Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Not a Fan, But... Batman: Cacophony (2008)

Uh, yeah. Hi. Me again. You know how I always warn you that I'm not a Batman fan, but here's my review of a certain story? That goes double for this one. I don't even really know where to start. In 2008, Kevin Smith and Walt Flanigan put together Batman: Cacophony. It was a very short 3 issue miniseries but it got lots of fanfare (you may recall an obscure little film called The Dark Knight was also released that year). When a co-worker let me borrow his copy of it this weekend, I knew I had to review it for the site.

Let me start by saying I like Kevin Smith's work at DC. Quiver is one of my favorite Green Arrow stories. And yet, Cacophony just doesn't seem to click for me. The basic plot is that the Joker learns that his laughing gas is being used as a recreational drug, and he sets out to put a stop to it and "save his reputation." Along the way, he teams up with Onomatopoeia (a villain of Smith's creation from his Green Arrow days) to give Hell to Batman and the rest of Gotham.

The dialogue, while at times clever, seemed generally off in this story. There was an overall feeling of inconsistency. For instance, in the first issue, Batman doesn't actually say very much at all. He swoops in to save the day, calling villains names like "scumbag," but most of his exposition takes place in narration. But then fast-forward to issue number three, and we have Batman delivering a soliloquy at the hospital bedside of the Joker, explaining that he could never watch his arch-enemy die because he values human life too much. I'm sorry, WHAT?! I'm a Superman fan and I love the Man of Steel's more caring side when it comes out, but if I'm reading a Batman story, I expect him to duke it out with the Joker and kick some ass, not visit his nemesis in the hospital, and hug, and cry, and swap stories about how they lost their virginity! No, sir! At one point (in what is probably supposed to be clever banter) Batman semi-playfully teases the Joker, telling him he's not even on his top 10 bad guys list. That is not the tough Batman I'm accustomed to, and it just took me out of the story and annoyed me. Alfred, though his role was minor, was too much of a wise ass for my taste. He had a sarcastic response for everything Bruce had to say, and his usual classy subtlety went completely down the BatToilet.

Of course, there are some good moments, like Batman's conversation with Commissioner Gordon as he holds the bleeding body of the Joker on the police headquarters rooftop, and the chilling moment when the Joker reveals, "I don't hate you 'cause I'm crazy...I'm crazy 'cause I hate you." But aside from the occasional gem, I found myself scratching my head and trying to piece things together for most of this brief story. What was with the guy who thought he was Zeus? I mean, they eventually explained it, but they did it in such a matter-of-fact, Silver Age way that it hardly made sense and just felt a bit patronizing. All in all, I was not a big fan of Cacophony. Smith admitted that it wasn't his best work, and I agree with him. I haven't yet read The Widening Gyre, but I recommend picking up Green Arrow: Quiver if you're looking for a solid Kevin Smith DC book.

Tune in next time as we delve even deeper into the Batman/Joker dichotomy and answer the age-old question "Chicken or beef?"

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