Saturday, August 29, 2009

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? / Neil Gaiman
New York : DC Comics, 2009
Pencils by Andy Kubert
Collects Secret Origins #36, Secret Origins Special #1, Batman Black and White #2, Batman #686, and Detective Comics #853
128 p.

He is Gotham City's pretector, its avenging spirit, its Dark Knight. For years he has waged a one-man war to keep its streets safe. But tonight that war has claimed its last and greatest casualty...

Batman himself.

Obviously, I bought this for the name on the cover. I mean Batman is pretty badass, but I'd never read any of his stories, so why would I care about his death? Unsurprisingly, Neil Gaiman makes you care. All that's required going into this short graphic novel is a basic knowledge of Batman characters, which you can get practically anywhere: the animated series, Wikipedia, those good movies, those horrible movies...

The story opens and Batman is dead. :-( Sad face. Everyone -- primarily villains, but not exclusively -- is showing up at a sort of wake. Starting with Selina Kyle, they take it in turns eulogizing the Bat and telling the story of how he died. But all of their stories are different. Completely different, not just variations in perspective. Batman's spirit is watching over this and is pretty confused.

It turns into a moving look at death, deeds, and heroism told with the grace, honesty, and sly wit for which Gaiman is known.

The art is beautiful here as well. It's less cartoony and rushed than the usual comic book style.

After the main work and some sketches, the editors filled out the volume with some other stories Gaiman wrote in the Batman comics. Some are better than others. I liked the Poison Ivy story because I've always liked her. And there's an entertaining sort of pomo one where Batman and the Joker are aware they're actors in a comic book. But the real strength of the collection lies in the title story.

It's a quiet story. There is no action or dark evil here. But it's a must for Batman fans and a probably-will-regardless for fans of Gaiman.


1 comment:

  1. i don't think i can read it. it's to sad an idea.

    and, it's a bit cheap, if you ask me. origin stories i can handle, but death stories? i just can't bring myself to read them. i guess because it's ultimately just a what if story - or more like a when if.

    i guess the main thing i have a problem with is how out of context it all is. when batman eventually does die (if dc ever kill him) then who knows what the dc universe will be like - who'll be alive, what they'll think of him.

    but then, i guess i'm missing the point and that the story is more about how each villain sees him. in that sense i guess the idea is pretty nice. still, it seems a bit of a cheap shot for the Latest, Big Neil Gaiman comic story. if it was dressed more blatantly, more light-heartedly as a what if story then i think i'd like the idea of it.


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