Most people consume at least two or three tellings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this time of year. Comicsgate’s own performance, courtesy of Jon Malin’s YouTube channel, was a pleasant surprise, but before you meet your Dickens threshold, allow me to recommend one adaptation. DC Comics’ Batman Damned, from their Black Label line, has divided fans. I myself am disappointed that Lee Bermejo’s incredible art is the catalyst for such a dark treatment of the Batman mythos, but this is not Bermejo’s first turn with the character. In 2011, he served as both writer and artist on Batman Noël, a telling of A Christmas Carol through a standalone Batman story.
In Batman: Noël, e Bermejo has taken the basic structure of A Christmas Carol and mixed in Gotham City. We get a Scrooge (Batman), a Bob (Bob) and the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Catwoman), Present (Superman) and Future (Joker). In this case, Batman is once again after the Joker and follows a henchman-for-hire who he is hoping will lead him to the clown. Meanwhile, we learn this henchman Bob (fitting) is down on his luck and just needed some quick cash to give his son a somewhat good Christmas. He’s not a bad guy, just a desperate one. This is known all-too-well by the Dark Knight, as he stubbornly shows and tells others throughout the story.
The true test of any adaptation is in how seamlessly the Scrooge-redemption structure weaves into the universe and character adapting to it. See my full review below, but I’m happy to report that Batman Noël passes this test with ease and manages to draw out new insights into both Batman and the beloved Dickens tale.