“Batman: No Man’s Land”
by Greg Rucko
Full Cast Performance
Produced by Graphic Audio
Total Running time approx. 11 hours (separated in two volumes)

It never ceases to amaze me as to how GraphicAudio brings audiobooks alive. Their thrilling sound effects, outstanding voice actors and incidental music truly create what they call “A Movie in Your Mind.” I’m an avid comic book reader and I have read novelizations of comic books. The thing with comic books is that you have great artwork helping to push the story along and when reading a comic based novel the reader has to use that imagination to fill in the graphics. It can lead to some great adventures because the imagination has no boundaries. However, some of the best features of comic books are the beautifully drawn panels of the heroes in action. When reading one of the novels I miss those features. GraphicAudio has produced many different genres of full cast production audiobooks, but my favorites by them by far are the comic book based productions.

Through the great acting, sound effects and music, GraphicAudio fills in the gaps left behind by not having that stunning artwork. For example, in this novel when the Joker slaps a victim with a rubber-chicken filled with a hard substance you not only get the slam of the impact that is so real you nearly feel just listening, but you also get the sound of a cracked jaw and some comical sound effects that would naturally have to occur when the Joker is involved. Very realistic sound effects are not the only thing that keeps this (and other GraphicAudio productions) aurally stunning, there are also the great actors doing the voice work. Each actor playing their part is able to fully engulf the character whether it is Commissioner Gordon, Huntress, Oracle, Nightwing, Robin or the Dark Knight himself each character is portrayed by an actor that is able to fully represent the full impact of the character through audio only. Everything is represented in the voices in this production, emotions, the back story of each character and the thoughts behind the words are all brought to life through the extremely talented voices.

My favorite from this story has to be the actor portraying the Joker. One of the difficulties in bringing to a performance a well known character that the listener/fan already has a preconceived notion as to how that character sounds. With the Joker many great actors have brought the Joker to life through television or the movies, Ceasar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and in the animations Mark Hamill a dedicated fan will probably have their favorite and will always compare that voice to any newcomers. Richard Rohan the actor who portrays the Joker in this production captures all those great Joker performances and wraps them up into one superb package that has now become my favorite Joker. To top that off Rohan also does the voice for Bruce Wayne/Batman and at no time in the performance can you tell it’s the same actor.

So what’s this book all about? I will say it is one of the most interesting Batman storylines I’ve read. It contains a huge mix of Superhero action, loyalty, friends and family. This story mixes in some great Batman villains such as, the Joker, Harley Quinn, the Penguin and Two-face, some great heroes Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, the Oracle and even a bit of an anti-hero in the Huntress. So yes, this book is pretty much a who’s who of Gotham City. Putting all those characters together and then throwing in an appearance of Superman’s arch-rival, Lex Luthor, and you have an awesome story of crime and community in “Batman: No Man’s Land.”

After an earthquake hits Gotham City, leaving thousands dead and millions more wounded, the U.S. Government decides it cannot throw away anymore money at the crime infested city. What happens is all bridges connecting Gotham to the mainland U.S. are destroyed and the city is declared No Man’s Land. Upon leaving Gotham someone at Arkham Asylum left the doors open. Now Gotham City is run by gangs led by the baddest of the bad villains. The Penguin has staked out his territory and has actually a nice black market business of bringing food and supplies into Gotham City. Poison Ivy has set up camp in Gotham’s version of Central Park and pretty much stays to herself (and her plants) while Two-face has carved out his niche. One other “gang” is in place calling themselves the Blue Boys. This “gang” is led by Commissioner Gordon and consists of the Gotham City police that were dedicated to their city. Gordon is trying to tame Gotham back into a civilized city by using some tactics that he would not have used when officially serving as the police commissioner. All this is going on while the Batman seems to have gone missing.

Gordon manages to reclaim lots of territory just as Batman comes back, but by this time the anger toward the Dark Knight is enough for Gordon to no longer want his help. Batman finds that this “new” Gotham is a bit more to handle than planned for and having to battle his own ego, finally calls in Nightwing and Robin and enlists a new Batgirl. Just as the battle is being won Lex Luthor comes in and starts buying up parts of the no man’s land for his own purpose, but under the guise of goodwill and charity. Bruce Wayne begins his battle of paperwork to fight Lex and just when the Government looks like it will allow Gotham back into the nation the Joker begins his most hideous Joke and the fate of Gotham’s future will be battled between the Joker and Batman.

Awesome Batman story performed in a larger than life production that every comic book fan must hear. Whether you are a Marvel or DC fan this will rock your world.

Speaking of Marvel, in 2013 GraphicAudio will begin releasing some audiobooks based on Marvel storylines. Being a HUGE Marvel fan, I can’t wait for those releases.

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