Lee Bermejo takes on the dual role of writer and artist for the first time in this classic adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, ‘A Christmas Carol’. The villainous and crusty Scrooge is reimagined as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Past, present and future are aptly represented by Catwoman, Superman and the Joker, respectively in Batman: Noël.
For Bruce, years of living on the darker side of life has made him, cold, untrusting and unloving. Bermejo shows how Wayne has built a wall around him, letting go of spontaneity, hope and compassion in his fight against evil. Batman has divorced himself from ordinary folks so much so that when he captures Bob; a snickering hapless henchman of the Joker’s, the Bat uses Bob as bait to capture Joker. Batman learns that Bob is a single father and knowingly disregards helping him. Wayne shows no compassion or understanding, seeing Bob as a criminal and a means to an end. Batman understands that using him in such a manner will mean Bob’s son will be robbed of a father and will likely lead to the boy becoming a criminal himself.
It takes a journey of self discovery and realization with Catwoman, Superman and the Joker of all people for Bruce to see the full impact his bleak outlook on people has and will have in the future. The story is told mainly from a first person narrative and this is one of the weak areas of the story. The exposition by the narrator lacks true power or insight, his commentary is tacky at times when trying to delve into the psyche of Wayne and the personal lives of Bob and his son and their dire circumstances. The powerful tale written by Dickens overpowers the simple format of a comic book and many themes and characterisations cannot or are not adequately conveyed by Bermejo. The true power of the story is told in Lee’s exquisite artwork, a gothic style that utilizes amazing compositions and angles, deeply realistic but with a hint of the fantastical via heavy contrasts between dark and light. The lighting of scenes and the overall colour toning is amazing as well. Todd’s lettering is finely interspersed in the artwork adding a playful and childish storybook feel. Batman fans should enjoy this story and the artwork will mesmerize all who lay their eyes on it.