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No Man's Land FAQ

I decided (after a nudge from Mike Shields) to prepare a No Man's Land only FAQ as an introduction to the storyline that ran in the Batman comics in 1999. Please send corrections or additional information to

Before the FAQ proper here's a list of all the Batman NML stories and the issues they appeared in, just in case you don't want any spoilers.

Ground Zero Batman: No Man's Land #0 (one-shot)
No Law & A New Order Batman: No Man's Land #1 (one-shot)
Shadow of the Bat #83
Batman #563
Detective Comics #730
Fear Of Faith Legends of the Dark Knight #116
Shadow of the Bat #84
Batman #564
Detective Comics #731
Bread & Circuses Legends of the Dark Knight #117
Shadow of the Bat #85
Mosaic Batman #565
Detective Comics #732
Balance Legends Of The Dark Knight #118
Home Sweet Home Shadow Of The Bat #86
The Visitor Batman #566
Crisis of Faith Detective Comics #733
Claim Jumping Legends Of The Dark Knight #119
Shadow Of The Bat #87
Mark Of Cain Batman #567
Detective Comics #734
Assembly Legends Of The Dark Knight #120
Fruit Of The Earth Shadow Of The Bat #88
Batman #568
Detective Comics #735
Power Play Legends Of The Dark Knight #121
The King Shadow Of The Bat #89
I Cover The Waterfront Batman #569
Homecoming Detective Comics #736
Low Road To Golden Mountain Legends Of The Dark Knight #122
Shadow Of The Bat #90
The Code Batman #570
Detective Comics #737
Spiritual Currency The Batman Chronicles #18
Underground Railroad Legends Of The Dark Knight #123
Shadow Of The Bat #91
Goin' Downtown Batman #571
Detective Comics #738
Captain Of Industry Legends Of The Dark Knight #124
Stormy Weather Shadow Of The Bat #92
Jurisprudence Batman #572
Detective Comics #739
Falling Back Legends Of The Dark Knight #125
Assembly Redux Shadow Of The Bat #93
Shellgame Batman #573
Detective Comics #740
Endgame Legends Of The Dark Knight  #126
Batman #574
Detective Comics #741
Days of Auld Lang Syne Shadow Of The Bat #94

And now, here's the FAQ -

First off, what was No Man's Land?
NML was a story about the death and rebirth of Gotham. In the comics in 1998 Gotham was rocked by a huge earthquake which flattened just about all of the center of the city, except the buildings owned by WayneCorp, which were quake-proofed. Citizens left in droves and anarchy (no, not Anarky) thrived in the ruins. Rather than spend billions rebuilding, the US government, under the influence of the devilish Nick Scratch (a scientist / rock star / talk-show host / dodgy plot device), decided to cordon Gotham off from the rest of the United States. People were given some time to leave and then the bridges were blown, tunnels blocked and rivers mined until Gotham was completely cut off. Nightwing and Robin were left outside. Batman was nowhere to be seen. Oracle, The Huntress and the remaining members of the GCPD stayed behind. Known (and suspected) criminals were not allowed to leave. Wayne Manor was flattened. (Probably by Bruce himself. Robin thinks so, anyway.) Azrael was employed by Batman as his agent 'on the outside'. That's how it was left at the end of The Road To No Man's Land, the storyline immediately before NML itself. NML is the story of what happens to Gotham after all this.

Where can I read this story?
NML ran in  the four monthly Bat-titles - Batman, Detective Comics, Shadow Of The Bat and Legends Of The Dark Knight (which was co-opted into regular Batman continuity for the duration of this storyline. Azrael, Nightwing, Catwoman and Robin were also part of the story - issue numbers appear below. The first issue was a special one shot called... wait for it... No Man's Land #1. There has also been a No Man's Land #0 and an NML Secret Files. DC will be collecting the series in series of TPBs - at the time of writing one has been released with another to appear soon. It remains to be seen whether or not every issue will be collected, or whether it will just be the major plot-advancing stories.   Also, the very excellent Hitman, a monthly DC comic, is set in Gotham and issue #37 has some stuff about NML. A Young Justice special recently came out in which Robin, Superboy and Impulse infiltrated Gotham. There was also No Man's Land Gallery #1, which consisted of lots of pin-ups. Some nice art, but not exactly essential 'reading'. There is also an NML novel written by Greg Rucka that expands upon certain storylines, while leaving others out entirely.

