Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Batman: Noel (comics)

Writer/Artist: Lee Bermejo
Original Graphic Novel

This book just kind of snuck up on me; I didn't even know it existed until a week or two before its release late, late last year.

Batman going through his own version of A Christmas Carol is something I'm a bit shocked hasn't happened before. Doesn't it seem like everything goes through the "A Christmas Carol" homage? Maybe it's just my memories playing tricks on me.

Here, it works better than a lot of other attempts. The narration overlays a telling of A Christmas Carol over Batmans "humbug" of a Christmas. Batman is, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge, with all that entails.

I don't hate the super gritty, dark, dickish version of Batman - in small doses, at least - but only when it adds to the story, which rarely happened in most of the stories from the 90's up to about seven years ago. Here, it makes sense. The Batstard incarnation - or the Dick Knight, if you prefer - meshes the character with the tale of Scrooge. After all, a Batman with a better balance won't have much to learn from such an ordeal, which is the entire point of the tale. The end result works better than I expected.

Lee Bermejo isn't exactly known for his writing, so I tried not to expect much. Artists trying their hand at writing tends not to work out that well. Plus, I wasn't sure what to expect without Azzarello, who typically teams with Bermejo. Pleasant surprise here; Bermejo can actually hold his own in this department. He easily nails the premise, the narration and the characters; this certainly won't be the best written GN I read this year, but when you consider artists going for writing is always an unknown, it certainly deserves mention and praise.

Bermejo's art is as great as always. I have to believe that there's a group of people out there who don't like his art. I mention this because I could understand why; I'm not always looking to read a comic with art of this variety. But the difference between a style that doesn't work for you and bad art is the craft; Bermejo knows what hes doing, from panel flow to layouts and so on.

Overall, this is a nice package. I imagine it would have been nicer for me if I'd read it during the Christmas season as intended instead of after, but it's enjoyable out of the season as well.

The Score: 8 out of 10

An enjoyable Christmas tale. I imagine it would be great to have once the holidays start to creep up again this year. It's not going to blow any doors down but it doesn't need to. I give it a recommendation.

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