DC is ushering in the holiday spirit early this year, before the shitty Christmas music and faux-Santas invade your malls, with Batman: Noel. DC has been forcing this book right under out noses for quite some time now, offering previews at the back of nearly every weekly for the past few weeks, and it’s finally coming out to join other Batman holiday stories like The Long Halloween. Written and illustrated by Lee Berjemo, best known for his artwork in the Eisner Award winning Joker graphic novel that hit everyone by storm a few years back. Batman: Noel is inspired by the seminal Charles Dickens holiday novella, A Christmas Carol, which to date is one of the most famous works in English Literature. Any comic that works to bring in aspect of high popular culture is worth a look. Read on for the skinny…
“Inspired by Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol, BATMAN: NOEL features different interpretations of The Dark Knight, along with his enemies and allies, in different eras, from writer/artist Lee Bermejo (JOKER). In this spectacular, oversized graphic novel, Batman must come to terms with his past, present and future as he battles villains from the campy 1960s to dark and brooding menaces of today, while exploring what it means to be the hero that he is.”
I have a strong admiration for classic works of English literature by the likes of Charles Dickens, Edgar Alan Poe, and (not) Jane Austen. The comics medium is exceedingly different from the old style of poetic prose and bringing elements of the classics into Gotham has never really been done until now. Obviously, comic writers have influences outside of the realm of graphic storytelling, but it’s rare that you can actually recognize these influences.
Part of what makes Batman: Noel so appealing is that it overtly calls out Dickens’ definitive Christmas story about that bastard-turned-good, Ebenezer Scrooge. Often, when contemporary writers re-write or re-work past stories they end up putting a modern twist on it to make us see something we may have missed in the original work. Or when they are really good, they bring the values and themes of the past into the present to make us realize something about our contemporary society. I imagine that many younger comic readers have likely not had the pleasure of reading A Christmas Carol, but I have a feeling after reading Noel, many will seek out the original source material. Any book that has the power to make its readers pursue additional stories is brilliant in my opinion; what better way to introduce young readers to canonical works in English literature.
Bermejo is an incredibly talented artist. Comics are is highly subjective artform for the most part especially when you’ve got aritsts like Humberto Ramos and Rob Liefeld in the game. But, some artists like Bermejo seem to be regarded as having objectively beautiful illustrations. Bermejo is able to take characters we know and love and give them a sinister and realistic twist that makes them pop out of the pages. Batman Noel is worth picking up for the artwork alone.
Bermejo has, unfortunately, not been given enough praise, aside from his work on Joker and hopefully Noel will help put him on the map. If his ability to write is anywhere near as good as his illustrations, we’re in store for an early Christmas present. Though I’m not sure why this isn’t being released closer to the holiday season, it’s one Bat-story you won’t want to skip.
If you haven’t read the Dickens novella, it can be found right here
Batman: Noel Drops Wednesday November 2nd from DC Comics (MSRP $22.99)