Why didn't  the JLA just re-build Gotham?
Basically, according to JLA #32 they had their work cut out keeping Gotham safe from threats of invasion from the outside. Also, when Superman tried to help (Batman #566) he didn't do a very good job. Of course three members of the JLA (Batman, The Huntress and Oracle) are working in Gotham.

It just sounds stupid. The US government would never cut off an entire city!
Well, you're entitled to that view. And you're not alone, either. But this isn't real life. The DCU US government isn't the real-life US government. And by deciding not to read NML because of the premise means you're missing out on some of the best Batman comics in years. It's was, in the main, superb, in my humble opinion. If you can't stretch yourself to believe that a fictional government under the influence of an evil force can leave a city to rot then maybe you shouldn't be reading super-hero comics in the first place. Sorry, got a bit worked up there. It's up to you to decide. Suspend your disbelief on this issue or don't. If you can't, then now NML is over you can come back.

What happened?
The main stories set during NML are outlined below. In addition Azrael #50 to #61, Catwoman #72 to #77, Nightwing #35 to #39 and Robin #68 to #73 were all bannered as being part of No Man's Land. They generally revolved around the characters performing tasks that Batman himself is too busy to take care of. Azrael defeated Nick Scratch and, with Batgirl, went up against the Joker. Catwoman stole some discs from New York and brought them to Gotham. Nightwing retook Blackgate Prison and went to see Babs. Robin ran into Mr. Freeze and Killer Croc, amongst others, before being 'rescued' by the military. The Batman Chronicles #16 includes a story set during NML, too.

Ground Zero
Batman: No Man's Land #0 (one shot)

Chronologically the first story, this was not released until recently. It contains a number of spoilers and the central mystery of the first few arcs - Who is Batgirl? - is spoiled not only by the contents, but also by the cover.

No Law & A New Order
Batman: No Man's Land #1 (one-shot), Shadow of the Bat #83, Batman #563, Detective Comics #730

We join the story three months after Gotham was cordoned off. An apple is worth more than the entire contents of Electronics Boutique. The city is split into different areas, each run by a different group or person. The Penguin, the Joker, the GCPD, The Huntress, Scarface and various others control different sectors. Oracle is gathering information through a network of agents. Batman hasn't been seen in three months. Jim Gordon is not happy about this, feeling let down by one of the few people in Gotham he trusted. He decides, to retake the city sector by sector. The first two sectors he wants to retake (mainly because his daughter is living in one of them) are controlled by two rival gangs. Gordon initiates a gang war and then violently retakes the sectors in the name of the GCPD. Meanwhile, a female dressed in a Bat-suit and calling herself 'The Bat' has been taking over her own territory. Then Batman re-appears, saving Alfred, who has gone undercover, from being thrown into the river to test for mines. He then goes and has chat with The Bat and decides to let her carry on. Batman recovers some territory from Scarface.

Fear Of Faith
Legends of the Dark Knight #116, Shadow of the Bat #84, Batman #564, Detective Comics #731

Two Catholic priests have set up a refuge in Gotham. The Penguin, some ex-members of Black Mask's gang and the Scarecrow stir up a bit of trouble involving a cache of weapons. Batman, Huntress and Father Mike save the day. Hurrah!

