Batman Road To No Man’s Land 1 Review By Deffinition contains the review of Batman Aftershock that is contained in the New Edition of Road To No Man’s Land One.
After concurrently reading Knightfall, Prodigal, Contagion, Legacy and Cataclysm, Chuck Dixon is quickly cementing himself as one of my favourite Batman writers. The consistent amount of engaging stories that the writer produced within the 90’s is near unmatched and up there with the likes of Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrisson.
Batman Road To No Man’s Land 1 sees us pick up the threads that were left dangling from the cliffhanger ending presented in Cataclysm. Gotham has been rocked by a major Earthquake and it’s now up to our heroes to bring the city back from the brink of destruction. I’m really excited to kick off what I’ve heard (but never read) is one of the best Batman Arcs out there.
It’s gonna be a long road.
So let’s dive into Batman Road To No Man’s Land 1.
Yes, that was a road pun before. Apologies
The book opens on Batman saving a man from committing suicide. Gotham is in ruins, with over 10,000 dead the city is a former shadow of itself after the destructive Earthquake in the prior book: Cataclysm. The survivors go on, depression now their great battle. It’s a touching opening that speaks to the despair that is now wrought throughout the city. Batman grapples with rebuilding his home and city whilst the Gotham Criminals freed during the Earthquake run rampage in the streets.
It’s a sombre way to open the book that provides a thought-provoking and introspective look at oneself. How would we deal with a tragedy such as this? The book doesn’t answer that but it plants the seeds to let you make up your own mind.
Since Knightfall Batman has had to ponder several times what kind of Legacy he is going to leave behind. Jean-Paul Valley was a disaster, Dick Grayson didn’t quite hit the mark and it really feels like the mantle will not be in safe hands should he not appoint an heir. It was refreshing, therefore, to see him confide in Tim Drake that should Bruce Wayne get struck down that he wishes the new boy Wonder to carry on as The Dark Knight.
Since embarking on my chronological read through of the Batman graphic novels, Tim has slowly grown on me. Becoming my favourite Robin during the events of Prodigal. Those who have read the prior works will take more from this moment I believe, as it’s like watching an underdog story come to fruition. It was brilliant to see the character finally confirmed as a worthy successor and it allows readers to relate to the character more. Meaning that when he is put in danger we feel a greater sense of tension.
And there comes A LOT of danger.
“Why do we fall Bruce?”
The main thrust of the story is The Wayne Foundation rebuilding the streets of Gotham whilst Batman maintains order in a savage landscape. It’s great to see a book lean heavily once again on Bruce Wayne and the juxtaposition between his day and nightlife is entertaining to watch. This book really played up the playboy side of Bruce and I personally find that to be one of the more interesting aspects of the character. Seeing how he balances the act, pretending to be out all night with women so his friends can’t contact him till dawn, playing golf in the boardroom. It all builds to throwing suspicion from his true persona and this has always fascinated me. Even with its flaws, this book definitely delivers on the lighter touch that this persona often provides.
Unfortunately the book has a much more repetitive feel than it’s predecessor. Missing the human stories of Cataclysm, the Aftershock arc centres more around super-villains turning up and Batman thwarting them. Whilst this plot motif is a main stay of Batman stories I feel the writers could have done more.
Cataclysm showed that the team at DC could delve beyond the confines of a comic, this, however, is happy to stay within them.
That’s not to say it’s all by the numbers, there is a great almost book like section involving Detective Montoya but the singular plot lines rarely have an impact. There are some highlights though…
One of the standout issues of the book involves a team of robbers breaking into Wayne Manor. With Bruce out patrolling it’s up to Alfred to take the team down. One by one striking in the dark we see that he is not too dissimilar to his master. It’s one of the more memorable Alfred moments in the Canon Read Through thus far and certainly cements him as a worthy companion. I’d love to see something like this adapted into a movie or animated show, it has all the cavalier action of a James Bond movie, set in the skin of our favourite fictional butler.
“What’s the difference between the Quick and the dead?”
The end of the book feels like Gotham’s Great Depression. The streets are lined with death and disease. Hospitals, Morgues and Prisons are overrun, unable to take more in. When the citizens begin to leave in their millions the city truly feels like a ghost town. This carries with it an eerie atmosphere that really breathes life into the pages and propels Gotham to the forefront as a living entity.
It’s also in the hopelessness that Bruce finally confides within Dick, affirming that he views the previous sidekick as better than he ever could be. We truly get the unmountable feeling of just how much Batman has sacrificed in order to be Gotham’s White Knight. Bruce was never able to have a real life, but Dick was and we understand in this moment that Bruce became too lost in the mask and there may be no going back.
The Last Laugh
The book introduces a more sinister villain than we’ve seen before but it doesn’t really capitalise on this. Instead Ending almost mid story and thus leaving a feeling of disappointment. I really wanted the book to go out on a high but instead, it ended on a bum note.
The Joker here really seems to match the Dark Knight on almost every capacity, sharing a likeness with Hannibal Lector it becomes a real shame that he didn’t get more airtime.
Batman Road To No Man’s Land 1 is a disappointing book in my opinion. It rehashes several ideas from Cataclysm, unable to really add the impact that book had. It really feels like a whole book of filler and the lack of creativity shown in most of the tales makes it often a dull read.
There are some excellent standout moments and with a brisker pace, this book could have been spectacular. However, it really fails to deliver on it’s potential and if this is the first step on the Road To No Man’s Land then I’m really not too excited for the rest of the trip.
That’s why it gets a…
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