Title: Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
Author(s): Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert, et al.
Publisher: DC Comics
Rating: 3/5 stars
OK, I'm prepared for the gasps of shock and anger from the appropriate crowd, but honestly, I was really disappointed in this story. Maybe part of the problem is that I am just not that familiar with what is happening in the individual comic book series right now, but I do know that Bruce Wayne has apparently died. Gaiman was asked to write a swan song of sorts for Batman, and Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? is the end result.
I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but I don't think this was it. Originally publihsed in Batman #685 and Detective Comics #852, basically, we are witnessing Batman's funeral (not Bruce Wayne's) and the remaining supporting cast of the series has come to pay their respects. Each person, including his Rogues Gallery, speaks about Batman and how he died, and how each person contributed to his death. Yet not one of these stories matches with another. And it appears that Bruce Wayne is viewing all of the ongoings as a sort of out of body experience.
I think the biggest problem here is that Gaiman was only given two issues to write this out in. I definitely think that the story could have benefited from one, maybe two, more issues of story. It seemed, at least to me, that Gaiman had more story to tell but had to compress what he had to make it fit into the space allotted. He tried to pay tribute to each of the most influential artists and writers of the Batman mythos, but with so many tributes crammed into only two issues and still needing to leave room for the "big reveal" explanation at the end, what we're left with is a rather jumbled mess of a story.
Andy Kubert's art is quite stunning throughout. He makes an effort to replicate the basic art styles from each time frame that Gaiman pays tribute to, and does an admirable job. His unique style comes through the entire story, but you can also see the artistic influences of the time in his art. I found it a unique and fresh approach to the art. I just wish the story itself left me with the same feeling.
Also included in this edition are four other Batman stories that Gaiman has written over the years.
Maybe if I were more immersed in the Batman series right now, this story would have meant more to me. Maybe if I were a faithful monthly reader, I would have gotten more out of it. But I'm not a stranger to the Batman mythos, and this still felt like Gaiman couldn't quite decide where he wanted to take his story. Maybe he needed another issue. Who knows. I'm sure this story will appeal to the right person, whether that person is a Gaiman fan or a Batman fan. All I know is that I'm a little bit of both (more a Gaiman fan than a Batman fan) and I was left wanting something more out of this story.