Writer: Kevin Smith
Artist: Walt Flanagan
Inker: Sandra Hope
Published by DC Comics
Hardcover, 142 pages, $19.99
As he throws out one self-deprecating line after another, Kevin Smith can make what he does look easy but it would be a mistake to dismiss what he’s done with Batman: Cacophony. In his introduction, he readily admits he can do better but what he really means is that he’s inspired to take the work further. And, after reading this new hardcover collection, you should come away looking forward to more.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Smith’s take on Batman. Some of my comics friends had been put off by Smith’s Batman not saying what Batman would say. And then there’s the whole thing with the Joker taking a walk on the wild side. Well, it’s not exactly too big of a leap to see the character as gay. The one scene where he’s all too eager to act on his desires with the man who could likely kill him is beyond the pale but certainly within Joker territory. The few times Batman seems to slouch into something less than what we’d expect are minimal. Basically, along with artist Walter Flanagan, this is Kevin Smith’s Batman and it works best to go with it.
The quirky moments, I came to see, did not take me out of the story, especially if I’ve already accepted the world that I’m in. And, for the purists who may not even want to give this a chance, the quirk works and it does not overwhelm what is a solid story.
We start at the gates to Arkham Asylum. Due to the recent economic crash, frenzied cost cutting measures by the board lead to the firing of the front gate security guards. The money saved, however, promptly goes to the board’s year-end bonuses. Of course, who would ever want to break into Arkham Asylum? This night, it’s two separate killers both looking for the Joker.
As the story unfolds, we see one of the killers is Kevin Smith’s villain, Onomatopeia, from his Green Arrow run. And the other killer is a vigilante, Deadshot. Each will play supportive roles as will another minor baddie, Maxie Zeus, who has built an empire by converting the Joker’s venom into a designer drug. The Joker, in the scheme of things, has been reduced to the role of bait in a plot to lure Batman but he’s definitely the star of the show as well as a great vehicle for Smith’s humor to boot.
This book also includes the first draft script to Issue Three so you can get a sense for yourself of the number of revisions that went into the final work. Needless to say, Kevin Smith is a huge talent and he still won’t win over everyone. Having just read the first issue of Smith’s latest Batman run, The Widening Gyre, I would highly recommend getting this collection and it will likely win you over if you’re receptive and add to your appreciation of the current run.