We have reached an interesting point, the first time someone other than Bruce Wayne will don the cape and cowl of the Batman. This will happen during the events of Knightfall. We will get into Knightfall, Cataclysm, No Man’s Land and post No Man’s Land and beyond that we will jump right into the aftermath of No Man’s Land, New Gotham, Bruce Wayne Murderer?
But first, lets talk about the book to lead into Knightfall.
Batman: Sword of Azrael
This is the prelude to Knightfall and in this story is a four issue mini-series that explains Jean-Paul Valley. It is an interesting story and belongs as a part of the Nightfall series, considering what happeneds with Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul is a huge part of Knightfall.
I will say that this is not essential to the Knightfall story, just a good lead in to the it. It took me years to get to the story and I just didn’t seem to care as much about Jean-Paul Valley. There is some background stuff in the actual Knightfall story arc itself. Also Jean-Paul is way more interesting in the Knightfall story. But getting to see him as Azrael is probably the best part of the book. Knightfall does not offer much of Jean-Paul in costume.
Towards the end of the book there are many cool moments that save the story. Overall, yes it is worth the read, especially if you are going to take on the biggest event in the Batman history, Knightfall.
Probably the coolest thing about the Sword of Azrael is it is written by the great Dennis O’Neill and the art is done by none other than Joe Quesada, who is was a big wig at Marvel for a long time. That is one of the best things, Quesada has done some great work, including this book. I hate to say, it is a very Image comics or even Mcfarlane era Marvel book, but that is all Joey Q.
Batman Knightfall, Knight Quest, KnightsEnd
This is THE biggest Batman story arc ever. It has the most tie-in comics and lasts for 16 months and spans many titles. These three trades have almost 2000 pages of content and the last book, Knightsend has the story Prodigal, which when Dick Grayson dons the cape and cowl for the first time. That is a cool story and for most fans, well me anyway it kind of hits home and shows me Dick should have been Batman when Bruce was out.
Knightfall, based on the cover shows Bane breaking Batman. That is the major part of the story. There is so much more going on, but the when Bane beats Batman completely it is almost hard to watch. Other things, the assault on Arkham by Bane and his men, Scarecrow and the Joker working together was fantastic. But back to the fight between Bane and Batman, it was not really a fight. Moments during the fight that got me, there were panels of Batman fighting other villains from the Rogues Gallery. Bane also tells Batman about the Venom that goes into his mask and Batman talks about knowing about the venom all to well.
Later in the books we see Bruce exit as Batman for some time and Gotham City goes bananas. Eventually Jean-Paul Valley steps in and he wears the cape and cowl, but he has some bizarre power trip as the bat and slowly drifts into madness. He also build upgrades to his batsuit before fighting Bane, twice. He does beat Bane and bring order back to Gotham. But, he kind of becomes the villain of the story by the end and Bruce comes back to confront Valley. He knows he cannot defeat in while Valley is in the Az-bat suit, so he strips him of the suit. The ending isn’t bad, some fans do not think it it fitting.
The story is EPIC for sure and totally worth the read and is essential to the Batman myth for sure. The art is really old, it is in from the early 1990s. This is also the when I began to read Batman weekly, The first issue I bought, Bane broke Batman. Read ever bit of this.
Batman Cataclysm and No Man’s Land
In Cataclysm, Gotham is stuck by a terrible earthquake and it follows the bat family as they take care of the citizens of Gotham and do crowd control. There are some really cool moments, like Bullock, Harvey Bullock at one point has a re-bar sticking out of his arm and it does not stop him. Really cool book and if you plan to read No Man’s Land it is essential.
No Man’s Land as a lot going on in the book. We get a new Batgirl and find out it is someone trying to prove herself to Batman. He does not like this and then we get a real, new Batgirl, Cassandra Cane. Some of the cooler things that happen are better left unsaid because it could ruin or take away from you reading it. The ending is amazing, with the Joker. We do see Bane, Lex Luthor, Superman and most of the Rogues Gallery. There are some cool moments with Two-Face and Montoya and a great story arc with Leslie Thompkins. There is one great moment between Batman and Gordon, that was fantastic.
I say, yes read this series, it is good and different. The only thing I would be worried about, the art is kind of rough at some points. But overall it does not hurt the story, it may help a little because of Gotham being devastated by the earthquake. Give this one a read.
Batman New Gotham: Evolution & Officer Down
These two books directly follow the events of No Man’s Land. The both deal with people coming back to Gotham and being treated badly. They call them DeeZee’s(No Man’s Land deserters) as the people who stayed are called OG’s(original Gothamites). It is a two part “New Gotham” series and the first is not a crossover event, it spans Detective Comics 743 – 750.
Evolution is a story written by Greg Rucka. The art is at some points really cool and others, very sloppy. The colors are really cool or the lack of colors, which give it a very film noir feel. The story itself is kinda, blah, which bothers me because Rucka is a good writer. It does deal with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins.
Officer Down is a really cool idea, but the art is the issue here. It is really bad, it is a big crossover event and suffers because the art. This story is a detective story about who shot Commissioner Gordon. That was the thing that attracted me to the story. DC out some of their better writers on the this story Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Chuck Dixon, but the art really hurts.
Batman: Bruce Wayne Murderer, Bruce Wayne Fugitive
Where in the hell did Bruce Wayne get a body guard and why? Sasha Bordeaux, I guess they installed her in comics I did not read. But at the beginning of his story, Bruce has a bodyguard who goes to jail for Bruce who is being framed for killing his girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild. She showed up in Detective 751 and created by Greg Rucka. She actually is a part of Checkmate which is a part of this story.
It’s ok, this is yet another great Gotham crossover and not a bad story. We get to play the guessing game and play detective along with while reading. We also get to see more of other characters that why mostly don’t see and there is a big presence from Checkmate. We also learn more about Cassandra Cain. Overall it is a good story and worth the read.
As we move on into the next part of Batman’s chronology, things really start to get crazy. We move closer to Hush and Red Hood and into life after Infinite Crisis. We are getting closer to more current books, well before the New 52. We are now up through 2002 and Red Hood would get us up to 2006.