Hello fellow comic book fans!
I would like to extend to you a recommendation to buy this book. To tell you a bit about myself. I have had a very brief history with comics. I have only been into super-heroes and serious reading for about 4 months now, but have had quite extensive experience with Batman in the past through the many movies, animated series, and animated direct-to-DVD releases. Batman books I have read include: Dark Knight Returns, Dark Victory, Long Halloween, The Killing Joke, Knightfall Vol. 1-3, Year One, and Joker. Of course now I have read No Man's Land Vol. 1. So this is my basic piece on the book. It's not for beginners, I'll tell you three basic reasons why before I go into any detail. This book exposes the reader to a large amount of characters, which might be good or bad for a beginner, I know, but I'll also perhaps elaborate with the following reasons. There are many writers and artists who worked on this story, so there are a few character inconsistencies. Also, there are many stories that just plain don't star Batman. There are huge chunks of the book that heavily feature Jim Gordon, Huntress, and even just random survivors. So perhaps one should familiarize themselves with the setting of Gotham a bit more, as this is more a book about Gotham than it is about Batman.
Other people have gone into what issues this collects, so I won't repeat what they have said in any detail. I will, however, tell you the amount of content in this book is well worth $30. I've also noticed people aren't mentioning the difference between the old printings and the new in any detail. The 5 original TPBs allegedly (haven't read them) collect only 40 of the actual 80 issues printed for this event. This 3 part printing will feature all 80 issues in full color on better stock than the original collections. Be careful what you buy however, as the other two parts of this printing have not been released yet. This book includes appearances from the heroes: Azreal, Batman (of course), an unknown Batgirl, Huntress, Oracle, and Superman. There are also many short stories featuring survivors of the earthquake, a story about Alfred, Many featuring Gordon, and a very short story about Harold. Villains featured throughout are primarily: Black Mask, The Joker, The Penguin, Two Face, and The Ventriloquist. Some small appearances are made by Mister Freeze, and Zsasz. I do not know some of the Azreal villains, so I apologize for perhaps not recognizing them.
The art in these stories is normally breathtaking, and DC has done nothing short of amazing with the print quality. Very nice thick glossy stock. I noticed the binding is pretty strong, but the paper stock is very heavy, so be careful reading pages early and late in the book. I noticed some issues with some of the stories though, and what follows is why I removed a star. For one thing, the "Azreal: Agent Of The Bat" stories penciled by Roger Robinson and inked by James D. Pascoe look like they might have been scanned, or I dislike the artists, or both. These books look like they were drawn with magic markers. What I would imagine is they were originally intended to be printed on a very fibrous matte stock, where the blacks would carry over a little more subtle. I found myself disgusted with those 20-30 page sections, many times skimming the stories to get to better material. There was also one "Batman: Shadow Of The Bat #85" written by Ian Edgington and drawn/ colored by D'Isreali. The story I felt was very important, but they took a... rather creative approach with the art and writing. Batman seemed randomly campy and non-descript for this one, in contrast to the dark and interesting Batman featured in the rest of the book. Scene composition was also sloppy many times during this story. The art was too clean and seemed like it was drawn by Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) or Smith (Bone). Everything was cartoon-like and exaggerated.
Though the above might dissuade you from your purchase, I assure you this piece is one of the best Batman books I have read.
It is also one of the best comics I have read so far. So, buy this without question as long as you have enough experience!