August 23, 2009
BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER?
Over two decades ago, when DC was preparing the end the original run of Superman comics and re-launch the series beginning with a new #1 issue, legendary comic writer Alan Moore was approached to write the “wrap-up” of the series. That two-part comic, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW? has become one of the most well-loved and well-known Superman comics ever published. Though considered by many as non-canonical, that story did bring an end to the Silver Age of Superman, much to the chagrin of comic fans around the world. Now fast forward two decades. Instead of Superman, DC decided to “kill” it’s other tent pole superhero, Batman. Seeming to have died towards the end of the “Final Crisis” series, DC approached Neil Gaiman to write a story to sum up the life and legend of Batman. Using Moore’s famous story as inspiration, Gaiman wrote BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER?
Now, I have to admit, I never liked Batman as much as I liked Superman and the Green Lantern. For many, Batman is a character they love because Gotham City is more like the real world than Metropolis and Batman is just an ordinary human with no super abilities. It’s for those very reasons, that I like Batman a little less that the Man of Steel or Hal Jordan. Superheroes should be super. That’s what makes them different. Still, even though he’s not my favorite, I still like Batman and do find him the most relatable of the major DC heroes. In WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? Bruce Wayne cannot be seen by people, but it becomes clear to him he is at his own funeral. Friends, comrades, and enemies all appear for the service. One by one they get up to tell their own stories about Batman & Bruce Wayne. None of the stories are the same. It’s not possible for most of these stories to be true. In fact, problem none of them actually happen. Yet, each of them provides a glimpse into the Caped Crusader and how he was viewed by allies, foes, and readers alike through a long and storied history.
For Batman fans, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? is a love letter. It’s filled with allusions to famous Batman battles, minor villains, and other Batman minutia that Batman fans or other comic book geeks will enjoy discovering. The artwork by Andy Kubert is gorgeous. It captures the essence of Batman; the shadowing of a dark and dreary world ripped from crime stories and film noir, yet touched and lighted by the elegance of the glow like that from the screen of an old cinema showing a classic Hollywood movie. It is danger seeped in nostalgia, longing, and lost innocence.
Despite the original idea and the beautiful artwork, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? is not a story that will appeal to many people. It’s very much tied into what is currently happening in the DC universe, e.g. the events of FINAL CRISIS and the current BLACKEST NIGHT storyline. Therefore, those who just have a general knowledge of Batman and the DC universe might be confused. Also, the story has a rather ambiguous ending. No one is for sure what is going to happen with Batman, but unlike the Silver Age Superman stories that came to an end with WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW?, WHATEVE HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? is not the final Batman story.
Included with this Deluxe edition, are three other Batman comic Gaiman wrote: a Black and White story (where DC characters interact in the green room before appearing in their panels); a Poison Ivy story; and a Joker story.