Thursday, April 30, 2009
The End of Batman's Long, Strange Trip
There's probably no way Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert could have topped the first installment of "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader," which was one of the best single-issue comics I've read this year. But while part two isn't as original as the first, it's still quite good.
We all know Batman's departure from the DC Universe is temporary; yet, Gaiman has managed to craft a story full of melancholy and meaning. In fact, his contribution is the only part of the "Batman's Dead" storyline that hasn't come off like a cheap stunt. Most of part two is a conversation between Bruce Wayne — who isn't sure that he's dead — and his late mother. (I'd be perfectly happy if I never saw another panel of young Bruce kneeling beside his murdered parents' bodies, but I'll let this one slide.) The tenderness of the dialogue between Bruce and his mother really affected me, though I wish he hadn't been in costume the entire time. Then again, Batman is no longer Bruce Wayne's alter ego. It's who he is. Maybe I've gone soft, but the ending, combined with some "Goodnight, Moon" moments, gave me the sniffles.
I think this a comic that readers will either love or loathe. The storytelling devices are well-worn, and there are no big surprises. Batman never gave up his lonely fight, and then, eventually, he died. That's it. It's just a quiet, heartfelt ending that isn't really the end.