Also, a storyline in the various Batman
comics, including Batman
and Detective Comics
. (Also also, a novel based on that storyline written by Greg Rucka
. This writeup is based more upon the novel than the comics.)
Gotham has fallen upon some hard times, but the worst (at least as of this storyline) was the so-called Cataclysm -- a massive earthquake that more-or-less totaled the city. Apparently, Gotham is located on an island connected only to the rest of the United States by a couple of
bridges and tunnels, sorta like Manhattan. The damage from the earthquake was so severe that, through circumstances not really revealed in the novel, Congress decided to just excommunicate the place, and
kick it out of the country. (For hardcore DC Comics fans, note that this was before Lex Luthor became President.)
The Gotham that everyone knows and loves is completely cut off from the rest of the world. They blew up the bridges, planted land mines in the water, everything. Nothing goes in, nothing comes out.
And so Gotham is reduced to its own sort of anarchy. (Someone let all the inmates out of Arkham Asylum just before the bridges blew.) The Penguin is positively thriving, running a black market for just about
everything. Robinson Park is the domain of Poison Ivy, and nobody who goes in comes out. More normal villains, in the form of street gangs, are taking over. The thousands of people that couldn't leave, or simply chose not to leave, are reduced to fighting and
dying over things as simple as flashlights.
And the Batman has apparently skipped town.
Taking his place are: someone claiming to be Batgirl, which annoys the original Batgirl to no end; the Huntress, a less-disciplined vigilante; and a nameless mute girl with the obligatory checkered past who nevertheless still kicks much
Subjective review: Well, it wouldn't be much of a Batman story unless the guy shows up eventually. Thus, the story ends up as a character study. Batman has long sworn to uphold the law; how does this apply in a place that has, literally, no law?
The novel's writing assumes, like most adaptations of comics, that you're already somewhat familiar with the characters, and so doesn't waste time on things like characters' appearances. While it's probably safe to assume
that most people know what the Batman is supposed to look like, this sort of assumption isn't at all valid for many of the minor characters.
The above is a minor weakness; the major weakness is that, like a lot of sitcoms, at the end of the storyline, it doesn't seem like anything has really changed. Batman is still Batman, The Joker is still a kook, Gotham's still got the highest crime rate in the DC Universe, et cetera, et cetera. (Of course, if you change things too much, you end up with that "Superman's new costume" fiasco from a few years back.)
On the other hand, I got the book for three bucks in the remainders bin at Barnes and Noble. For that price, it wasn't a bad read at all.