What if you had to die in order to learn how to live? In short order, that’s the plot to “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. “BATMAN NOEL,” is a graphic novel that applies that life-changing premise to Batman. At first, as you read this book, you might think that it will only make a reference to the Dickens classic. And then you think that it’s got to be The Joker who plays Scrooge. But this is not being played for laughs exactly. This is serious--spiked with some whimsy. Written and drawn by Lee Bermejo, the co-creator of The New York Times best-selling, “Joker,” this is a tale you just have to read to believe.
The intriguing idea that Bermejo plays with for all its worth is whether or not someone can make a fundamental change. The Dark Knight has become selfish and abusive. Bernejo, who dazzles us with his eye-popping Neo-Gothic drawing style, masterfully writes a Batman who sure looks beyond repair.
Bermejo has fun seeking out the humanity in Batman. We see a Batman that completely fits into a Scrooge mold. Batman is Scrooge! And, for the purposes of this story, Bob Cratchit has been reduced to a small time hood working undercover for Batman/Scrooge, with being constantly terrorized by his boss as part of his job description. This Scrooge runs Cratchit ragged and has no qualms about putting Tiny Tim in the line of fire! Be that as it may, we all know that there was something about Scrooge that made him worthy of redemption.
It’s fascinating to see how Bermejo has custom-made “A Christmas Carol” for Batman. It’s done with confidence. He consistently drives home the fact that this is Batman’s life. The narrator is a street smart guy off the street reciting the urban myth his dad told him as a kid. It’s the tale of a caped crusader, ole Scroogey, who has lost his way. There had been a time, not too different from the madcap “Batman” of the ‘60s, when life was full of hope. But his partner, Robin, like Jacob Marley, is no longer around to keep his spirits up. Now, The Dark Knight is bitter and he’s become reckless with his humanity, or lack of humanity.
One by one, the spirits arrive to warn Batman that he’s on the wrong track. There’s Catwoman to remind Batman of what a beast he has become. Then there’s Superman going through an intervention with Batman that is a classic battle between light and dark while also being funny like the old Batman vs. Superman throw downs over the years, like in the pages of “World’s Finest.” And, last but not least, is the scariest of all spirits, The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, which you’ll have to see for yourself. This is such a visual delight and a story woven to fit Batman like a glove. We know there’s a human somewhere lurking deep inside Batman. “Batman Noel,” will make you believe that even a black leather clad vigilante can have a heart.
I hope you enjoyed the review and will pick up “Batman Noel.” And feel free to visit me at Comics Grinder and see what else I’m up to.