Gotham City had suffered the results of a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in an event commonly referred to as the "Cataclysm". With hopes for rehabilitating the broken city, the United States government declared it a No Man's Land, which effectively quarantined the entire island city. Bridges were destroyed, and any other means of entering or leaving was guarded by the U.S. Army. While the JLA did not assist in the quarantine for ethical reasons, they were so occupied keeping outside forces from conquering the city, that the situation inside was left to Batman and his allies; Superman, semi-relatedly, offered his help in the city but Batman refused.
Inside the city, the freed inmates of Arkham Asylum battled for control, as did various gangs. Fighting to reduce the chaos were the members of Gotham's Police Force who chose to stay behind, as well as heroes like Oracle and Huntress, who adopted the Batgirl persona in Batman's absence. As Bruce Wayne, Batman had left the city to try and solve the problem politically, using his name and money to convince the federal government to belay closing off Gotham. Unfortunately, his efforts failed, arguably because he appeared to the government as Bruce Wayne--an air-headed millionaire with little concern for serious issues--of which the No Man's Land was exemplary. Some one-hundred days after the Federal Declaration of the No Man's Land, Bruce returned to Gotham to reclaim the Batman title and his people, many of whom had long since given up on him. Even his former partner, Jim Gordon, believed that Batman had abandoned Gotham to the Arkham escapees.
What Batman returned to was a system of anarchy on a grand scale. Since there was no longer anywhere to spend it, money became worthless; people would barter anything from batteries to services to protection for daily necessities. It seemed the only person to have any use for cash was the Penguin, who had nightly events where those few with cash left spent it all on such rare and simple items as an apple. The Penguin, despite his riches and implicit opportunities to flee the city, instead opted to stay. He had his own mysterious leak to the outside and apparently enjoyed taking advantage of the dire situation in Gotham.
With Batman being gone for so long, and his very existence debatable in the Gotham underworld, the Huntress was able to pass herself off as not only Batgirl, but Batman himself, as she faced off against many of Gotham's criminals. Following the example of the gangs in town, she even tagged her territory with the bat symbol. When Batman returned to Gotham she began operating as both Batgirl and Huntress, but after a confrontation with the Dark Knight, Helena returned to her Huntress identity full-time. Cassandra Cain arrived in Gotham City during this time and, with Oracle's blessing, took up the Batgirl mantle, beginning a lasting friendship between them.
In an effort to redeem herself, the Huntress went to the aid of a church that was open as a hospital and sanctuary to anyone desiring it in Gotham. Having no protection because of their benevelent intentions, the church and its kind staff were sitting ducks. The Huntress' desires to use her expertise to protect them was seen more as an unnecessary and warlike show of force than as help, even when she was trying to halt the Scarecrow's machinations to sabotage the church's efforts. It seemed to the Huntress that no matter what she did, she could never earn the approval of the Batman.
Several members of Batman's Rogue's Gallery were there to help maintain the terror, though even they still had to improvise and had difficulty surviving, as did everyone else. Two-Face became a major warlord, acquiring and losing territory every so often, and caused problems for the police and in a daring move kidnapped Jim Gordon for breaking a previous alliance. The Penguin, as previously mentioned, remained in the city and was approached by Mercy Graves, acting on behalf of Lex Luthor, to begin a rudimentary clean-up of the downtown districts for Luthor's eventual move-in. Poison Ivy took over Robinson Park (though in the series Ivy did not act as a villain; she instead cared for numerous orphans, was nearly killed by Clayface, and in a deal with Batman was left alone in exchange for her providing fresh produce twice a week to the remaining citizens), Mister Zsasz owned his own territory, as did Mister Freeze. Bane, too, was involved indirectly as a strong man for Lex Luthor; he notably destroyed the Hall of Records to fulfill one of Luthor's goals and drastically reduced Two-Face's territory in the process, reducing the former District Attorney's warlordism to insignificance. Despite his status as a super-villain, the Scarecrow was welcomed into a church filled with refugees and manipulated various factions in a plot to send the church's refugees spiralling into fear and despair. The Riddler, strangest of all perhaps, actually fled Gotham and spent the year in quiet insignificance. The Joker made the most of his rare appearances. Near the end of the saga, he lured Sarah Essen, Commissioner Gordon's wife, into a twisted game of cat and mouse. He ended it by fatally shooting her. In an act of rage, Gordon shot the Joker in the knee.
Without the benefit of advanced technology, Oracle used her resources to become a low-tech version of herself. She used paper to document events and the passage of time, operatives and emergency phones (knowing which ones were still in operation) to gather intel, and maps coloured by pencils to keep track of who controlled which portions of the city at a particular time. Her maps were frequently shown in the comics to help the reader follow the progression of territorial disputes (Gotham City maps in current series are based in large part on Oracle's maps from this series). Oracle remained one of the few people in the city with the ability to contact the outside world.
Eventually, thanks in no small part to the financial and political machinations of Lex Luthor--dipping his hands, as ever, in both legitimate and illegal means to achieve his goals--Gotham City was released and rebuilt, and rejoined the United States.
