Batman: The Widening Gyre 6 (September 2010)

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Maybe DC did the whole “New 52” thing so they’d never have to address the terrible developments in Widening Gyre.

I’d respect them for that motive.

It’s just not a bad finish, with Smith killing off a familiar DC character, but a bad issue overall. Batman breaks into the Fortress of Solitude for a date with Silver. He’s got on his goofy white snow Bat-suit. Smith writes him actual banter with the goat head guy.

Then there’s the callouts to Frank Miller–Smith reveals Batman wet himself in Year One and the idiot shrink from Dark Knight shows up. It’s almost like Smith set out to write a comic to show how not to write Batman.

Oh, I forgot. There’s even banter with Deadshot. Batman ties him up for making a joke, not for committing a crime. It’s hideous.

Smith excessively congratulates himself for his singularly atrocious Batman characterization.

CREDITS

The Blood-Dimmed Tide is Loosed; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, John J. Hill; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Widening Gyre 5 (April 2010)

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Oh, no, it’s another one with potential.

Smith doesn’t resolve the cliffhanger–he just has Bruce running off to avoid it. Bruce and Silver in Aspen, even in the few scenes they have, is terrible. Their trip is juxtaposed against Tim Drake Robin narrating. Smith writes all the Robin narrations the same, so it’s bland but not terrible.

Silver barely has any lines, which is great.

And then Flanagan pays an homage to the sixties show and Smith has a Tim Burton movie line in the dialogue… They’re finally being as obvious as they should be. If Gyre’s just lucky fan fiction, Smith should be aware enough to embrace it.

There’s a slight hiccup towards the end, but it has a surprisingly effective close. Smith all of a sudden decides to be authentic with people’s emotions.

It’s the first nearly okay issue.

I’m going to regret making that compliment.

CREDITS

Mere Anarchy; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Widening Gyre 4 (February 2010)

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Uh, oh, there are getting to be things I like here. Smith has turned it into a domestic–Batman fights crime while Silver waits home for him. The stuff with the new goat guy revealing his face to Bruce too soon is dumb; Smith can only rationalize comic book logic so far.

But it opens with a little bit about the relative lack of danger Silver Age goof villains had–before the Joker appeared (while not technically accurate, Smith sells it)–Smith’s trying things a little again. He’s treating Widening Gyre like it’s disconnected from the other Batman comics, which I do like.

He still writes Silver poorly. One can tell he’s writing the dialogue for Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow. He also writes Catwoman poorly–and Flanagan draws her even worse–but he’s trying to give Batman a grown-up problem.

The ambition is nice. Comic’s still lame though.

CREDITS

The Centre Cannot Hold; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Widening Gyre 3 (December 2009)

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This issue’s easily the best and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s a romance montage–Bruce and Silver off in paradise during the day, Batman out at night. There’s some stuff with the goat vigilante, who Smith writes like Brody from Mallrats and that scene is awful… and Smith writes Silver awful and the whole thing of unbelievably rich people romancing is lame… But, somehow, the issue is a lot better than expected.

It’s awful to be sure, but Smith’s trying something in his Batman narration. Bruce is learning. These self-observations are trite and beneath Dr. Phil, but Smith is trying.

Flanagan’s art doesn’t help. He gives all the superheroes besides Bruce long, dirty nineties hair. Tim Drake Robin looks like a girl.

Smith does get in an extra guest star–Aquaman–who he writes a little better than Batman, but not much.

I still loathe the comic though.

CREDITS

Things Fall Apart; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Widening Gyre 2 (November 2009)

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More flashbacks, more guest stars… and some fat jokes. The child murderer at the open is practically a lookalike for Silent Bob. Batman keeps thinking of him as the fat guy, but he doesn’t actually catch him, someone else does.

Then Silver St. Cloud shows up. I’m skipping some of the lame narration to get to Flanagan and Smith having a disconnect. Once Silver shows up, Smith’s got Batman going on and on about his age–and Silver’s. Except Flanagan draws them both basically as twenty somethings. Certainly not as people in their late thirties or forties. It’s unclear what Smith’s going for.

