What could be more Christmassy than Batman? especially in his morally ambiguous post-Dark Knight reinvention* chasing criminals through the underbelly of Gotham City, inflicting some horrendously arbitrary instant justice upon said criminals and then returning to his lair to brood some more about the violent death of his parents; it all just reeks of Christmas to me.
Well enter 2011 graphic novel Batman: Noël by Lee Bermejo. It is a graphic retelling of that literary masterpiece The Muppet Christmas Carol, from all the way back in 1992**, with Batman cast in the traditional Michael Caine role. Bermejo’s art is great, the illustrations are gritty and realistic but with a touch of otherworldliness about them^. In particular what impresses me is the cinematic way in which he arranges his layout, he strikes me very much as a man who thinks like a film director.
The challenge of course with any adaptation of a well-known source is exactly how to make it fresh and suspenseful, when after all, everyone knows the story arc. Bermejo passes this test with ease, he does the Muppets proud, teasing us with a tricksy narration that plays to the source, whilst the superhero stuff unfurls around us. There are also references to the more light-hearted Bat capers of the 60’s and 70’s in the background, contrasted purposefully with the lone, violent vigilante he has become now.
I can say very little about the plot without spoiling things considerably for any who may wish to read it; the identity of the various ghosts included. Suffice to say a few old friends from Batman’s past and the DC world guest. More to the point the story is told with real verve, humanity, a touch of humour and no little emotional clout. It may even have a happy ending. Batman: Noël Perfect for Christmas, in fact it would make a great present for the bat person in your life, particularly if that’s you.
Again, because I’m a considerate sort I’ve been very careful what to show you here by way of artwork and to just allow you a flavour, so what follows is mostly architectural – apart from the gratuitous shot of Catwoman’s booty, that is.
619 Down (still).
*I’m talking comics not the films, I don’t have a whole lot of time for them.
**you may know it from the crappy literary adaptation Charles Dickens did in 1843.
^I re-read A Christmas Carol recently and it shouldn’t be forgotten because of how familiar with it we are, how strong the elements of horror and the supernatural are before Scrooge’s rehabilitation.