Joker’s No Man’s Land: GordonPosted: 12/01/2013
While I normally like to cover stories that may not get the publicity the famous ones do, the famous ones receive that fame for a reason. Usually because they’re expertly written, wildly exciting, or heartbreakingly sad. We hit the last category today. The gigantic Batman event No Man’s Land comes to a close in Detective Comics #741, written by Greg Rucka & Devin Grayson and drawn by Damion Scott & Dale Eaglesham.
Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, despite always chain smoking and looking as if he just got off a three-day shift, has had his fair share of paramours. Not as many as Bruce Wayne, but Gordon also isn’t a gorgeous billionaire who dresses as a giant bat to punch muggers off rooftops. Actually, I didn’t much research Gordon’s love interests. But the main two (and really the only two necessary to know) will always be his two wives: Barbara Gordon and Sarah Essen Gordon. In Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One arc, Gordon and Sarah begin an affair. Even Batman’s red-headed buddy has his morality crushing vices. Anyway, cut to many years later, with both Gordon and Sarah divorced, they start dating and get married in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2, written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Michael Netzer:
It had been a rough night for both of them. We cut eight years later to the end of No Man’s Land in early 2000. One final scheme from the Joker. As usual, it’s twisted and’ll end with readers’ tears soaking the pages of their comics. Make sure your keyboards are waterproof.
Y’see, the Joker lies. A lot. The heroes split up to cover the city — but every baby just turns out to be dolls that explode on contact. Cue lots of destruction and close calls. Joker totally hoarded the babies himself. Unfortunately, when they figure out exactly where he’s hiding, only one person happened to already be on the scene.
Beautiful art showing the horror on Gordon’s face mixed with a nauseating angle. We forget that as gimmicky and silly Batman’s supervillains can be, they’re also almost all unrepentant and dangerous killers. Killer Croc eats people, for goodness sake. And the Joker? Nothing funny about his body count. [Ed. Note: Sorry, that type of joke won’t happen again.]
Look, the majority of you have read this before and everyone else can probably guess what’s about to happen. I’m not great at subtlety. But I didn’t pick this issue for the upcoming trauma — it’s the reaction from Gordon and Batman that grabbed me. To see Gordon at his weakest and Batman dropping all facade of scary criminal puncher puts both characters in a human light the DC universe sometimes lacks. But let’s continue — and this next scene pains me (and I’m sure you) every time I have to reread it.
When Flashpoint occurred a few years ago to reset the DC universe, Gordon’s marriage to Sarah no longer happened. Any record of her has been erased in the annals of “official” DC history. I don’t mind, they’re fictional characters after all, but it doesn’t erase the emotional impact of Gordon’s immediate mourning and rage. Especially the rage.
I’m fascinated by Batman’s declaration — we know he wouldn’t let Gordon kill the Joker. After all, the commissioner’s partnership with Batman relies on Gordon forever being that one incorruptible cop. We really don’t give Gordon as much credit as a supporting character as we should. He serves as Batman’s father figure just as much as Alfred does. We end today with both a bang and a whimper. Wipe those tears away.