A seismic occasion that affected Gotham for years…
Here’s one which’s onerous to get your head round: It’s been about 20 years because the influential Batman occasion No Man’s Land shook Gotham, its denizens – and its followers – to their very basis.
In an period of can-you-top-this crossovers, the idea of an earthquake-ravaged Gotham City reduce off from the remainder of the world was fairly daring: Ordinarily, a narrative like this is able to be an Elseworlds-style saga advised in comparatively brief order. Instead, DC Comics set about remaking Batman’s world from the bottom up in a approach that had by no means been executed earlier than – for good or dangerous. The storyline and its preludes stretched via all of the Bat-titles – and past – and lasted for nicely over a yr, with ramifications felt lengthy after.
The historical past of the occasion – which started with 1998’s Cataclysm crossover – is specified by American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s, by Jason Sacks and Keith Dallas. The closely illustrated and researched guide is the newest quantity in TwoMorrows’ collection of hardcovers that element the world of comics, decade-by-decade, beginning within the ’50s. (Click right here for extra particulars).
In this EXCLUSIVE excerpt, Sacks and Dallas check out the roots of the Batman epic that helped encourage central parts of The Dark Knight Rises, Arkham City and the TV present Gotham.
Keep in thoughts, that is one small fraction of a remarkably detailed, in-depth take a look at your complete decade, so by all means take a look at the guide, which is due in comics outlets 12/5.
By JASON SACKS and KEITH DALLAS
In Shadow of the Bat #73 (April 1998), an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale facilities on Wayne Manor, destroying each it and the Batcave. Batman should swim blindly by means of an underground river to flee his household residence, and when he lastly emerges in Gotham Harbor, he discovers the unimaginable: The earthquake has utterly levelled Gotham City. Thus begins the 16-part Cataclysm crossover, and because the saga unfolds, the writers and artists of Batman, Shadow of the Bat, Detective Comics, Catwoman, Robin, Azrael, Nightwing and three one-shot specials present how the Batman household of heroes ally themselves with first responders to cope with the disaster and save bizarre individuals from the horrible calamity. But even with Oracle on the middle of the disaster administration staff, most of the heroes’ efforts are in useless.
As Cataclysm strikes into its sequel crossover Aftershock, the heroes study to cope with their failures and the truth that no super-villain is chargeable for the disaster (regardless of a blackmail menace by the Ventriloquist, who tries to extort $100 million from Gotham by masquerading because the Quakemaster). Appearances by Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and the Joker are mere sideshows for the deep despair that hits Gotham within the wake of the catastrophe. With the town coping with the daunting complexity of restoration, residents discover themselves dealing with trials few people can lengthy endure. Gotham has no electrical energy or recent water. All companies and faculties are closed. Rats and wild canine overrun the town whereas violence soars. No shock, then, that tens of millions of Gothamites select to flee their houses and turn out to be refugees.
However, even their easy determination to desert their shattered metropolis has tragic penalties, as large quantities of foot visitors causes one in every of Gotham’s bridges to break down in Batman #559 (Oct. 1998), appropriately titled Dead City. Gotham City shortly turns into a no man’s land.
As Bruce Wayne goes to Washington on the finish of the yr to hunt cash from Congress to rebuild the town, he faces bipartisan opposition with polls displaying that 82 % of Americans don’t need to spend the trillion dollars essential to rebuild Gotham (70 % even favor one other earthquake). Decisions made on the finish of Wayne’s Washington journey would arrange a memorable Batman crossover in 1999.
The concept for Cataclysm got here from freelance author/artist Chris Reynaud who learn an article in New York Magazine which described the unbelievable devastation an earthquake would deliver to New York: “It was a very frightening article. They made a lot of references to Kyoto, Japan, and the devastating effects the quake had on the city. New York had, in a lot of ways, been built on the premise that there won’t ever be an earthquake here.”
With each month the modifications to Gotham appeared increasingly more everlasting. As Associate Editor Darren Vincenzo declared, “With Cataclysm, we can’t return to the status quo. A story like this will have repercussions for months and years to come.” Shadow of the Bat author Alan Grant felt he was delivering a serious change: “It was a bit of a shock, the Batcave being established for such a long time, to make it come crashing down. I believe the other writers felt the same way I did – that we were smashing an icon.”
Sales have been wonderful for the crossover with one retailer in Milford, Connecticut, reporting, “Cataclysm doubled sales on Bat-books.”
Gotham City had suffered cataclysms in its lengthy historical past, however nothing ready the residents of Batman’s residence city for the earthquake that struck in 1998. Even worse was the quake’s aftermath. As described within the No Man’s Land one-shot (March 1999), by author Bob Gale and artist Alex Maleev, the previously civilized metropolis gave solution to anarchy.
