February 22, 2009

Legends of the Dark Knight

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.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

Well, the fraternity requirements are pretty lax, and the paperwork to kick someone out are just ridiculous, so we'll have to let this one slide :)

Seriously though.. One of the things that always concerns me in doing reviews is that I'm not part of the comic book blogosphere's echo chamber. Comic books, and their fans, are way to diverse a group to all like the same thing. I can like Gaiman's Batman story, and have no use for Sandman. I can love Morrison's Animal Man and have no use for his Filth. I can love Fraction's X-Men and.. no wait.. I can't. Still others can and do buy and enjoy Fraction's X-Men.

I, and I suspect Rokk, just appreciate that when you do or don't like something, you take the time to explain it, not just launch into some ad hominem attack and tell us it sucks.

Keep up the good work!