Batman No Man’s Land: Volume Two, by Greg Rucka et. al. ISBN 1563895994
Five out of five stars
The premise of this series of graphics comic books is the product of genius. A massive earthquake struck Gotham City, so completely destroying it that the federal government declares it a wasteland and orders it evacuated and then sealed off from the rest of the world. Some people refuse to leave their homes, while others choose to stay within the consequential chaos.
The destroyed city has been partitioned into territories held by various groups, some criminal and others with a more noble intent. Police Commissioner Gordon and some of his officers hold one territory, Batman adversaries such as the Penguin and Two-Face hold others and in general other criminal gangs hold the rest. There are also isolated pockets of people that do what they can to maintain civilization.
Most of the efforts of all the groups are spent on trying to hold and expand their territories; generally these are border skirmishes with little territory changing hands. Lives are lost on a whim, one of the most common forms of entertainment is to have one-on-one gladiatorial style contests to the death. Students of history will recognize the shifting alliances in the battles between princes that led to Machiavelli writing his classic “The Prince.”
Batman and the second generation Batgirl have remained in the city and are the ultimate wildcard in the battles for territory. This is the more psychotic version of Batman; he is determined to save the city but is overwhelmed with the task. Commissioner Gordon and Batman are adversaries yet not enemies, although Gordon will seek his help if pressured hard enough.
Post-apocalyptic tales are a staple of literature; this one is unique in that super heroes are involved. There was one mention of Superman flying in supplies, but that is the only time the most obvious solution is mentioned, having the other super heroes come to the rescue. Batman in his psychotic form is an excellent character to be involved in a tale of this type, for his psyche is a consistent battle against an internal apocalypse. This is a great and engaging story, survival in its most brutal form; once I read it I started a search for volume 1.