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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.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2010
This is the second attempt Kevin Smith has made to write Batman. The first book, Batman: Cacophony, was quite contentious. Views ranged from people hating it and everything in it, and people thinking it was a good, solid Batman book. For me, i thought it was flawed, but had some potential - and i was optimistic that in this next book, i would see a much better book.
However, after reading Widening Gyre it feels like more of the same to me... and that is a little disappointing.
The basic premise is quite similar to the film, Dark Knight. Batman sees the arrival of a new hero as a way to step back from being Gotham's lone protector, and allow Bruce Wayne to have more of a life. What follows is an interesting mix of the two sides of Bruce and Batman.
There are lots of cameos from the Batman universe. You get to see plenty of Alfred, the Batcave, Superman's Fortress of Solitude, Poison Ivy and Catwoman to name but a few. So there are lots of elements for the fan to enjoy.
And yet.... i just can't get on with this book. I don't hate it at all, but it just doesn't seem to sit right in my head. I have nothing against Bruce Wayne trying to have a life beyond Batman, but this just doesn't seem the way he would do it. I am trying not to give too much away from the book, as there are some twists and turns to read as you go through the book, so excuse me being deliberately vague!
Some of things Batman does seem completely out of character to me - and i question why he arrives at his decisions in this book, rather than when he had such a close relationship with Dick Grayson.
There is plenty to like though. The sub plot with Catwoman is very good. Alfred is good too. Unlike Cacophony this book is certainly more substantial too and feels like more effort has gone into it - but the problem is, that despite more effort going into it, Widening Gyre feels less than the sum of its parts.
I really don't like the artwork throughout the book and i think that adds to its problems. Some of it is painfully poor, whilst the rest is decidedly average in my opinion.
There are some nice bits of dialogue and you can see the wit of Kevin Smith here, but to me they just don't fit into the spirit of Batman, but some of the dialogue is so poor i found myself getting frustrated with it.
How to sum up this book?
Well, the twist at the end hints at a much improved second volume to this book, but all in all i don't feel like i have a better handle on what Kevin Smith is doing with Batman than i did after i had read Cacophony. There are some good ideas here, and the basic premise is an interesting one. But the way in which they are carried out left me grinding my teeth.
I think this book will be as divisive as Smith's first attempt at Batman, and in my opinion, he hasn't moved on and convinced me that he can write Batman. It is another flawed attempt at getting into the head of Batman i am afraid.
Ultimately, this book is average, and it's potential is never realised, whilst its failings really do drag it down. I constantly think that had we had given the basic premise to Grant Morrison, we would have had something much better.
Sorry, Kevin Smith - i was really hoping for better. I will keep my fingers crossed for volume 2, but time is running out............
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on 16 December 2010
Fresh from their first Batman collaboration - "Cacophony" - writer Kevin Smith and artist Walter Flanagan return with their second collection, this time longer than the first, called "The Widening Gyre". A new superhero comes to Gotham wearing a wooden goat mask calling himself "Baphomet" and kicking evil-doer ass, giving Batman the idea that this might be the man he's been looking for to replace him and let Batman retire. Meanwhile Silver St Cloud re-enters Bruce Wayne's life after her husband's death, and the two begin a whirlwind relationship. But who is Baphomet and why has he suddenly appeared to take down Batman's Rogues Gallery?

"Gyre" is a mixed bag for me - there's plenty of action but not a strong enough plot to say this is a great Batman book. For example, there are a lot of old Batman villains that get aired for a few pages before being taken down again - Baron Blitzkrieg, Etrigan, Cornelius Stirk, Black Spider, and Crazy Quilt all get their day in court along with regulars Joker, Mr Freeze, and Poison Ivy. All it really does is show again and again that Baphomet can handle the action and underlines to Batman repeatedly that this guy might be the one to fill his boots when he retires. But seeing one villain after another being beaten up gets a bit boring after a while.

The other main focus is the love story between Silver St Cloud and Bruce Wayne. It's very soap opera-y. They jet to tropical islands, make love on the beach, jet to Aspen and ski, blah blah blah. Wayne gets loved up - how many scenes of him smooching with Silver does the average Batman reader want to see? Then there's Selina Kyle and we really get into Melrose Place territory.

