Batman: No Man's Land by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I learned from Phoenix: End Song that Greg Rucka is skilled at turning characters I dislike into human beings. (Or in that case, back into human beings). In No Man’s Land, he managed to come close with Batman, by allowing him so many moments of weakness before his friends and enemies, but unfortunately, there’s only so far you can go with Batman’s character, (or any of the main DC heroes). In all their time, these characters are largely unchanged, remaining untouchable, inhuman gods. I’ve realized that this is why I have never truly cared for DC comics when I had Marvel characters who, despite being very powerful, were always human with human flaws and human successes and we always know their minds and could relate.
Batman is, ironically, one of those untouchable, inhuman DC gods. We don’t get to know what he’s thinking any more than his companions do. But Rucka does well in making us see Batman through the eyes of those who have come to rely on him, perhaps too much. And it’s not all that pretty. Batman's an asshole.
This is, by no means, a condemnation of NML. NML is an excellent read that I would recommend to any Batman/comic book fan. Rucka’s descriptions of the physical and emotional hopeless of No Man’s Land carry much weight and his characterizations are his strength. The plot moves along at a sometimes slow, but acceptable pace, but I’m more interested in the character interactions and what it means for the future of Batman’s supporting cast members, than I am in what happens to Gotham after a devastating earthquake.
My only complaint is the portrayal of Bruce Wayne. There's no need for him to be that vapid.
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