Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smith & Flanagan's "Batman: Cacophony" (You're Fired)

Weak weak weak.

I've been a Batman fan since as long as I can remember, and longer.  I stopped reading comic books on a regular basis just as The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One were re-imagining the (then somewhat stale) caped crusader, adding further depth to what I'd argue is the most fertile superhero story and persona available for serious and mature writers/audiences.

The problem is, there's a shrinking pool of great Batman stories to draw from for a fan such as myself.  Hearing that screenwriter/director Kevin Smith had tackled the Dark Knight, and running out of non-bubblegum options, I picked this up to read on vacation.  I've had mixed success with Smith (Clerks = Cadillac, Mallrats = Steak Knives, Clerks II = You're Fired, etc.), but he's a geek through and through, and I figured he was a good fit to explore a different or novel dimension.  (Note: I've since discovered that he's got a solid past writing for comics, notably for Green Arrow.)  Smith is clear and upfront about the choice of artist for Cacophony, an old friend from pre-fame days.  While laudable for being open about it from the get go, it's an unfortunate choice for the reader.

Both story and art were a *massive* disappointment.  While Smith delivers a few notable moments (e.g. The Joker preparing to be sodomized - that's new), overall, it comes off as a juvenile, poorly drawn and written re-visitation of the emotional/character territory masterfully explored in Moore's The Killing Joke (i.e. there's a complex, delicate relationship between Joker and Batman's need for each other, evidenced by the inability or unwillingness of each to ultimately kill the other).

The close is open-ended, and I know the writer/artist team have another effort (presumably the same story arc) available now.  Despite the completest in me, I'm going to avoid it like herpes.

The origins of my Bat-mania.  Even at this age, my backyard imaginings would likely best Smith's storytelling effort here, and maybe even come close to the caliber of artwork.  Also appearing here is Lindsay Unwin as Batgirl.

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