Recently, Rokk of the Comic Book Revolution said some rather nice things about this blog. But now, I'm about to admit something that...simply put, may very well get me kicked out of the comic loving fraternity.
I was never a really big fan of Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
Oh, sure, I read the trades and enjoyed them...but they never really grabbed me during their initial run. (Maybe I was too busy enjoying the pulpy Sandman Mystery Theater to notice). In fact, I've been making an attempt to read Mr. Gaiman's novels as an attempt to make amends. (And Terry Pratchett's because, well, a slightly goofy co-worker encouraged me to).
But in a way, I'm further encouraged by "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader" in Batman # 686, written by Mr. Gaiman and drawn by Andy Kubert. After all the mega-explosive highly dramatic action of Final Crisis and Batman - RIP, it's a relatively low-key story...and almost a great coda.
The premise is simple - we're at Batman's funeral, and assorted enemies, friends, and others come to tell stories of the Dark Knight. Just the opening sequences featuring a hapless valet parking attendant alone are extremely witty....but the issue does more than attempt that Alan Moore and Curt Swan did in 1985 with "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" It actually serves as a nice summation of the flexibility of the Batman mythos.
(Of course, I admit I'm biased - I'm a Batman guy. I never came from another planet, but if I eat my veggies, read a lot, and exercise...plus, gain a ton of money and buy cool gadgets, I can be Batman).
As we watch an old flame and an old friend tell their stories, there is...well, a strong literary sense about the issue. It's one of those comics that...Ok, we all know that Batman's not really dead, that this whole Battle for the Cowl is one big red herring. However, every once in awhile, we need a reminder that Batman is probably the most accessible of all comic heroes - a man driven by trauma to make sure that it never happens to anyone. Ever.
Detective. Millionaire. Vigilante. Father Figure. These are the many roles of Batman. And this is one issue that both comics fans and non-fans should read.
Very Highly Recommended.