Gaiman was phoning it in - JohnW
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers in any medium. The Sandman is genius. 1602 is great. I loved his novels, American Gods, and Neverwhere.
In the main story of this volume, Gaiman revisits his favorite themes. He goes places he's been time and again in more interesting, entertaining, exciting ways. I believe he even cribbed a few lines from some of his earlier work. If anyone else had written this same story, in fact, I would be accusing them of blatantly ripping off Gaiman. This two-parter is by no means a bad story, and probably very exciting for younger readers, but I still consider Frank Miller to have done the best Batman stories (The Dark Knight Returns, and Year One).
On the other hand, I loved the back-up stories reprinted here from other work Gaiman did on Batman. His black and white story is hilarious, his Poison Ivy story is a little frightening, and his Riddler story is effectively nostalgic. Definitely worth checking out at the library for the back-up stories alone.