Kevin Smith’s first go at a Batman story.
Well, it’s better than his second.
When I saw the trade paperback for this story, I though “Kevin Smith wrote a Batman story? Well, this should be worth a look.” Sometimes later, and I was left feeling a bit empty and disappointed by it. I will admit I am a Kevin Smith fan. I love his films (For example, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back), and did enjoy his Green Arrow run as well as Daredevil: Guardian Devil.
But it takes him to write anything these days, and really the guy has gone past his prime. As indiated by a number of failed comic book projects and a few of his recent completed work, such as this story, Batman: Cacophony.
Batman: Cacophony was Smith’s first attempt at writing Batman, and he himself admits in the introduction to the trade paperback collection of the story that it’s not the best he and artist, friend and supporting actor in some of his films, Walt Flanagan could have ever produced. Apparently that’s Batman: The Widening Gyre.
Sure, let’s pretend I believe that.
Okay, published between November 2008 to March 2009, the Batman: Caophony was basically a story about Batman trying to stop a gang war between the Joker and Maxie Zeus, while dealing with a new villain (Well, an old Green Arrow villain created by Kevin Smith when he wrote the title) Onomatopeia.
Honestly, I’m not entirely what I feel about this series. It’s not horrible, but the writing felt like it was trying too hard to be witty and the characters felt off. Batman’s voice feels dull and lifeless; The Joker comes across in this story as an inept, sexual depraved moron (Which feels wrong considering he’s always seen a bit of an asexual character to me); and personally I’ve never cared about Maxie Zeus. And this story didn’t change my opinion about that.
Really this story feels like Kevin Smith was writing poor Batman fan fiction starring his Onomatopeia character. Okay, the character has been maligned over the years, but there’s a reason for that. Onomatopeia, by the way, is a serial killer that kills non-powered costume heroes and has the gimmick of saying the words that describe the sounds around him. Sure, let’s pretend that makes a lick of sense because it is a cool villain concept, if a goofy one. But to be fair on the character, this is set in a world where the hero is a borderline psychotic in a bat costume.
The problem is, which is why Onomatopeia is hardly used, is that the character’s concept, while cool, is also a bizarre and illogical one when you think about it. And even the comic admits that. Plus, there really isn’t a lot going for the character in the first place other than his voice initimating sound abilities, being a superhero serial killer and created by Kevin Smith.
So when Smith has him go up against Deadshot, an assassin whose skills are only bested by Deathstroke, and wins, it comes across as bad fan fiction. A slightly better moment comes when he stabs the Joker to stop Batman chasing him, but it still comes across as dodgy fan fiction.
Plus, we get good things immediately followed by some dumb things. Take the beginning, where Arkham Asylum doesn’t have security guards on the front gate because no one wants to break into Arkham. What? Granted, I wouldn’t want to go to Arkham Asylum either, but what? That’s just dumb.
As for Walt Flanagan’s art, yeah I not entirely sure Smith getting his friend onboard was a good idea. It tells the story okay, but it doesn’t really excel at anything. In fact, its frequency badly constructed, with the shape and proportion of characters various from panel to panel. Overall thought, it tells the story okay, it just needed to be better than…this.
Overall, Batman: Cacophony is just a mixed bag. I don’t hate it, but I just don’t like it either. I can’t recommend it, but I can’t tell you to avoid it either. That, annoyingly, is all I can say about it I’m afraid.