Bread & Circuses
Legends of the Dark Knight #117, Shadow of the Bat #85

The Penguin has a club where people can barter goods and gamble on gladiatorial contests. The poorest members of Gotham society (what's left of it) are made to fight for the chance to work for the Penguin. To add a little extra spice, these are fights to the death. Nice. Batman decides to put a stop to this and drops in for chat with the Penguin. He agrees to fight all of Penguin's 'gladiators'. If Batman wins, the Penguin will agree to put a stop the contests and give work to the poor. If Batman loses, the Penguin can rest safe in the knowledge that Batman is out of his hair, permanently. Batman fights each gladiator one at a time. The longer he survives, the shorter the odds on Batman winning get, putting the Penguin in a financially embarrassing situation. He calls a stop to the fight under the pretext that Batman has been cheating by not killing anyone. All bets are off. The mob watching and gambling are somewhat upset by this and turn on the Penguin. Batman protects him, after the Penguin agrees to stop the contests, give the poor work and share all his information with Batman. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon makes a pact with an unknown villain (best guess, Two Face). The GCPD stumble across a massacre of a gang, which someone has done pretending to be the GCPD. A lot of other gangs decide to side with the GCPD after this. Gordon gets a note. 'JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. THEY WERE THE FIRST OF MANY.'

Batman #565, Detective Comics #732

Black Mask's gang of blind, scrawny people tries some funny business. Batgirl beats them up. Barbara Gordon gets upset when she sees someone doing her job, but she grudgingly accepts the fact that Gotham needs a Batgirl. We find out that Batman has been taking criminals he's captured to Blackgate Prison, which is being run by Lockup and KGBeast.

Legends Of The Dark Knight #118

Alfred tells the story of what he did during the three months at the beginning of NML that Batman was missing. He spent the time gathering information and helping to make life better for those left behind. He eventually takes some action to stop some people from being enslaved. Just as things are looking good Batman returns and saves him.

Home Sweet Home
Shadow Of The Bat #86

One man's fight against the various gangs fighting for his home. Appearances by Zsasz and The Joker, amongst others.

The Visitor
Batman #566

Superman turns up in Gotham and tries to help. Things go a bit pear-shaped and he flies off again with his cape between his legs. 'Told you so.' says Batman. Another issue which shows the people of Gotham as helpless, whining individuals. Guess they've had all the fight knocked out of them after Contagian, Legacy, Cataclysm, etc.

Crisis of Faith
Detective Comics #733

Bob Gale returns with a story that includes the GCPD, Batman, Batgirl and a baby. Jim Gordon tells Batgirl that he doesn't want her or Batman in GCPD territory. The main plot concerns Batman's troubles in figuring out what is right in a world where the old rules no longer apply. We also find out that the Penguin seems to have some competition.

Claim Jumping
Legends Of The Dark Knight #119, Shadow Of The Bat #87

Possibly the best arc so far, which is saying something. A huge turf war erupts, with Two-Face emerging victorious. Batman, temporarily disabled by the mysterious Echo, has only Batgirl to defend his territory. She doesn't make a very good job of it either. The GCPD advance, but at what cost?

Mark Of Cain
Batman #567, Detective Comics #734

Introduces two new characters, David Cain, an assassin hired to kill Jim Gordon, and an unnamed girl who can't speak, but is a very good fighter. If you're confused when reading this story, Batman is lip-reading on the first couple of pages of Detective Comics.

Legends Of The Dark Knight #120

The main story concerns the gathering of the entire Bat-family in Gotham. We also find out Batgirl's identity. We also see a dramatic confrontation between Jim Gordon and Batman.

Fruit Of The Earth
Shadow Of The Bat #88, Batman #568, Detective Comics #735

Batman, Poison Ivy and Clayface fight it out in the park. Meanwhile, Huntress hooks up with Pettit's renegade police faction and Gordon discovers that when you make a deal with the devil, you can't just walk away.

Power Play
Legends Of The Dark Knight #121

Batman finds some frozen people. Mr. Freeze talks to himself. Batman and Mr. Freeze have a bit of a rack. Mr. Freeze inexplicably fails to get blown up by mines.

