In what will surely be my last Kevin Smith related review for a while, I recently finished his first attempt at Batman. Smith is joined by long time friend and comic book artist, Walt Flanagan as they work together to bring the Dark Knight's world to life with "Batman: Cacophony".
In terms of the most recent graphic novels that I've been reading, this was a breeze. Clocking in at a dismal 144 pages, I flew through this book with ease. In this particular story, Joker is locked away at Arkham Asylum while little known villain, Maxie Zeus is out in Gotham manufacturing a less intense, street drug version of Joker's poison "Joker Venom", calling it "Chuckles". Before Joker learns of this, he foils an assassination attempt on himself by Deadshot when he is interrupted by a villain created by Smith/Flanagan â€“ Onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia and Joker escape from Arkham, Joker learns of the altering of said poison and makes a b-line for Maxie Zeus, vowing revenge.
In the foreward to Smith's Batman outing, he explains that he feels he could have done a lot better. I know that the material didn't really receive a lot of praise or critical acclaim but that doesn't mean you should apologize for your work right out of the gate. It's true that Smith has made a career out of self deprecation for comedic purposes but this seemed really serious.
Granted, he did admit that a longer (12 issues) and "better" effort is on the way, it still really deflated me even before I read the first page. The book as a whole isn't bad but at times it's too slow and really struggled to find its identity. Smith writes an entertaining Joker to say the least and Flanagan illustrates a different Batman but in the end, like Smith had said, it falls short of his past comic attempts.
Smith really tried to create an iconic conversation between a calm and mentally stable Joker and Batman that ultimately feels anti-climatic. The idea is perfect and the message is there but this dialouge feels recycled and stale. I have high hopes for their second outing as I dig Walt's art and Smith has proven his writing skills time and time again. Let's hope it delivers.