retroreview121509I’ve been really enjoying the Kevin Smith/Walt Flanagan six-issue mini series Batman: The Widening Gyre (issue 4 comes out January 13th).  The art is fantastic, and I’ve been absolutely loving the take on a “happy” Batman.  Seeing Bruce Wayne enjoying his time as Bats is something I haven’t seen in a while.  Because I’ve been loving the series, I made it a point to seek out their first collaboration on the Dark Knight, Batman: Cacophony.

Did the first team-up of these two childhood friends wield as successful results as their most recent series?  Check out my full review after the jump!

The three-issue Cacophony is nowhere near the fun, well-written romp that Widening Gyre is.  In fact, Kevin Smith says as much in the preface to the book.  He notes that, after the first issue was released, he went and re-wrote the dialogue for the final two issues, due to  the fact that he realized much of his dialogue (specifically Batman’s) didn’t sound like it flowed naturally.  Then, he goes on to say that he thinks of Cacophony as “not his best Batman story,” but the “practice” he needed to write Widening Gyre.

One of the many uncomfortable Joker jokes.
One of the many uncomfortable Joker jokes.

Cacophony isn’t bad.  In fact, it’s really quite good.  The problem with it is that its flaws are a bit too big to make it work as a whole.  There’s an underlying thread of “this is Kevin Smith writing Kevin Smith’s Batman,” rather than “this is Kevin Smith writing Batman.”  There are a TON of gay Joker jokes, and the characterization of Maxie Zeus is just as over the top.  Onomatopoeia, a villain introduced during Smith’s run on Green Arrow, is…well…stupid.  And some of the wordy conversations between characters feel like something from a Kevin Smith movie, rather than feeling like the heartfelt conversations that they’re intended to be.  There’s a particularly good conversation between Batman and the Joker at the end of the book that is the exception, but Smith still manages to throw in a gay joke that ruins the emotional impact of what could have been an otherwise-powerful scene.

The art by Walt Flanagan isn’t bad and, for his first take on many of the Batman characters, is actually pretty strong.  Still, you can definitely tell, just as with Smith, that this series was not his best work, and, if you’re reading Widening Gyre, you’ll see just how talented Flanagan can be as an artist.

At a $20 cover price for a collection of only three comics (and one script), I can’t wholly recommend Cacophony in its hardcover format.  It’s fun, but it’s really just an okay take on the Batman mythos, and I think your money would better be spent on the currently running Widening Gyre, which I highly recommend.