#CBR6 Review #70: Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman
I was on a comics kick and wanted something, and someone, more familiar, so Neil Gaiman’s addition to the Batman canon seemed as good a choice as any. With Doctor Who, Gaiman has shown he’s arguably more adept at working with pre-established characters than creating them himself. As a result, I expected more of the same from this, especially given the relatively high rating over on Goodreads (3.92).
Like with “The Doctor’s Wife,” the first episode he wrote for Doctor Who, Gaiman decides to take the opportunity to be clever, rather than go a more straightforward route. Unlike “The Doctor’s Wife,” however, his cleverness gets the better of him, as this time he tries to be too clever and mucks things up.
In Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, Batman is dead and all the familiar faces from his past, from Alfred to The Joker, show up to attend his funeral. As all this happens, Batman himself looks on. How, we’re not sure, and neither is Batman. By the end of the story, he and us all know what’s been going on, but it just doesn’t work as a standalone story. In essence, he wrote the end-tag for Batman, one that could be placed after any and all story-arcs (past, present, and future) rather than a real concluding installment.
Still, for the briefest of moments, he flashes some true genius. Alfred’s version of how Batman died, in which he himself played The Joker and hired on others to play the rest of Batman’s villains, is the sort of Batman story I want to read. Were Gaiman to write that, I’d buy and read it the day it came out. But he seems to have little interest in telling a conventional Batman tale, so I guess there’s no reason hoping that’ll ever happen. To sum up, Gaiman disappoints me yet again.