Top critical review
It's not terrible all the time, but it's pretty bad
on 2 November 2015
This isn't that bad as a standalone story, but I gave it one star since it reads like fan-fiction when compared to the high quality of the rest of the Batman canon. I want to give it five stars since despite being spectacularly bad, it has so many funny comicbook and Kevin Smith tropes that I kind of love it. Called "the worst Batman story ever written", I borrowed a copy for morbid fascination. There must be worse Batman stories out there; this one is at least entertaining! Scroll down to "things I liked" if this is getting too negative:
Things I didn't like (spoilers):
1 - The title. The six issue headings are lines from a Yeats poem about post-WWI Britain. Maybe Kevin Smith had to do it in sixth form and wanted to get it out of his system (or he got the idea from 2007's Batman #666 which quotes the same poem but in a relevant way).
2 - The artwork. It's not terrible all the time, but it's pretty bad. It got worse as the series continued.
3 - Poison Ivy...er...lady-gardening in front of Batman. Was that really necessary? Also, there are loads of pointless cameos of Batman villains who disappear without adding to the plot.
4 - Batman. He acts like a rookie throughout this series, neurotic, and getting beaten by minor villain set pieces. Spending entire days with Silver is very out of character for his cautious and workaholic persona, and unlike how he interacts with other women e.g. Talia, Selina Kyle, Jezabel Jet. There is no "correct" way to depict Batman so I ought not moan about this, but it seems more like a "Year One" Batman than an experienced detective.
5 - The flashbacks. These only show us that Kevin Smith has read a lot of comics, but I would rather that the story moves forward without scenes which have nothing to do with the plot.
6 - Silver St. Cloud being fridged. She has the same background as Bruce Wayne (rich philanthropic society orphan) so could have been written as a good foil to his character, but ended up as cheesecake. She is barely one-dimensional when she is alive, and the only thing that she does of note is getting her throat slit.
7 - Lack of Robin. There are a lot of Robin flashbacks early on, but these are just filler and don't relate to anything. You'd think that Batman asking some random newcomer to be his successor would meet with suspicion from Robin, but no. Tim is once shown looking sad that Batman is with the new chap, but nothing more. That seems like a glaringly obvious plot hole.
8 - The new hero/villain. He doesn't even turn up until the third issue. He talks about killing villains; Batman has no problem with that, despite the strict "no kills" policy he imposes on the the Bat family. Batman quickly accepts him as a partner, shows him the Batcave, and reveals that he is Bruce Wayne. All of this compromises Batman's character a lot. Also, I don't actually mind Kevin Smith's Onomatopoeia character (apart from that he looks like a knock-off version of Rorschach), but he is a brutal serial killer who has a happy life with a wife and kids, which doesn't make sense at all.
9 - Cringeworthy dialogue. Kevin Smith is good at depicting teenagers' dialogue, but I'd rather Batman and his allies talk like actual grown adults.
10 - Catwoman. She turns up simply to cry like a lovesick teen when she hears about Silver. Why write a DC legend like Catwoman into a ten-second love triangle, when she would care even less about Bruce's new relationship than I do?
11 - The Joker. He isn't really in it, so don't get excited by the Joker cover of issue 4.
12 - Intimate partner violence for the sake of it. After years of knowing his fiancee intimately, Batman suddenly decides on a whim that she is a robot and that he must immediately attack her. Despite trusting his new male friend enough to reveal his secret identity and give him the keys to the Batcave a week after meeting him.
13 - Scatalogical and crude humour. That's Kevin Smith's style, but it just seems weird here e.g. Silver telling Alfred lurid details about her sex life (unless I'm mistaken and young women talk to elderly male servants about sex all the time in Gotham genteel society).
Things I liked:
1 - This is a Batman comic like never before, with graphic violence punctuated by crude jokes.
2 - This is not DC canon anyway, so why not have Batman do new exciting things like resting on a beach with a lady, ignoring his adopted son, and getting laissez-faire with security issues?
3 - I have asked myself many times "why doesn't Poison Ivy just synthesise THC and become a drug dealer?", or "Did Batman ever wee in his pants?". These pressing questions are answered within this book.
4 - This is basically a fan-fiction novel, and it is nice to see what Kevin Smith's dream Batman comic would look like.