Author/Illustrator: Neil Gaiman/Andy Kubert
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel
Publisher:: DC Comics
This is a collection of several Batman-related comics.
From the blurb:
He is Gotham City’s protector, its avenging spirit, its Dark Knight. For years he has waged a one-man war to keep its streets safe. But tonight that war has claimed its last and greatest casualty…
The Masked Manhunter lies in a coffin in Crime Alley, the place where he was born. His closest friends and deadliest enemies gather to pay their final respects. Each of them tells a very different story of the Batman they knew: how he lived…and where he died.
Like a shadow in the night, a dark figure watches over this macabre memorial. He knows that the contradictory tales these heroes and villains are telling cannot possibly all be true. Before the night is over, before the lid is closed on Batman forever, he must answer the question:
Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
This is…an interesting book.
The first complete story, from Detective Comics #686 and #853, is a love letter to different stories of Batman, particularly to the lives and deaths he’s had over the years. In it, different allies of his and members of his rogue’s gallery come to view his body in a coffin and to speak about their memories of him…and how he died.
It’s confusing, sort of, on the first read…but a second read made me realize it’s actually quite nice as a tribute to the Caped Crusader’s history. I love that Selina Kyle and Alfred Pennyworth had central roles, and I liked Selina’s story.
Also, I really liked how the last six pages were laid out.
This Deluxe Edition also includes other stories written by Gaiman and illustrated and lettered by others.
The first is “A Black and White World”, also found in Batman: Black and White Volume 1. With art by Steve Bisley, it has as story Wikipedia describes as “A behind the scenes look at Batman and the Joker during the 'production' of a comic book”, although to me it reads more like they’re rehearsing a scene in a movie or TV show. I liked it.
The second is called “Pavane” and is about Poison Ivy. We follow Mr. Stuart, a prison inspector who is “locating super-crooks for suicide missions”. His journey has brought him to a women’s penitentiary to investigate Poison Ivy…and he finds himself drawn to her as he tries to understand why she is the way she is. It was an interesting look at both Ivy and Mr. Stuart – I wonder if he’s a recurring character that I’m just not recognizing….
The third is called “Original Sins/When is a Door” and is another look at Batman’s villains. In it, a team from Galaxy News is producing a program on Gotham City’s costumed villains and wants to interview them, to present “a human side” to them. One interesting feature is the two pages of opinions from various citizens of Gotham City. It’s not bad – the ending is chilling – but the “When is a Door” section is…a little confusing. I wonder if it’s meant to hark back to a different time period than the one the story’s set in; after all, the idea that being a costumed criminal is losing its whimsy is something that the Riddler talks about.