absent throughout the majority of No Man’s Land, however, his grand re-entrance is unrivalled. Destroying the new foundations of the city and launching an attack on Christmas Eve that involves kidnapping hundreds of new born babies, the Clown Prince Of Crime is back in a big, bad way.
Distracting the Bat Family with explosions throughout town, The Joker lures Sarah Essen, Commissioner Gordon’s wife, to the basement of the GCPD, where he murders her. Essen is a legendary character that really made her mark in No Man’s Land and she dies a heroic death that is fitting of her status. It’s by far the biggest take away from the saga and watching her sacrifice herself is heartbreaking. It’s a credit to the book that the death carries all of the emotional weight that you would expect and it definitely hits home as a landmark moment in Dark Knight history.
Happy New Year
Like the city destroyed around him, Gordon represents that we must accept loss in order to grow and his sparing of the Joker is a testament to his character. It would be too easy to kill the Clown Prince and his choice to let the antagonist live makes him infinitely more endearing. I was completely gripped by the finale and overwhelmed by how much of an emotional rollercoaster that I had been on with the characters.
Gotham repairs itself but we are left wondering if it was worth it. It’s a somber and bittersweet note to end on but then all the best Batman stories are tragedies.
Batman: No Man’s Land: Volume 4 gives the series a fitting send off. Incredible from start to finish, this book ranks up there with the best. I was enthralled throughout and the story manages to evolve age old characters in breathtaking ways. This is a legendary finale that doesn’t disappoint in any aspect at all. I really cannot enforce enough how enjoyable this storyline is, if you haven’t read the arc yet then you owe it to yourself to pick up the New Edition.
That’s why it gets a…