Summary from Goodreads:
Best-selling comic book writer/director Kevin Smith (GREEN ARROW) steps into Gotham City to write this graphic novel featuring the mysterious masked killer known as Onomatopoeia who sets his sights – and sounds – against The Caped Crusader!
Will Batman be able to uncover the relationship between The Joker and Onomatopoeia in time to keep them from destroying Gotham City? Or are these villains too much for The Caped Crusader? The wild ride that caught Batman between The Joker and Onomatopoeia comes to a crashing halt as Batman is forced to choose between capturing Onomatopoeia and saving the Joker’s life! Will Onomatopoeia have the final word with a deadly “Bang!”? Find out in this exciting conclusion!
Q:What is the key ingredient to any good superhero?
A: A good villain.
This has never been more true than anything relating to the Great Detective, The Dark Knight; Batman. Batman has an impressive rogue gallery and any great writer can spin a fantastic tale from utilizing said villains. However, if one wished to create the best of stories from the best of villains from Batman’s wide array of baddies, one need not look any further than the Clown Prince of Crime; Joker.
Before I actually get knee deep in the mess that is created by Joker in this tale, I did happen to mention something about a great writer creating fantastical tales. This is one of those instances where a great villain (ala Joker) is utilized by a great writer; Kevin Smith. Some of you might be familiar with Kevin Smith. Starting out as an independent film-maker, Smith crafted the View Askew Universe, beginning with his cult smash ‘Clerks’. Filmed in black and white and employing his student loan money for college, Smith spun a story which is both humorous and intellectual. Its nerd-like intellectualism to be exact, perhaps sometimes masked by its vulgar approach. 37? In a row…. that is but one of the jokes that actually turn out to be a life lesson if one pays enough attention. Smith is a life long comic book nerd and his movies reflect that. Each film he has done is chocked full of pop culture and comic book references. Mallrats is about two comic junkies and their outrageous journey to stop one’s estranged girlfriend from going on a dating show. Did I mention it also features a young Ben Affleck? Well now I did. Some of Smith’s other films are Dogma, Clerks II, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and my favorite film of his, Chasing Amy. It had been Kevin Smith’s lifelong dream to write a stand alone Batman story and he was given the opportunity not once but twice with Cacophony and its sequel, Widening Gyre. Now…onto the review…
I did mention the Joker is a prominent villain in the story but he is not the central villain. That dubious honor goes to a villain some refer to as Onomatopoeia, a Deadshot like villain with a penacht for mimicking sounds. He is labeled as a hero killer in the story, as he had previous run ins with the Green Arrow and Virago. In the beginning of the story, just as Deadshot is going to kill Joker to satisfy the needs of a client, Onomatopoeia shoots Deadshot in the head (Deadshot was wearing armor plating in his head so he survived) and then the gives a generous sum of money to Joker to wage war against supposed reformed criminal Maxie Zeus. That story plays out with a lot of twists and turns, and the sharp dialogue provided by Smith only helps to engage the readers on a new level with the tale. The story dealing with this mimicking villain ends with him making Batman choose between saving a life or chasing him down. He understands Batman’s moral compass and knew he would never sacrifice a life in order to catch a villain. The life in question is the Joker’s. Onomatopoeia turns on Joker for various reasons, perhaps upset with Joker’s accustations of stealing his spotlight, and stabs him in the left ventricle. Batman, even after all the Joker has ever put him through, the crippling shooting of Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl, and the savage beating and death of Jason Todd, saves Joker’s life, much to the chagrin of Comissioner Gordon, who urgers Batman to let him go. This is where things get interesting. Batman pays a visit to the Joker in the hospital. Joker is being pumped with enough morphine to satisfy Keith Richards and enough anti-psychotics to turn Charles Manson into a member of the Wiggles. Under these circumstances, Batman views this as an opportunity to finally understand his archrival. Batman poses a question to Joker only to have it bounced back to him while he ‘rolls it over’; Do you want to kill me. Batman responds with saying that he used to think he would be ok with him dying or getting killed, just as long as it was not by his hand or by the hands of his associates but when he saw the knife sticking out of Joker’s chest, he knew that he couldn’t watch him die, even though it meant never achieving a peace he rightfully deserves. Batman explains that he watched people die before (his parents) and he swore never again. He reveals his whole life work is because he never wants to see death first-hand again. Joker then reveals the first of two profound truths, which Kevin Smith so gracefully weaves into a hard hitting powerhouse of new understanding.
“I’m sorry for whatever it was that happened to you which made you the way you are — But I do want to kill you. — Here is the cold hard truth Bats, I don’t hate you ’cause I’m crazy, I’m crazy ’cause I hate you.”
It is that last line which resonated throughout my very inner being. It is the most accurate definition of the Joker. With Batman’s death, they would both finally be free.
I absolutely loved this tale and is one of the more interesting of Batman tales. The dicotomy of good and evil is explained in great lengths through the powerful writing of Kevin Smith. I would say my only problem with the tale would be its lack of conclusion, but that turned out to be set for a purpose, as the sequel, ‘The Widening Gyre’, seemed to continue the tale of the Bat and the villain which is a demented, homicidal version of the black guy from Police Academy.