Sunday, November 20, 2011

Batman: Noel Review

In Lee Bermejo's Batman: Noel, Charles Dickens classic story of "A Christmas Carole" gets a radical re-interpretation with none other than the brooding, obsessive, winged avenger of Gotham filling in for Scrooge, the grouchy old miser who in the course of one night, is visited by three spirits and chooses to change his stripes and turn over a new leaf.
Going along with the Scrooge theme, the Batman we are presented with in this story is very much a calloused, jaded, and cynical man. Although he once burned with youthful enthusiasm and the desire to be a catalyst for change in a fallen city, we see now that years of battling the absolute worst society has to offer has left him cold, suspicious, and unable to see the good in people anymore.
His mood is not improved in the slightest by the fact that The Joker, Gotham's most notorious psychopathic killer and Batman's sworn enemy has recently escaped from Arkham asylum and is at large.
Mirroring Scrooge's longsuffering employee is a down on his luck single father appropriately named "Bob" who, in a desperate attempt to bring in some extra income for him and his son becomes implicated in a cash drop for The Clown Prince of Crime. The job quickly goes awry when Bob is caught by Batman who suscpects the Joker will come after him because of his failure and decides to use him as bait to lure his enemy out.
Later that night, Batman is forced to re-evaluate his rash decisions regarding Bob and his black and white perception of humanity in general when he is visited by three characters, each symbolizing a particular period of his crime fighting career, who help him get back in touch with the hero he once was and the hero he can be again.
 Simply put, Batman: Noel is an engrossing gem of a story that manages to pay homage to its inspiration while putting its own exciting superhero twist on Dicken's thought provoking moral fable. Words simply fail to do justice to Lee Bermejo's stunning artwork. His Gotham feels like an actual living breathing city wrought with all the societal ailments of any sprawling metropolitan area. His Batman is a forboding gargoyle coursing with power and intimidation while his unique rendition of The Joker is more likely than not the most downright terrifying version of the character ever to appear in comics. Every panel pulsates with so much energy and attention to detail that it staggers me how much thought and pre-planning must have been put into this book. So if you are a fan of The Caped Crusader or just good, meaningful stories in general then I strongly encourage you to give Batman: Noel a try.


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