No Man’s Land was a pretty long crossover event in the DC Comics world about two decades ago. While there’s a series of hardcover compilations of that story arc, this review is about the novelization of the storyline. Interestingly, Greg Rucka penned the novelized version. He’s a big-time comics writer now. Lazarus is possibly his most famous work at the moment. When Rucka wrote this (two decades ago), he was more of a mystery writer and maybe a smaller press guy with Whiteout published by Oni.
The plot of the sprawling series is apocalyptic in nature – Gotham has endured a catastrophic earthquake. The damage to the city is so bad that the US has cut it off from society – Gotham City is a federally designated “No Man’s Land.” After a certain date, people who chose to/had to stay in Gotham are just stuck in there. (I’m pretty sure Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises borrows a bit from this premise.) No federal help. It quickly turns into a Warriors/Escape from New York situation where factions rise up in the city. Penguin has territory, Two-Face has territory, and even the Gotham cops establish “Blue Boys” territory. The factions vie for dominance and pray that Gotham can rejoin America and help will come. In the meantime, though, it’s up to the factions, the vigilantes, and shifting uneasy alliances to band together to try to survive.
This novelization of the comics story earned four stars from me in the category of “novelizations of comic book stories.” While the reader doesn’t get to enjoy the art in the comics series when reading the prose version, it is much more affordable to read the book than to try and buy the whole series. Rucka does a great job of getting us into the minds of Batman, Oracle, Jim Gordon, and other Bat-verse characters, good and bad. I’m sure Rucka’s detective story background helped with writing Batman. The book is thick, nearly 500 pages long. However, Rucka’s writing flows well, and it’s an enjoyable leisure read.