Batman: Noël (Deluxe Edition) (DC) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 7th, 2021  

Batman: Noël (Deluxe Edition)

DC

Written by Lee Bermejo; Art and cover by Lee Bermejo

Nov 08, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Writer/artist Lee Bermejo (Joker) tries to tap into the emotional core of the Batman character and mythos with the seasonal graphic novel, Batman: Noël. What could just be a Christmas Carol-aping curio at best, ultimately sheds a chiaroscuroed light on Gotham’s shadowy protector. Bermejo pulled off a similarly nuanced feat with his painterly art on Brian Azzarello’s Joker story. That was a better realized book. Noël has some positives, too.

Batman: Noël is told through the eyes of a slight bag-man named Bob who has a son named Tim that is suffering from a bad leg. (Sound familiar?) Bob works for the recently escaped Joker, and Batman is trying to use Bob and his son as bait for the big fish. The Batman-as-Scrooge motif works well enough. He’s a deeply troubled and bitter character that will stop at nothing to avenge his parents’ deaths. I enjoyed Bermejo’s theme of Batman constantly coughing and hacking across the rooftops of Gotham. His obsession is driving him mad and breaking down his body.

Just as in the original Charles Dickens tale, Scrooge (Batman) is visited by three Christmas spirits. Short flashback panels to earlier versions of the Caped Crusader are handled well enough and the grit of the modern era is never overplayed. This is a through-line that plays out like a children’s bedtime story for adults. The omnipresent narration can be a tad overcooked at times, but Bermejo reins the reader back in with exquisitely rendered character models and intricate cityscapes. His depictions of snow and light in this book are absolutely beautiful. Even the lettering is done with the precision of a family tombstone engraving.

There are two niggling cons to acknowledge: Dialogue can prove to be pedestrian between the lead characters and the three specters that visit Batman are generally mishandled. The latter deserves some more explanation.

Batman’s first “ghost” is Catwoman. She tries to convince the great detective that he was a better and more vibrant person to uncover from his past life. It’s an emotional scene, but not necessarily a successful one. It’s too brief to leave an emotional impact. Next up is the Father Christmas-esque Superman. His scenes are expertly drawn by Bermejo. They just aren’t convincing. The Joker “ghost” is the best of the lot, mainly due to the peril involved. Stilted dialogue drags down all three a little bit. That’s the primary concern running throughout the book. The art tips the balances in Bermejo’s favor, though.

Batman: Noël is primarily told through its awe-inspiring art when the plot trips up. Bermejo balances luminescence and grime with an unparalleled deftness and diehard Bat fans should take notice. Alex Ross has a worthy successor. Just don’t expect a story on par with the evergreen Dickens classic.

Note: This deluxe edition includes several of Bermejo’s character sketches and other supplemental materials. (www.leebermejo.blogspot.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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Liza
December 7th 2011
4:28pm

Gee whiz, and I thuohgt this would be hard to find out.

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March 7th 2012
5:30pm

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