After so many Batman books how can one man, the brilliant Lee Bermejo, rejuvenate the character for another book? Take the ultimate Christmas story ever written, Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and cast the Dark Knight as Scrooge, of course! Robin, Catwoman, Superman, and Joker all put in appearances in the role of the other characters in the Carol, showing how well that story fits the DC Universe like a glove.
The story focuses on how Batman has changed over the years, from the fun loving and sometimes goofy Batman of the `60s Batman TV show, to the barmy Batman in the Schumacher films, to the now much more violent and darker incarnation he is these days thanks largely to the films of Tim Burton and Chris Nolan. Bermejo does justice to this version but is nostalgic for the kinder Batman of yore and steers his Batman in this direction, which fits in well with the Christmas Carol story.
Story aside, and it's great fun, the reason above all others why any Batman fan MUST buy this book is the art. Bermejo is an artist first, writer second, and his artwork here is the best work he's ever done. His Gotham is perfect, steeped in snow, dark and atmospheric, each building fitting in exactly with what I think of when I think of that city. Remember his artwork for "Joker" by Brian Azzarello a few years ago? I thought that was the best depiction of Joker I'd ever seen, and given free reign to draw Batman, Catwoman and Superman, I'd say Bermejo's versions are among the best drawings of these characters I've ever seen as well.
"Batman: Noel" is the perfect story to read on Christmas Eve, especially if you're a Batfan like me, and not just because the story mirrors the most famous Christmas story of all, but because the artwork makes it darkly festive and memorable in the best possible way. I now have a new favourite Batman artist.