(in reading order)
- Batman: No Man's Land #1 - No Law and a New Order Part One
- Shadow of the Bat #83 - No Law and a New Order Part Two
- Batman #563 - No Law and a New Order Part Three
- Detective Comics #730 - No Law and a New Order Part Four
- Azrael #50 - Resurrection
- Azrael #51 - Miracle Run
- Legends of the Dark Knight #116 - Fear of Faith Part One
- Shadow of the Bat #84 - Fear of Faith Part Two
- Batman #564 - Fear of Faith Part Three
- Detective Comics #731 - Fear of Faith Part Four
- Legends of the Dark Knight #117 - Bread and Circuses Part One
- Shadow of the Bat #85 - Bread and Circuses Conclusion
- Batman #565 - Mosaic Part One
- Detective Comics #732 - Mosaic Part Two
- Legends of the Dark Knight #118 - Balance
- Shadow of the Bat #86 - Home Sweet Home
- Detective Comics #733 - Shades of Grey
- Azrael #52 - Devil Down Below
- Azrael #53 - Jellybean Deathtrap
- Batman Chronicles #16 - Two Down
- Legends of the Dark Knight #119 - Claim Jumping Part One
- Shadow of the Bat #87 - Claim Jumping Part Two
- Batman #566 - The Visitor
- Azrael #54 - Step into the Light
- Azrael #55 - Misery Dance
- Young Justice Special #1 - Road Trip
- Batman Chronicles #17 - Little Bat Lost
- Batman #567 - Mark of Cain Part One
- Detective Comics #734 - Mark of Cain Part Two
- Robin #67 - Way Dark
- Legends of the Dark Knight #120 - Assembly
- Azrael #56 - The Night Foretold
- Azrael #57 - Scratched Out
- Shadow of the Bat #88 - Fruit of the Earth Part One
- Batman #568 - Fruit of the Earth Part Two
- Detective Comics #735 - Fruit of the Earth Part Three
- JLA #32 - Inside Job
- Legends of the Dark Knight #121 - Power Play
- Batman: Harley Quinn
- Nightwing #35 - Escape to Blackgate Part One
- Nightwing Secret Files and Origins - Taking Wing
- Nightwing #36 - Escape to Blackgate Part Two
- Batman Chronicles #18 - Spiritual Currency
- Nightwing #37 - Escape to Blackgate Part Three
- Catwoman #72 - The Mission
- Catwoman #73 - Ms. Direction
- Catwoman #74 - A Slight Detour
- Robin #68 - War Beneath the Streets! Part One
- Robin #69 - War Beneath the Streets! Part Two
- Robin #70 - War Beneath the Streets! Part Three
- Shadow of the Bat #89 - The King
- Batman #569 - I cover the Waterfront
- Detective Comics #736 - Homecoming
- Legends of the Dark Knight #122 - Low Road to Golden Mountain Part One
- Shadow of the Bat #90 Low Road to Golden Mountain Part Two
- Batman #570 - The Code Part One
- Detective Comics #737 - The Code Part Two
- Azrael #58 - Day of Judgement: Ghosts
- Batman #571 - Goin' Downtown Part One
- Detective Comics #738 - Goin' Downtown Part Two
- Legends of the Dark Knight #123 - Underground Railroad Part One
- Shadow of the Bat #91 - Underground Railroad Part Two
- Nightwing #38 - Ballistic Romance Part One
- Nightwing #39 - Ballistic Romance Part Two
- Legends of the Dark Knight #124 - Captain of Industry
- Shadow of the Bat #92 - Stormy Weather
- Batman #572 - Jurisprudence Part One
- Detective Comics #739 - Jurisprudence Part Two
- Legends of the Dark Knight #125 - Falling Back
- Robin #71 - The Lizard King
- Robin #72 - Last Stand on Grand Ave
- Batman: Day of Judgment - Original Gangsters
- Robin #73 - The World Around the Corner
- No Man's Land Secret Files and Origins - The Message
- Catwoman #75 - The Rules
- Azrael #59 - Pilgrim's Return
- Shadow of the Bat #93 - Assembly Redux
- Azrael #60 - Evacuation
- Batman: No Man's Land #0 - Ground Zero
- Batman #573 - Shellgame Part One
- Detective Comics #740 - Shellgame Part Two
- Catwoman #76 - Strange Bedfellows
- Catwoman #77 - Pay Back
- Legends of the Dark Knight #126 - Endgame Part One
- Batman #574 - Endgame Part Two
- Detective Comics #741 - Endgame Part Three
- Azrael #61 - Presents of the Mind
- Shadow of the Bat #94 - Endgame Epilogue
Items: None known.
Vehicles: None known.
Weapons: None known.
- No Man's Land introduced the character of Cassandra Cain, who would become the third Batgirl, and Harley Quinn, sidekick to the Joker. An ongoing quasi-romantic relationship between Two-Face and Renee Montoya started as a result to this crossover and came to a head in the pages of Gotham Central's Half a Life storyline. No Man's Land also saw the death of Sarah Essen, the wife of Gordon, who is brutally murdered by The Joker in the arc's finale; an event that precipitated Gordon's temporary retirement from the force. The crisis also gave Luthor enough of a foothold in public opinion to win the candidacy of the President of the United States in 2000. This series also set forth the basis of the friendship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. A later arc introduced Mercy Graves, another prominent female character from the DCAU, to the comics continuity.
- There is a novel written by Greg Rucka about the No Man's Land time period. It centers around The Joker, The Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, Lex Luthor, and other villains, and the Gotham City Police Department along with the Batman himself. The novel addresses the relationship between Cassandra and her father David Cain, the infamous assassin. It also describes in more detail the various personalities left in the GCPD, including a militant cop who is constantly belittling Gordon's orders as being too soft. The novel does however leave out Azrael who was present throughout the story in the comics.
- No trivia.
Links and References
This issue is a part of the Batman: No Man's Land crossover that swept through all Batman Family Titles during 1999. Gotham City was declared by the President to be no longer a part of the United States after the combined disasters of Contagion, Legacy and Cataclysm.
|Batman Family Storyline|
This event or storyline is specifically related to Batman, or to members of the Batman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Batman Storylines category.