- The paper and colour quality was very good in my copy. - The climactic conflict with final two supervillains was fantastic - one fight for Batman, another one for Bruce Wayne... - Some great characterisation in the individual stories - Issue by issue, lots of fun. The problems occur when considering NML as a whole...
- What's the point of an index page listing pagenumbers when pagenumbering IS NOT USED IN THE BOOK? - This is a very densely plotted series happening over a variety of batbooks and so there are a number of continuity errors, the most notable being the Robin arc in Robin #71-73, which is simply impossible given what else is going on. - Some characters are used very poorly, the biggest let-down being Bane; apologies for minor spoilers, but it goes down like this; Batman: do you really want to fight me, mate? Bane: errr...no, not really Batman: Ok, bye then.
And the biggest problem:
- The reading order as presented is bloody stupid.
For those who don't know, most comics are monthly and so for a massive arc like this parts of the stories are published across a variety of different titles (here it is Batman Chronicles, Batman, Detective Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight, Azrael, Catwoman, Shadow of the Bat, Nightwing, and Robin), so you might get 8-15 titles published every month, all written by different teams and (as they're not numbered) it's up to the reader to put them in chronological order. So it's a matter for debate what the correct ordering is, especially, as mentioned above, some arcs (looking at you Timothy Drake) simply do not fit.
But the order presented in this book is just plain wrong. For example (spoiler-free): At the beginning of Azrael#61 Batman makes an announcement to Jim and Oracle regarding a villain's plan. But Batman doesn't receive the relevant info himself (in a dramatic scene from Huntress, now spoiled) until Detective Comics #741, 3 issues and 70 pages later. ffs...
So, here is my preferred reading order (although feel free to construct your own), listing the issue title and which of these new volumes you'd find it in):
Batman: No Man's Land #1 [NML1] Shadow of the Bat #83 [NML1] Batman #563 [NML1] Detective Comics #730 [NML1] Azrael #51 [NML1] Legends of the Dark Knight #116 [NML1] Shadow of the Bat #84 [NML1] Batman #564 [NML1] Detective Comics #731 [NML1] Azrael #52 [NML1] Legends of the Dark Knight #117 [NML1] Shadow of the Bat #85 [NML1] Batman #565 [NML1] Detective Comics #732 [NML1] Legends of the Dark Knight #118 [NML1] Shadow of the Bat #86 [NML1] Detective Comics #733 [NML1] Azrael #53 [NML1] Batman Chronicles #16 [NML1] Legends of the Dark Knight #119 [NML2] Shadow of the Bat #87 [NML2] Batman #566 [NML1] Azrael #54 [NML1] Azrael #55 [NML1] Young Justice Special #1 [NML2] Batman Chronicles #17 [NML2] Batman #567 [NML2] Detective Comics #734 [NML2] Robin #67 [NML2] Legends of the Dark Knight #120 [NML2] Azrael #56 [NML2] Azrael #57 [NML2] Shadow of the Bat #88 [NML2] Batman #568 [NML2] Detective Comics #735 [NML2] Legends of the Dark Knight #121 [NML2] Nightwing #35 [NML2] Nightwing #36 [NML2] Batman Chronicles #18 [NML4] Nightwing #37 [NML2] Catwoman #72 [NML2] Catwoman #73 [NML2] Catwoman #74 [NML2] Robin #68 [NML3] Robin #69 [NML3] Robin #70 [NML3] Shadow of the Bat #89 [NML3] Batman #569 [NML3] Detective Comics #736 [NML3] Legends of the Dark Knight #122 [NML3] Shadow of the Bat #90 [NML3] Batman #570 [NML3] Detective Comics #737 [NML3] Azrael #58 [NML3] Batman #571 [NML3] Detective Comics #738 [NML3] Legends of the Dark Knight #123 [NML3] Shadow of the Bat #91 [NML3] Nightwing #38 [NML4] Nightwing #39 [NML4] Legends of the Dark Knight #124 [NML3] Shadow of the Bat #92 [NML3] Batman #572 [NML4] Detective Comics #739 [NML4] Legends of the Dark Knight #125 [NML4] Robin #71 [NML3] Robin #72 [NML3] Robin #73 [NML4] Batman: No Man's Land Secret Files #1 [NML3] Catwoman #75 [NML4] Azrael #59 [NML4] Shadow of the Bat #93 [NML4] Azrael #60 [NML4] Batman: No Man's Land #0 [NML4] Batman #573 [NML4] Detective Comics #740 [NML4] Catwoman #76 [NML4] Catwoman #77 [NML4] Legends of the Dark Knight #126 [NML4] Batman #574 [NML4] Detective Comics #741 [NML4] Azrael #61 [NML4] Shadow of the Bat #94 [NML4]
Generally a good read, but consider a different reading order than the one one presented.
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As much as I would like to say a fitting end to an amazing series I actually found this the weakest of all four volumes. It is still an amazing book and worth reading to bring the storyline full circle but there where a fair few negative points I found while reading. The story itself as a whole remains solid, still tense and gripping with a vast array of fantastic characters scrambling for power in a lawless land. The finale itself and the epilogue are amazing and the best bits of the book, As batman faces off against what could be argued as the two most dangerous villains in the entirety of the DC universe. Really tense, entertaining and satisfying
The biggest negative for me here was the chronology, the issues are all over the place and cease to make sense, one minute Azraels face is burnt off, the next minute were back to before it happened with characters referencing things that we havn't yet read about in the past tense all left me a little bit frustrating. Seeing as this is a collected edition graphic novel I would have though that they would have moved specific events around to make sense instead of shoving a whole incoherent issue down our throat and then repeating the exact same panels just pages later. I'm all for including entire issues and have loved the fact that during the Nightwing issues we are still kept informed of what's happening back in Bludhaven, things that have nothing to do with the NML storyline and may seem misplaced to some readers but as a strong chronology follower it keeps me up to date with what Nightwings going to be dealing with when he gets home. Plus atleast they are kept in the Nightwing sections they dont just pop up in the middle of an Azrael issue.
Still a must read to see how the story ends and contains some gripping and moving scenes in the finale as the Joker once again shakes up Gotham in the way only Joker can and paves the way for the follow up books of Batman: Evolution and Batman: Officer Down This book contains Batman Chronicles #18, Batman #572 - #574, Detective Comics #739 - #741, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125 - #126, Robin #74, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #93 - #94, Azrael: Agent of the Bat #59 - #61, Catwoman #75 - #77, Nightwing #38 - #39, Batman: No Mans Land #0, Batman: No Mans Land Gallery #1