I'm not sure exactly when or where I got these 3 comic books. I have no recollection of ever seeing them before I pulled them out of the depths of the "B" section of my collection. But what caught my eye and made me want to crack the tape on the plastic was that Walt Flanagan did the artwork.
I like Kevin Smith. Some of his movies are good. . .some are bad. I liked his Green Arrow and Green Hornet comic work. But what I like most about Kevin Smith is his "Comic Book Men" series on AMC, where Walt Flanagan is the tight-fisted ubernerd manager of Smith's comic book store "Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash". I never knew he was known as a comic book artist.
Did I like what I saw? READ ON!
Let's start out with the best thing about this issue. . .the outstanding Adam Kubert cover! Now THERE'S some classic badass Batman.
The interior art is. . .okay. It's pretty uneven, going from pretty good to pretty bad randomly throughout the issue. The Joker is heavily derivative of Jim Aparo and the artist seems to have a hard time with Batman's face and hands in general.
Storywise, it's really more of a Joker story than a Batman story. Actually, more of a villain-based story in general, with Mr. Zsasz, Maxie Zeus, Deadshot, Joker, and probably the worst-named villain ever, Onomatopoeia making up the bulk of the story here, revolving around Joker being broken out of Arkham and starting a gang war with Maxie Zeus over his turning Joker Venom into a party drug.
Overall, I found this issue to be a pretty average villain-centric Batman story with some back and forth art and above average dialogue. There was an extremely strange moment where Joker showed that he was perfectly willing to have some gay sex in exchange for money that made me go WTF? but all in all this was a decent issue.
In this issue, Batman figures out who the true villain is (Onomatopoeia. . .who had some run-ins with Green Arrow) and that Joker being released was just bait to draw Batman out. Batman turns the tables and uses the Joker to draw out Onomatopoeia.
This second issue doesn't really have much going for it. The gang war between Joker and Maxie Zeus just seems like padding, and Onomatopoeia has to be one of the lamest villains I've seen in a while. . .and in a book featuring Maxie Zeus, that's not a good thing.
The art takes a sharp downward turn in this issue as well, with some really bad panels of Batman's face in particular, as well as constantly making his torso WAY too beefy. And then there's an attempted homage to the cover of Detective #27 (with Maxie Zeus taking the place of Joker) that fails miserably due to some very strange arm/hand positioning.
All in all, I found this issue disappointing. Even the cover wasn't that great.
After a disappointing second issue, the third brings this mini to an end in a pretty good way. The art is still extremely hit or miss, and Joker's bushy hobo beard was a bit of a WTF moment, but most of this issue focused on a conversation between Batman and Joker while he recovers in the hospital from almost being killed during the battle between Batman and Onomatopoeia. . .where we got a cliche "Save the dying person or chase the villain? YOUR CHOICE, BATMAN!" end to the confrontation.
I liked the idea of Batman wanting to talk to Joker while he was somewhat sane in the hospital, loaded up with anti-psychotic drugs, and that he doesn't get a bit of resolution. Joker hates him and wants to kill him. And like I said above, Onomatopoeia escapes, leaving Batman 0 for 2 in this story. It's a nice change to see Batman at a loss when a story ends.
All in all, despite the iffy artwork, this issue closed out the series nicely. I won't say it was great. . .but it was pretty good.
Overall, I found Batman: Cacophony to be okay. The main villain was weak, the art was extremely hit and miss, and there were some strange WTF character moments. On the other hand, the dialogue was pretty sharp, it had some good insights into the Batman/Joker conflict, and the Adam Kubert cover on the first issue was almost worth the price of admission alone.
Good taken with bad, I'd suggest this. . .but be warned if you're the sensitive snowflake type: There's no "Mature Reader" warning on this, but there probably should be. There's a few pretty crude moments in here.
Coming Next. . .
One shots! I love one shots!
More randomly-pulled single issue stories from my collection: Red Sonja, Azrael, G.I. Combat, Scarecrow, Lone Gunmen, Bruce Wayne, and Conan. Be there of be square!
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Issue # 16