Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comic Review: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader Hardcover (DC Comics) by Rudy T

Whatever Happened To the Caped Crusader?

Neil Gaiman's swan song for the Dark Knight follows on the heels of Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." and is both a good self-contained tale as well as a continuity fill in the blank.

The story opens with some of Batman's most familiar villains and allies arriving at the Dew Drop Inn in Crime Alley to attend his funeral as the voices of Batman and a mystery woman comment on all they see. The room quickly fills and a young Dick Grayson asks if anyone has a memory to share. An older Selina Kyle tells a decades spanning tale of her first encounter, subsequent romance and ultimately part in the hero's death. Alfred's story tells of Bruce Wayne beginning his crime fighting career but being met with nothing but failure, giving Alfred the idea of enlisting his former acting troop to pose as criminal master minds with the butler morphing himself into the World's Greatest Detective's archenemy. Wayne's discovery of the truth leads him to confront a fatal threat as one of Alfred's posers finally crosses the line.

Batman continues his observations as his numerous demises are recounted by heroes and villains alike such as Robin, Clayface, Ra's Al Ghul, Superman and even the Joker. As Superman ends his eulogy, Batman notices a door and is encouraged by the woman to enter. With his entry, The Dark Knight not only discovers the woman's identity but his own role in this infinite funeral.

This hardcover, collecting Batman #686 & Detective Comics # 853, allows Gaiman's writing to flow beautifully as he weaves a multilayer story that can be appreciated by one time readers and continuity buffs alike. As much as Gaiman's writing pays homage to the stories of yesteryear, Andy Kubert is to be commended for his adaptations of classic Batman artists like Dick Sprang, Brian Bolland and even Batman's creator himself Bob Kane. I personally hadn't seen an artist do this good a job since Jon Bogdanove's Zero Hour issue in Superman: Man of Steel #37. My only complaint would be the second part of this arc was more splash art then written word but Kubert's panels are only given that much more opportunity to be appreciated.


Rudy T.
Staff Reviewer

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