Top positive review
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Cacophonous negativity from the Bat community!
on 15 June 2010
Having read the reviews on Amazon before buying the book I expected Smith and Flanagan to really have dropped the ball with their mini-series with Smith making Batman sound like Jay and Flanagan drawing Batman as a stick man. But y'know what? It wasn't bad. I've read worse Batman books and I kind of enjoyed this.
While in Arkham, Joker is targeted by DeadShot who is taken out by a mysterious new villain whose only utterings are the verbal sounds made by actions in comic books (Pow! Zap! Etc). Joker finds out that his joker-poison has been cut with ecstasy to become a popular party drug, "chuckles". Joker takes his revenge on Maxie Zeus, the guy who spread the drug, while Batman tries to lock up Joker and capture this new villain at the same time.
Smith's script isn't nearly as bad as some of the reviews would have you believe though there are some odd moments - "I knew your ego would trump what's left of your common sense!" says Batman to the Joker (cringe!) and "Baruch haba, scumbag!". It's not like Smith's the first Batman writer to drop howlers into his scripts - remember Frank Miller's All Star Batman - "Who am I? I'm the GODDAMN BATMAN!". Also if you're a Smith fan and listen to SModcast (his weekly podcast) you'll be familiar with his speech patterns and notice some of his own inflections in the voices of DeadShot and Joker throughout. Overall though Smith does a good job and I was interested to find out who Cacophony really was.
Flanagan meanwhile isn't Jim Lee or Andy Kubert when he comes to draw the Dark Knight but again I didn't think it was the worst depiction of Batman. What about Tim Sale's in Dark Victory? Sam Kieth's in Secrets? Even again (sorry Miller fans) Frank Miller's Strikes Again (a book seemingly written on the fly in snatched moments) ? I've seen worse and I feel Flanagan's getting better having seen recent issues of "Widening Gyre".
I'll say it's not the best Batman book out there and Smith deflates any high expectations you might have even before you've started the book with his introduction - "Enjoy the second best Batman book I've written!" - but having read a ton of Batman, it's a decent read and good fun. I really enjoyed it.