Overview

Batman: Cacophony #1

Review

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Batman: Cacophony #1

Credits

  • Words: Kevin Smith
  • Art: Walter Flanagan
  • Inks: Sandra Hope
  • Colors: Guy Major
  • Story Title: Bring the Noise
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Nov 12, 2008

Kevin Smith is like the super fan boy. He (and Quentin Tarantino as well) took his geekery to the next level by regurgitating cool to the masses. So, of course, he is a polarizing figure. Some fan boys love him, some hate him. Kevin used this clout to write comics. Sometimes they come out (Daredevil: Guardian Devil) and sometimes they don’t (Daredevil/Bullseye: Target). However, his name and now his legacy has an undeniable amount of sales power behind them.

What better way to get people to buy comics then to get Kevin Smith writing the hottest property in town? It certainly is an alluring package. The end result is Batman: Cacophony where the Joker is accidentally set free from Arkham with a mad on for one Maxie Zeus. It seems the b villain has been using Joker Venom as a street drug. Of course, all of this gives Batman a headache. Oh yeah, and there is a new villain in town. He is a man of few words.

This is the hardest kind of book to review. There are so many things good about it. There is the dialogue with its nice realistic cadence. There is a complexly woven plot. There is a spot-on look inside Zsasz’s head. In the end it is really well written and entertaining.

Then there are the missteps along the way. The thought of having Jason Mewes play the Joker is an interesting concept. However, a wordy clown prince is such a disappointment when viewed after the creepy version that has reigned of late. Morrison, Nolan, and Azzarello have given the character an iconic imagining that makes this interpretation seem odd. A reader might half expect this Joker to break into a rhythmic freestyle consisting of only F Bombs.

Then there is the Batman. He is voiced just a smidgen too dark. Sure, he’s a bad mama jamma, but the talk of snapping necks and beating people into comas is a bit much. Now say the title had a modifier like "All Star" on the front cover, then maybe this characterization would fly.

Even Deadshot seems to be some caricature. Even the brilliant characterization of Zsasz is marred by a poor lettering choice. The intent is obvious. The scrunched together words imply that the serial killer is in some kind of manic glee, but us aging comic fans get curmudgeonly when we can’t read the words with ease.

Really, these complaints could be seen as nit picking, or they could be viewed as symptoms of a larger problem that has become endemic at the house that National built. To a certain extent, these problems aren’t really Mr. Smith’s fault. Sure, he wrote them, but Didio and Jones edited them. Most of them could have been fixed by very cosmetic changes leaving little effect on the story, but taking away the ability to nit pick. "Hey, Kevin, this is good, but we have been doing something just a little different with the Joker as of late." "Hey, Jared (Fletcher), great job on the lettering. Could you do me a favor here and bold the first letter of each word? Great." Or, if all else false, just stamp an "Elseworlds" on the cover and be done with it.

A whole bunch of these little flaws creates huge flaws. Not just for one title, but the whole line. Right now, these kinds of editorial gaffs run rampant through the company’s entire line. Whether it be typos, confusing syntax, mis-colored bars that improperly censor titles, or entire books that "count down" to well . . . nothing. The editorial staff just seems to be asleep at the wheel and sometimes it even affects the good stories, like this one.

Flanagan has some interesting designs here. They give the book a cartoony feel that is at odds with the dark vibe of the story. Guy Major’s coloring also seems to give the book an unnatural sheen that is comparable to the original coloring in The Killing Joke. It is a case of the coloring just not quite matching the art. Beyond that though, the pencils are inconsistent. It is stylistic to be sure and the artist has a great sense of how to capture action, but faces and bodies morph or contort. The children in the story all look odd. However, there is a great sense of storytelling in how the panels are put together. There are even bits of greatness. For example, Maxie looks great in an Italian suit sucking on a stogie. In the end, the art, like the story, is just a little off.

As mentioned earlier, this is a hard book to review. It is a solid fun read. However, it is just a bit too much like Jay and Silent Bob Do Gotham.

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