Smith writes Silver worse than he writes Batman. He also writes Gordon poorly. Maybe Alfred isn’t terrible. Superman is all right, I guess. But there’s more than enough bad Batman to make up for the rest.

The cliffhanger is a success though, Smith manages a good surprise.

CREDITS

The Falconer; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Widening Gyre 1 (October 2009)

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Leave it to Kevin Smith to try to make Batman sound hip. He also sounds really self-aware, which doesn’t really work for the character. I was half expecting Smith to make a gay joke, but then remembered it’s the one thing DC editorial won’t allow.

This issue has Batman teaming up with Robin in flashback, then Nightwing in present, then heading off on his own to Arkham. All while Smith overdoes the narration. His Batman is desperate to stay relevant–making notes to check pop culture references and so on–while he thinks about retiring the Robin mantle.

If it weren’t for Walt Flanagan’s art, if DC had paired Smith with an established comic artist, Widening Gyre might not read like a vanity project. But with Flanagan–who’s competent but clearly not professional–Smith’s script feels like a long joke at the reader’s expense.

He does pace it okay though.

CREDITS

Turning and Turning; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: Cacophony 3 (March 2009)

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And, boom, there goes the series. Smith opens the issue reasonably well with a big fight scene between the Joker, the new supervillain and Batman, but then he decides to do a Killing Joke rip-off instead.

I think he even opens the conversation between Batman and the Joker like Moore does in The Killing Joke. Except, here, it isn’t interesting or special. In fact, I’ll bet most people who read this comic book know it’s a lift from the Killing Joke.

Additionally, the art’s pretty weak. Flanagan’s figures change size and proportion often. I originally assumed Flanagan would be doing something stylistic for the series. Instead, he does something standard, nothing special.

Smith has some funny dialogue and maybe a couple honest moments, but the entire issue is a misfire. He knocks the story off track to write the scene he really wanted to write–a Killing Joke ripoff.

CREDITS

Baffles; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Sandra Hope; colorist, Guy Major; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Jann Jones and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: Cacophony 2 (February 2009)

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There’s some really problematic art this issue. I feel kind of bad pointing it out (it happens regularly throughout the issue) since this issue is even better than the first. Smith opens it with narration. I can’t remember the last time I read a Batman comic with so much opening narration. It’s wonderful.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm here–both with Smith’s writing and Flanagan’s art. There are a couple panels where Flanagan seems to be going for a Michael Keaton look to Batman’s expression–and then there’s a slightly more obvious Dark Knight joke regarding the Joker and the character’s recent changes.

Smith doesn’t have any guest stars this issue, though he finally does a funny pop culture conversation and, more importantly, brings in Alfred.

Smith really ought to be writing a Batman monthly. I know it’s not feasible with his slow writing… but it’d be a good comic.

CREDITS

Wired For Sound; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Sandra Hope; colorist, Guy Major; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: Cacophony 1 (January 2009)

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Who knew? Kevin Smith can write one heck of a Batman comic. And his buddy, Walt Flanagan (who spent many years as a punchline in Smith’s films), can draw well enough. I’ve certainly seen far less professional looking Batman comics than Cacophony.

I haven’t read a Smith comic in ten plus years–since Daredevil. He does a good job of doing a big Batman story–sure, it’s a Joker story really–but Deadshot shows up for a second and it all of a sudden reminds of great, pre-Dark Knight Batman stories. Or, at least, good ones.

Smith’s Joker, who can’t shut up about sex, is probably the best Joker I’ve read in a long time. Smith maintains the insanity and evil, but still makes him–somewhat annoyingly–fresh.

The more I think about the comic and what it does, the more I like it.

I’m very surprised it’s good.

CREDITS

Bring the Noise; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Sandra Hope; colorist, Guy Major; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Jann Jones and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

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