Prior to this storyline, Bruce Wayne failed to influence the U.S. Congress to fund the restoration of his beloved metropolis. Instead, the federal authorities selected to cordon off Gotham, forbidding anyone from getting into or leaving. To achieve this, the federal government blew up all of the bridges and tunnels into the town and made Gotham a real “No Man’s Land.” As the epic storyline kicks off, the army has surrounded Gotham’s perimeter. The metropolis has no recent meals, no clear water provide and no working police division, aside from a rogue staff of cops. Gotham’s solely inhabitants are the poor, those that have been too cussed to desert their houses, and the criminals.
Batman has been lacking for 93 days as entire sections of Gotham at the moment are managed by a few of his most vicious enemies, such because the Penguin, Two-Face and Poison Ivy. Territories have been marked with spray paint, however as the difficulty ends, a caped determine spray-paints the bat image on partitions throughout the town.
No Man’s Land continued into a number of overlapping storylines that encompassed Batman, Detective Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight and Shadow of the Bat. Batman returns to his hometown, however his beloved Gotham is totally different from something he had ever anticipated to come across. Wayne Mansion was destroyed within the earthquake, together with the Batcave. Though Batman has allies – together with an essential new one – the scope of the destruction and gang violence places the Caped Crusader in a totally new state of affairs, the place the conflicts he faces are extra complicated, ambiguous and weird than he had ever confronted earlier than.
Batman’s new established order happened partially as a result of the character’s editors merely felt bored. After all of the turmoil of Knightfall, Knightquest and Knightsend in 1993 and 1994, the Batman comics had settled right into a predictable groove, however by 1998 the editors’ concern was that their very own boredom would spill over to their readers.
Facing that ennui, editor Jordan Gorfinkel walked into Batman group editor Denny O’Neil’s workplace one Monday morning with a 12-page proposal that detailed how Cataclysm could lead on into the No Man’s Land occasion. Gorfinkel anticipated O’Neil to hate the thought, however the veteran editor truly embraced the gamble: “It seemed like a dangerous story to try. It’s a story that has never been told, as far as I know, certainly not in comics. That’s always a reason to do something.”
One of the explanations the modifications appeared new to Batman was due to the brand new writers and artists who had by no means written Batman comics earlier than. Besides the aforementioned Bob Gale, the screenwriter for Back to the Future, crime novelist Greg Rucka was introduced on to put in writing No Man’s Land’s third story arc. He would turn into a mainstay of the Batman books into the brand new millennium. Other writers new to the Batman line included Devin Grayson, Kelley Puckett, Larry Hama and Bronwyn Carlton.
Longtime Batman author Doug Moench was one of many few who opted out of the storyline, complaining, “I didn’t think it was a good story and didn’t want to write it. I thought it was absurd that the U.S. government would deliberately cut Gotham off from the rest of the country.”
Sales for the storyline have been extraordinarily robust. A retailer from Seattle reported, “Sales on the No Man’s Land storyline continue to amaze us. We increase our orders, place reorders, and still can’t fill customer demand on these titles.”
No Man’s Land can also be vital for introducing a brand new model of a well-known hero.
As the story arc begins, Helena Bertinelli abandons her Huntress id to imagine Barbara Gordon’s former alter ego of Batgirl. The change was short-lived, nevertheless, as in Legends of the Dark Knight #120 (Aug. 1999), an argument between Bertinelli and Batman results in another person donning the Batgirl costume.
Her identify is Cassandra Cain. Unable to learn, speak or write, due to her murderer father’s uncaring strategy to her, this silent Batgirl can solely talk by way of physique language. With Barbara Gordon’s blessing, the brand new Batgirl helps Batman within the No Man’s Land fray. Afterward, DC offered her together with her personal ongoing title in 2000.
For many followers, much more thrilling than a brand new Batgirl was the insertion of a well-liked Batman: The Animated Series character into the DC comedian universe. Harley Quinn first appeared in a 48-page one-shot written by BTAS author Paul Dini and drawn by Yvel Guichet and Aaron Sowd. In Batman: Harley Quinn (Oct. 1999) psychologist Harleen Quinzel falls in love with the Joker whereas caring for him at Arkham Asylum. After being dedicated to the asylum herself, Quinn walks out when the earthquake hits Gotham. She then seeks out the Joker and fortunately groups up with him as he tries to carve out his personal part of Gotham. Batman: Harley Quinn bought a strong 55,000 copies by means of Diamond.
American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s, a 288-page, full-color hardcover, lists for $44.95. It’s out there by way of comics outlets and retailers, or instantly from TwoMorrows. (Click right here.)