There is a particular crowd of readers who would no doubt look at a graphic novel like this and instantly dismiss it out of hand. For them graphic novels are merely flashy comic strips for the geeks and nerds of society. In short, on a subconscious level, they are disenfranchising a group of individuals for their reading choices. And yet, like a decent blockbuster film, there is a unique art form to the graphic novel that should never be ignored, regardless of the literary snobbery one aims to achieve. To refuse to read such novels because they do not personally appeal to you is one issue, to refuse to read them because it is not a 'classy' thing to do is another. Particularly this version of Batman, which is both a stunning visual work and possesses a strong plot.
Indeed, it could be said that this graphic work, alongside [b:Batman: Noel|11186443|Batman Noel|Lee Bermejo|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1341435405s/11186443.jpg|16111174], prove that the modern graphic novel does possess a level of literary merit. Yet it is literary merit in a different way to say Joyce or Dickens. It is the literary merit of reflection upon the world in a format that appeals to those readers by providing them the ideas of other greats through a different mode.
That is not to say that this is not a great work in itself. It is possible that this Batman tale has one of the tightest plots seen in a recent Batman story, a plot which is reminiscent of previous story arcs such as [b:Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1|12623655|Batman Knightfall, Vol. 1 (New Edition)|Chuck Dixon|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335301972s/12623655.jpg|17670533]. Though this is connected the story arc featured in [b:Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1|10863384|Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1 |Grant Morrison|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320415493s/10863384.jpg|15778514] the story stands well on its own, with the backstory nicely introduced to the reader along the way.
One of the major appeals to this story is that it is a true Batman story. Batman, though he may be a Dark Knight and Caped Crusader is also a detective and essentially all strong Batman stories contain an element of mystery and intrigue leading up to the final reveal. And this is no exception, with several clever red herrings included in the plot as delicate distractions. Though the Batman in the novel may not be Bruce Wayne he is still the essential icon, cape and all, characterised perfectly through the writing and the artwork. Artwork, which while glossy and exquisite, slightly reminds one of the style seen in [b:Batman: The Dark Knight Returns|59960|Batman The Dark Knight Returns|Frank Miller|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327892039s/59960.jpg|1104159].
Batman is one of the greatest of superhero characters because unlike others he was one of the first heroes to be a true super human. He lacked powers, yet he had the heart to get back up and keep fighting. When his back was broken he rose again. When Robin was killed he kept on fighting. Because even though evil and crime seem to be an unstoppable ocean, humanity needs a hero who won't stop fighting.
What also made and makes Batman great today, is the environment in which his stories are told. Gotham City is the perfect foil for the glowing superhero archetype of Superman, with its run down, crime filled nature. As a gothic and brooding city it is also the perfect setting to remind the reader that beneath the exterior, often a darker heart can be lurking. It is the uncompromising, gritty nature of the Dark Knight and his environment that essentially appeals to the reader, forging Batman into a literary character as great as any other detective before him. And this novel is the perfect tribute to many years of great (and not so fabulous) Batman storylines.