Detective Comics Shows Gotham City’s No Man’s Land Gave Some Better Lives

Unfortunately, for the boy and others like him, the restoration of Gotham marked the return to a status quo that had never been good for them.

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from “House of Gotham: Chapter Ten” in Detective Comics #1056, on sale now.

During the “No-Man’s Land” crossover event, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake reduced most of Gotham City to rubble. In the aftermath, what little remained was quarantined under the orders of then-President Lex Luthor, forcing many of its citizens to fend for themselves within the ruins of their city. While most of Gotham’s citizens view this era as one of the darkest chapters in their city’s history, for some, it was a chance to start a new and better life.

One example of this is the Boy, a young man whose life was torn apart in the crossfire of the never-ending battle between Batman and his rogue’s gallery. As shown in Detective Comics #1056 (by Matthew Rosenberg, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Rob Leigh), the boy used the skills he’d learned from Gotham’s most dangerous criminals to become a benevolent leader to those trapped within the ruins of Gotham. Sadly, the return of law and order would bring an abrupt end to the Boy’s brief reign of him, forcing him to return to a life of crime that will ultimately lead to him becoming Gotham’s newest supervillain.


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Like many of Gotham’s less fortunate citizens, the boy was left behind by the Luthor administration’s sloppy and selective evacuation of the city. Although he could have used what he’d learned from villains like Scarecrow, Penguin, and Bane to become one of the many gang leaders that tyrannically ruled over portions of the city, the boy instead chose to lead his growing following of homeless teens and children. down a righteous path. Allying with Killer Croc, the boy used the sewers of Gotham to steal the food and medicine that criminals were hoarding for themselves and redistribute them to the innocent people trapped within the city, keeping only what he needed to feed and care for himself and his followers of the.


Although some of those that the boy helped, including longtime Batman ally Leslie Thompkins, were wary of the methods he used to acquire his resources and of his close ties to Croc, the boy’s efforts helped save hundreds, if not thousands of lives and helped him overcome his life-long trauma. Before the earthquake, the boy was a prisoner of his past, held back by his fear and hatred of Batman, whom he blamed for all of the misfortune that had befallen him throughout his life. After Gotham fell, however, the boy finally found a sense of acceptance and agency, forming close relationships with many of his followers and becoming a confident and effective leader who prioritized the well-being of those around him. The boy’s positive influence on those around him was so pervasive that Batman himself was forced to admit that he’d been wrong about the boy after he and Huntress lured him into a trap under the belief that he was just another self-interested gang leader.


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Unfortunately, the boy’s confrontation with Batman shows that he still holds an unwarranted grudge against the Dark Knight that shakes his newfound confidence and exposes his fear of the day that Gotham returns to normalcy. Unlike the vast majority of Gotham’s citizens, including most of his followers of him, the boy prefers the life that he now has within the ruins of the city and has no desire to go back to the way things were. While the boy may have been staying within the comparative luxury of the Wayne-Kord Rehabilitation Center before Gotham fell, he was still a fugitive from Arkham with a criminal history and was likely going to be sent back after he’d finished recovering from the grievous wounds that Jean-Paul Valley’s Batman had inflicted on him. Regardless of whether or not he’s forced to resume his sentence once law and order are restored, the boy will still lose the life that he’s built for himself within the no man’s land once the city inevitably recovers, and he’s likely not the only one who wishes that the city stays dead.


Fittingly enough, the lifting of Gotham’s quarantine fell upon New Year’s Day, and celebrations that unfolded throughout the city heralded both the arrival of a new year and the full recovery of the city. Unfortunately, for the boy and others like him, the restoration of Gotham marked the return to a status quo that had never been good for them. While there’s still a chance that stories of the boy’s heroic deeds will inspire the authorities to forgive his past transgressions and grant him the clean slate he deserves, his current identity as the villainous Nero XIX proves that the boy is destined to become the very thing that I have eleven fought against. Considering the important role that Batman played in ending the quarantine, it’s likely that the boy’s grudge against him will become even more intense, building towards an inevitable confrontation between the men who helped save Gotham.


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