The King
Shadow Of The Bat #89

Batman goes in search of the 'King' of No Man's Land, a man who has been helping out a lot of people in what was once Gotham. The King's been captured by Killer Croc, but Batman soon sorts it out. The story ends on a hopeful note when the King's identity is revealed.

I Cover The Waterfront
Batman #569

Batgirl takes center stage as she tries to protect the only source of gasoline not in The Penguin's hands from some thugs. She fails, but succeeds in a larger way.

Detective Comics #736

Bane returns to Gotham and bumps into Batman. They fight and then go their separate ways.

Low Road To Golden Mountain
Legends Of The Dark Knight #122, Shadow Of The Bat #90

Batman teams up with Lynx to help some slaves. The good guys win, but not without loss.

The Code
Batman #570, Detective Comics #737

The Joker decides to hold an election, while Harley Quinn decides that she's been approaching their relationship all wrong.

Spiritual Currency
The Batman Chronicles #18

Leslie Thompkin's clinic comes under fire. Just about everyone piles in and Batman questions some if his own beliefs and actions.

Underground Railroad
Legends Of The Dark Knight #123, Shadow Of The Bat #91

To save some kids Bock makes a deal with The Penguin.

Goin' Downtown
Batman #571, Detective Comics #738

A somewhat confusing tale (not Chuck Dixon's fault) in which Bane returns to Gotham, makes Two-Face's life a misery and blows up the Hall Of Records.

Captain Of Industry
Legends Of The Dark Knight #124

An entrepreneur is making a killing offering people a way out of No Man's Land. But then Matches Malone decides to intervene.

Stormy Weather
Shadow Of The Bat #92

Clark Kent visits Gotham and checks up on the Dark Knight. Quite possibly the best single issue NML story.

Batman #572, Detective Comics #739

Two-Face puts Jim Gordon on trial. Montoya plays a large role in this story, which is always welcome.

Falling Back
Legends Of The Dark Knight #125

Jim Gordon and batman finally have a conversation with each other that doesn't just consist of insults and accusations. Batman decides it's time he trusted Jim with his biggest secret...

Assembly Redux
Shadow Of The Bat #93

Sub plots come together, The Joker plans to make his move and Gotham gets an unexpected guest.

Batman #573, Detective Comics #740
Lex starts rebuilding Gotham and has an encounter with The Batman. Tension grows in the Pettit camp as The Huntress starts to question his leadership. Bruce Wayne makes some plans with Lucius Fox. The Joker makes his move, but runs into Bane. And then runs away from Bane. Batman and Bane have a confrontation, but use words rather than fists. The Penguin finds out that threatening Lex is not a good idea. And finally, the end of NML is announced.

Legends Of The Dark Knight #126, Batman #574, Detective Comics #741
Federal aid finally begins to arrive in Gotham, signaling the end of NML. As Gordon is officially reinstated as Commissioner, his group joins with Batman's, in the search for the Joker, who attacks Pettit's camp of ragtags. The Joker's assault succeeds, killing Pettit and shooting the Huntress full of bullets. His grand scheme to end NML with a laugh involves kidnapping all of Gotham's babies, giving the Knights and the GCPD only hours to find them, before they're killed. Sarah Essen alone finds the Joker in GCPD Central, surrounded by all the babies. She hesitates to kill him, and he murders her instead.

Days of Auld Lang Syne
Shadow Of The Bat #9
Sarah's funeral leaves the Gordons and the GCPD devastated. Lucius Fox discovers evidence which proves Luthor's illegal activities in Gotham, and upon visiting him, is aided by Batman to prevent Luthor from virtually controlling the majority of the city's holdings.

Who is the new Batgirl?
In LOTDK #120 it was revealed that The Huntress had been acting as Batgirl. However, Batman took back the mantle of the Bat after her failures and her refusal to follow orders. The new Batgirl is the Cassandra Cain - who is the daughter of David Cain, as seen in the Mark Of Cain storyline.

Was it any good?
In my humble opinion, yes. It was very good. Try it, you might like it!

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