Monday, 5 January 2009

[117] Batman Cacophony #2, by Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan Review

Last week I bought quite a few comics (4 is a lot for me!). I might post a couple of quick takes over the next few days. Let's start the ball rolling with the second issue of Kevin Smith's Batman series Batman Cacophony.


More kooky-dark dissonance from Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan in Batman Cacophony. This issue has the privilege of being the chunkiest of all those I read this week, at 40 pages. Boy, do those extra 8 pages make a difference. That might be the only good thing I have to say about it. Apart from the atmospheric, iconic and stark covers by Adam Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, and getting ahead of myself.

Running on from issue one, the Joker has been broken out of Arkham Asylum by the mysterious Onomatopoeia, and they are causing havoc for crime boss Maxie Zeus. I commented back in my review of issue one that the tone is a little inconsistent. The comic shifts from Joker's toilet humour and Maxie Zeus' 'Greek epic schtick' to the (still goofy) Onomatopoeia's brutal hooker-slaughter and bloody knife fight with Batman in a burning nightclub.

Smith's dialogue is mostly awkward or heavy-handed, especially with Batman ('Everyone knows that, when the Joker's at large, I'll concentrate all my efforts on apprehending him') and the Joker ('That chicken-hearted piece'a poo! ...I'm stuck here in one of Clayface's old safe houses and he's getting a one-way ticket to fabulous Club Fed?!?'). The issue is structured around a comic deflation of the Joker character. It is an interesting prospect, especially given the over-exposure of the villain in the last 12 months. However, the decision to revert to an outdated campy, clownish portrayal is under-developed and just plain unconvincing. This is especially so when Batman's engages with the Joker by discussing the rankings of his Rogues Gallery, saying 'My "Greatest Foe?" There was a time I considered you my second most dangerous enemy... Now it'd be generous to list you at number sixteen'. It is convoluted, limp stuff.

Walt Flanagan's art, again, is a mixed-bag. Overall, it barely makes a lasting impression, falling squarely into the kitsch-y 'cartoon-y' style. Also, his model for Batman is ugly and chunky. Nevertheless, his composition work is, at times, impressive: particularly during the ending Joker-Batman show-down. However, it doesn't help raise the book above disposable quality. Onomatopoeia is intriguing and enigmatic; although, that seems to be part of his essence, and Cacophony doesn't do the necessary legwork to pique interest. I might still pick up the last issue, just to see if Smith and Flanagan pull a twist or reveal that concludes the story well. Even so, that doesn't change the fact that the first 2/3s of Batman Cacophony have been almost entirely forgettable.

1 comment:

HairyAppleMen said...

Mike, hello! It's Nish, under a blog name that was forced upon me because I write in a blog with strict rules; everyone must write anonymously, and everyone must write under the same name. It's only me, Niall and his friend Theo writing, but we tend to come up with quite a variety of things. Not nearly as prolifically as you, or as beautifully illustrated (enjoyed your year review!) but it might get that way. Or it might not. Anyway, the last thing I wrote on there was the Maddox critique (the one before Niall's huuuge Dawkins piece) so have a read if you're bored. I've linked to your blog on our 'friends' list. See you soon! x