Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

Neil Gaiman. THAT Neil Gaiman. Sandman. Superb novelist: American Gods, Anansi Boys, get the idea. I fanboy'd out quite a bit when I heard he was doing this 2-issue story.

The title comes in homage to the Superman story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" written a very long-ass time ago. That was an excellent story that, in many ways, paved the way for the "modern" Superman.

Is that the intent for Batman with this story? I don't know, really. Flipping through the first issue (with the exception of the last couple pages), all I could think was "what the hell? Did Gaiman finally run out of ideas?" As I browsed, I thought it looked hokey, like watching B.J. and the Bear as an adult.

After I got the second issue, I flipped through it again, thinking that Neil was on crack, and I would have to burn my copies of Good Omens, Sandman, Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Death: the High Cost of Living, and Smoke and Mirrors. See, I am a big Neil Gaiman fan, because what he writes is different, it's funny, sad, happy, and miserable all at the same time. Smoke and Mirrors contains some of the most brilliant short stories I've ever read.

Back to what I am babbling about...after flipping through the second issue, I let them just sit for a couple weeks, thinking I will read them when I am at a peak of boredom. The kind of boredom that sets in and makes you want to take your own life. I wasn't that bored tonight and figured I'd just get it over with.

Holy shit. That sums it up, for me. In this story, we see many versions of Batman, many versions of his "death", and get to hear how he died at a funeral that contains such luminaries like the Joker, Robin, Penguin, Two-Face, Catwoman, Alfred, name it.

I read this story, remembering Batman stories from the Golden Age all the way to current. As with anything I read by Gaiman, I am never sure what I am getting into for the first few pages, and then he hooks you. I was engrossed, and after the amount of crappy batman stories being chucked out lately, this was amazing.

Grant Morrison, please take note.

873 out of 5 stars.


Marcus said...

So you read the two-issue story, hated it and waited to read it again. Then, you loved it?

Steve said...

Ha! Pretty much...when I was flipping through, without actually reading any captions/bubbles, it looked like I was reading something by Rob Liefeld...disjointed and making no sense.

But alas, my stupidity only goes so far.