September 15, 2009

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Batman: No Man's Land Volume 2

Written by Greg Rucka, Bob Gale and Various Authors
Illustrated by Frank Teran, Mike Deodato, and Various Artists
DC


No Man's Land, a concept that makes no sense at all in the DC world as I mentioned in the review of the first trade. Okay, things are bad after a Gotham Quake, I get it. But the reaction of the government, the players involved, and the larger DC Universe are absolutely twisted in an effort to tell the grand story (as if Knightfall, and Contagion weren't enough for a long while in terms of epic stories) that the editors on the Bat-titles at the time wanted. It's as though they felt no one wanted Batman as Batman. He had to be Batman: Doer of Epic Things!

Well, the only epic thing going on here is an editorial mandate going horribly wrong. The writing shows no respect for Batman's long history, as the characters are forced into the shoehorns of the plot. Bats again teams up with villains, this time the Penguin and KG Beast. I can see Cobblepot, since, while he is certainly evil, he's not a sociopath.

But come on, K. G. Beast? One of the worst killers Batman's faced and he's letting him co-run a prison? What, was the Joker busy? Did Killer Croc have a prior engagement running a children's petting zoo?

Who thought this was a good idea? This is exactly what's been going wrong with the "big two" comic companies--too little regard for the reader. These are ideas that are against all that long-time readers know of the players involved and are far too convoluted to draw in a new reader.

For instance, we have a moping Bruce get a story from Alfred about how his father stole from a drug store to try and save a life. It's troublesome to a DC loyalist and a new reader probably isn't going to care. Who wins by doing this?

We also have a strong hint that Gordon is working with the Joker instead of Batman, which would never, ever happen in DC reality. Why drag Gordon's name into the mud?

The Joker, however, figures in the only good story in this mess of a volume, about a man who refuses to give up no matter what and the Joker, perhaps the only person in character at this point, respects that. That's good storytelling, and didn't require changing anything about the Joker or the world he lives in.

Maybe I'm just starting to outgrow cape and tight comics, but I can't see anything good in these stories. They aren't even good within the context of the greater plot because the "desperation moves" made by the players involved require believing grand leaps in characterization that, frankly, just don't make any sense to me.

I'm only reading this for the historic value and unless you really like Batman or Greg Rucka (who is not at his best here at all), you shouldn't even feel the need to do that.