Newest Review: ... little words routine are somewhat maintained, the Joker is a completely different story. For me, the reason this worked is because there'... more
Silent Bob does gives Batman some chatter
Batman: Cacophony - Kevin Smith
Member Name: pmcds
Batman: Cacophony - Kevin Smith
Advantages: New character; Joker's lines
Disadvantages: Batman not quite right; not comfortable to read all the time
I'm always intrigued when a well known person from one genre dips a toe in a different field. Kevin Smith is much better known for his work as a director of Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy, a clever trilogy that exposed him as a wordsmith despite playing the character Silent Bob, possibly a tongue in cheek casting decision. Turning his skills to the comic book, this Batman thread is not his first foray, having previously worked on characters such as Spider-Man, the notoriously chatty Marvel superhero.
Turning his attention to Batman, we inevitably get a much different and sense of fitting in. While Smith and Spider-Man are a chatty match, the silent and deadly Batman is constantly on the verge of spilling over into a different character at the author's hands. The bulk of this takes place at Arkham, where an ageing Joker looks like getting set free by an unnamed new foe for the Batman, duly named Onomatopoeia by dint of his speaking in noises. Cleverly written to start with, this becomes somewhat annoying, and while his virtual silence and Batman's inevitable man of little words routine are somewhat maintained, the Joker is a completely different story.
For me, the reason this worked is because there's an element of intrigue alongside the characterisation. This strange villain has a habit of turning up at the 'right' time throughout the publication, and it keeps you on edge right through it. There's an interesting pattern of frames that zoom in and out as well, and this almost makes you want to peer round the edges of them, along with the occasional reference from Smith to numerous other things he has been involved with. These should be recognisable to his fans, but are no way intrusive on the real story going on here.
It's when the Joker is in frame that Smith's wordsmanship comes into play a lot more. If I'm honest, the more the Joker was involved then the better the comic book was. He's long been a favourite villain of mine across the genre, and Smith does him justice, line after line well delivered. Here, the Joker is after someone who has taken a wonder drug of his and is peddling it and threatening to usurp his villain's throne. Cackling maniacally, he wants this stopped and Onomatopoeia is on hand for a bit of assistance. Batman's inclusion is more to serve as an adversary for these two, truth be told, and the contemplative frames where we get an insight into Batman's thought processes do seem a little out of place to start with. After a while I got used to it and instead I looked at it as if this was a rare chance at getting to know the man behind the bat.
Then I realised Smith wasn't the same writer who first wrote the character, or the same person as the next to write him, or the next or the next; the character is a combination of a number of different authors who have tried to take on the most mysterious hero in the superheroverse. What we get here is Smith's own interpretation of him, and it just didn't fit well with a character who is the strong and silent type. There's a certain awkwardness about a chatty Batman, even if a lot of it is in his head.
The artwork was largely successful, with good use of the frame sizes. It's very dark throughout, and some of the facial expressions seem a bit out of place, but for the most part I didn't really notice it. I usually find that particularly good artwork stands out a lot more than particularly bad artwork, as the latter is hard to define as there are so many differing personal styles. Here, I liked it but there was nothing notable about it. The main focus was really taken away by the actions of the characters, and in all of the difference, it's important to remember that there's a plot here, one that soon enough becomes more about our mysterious villain and less about the regular characters or how they appear on the page. And it's worth the wait. The final splash (as Smith likes to call it) certainly leaves the door open, and I'm in the middle of the sequel to it right now.
A decent publication, perhaps one more for Batman fans than those curious about the character and wanting a place to start. While you don't need much prior knowledge or back story, you need to be aware at least of the combative history between Batman and the Joker, that of psychologically damaged hero and psychologically damaged villain. Other than that, it's all pretty self-contained. Don't expect great things, but I certainly am looking forward to finishing the second one. This may not give you a feeling of having completed a tale, but this one certainly dangles the cherry.
Summary: Decent Batman publication from Kevin Smith
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