Thursday, May 02, 2013

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? - Neil Gaiman

As I've mentioned before, I'm a long-time Batman fan. In fact, the first superhero comic I ever read, back in the late Fifties, would have been either a Batman or Superman book, I don't remember which. And the character is still going strong. BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? reprints all the Batman stories written by Neil Gaiman. The two-part title story, which appeared in the final issues of BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS to carry the original numbering, finds Batman attending his own funeral and listening to a variety of stories about himself told by various family members, friends, and enemies. These are all alternate histories; as Batman notes in the course of the story, "It didn't happen that way." Everything winds up in the sort of ambiguous manner that I'm generally not too fond of, but Gaiman makes it work fairly well. And the art by Andy Kubert is excellent, as you'd expect.

There are also origin stories of a sort for a couple of villains, Poison Ivy and The Riddler, and a bizarre story with great black-and-white artwork by Simon Bisley that finds Batman and The Joker waiting in the green room to go on-stage in a comic book story. It works better than you might think.

While I wasn't overly fond of it, this collection is okay. I loved Gaiman's story for Marvel, 1602, but feel like he sort of missed the mark here. It's still entertaining, especially for long-time Batman fans, a category in which I definitely belong. 

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