Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Batman: Cacophony #1

Writer: Kevin Smith
Penciller: Walt Flanagan
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colourist: Guy Major
Letterer: Jared K Fletcher
Editor: Dan Didio

There's a tipping point in some people's careers, when you go from hearing their name and thinking "Oh good, has he got something new out?" to hearing it and thinking "Oh, is he still going?" It's that intangible moment when they stop being Now and become Then.

When Kevin Smith did Daredevil, it seemed like a reasonably big deal. Green Arrow... somewhat. A Batman miniseries... oh, is he still going?

The idea of this series is to pit Batman against Onomatopoeia, a villain from Smith's Green Arrow run. He has a mildly interesting concept: he talks in sound effects. And as Smith says, that's the kind of quirkiness that only works in this medium. Problem is, though, it's a gimmick, and it needs an awful lot more to make him into a character. Obviously Smith's going for "inscrutable enigma", and that's fine up to a point, but it means the story has to be about other people interacting with him.

What we get... is some sort of gang war set-up, with Batman hanging around the edges, and an awful lot of rather puerile stuff with the Joker. There's an anal rape gag which really doesn't belong in an all-ages title, but more to the point, just seems a bit desperate. Leave that aside and you've got a coherent plot, but one that doesn't have much space for Batman, and which doesn't give us much reason to care about Onomatopoeia. And they're supposed to be the focal points of the series!

It's not a horrible comic by any stretch of the imagination. It's not an ego trip; if anything, it's surprising how much it feels like a house style comic, which one of Smith's pet ideas thrown in. The problem is that it just doesn't feel like anything special - it seems like a hangover from the last big thing.

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