It’s Christmas Eve, and you’ve put together that final mini-build from the Star Wars Lego advent calendar. Now it’s time to settle in and bring the minions down to a dull roar with a little holiday story, complete with hot cocoa by a crackling fireplace.
My recommendation for geek moms with kids hovering around age 9 and older is Lee Bermejo’s nest graphic novel, “Batman: Noel.” Bermejo (“The Joker”) is one of the trade’s finest illustrators and he’s woven and excellent story to boot, with the Dark Knight’s own take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It’s Christmastime in Gotham City. Time to break out the cocoa and Bactine.
I know, I know. You’re thinking that story has been done to death… brought back to life and done to death again. I can’t argue there. However, this take on it is so fresh and so Fanboy/girl friendly, you will feel like you are reading the plot line for the first time. And some of your younger Padawans may be!
The story places Batman himself in the Ebenezer Scrooge role as the wealthy loner, so obsessed with his personal demons he not only has robbed himself of any worthwhile personal contact, he has forgotten that those around him also possess a soul. The Bob Cratchit character is a small-time criminal, struggling as an impoverished single father of an upbeat but young son with a bum leg. The remainder of the classic “Christmas Carol” roles are seen via giveaway the “Past, present and future” ghost cameos, but I’ll give you one spoiler hint: Batman only has one “late” partner suitable to don this tale’s yuletide tights.
This story worked for me and my younglings on a couple of levels. First, it satisfied the gritty world of The Dark Knight, particularly for someone who keeps up with at no less than three “Batman” comic titles at any given time. Next, it left me with that toasty warm marshmallow feel that comes with Christmas time — yet without any saccharine sentiment to ruin it. Lastly, it was an impressive piece of comic book eye candy: especially the glimpses of the retro-style Batman (and Catwoman) costuming as well as the very believable present-day garb of the winged vigilante.
I will say I found the reverse white font a little hard on the eyes a couple of times, but in Bermejo’s defense, text boxes and bubbles would have really damaged the visual integrity of the book.
Read it with the family as a way to wind down before the Christmas morning mayhem, or get a blankie and curl up with a hot libation and pour yourself into a few moments of escape once the troops are in bed.