Review: Detective Comics #853

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I admit to being a few days behind the time on this one.  I read it the day it came out – I devoured it, in fact.  However, I was unsure of what to make of it.  As I read it, I was struck by the extreme anti-climax of it all.  I put it down, disappointed, and moved on to the next book in my read stack.

As the day and then week wore on, however, I found my thoughts often returning to Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?  This second part featured some of the best work Andy Kubert has ever done, I recognized that right away.  I also appreciated the continuation of the stories from issue 1, as they remained skillfully handled.  Though the full stories are no longer shown, the snippets we do get are emotionally powerful – from the Mad Hatter being haunted by Batman’s last words, to the redemption of Clayface – and through them, Gaiman mines the mythology of the character to find its hidden heart, the vast, powerful supporting cast that Batman has developed over the years.

Like Morrison, Gaiman realizes that Batman isn’t about tragedy, but hope.  Batman isn’t about fear, but love.Not loss, but family.  Batman will fight the devil, fight off the God of Evil, and afterwards, he’ll be right back to fighting off muggers in Gotham.  In a way, Gaiman’s issue comments on that perfectly as Batman is led by a figure from his past to witness these stories, his many deaths, and learn what the purpose of this ordeal is, and while the ultimate message of the issue does serve as metacommentary on the Batman comics themselves, it also fits in quite well with his Omega Sanctioned fate in Final Crisis.

In some ways, perhaps Whatever Happened came a little too close at the heels to The Butler Did It, a more exciting, storyline relevant two-part meta-commentary Bat-arc by a famed writer from across the Atlantic.  That is up to each reader to decide for him or herself.  What I do know is that part 2 of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? was a deeply respectable, emotional send-off to a character who is, at least for now, gone, but not forgotten.

Grade: B+

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4 thoughts on “Review: Detective Comics #853

  1. I thought about the Omega Sanction when I read it. There was even a line like, “Some of my deaths are small and unnoticed.” But I completely forgot to put that in my review. So, thanks! I’m glad one of us thought of it.

    Also, what else would you want this story to be? It couldn’t really be the action-packed adventure that MOT was. Different character, and you wouldn’t want these two to be too similar. You can’t really do the Joker relationship because that’s been done a lot, in Morrison’s run most recently.

    So, what do you have left? If nothing else, this will hopefully give fans a better appreciation for Morrison’s run. In three trades, and an event I suppose, he packed everything there is to pack, for Batman. At least WHCC was somewhat unique. In the first issue, you got Batman’s love, obsession, and the whole villain-inspiring issue dealt with. Then, in this issue, you got Batman’s parents, childhood, and immortality out of the way.

    What else do you want?

  2. Ultimately, I can’t say. There was something ephemeral missing from it, though, keeping it from greatness.

    Perhaps it is that DC purposely invited comparison to Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, a book which did actually END something. Where MoT affirmed the forward-moving nature of things, giving Superman a means of retirement, CC was a reaffirmation that, so long as he sells, Batman will be Batman will be Batman.

    There was a beauty to the book, I can’t deny that, but I still left it feeling less than wholly satisfied. It was a quality book, that can’t be denied, and it was unique in many ways. It was a stirring story that stuck with me after I read it. But it was still… too crammed into 2 issues, and too reliant on making sure that it didn’t really DO anything. It was absolutely solid, but neither Gaiman’s brightest nor even the best of the Batman stories.

  3. I can’t argue with that last sentence. Still, for its pages, it’s probably only behind the Killing Joke. Although, as you pointed out, the Killing Joke did a lot, while CC did little.

    Oh, and I posted my address in a draft. Please copy and email quick so I can take it down!

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