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Batman: Cacophony #3 [Review]

Baffles

Writer: Kevin Smith
Penciller: Walt Flanagan
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Guy Major
Lettering: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Jann Jones
Editor: Dan Didio
Cover: Adam Kubert (variants by Bill Sienkiewicz)
Publisher: DC Comics

This is one of very few mini-series that I’ve actually bought in this day ‘n age of virtually guaranteed collected-volumes. I’m also largely avoiding $3.99 books, but have allowed this as an exception given that it has a full 30 pages of actual story rather than being standard-size. That said, I’m not convinced this was worth it.

This issue picks up with the Batman/Joker/Onomatopoeia standoff on the roof. The Joker behaves typically, and we see what steps Batman has taken for dealing with Onomatopoeia. The story then derails when that villain turns on the Joker, and Batman struggles with a decision that will affect both himself and the citizens of Gotham.

The art is very good, and I really found nothing to take issue with. The characters are shown rather iconically (or “generic,” if you prefer that term). This is a fairly timeless sort of story, with no apparent ties to main continuity–unless it can be found to tie to a version of the characters found in Superman/Batman and Brave and the Bold. Flanagan, Hope, and Major seem to make a great team for Batman visuals that carry a great deal of detail without being overly realistic.

The story wasn’t much to my liking, though I really wanted to like it, being a fan of much of Smith’s past work in the DCU. However, this issue felt like it was trying too hard to be THE “Batman/Joker” confrontation or “conversation.” Their conversation while the Joker was on anti-psychotic drugs felt forced and more than a little (much as I hate to use the term) “fanboyish.” I really didn’t buy the condition of the characters, and can’t help but compare this to The Killing Joke, which I feel sees the characters have it out in a much more satisfying way. Though typical Smith (injecting often crude, but realistic comments everyday people in certain conditions might make), I also did NOT buy Joker’s comment about what he saw, nor that Bruce would repeat it in conversation with Alfred.

All in all, this isn’t a bad issue, but it is a letdown from what I’d expected–whatever it was–from a Smith Batman story. If you’ve snagged the first couple issues, or are able to get all 3 in one go, it ought to be worthwhile as an out-of-continuity/stand-alone story (or if there’s a reasonably-priced collected volume). If you’re on a budget and trying only to stick to “essential” stuff right now, I can’t recommend this. Dinged a half-point as it was a letdown as a whole.

Story: 7/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Batman: Cacophony #2 [Review]

Wired for Sound

Writer: Kevin Smith
Penciller: Walt Flanagan
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Guy Major
Lettering: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Jann Jones
Editor: Dan Didio
Cover: Adam Kubert (variant by Bill Sienkiewicz)
Publisher: DC Comics

We open with typical Joker mayhem (one might be able to compare the method to that in a certain recent movie). Of course, Batman busts onto the scene and does his thing; though his other quarry shows as well. Batman then goes after Maxie Zeus. Plans are then set in motion, and a confrontation with the Joker yields the results Batman wanted…though the Joker finds himself rather disappointed.

I don’t know what–if any–place this story truly has in the Bat-continuity. Given that, I’m taking this simply as a Batman story with no particular place in continuity. Smith’s writing–his take on the characters–has a certain energy to it that is at once entertaining and yet a bit “off.” There’s a bit of crudeness present that somehow doesn’t seem to truly fit. I vaguely recall Onomatopoeia from Smith’s Green Arrow run, and it’s sorta cool seeing that character brought back–even though I don’t recal anything about him nor know/recall any background…just the “spoken sound effects” “gimmick” of the character.

I do have to credit Smith with an interesting analogy to explain a bit of what it might be if one were to picture the madness of the Joker. It doesn’t universally explain or apply to every prior version of the character…but it works here in this specific story.

The art is quite good, giving a nice, familiar visual for the Joker and Batman. The look on Joker’s face as he lands next to the Bat-Signal works well for this version of the character. Joker is dangerous, but he’s also quite enjoying himself here. To the character, this is simply great fun.

The cover seems a bit repetetive–how many times have we seen an image (cover or otherwise) of Batman and someone else diving/falling like this, gunfire and/or other projectiles a part of the fall? The cover’s art itself isn’t bad, just seems there could’ve been something “more.”

All in all, a solid issue for what this is. After years of primarily being stuck with 6-parters or lengthier, this seems particularly short–this is only the 2nd issue, but next issue is already the final issue.

Not sure if/how this story’ll be collected–perhaps a nice $9.99 paperback, though I would not be surprised to see it in a $19.99 hardback first–but if you’ve the inclination to read a Kevin Smith Batman story and can nab the first issue, too, you could do worse than to pick this up.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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