Batman: No Man’s Land Volume 4 of the new edition is the final instalment of the massive No Man’s Land crossover arc. In this volume we will see everything come to a close as Gotham is looming towards being re opened. However, along the way are various characters endgames come into fruition including the megalomaniac Lex Luthor and the lunatic Joker.
No Man’s Land Volume 4 collects Batman Chronicles #18, Batman #572-574, Detective Comics #739-741, Legends of the Dark Knight #125-126, Azrael: Agent of the Bat #59-61, Catwoman #75-77, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #93-94, Nightwing #38-39, Batman: No Man’s Land #0, and Robin #73
|Book Name||No Man’s Land Volume 4 (New Edition)|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Edition Trade Paperback|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
|Notable Heroes||Batman, Batgirl, Robin, Oracle, Huntress, Azrael|
|Notable Villains||Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Lex Luthor|
|Chronology Previous||No Man’s Land Volume 3|
No Man’s Land Volume 4 Review
Since No Man’s Land Volume 2 the city no longer looks bleak and as dangerous as it was in the first instalment – there’s also hope now and light at the end of the tunnel. The Bat-Family are now an ever present force and not quite working from the shadows and we get to see Joker and Harley Quinn get an ample chunk of the book. Catwoman is also the character quite frequently (and at one stage the reader will see the same story played out no less than three times, what a waste of paper). But at the end of the day, there is an end and it is quite explosive.
However, let’s talk about the meat of the book. The government is about to lift the ‘No Man’s Land’ directive and free Gotham – and everyone is either helping them (the Gothamites), hindering them (Catwoman, Joker) or making sure it goes the right way (Batman). Although the goal is clear throughout Volume 4 the story is split up and not arranged correctly. Remember the end of Volume 3 when Tim Drake’s face was all over TV? Well that isn’t addressed until the end of Volume 4 even though Robin is present before it. Remember Bane? Well he’s hardly in it and whatever game plan you thought he might have is definitely not addressed.
Huntress is a character who features prominently, she now sides with the corrupt Blue Boys led by the psychotic Pettit, Huntress acts as a peacemaker for them but why she does it is never really explored. I quite liked this dimension of Huntress as she is neither good nor bad, really. Just trying to do what she thinks is best. She failed at being Batgirl and was forced to remove the cloak and now she seems to be on a self destructive trip to gain favour back from Batman. It’s an intriguing situation she is in and I found it to be a highlight of the book. However, right in the middle is No Man’s Land #0 which explores her ‘origin’ at being Batgirl and perhaps this was better served in NML Volume 1.
The namesake character of the series – Batman – is hardly in it, to be honest. Whenever he is in it he is barking orders to Oracle or arriving at the last minute to a fight. It is a little bit disappointing that the one character who wants Gotham City back the most doesn’t feature and almost appears to not care too much. Of course once you’ve read the whole series he clearly did a lot and was instrumental but it would have been nice to see more of him and maybe less of the Bat-Family doing his bidding, especially Catwoman and Azrael. Despite this, Batman has some of his greatest moments ever, especially when they are with old friend Jim Gordon as they repair their fragmented friendship and deal with their issues.
Catwoman gets a large portion of the book all to herself as we recount her getting the disk back (detailed in Volume 3), plays around with Penguin and then causes a nuisance to Lex Luthor’s big plans. Her stint can only be described as light hearted distraction as more often than not her issues are outright silly, especially when she teams up with Mookie and co (which ends in Deadman taking him back to the afterlife) and then fights with some robots. The biggest gripe with Catwoman in No Man’s Land Volume 4 is seeing her hijacking a helicopter and subsequently going down with it three times with a slightly different perspective each time. Why oh why didn’t DC just feature one of these issues is beyond me. In reality, maybe DC just wanted to keep young male reader’s attention as her catsuit is particularly tight and her figure is particularly curvy (see image gallery) in every single scene. Classic 90s.
Moving on, Azrael and Batgirl feature quite a bit, too, quite often together, and do you know what? It’s really good reading seeing them together. Batgirl doesn’t talk and Jean-Paul talks a lot but they do get on well and their personalities are allowed to shine. I’ve not been a big fan of Azrael in the past but I was a fan of Azrael in this. There’s not much to say about Batgirl in Vol. 4 as she didn’t get as much of the stage as she did in earlier volumes. Nightwing and Robin take a backseat and Oracle’s involvement is largely unchanged. There is a tender moment between Nightwing and Oracle that will touch your heart strings, though.
I’m aware that this review is taking a lot about the meat of the book and there is plenty of meat in this. Two-Face has a courtroom scene which is fantastic and I wish there was more stuff like that, it’s a touching ending, too. Other than Two-Face, the other villains of the book is Joker and Lex Luthor. For Joker’s part it feels like Rucka was forced to put him at times as he doesn’t have anything to do a lot of the time but starts doing stuff anyway. He didn’t really have much of a plan until right the end- I won’t say any more as it would ruin it but for the only time in the book Joker finally does something worthy of the Joker as a prime time supervillain. It’s huge.
Lex Luthor, on the other hand, is the real evil in this book and his plan makes perfect sense, it fits in the storyline and played out very well. Again, I won’t ruin what he’s up to but I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did, especially at the conclusion. Although, Lex’s presence speed up the recovery of Gotham far too quickly and I found it turned from a wasteland to a functioning City in a matter of pages.
No Man’s Land Volume 4 is a big book and there’s a lot to talk about. I personally enjoyed it as a good farewell to the year long series with a profound ending. As a crossover, switching artwork throughout is a given and a disjoined storyline unavoidable. However, if you’ve been along the ride from the start you will be glad to see it come to a close. The highs aren’t particularly high but the lows aren’t particularly low.