Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert, is a straight up homage to the character of Batman, as well as the other characters in the Batman universe. It’s a symbolic and metaphoric take on the comic book mythos, and although it might be a bit hard to interpret at first, the messages become clear over time. The story is short and only consists of two issues, which have been combined to form the complete works. The main plot starts mysteriously enough, with Batman seemingly confused at where he is. After a bit, the shocking image is revealed of Batman lying in a coffin, dead, even though the voice of Batman still speaks out of his body. Essentially, Batman starts to witness his own funeral and the events of the story, like he is watching through a television. At the funeral, all of his main villains show up, such as the Joker, Catwoman and Scarecrow, as well as close friends and allies, such as Superman and Commissioner Gordan. From this point on, each of them comes up to say something, and strangely, they all provide different explanations of how Batman died. As Batman watches, a mysterious person talks to him, and challenges him to solve what is happening. The story may sound mysterious enough, but it feels reassuring to know that Batman is just as clueless as the reader is, as we work with him to solve this situation. Of course, Batman is the main character. However, this time, you get to see another side of him – one that is more fragile and emotional than his usual self. Although he is not shown, his voice demonstrates that this is the character of Batman, and his personality shines.
As I said before, this story deals with many symbols and themes, and is essentially a reflection of the Batman character as a whole. It’s also written in a way that you never know what is truly happening and not everything feels real. Often, you will question if Batman is dreaming or if all this is really happening to him. I feel like the story can be interpreted in many different ways and that is what I feel the authors intended – not just a story, but a unique experience for all that read it.
I can say that I would surely recommend this book, but mainly for those that are familiar with Batman to a certain degree. If you aren’t, you might get something out of it, but I truly think you must understand who Batman truly is, to get what this book is trying to get across. You can definitely tell that it was written by Batman fans, to Batman fans, and that is the main purpose of this novel.