With his pointy-eared mask, flowing cape, and underpants on full show, Batman could only have been created in the superhero golden age of the 1930s. But, in recent years, the Dark Knight has begun to resemble a character from a Victorian melodrama; an emotionally compromised mansion-dweller who rarely tolerates the company of anyone other than his butler.
Bruce Wayne's inherently Dickensian qualities have not gone unnoticed by veteran US comics artist-turned-writer Lee Bermejo, who has cast him as Ebenezer Scrooge in a new book.
Batman: Noël puts a superhero spin on festive classic A Christmas Carol and includes scenes in which the Caped Crusader is visited by the spirit of his long-dead sidekick, Robin. Stepping in for the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to teach Gotham's defender a thing or two about empathy are DC Comics regulars Catwoman, Superman, and even Batman's arch-nemesis The Joker.
"[Scrooge] didn't start off as a bitter person. More of a confused, some would say dark, young man – but there seemed to be a light at the end of his tunnel. He was even engaged at one point," says Bermejo.
"Likewise, you've got a much more light-hearted version of Batman that appeared in the 1950s and 1960s. What you have now in the comics and the films is a very dark and serious interpretation. He's lost a bit of humanity. You have this character who can't forgive himself and I think that makes for an interesting comparison with Scrooge."
'Batman: Noël' is available now in comic-book retailers