The Baphomet story is the interesting piece of the puzzle, though he de-masks early on and it's nobody from Batman's past that's revelatory. In fact, it's kind of a red herring... but I don't want to spoil it for you. No, despite its humdrum story throughout, "Gyre" is redeemed in the final pages with a real sucker punch of an ending from Smith and makes me want to read the next book in the series.

I quite like Smith's writing so I enjoyed reading the book but I already know one person who didn't like the way Smith humanised Batman by showing him eating a sandwich in between arrests and especially on one page that references "Year One" and Batman's first encounter with incendiaries. But despite being a Batman fan and having read hundreds of comics featuring the guy, it didn't jar me in the way it might - might - a Batman purist.

Flanagan's art is better than his work in "Cacophony"'s and his Batman looks a lot better too - more fierce, menacing, masculine. His drawings of Poison Ivy were awesome too. I know some people disliked his artwork in "Cacophony" but I think it was an overreaction, I mean, he's not Jim Lee but he's not Sam Kieth either.

I guess I was a bit disappointed with the book overall. It felt like there was too much padding and not enough of a substantial story. It felt like the ending was the start of the real story and I would've liked to have skipped a lot of the dross that led up to it and started there instead. That said, it was a decent read and I'm looking forward to a more dynamic "Gyre: Vol 2" from Smith and Flanagan.
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on 3 December 2015
No Spoilers. I have to admit I was really disappointed by Kevin Smith’s previous Batman graphic novel Cacophony but apparently this sequel was better so I checked it out. Oh my God! It’s one of the greatest Batman comics of all time. It’s in my top 3 Batman and top 5 graphic novels of all time. I can’t spoil it but it’s wonderful and you should read Cacophony before hand. I loved every page of it and the writers understanding and development of who Batman is, what he’s gone through his whole life and how it’s affected him is simply amazing. Essential reading for any Bat Fan.
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on 23 February 2015
I read a library copy of the paperback
Behind the spooky/horror cover there is actually an old fashioned well written, well paced human story taking Bruce Wayne and by default Batman to places seldom seen in his history.
There is heart there is character there are guesting good guys and guesting bad from throughout Batman’s continuity all fitting well into a well pitched balance of Bruce Wayne’s humanity and the Batman’s mission.
The surprise dramatic last minute twist may not have been completely unforeseen but is well played and intriguing.
This is a quality Batman trade, not quite a complete adventure due to the end hook that leaves you begging for more but well worth seeking out.
Well done Kevin Smith.
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on 7 July 2013
smith is a great writer and this story draws on some wonderful batman traits while poking fun at them slightly whilst simultaneously using that to move the story along nicely you do have to read cacophony to really appreciate the last page but at the end I was itching for more
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on 13 August 2011
This book was good.. You read the whole thing... and then you get a KILLER CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!! I didn't know this was volume 1, I thought it was a self contained story... so I was turning the pages to see how it all wraps up.. and then BAM... it came out of nowhere... Mind you, upon recollection, there's a subtle hint somewhere in the story which i stupidly didn't pick up on (if you've read Cacophony or the Smith Green Arrow run you might catch it). Anyway... I can't wait for the second part.
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on 15 February 2011
This was a bit of a slow burner but I enjoyed it. I am only a casual fan of Batman comics so I wasn't always certain exactly what was going on.

If you don't like the movies or comics of Kevin Smith then you are unlikely to like this comic very much. It is very much Smith's irreverent take on Batman and much of the humour is pretty juvenile. It reminded me a little bit of the scene in Mallrats with Stan Lee.

The artwork isn't brilliant but it's mostly not too bad. It did vary quite a lot in quality though. Some of it was actually pretty decent but a lot of the time it was rather characterless.

The writing was also somewhat inconsistent. Some pretty witty stuff and then some stuff that didn't really work and Batman's character in this seemed to change from scene to scene. I got the impression that little editing was done. Some of Batman's actions were pretty odd on occasion.

I did like the way that this showed Batman in a slightly different light as someone who wanted to be more normal and less paranoid.

Overall I quite liked this comic. It was a bit different to the run of the mill Superhero comic. It didn't always work but when it did it was pretty enjoyable and memorable.
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on 12 October 2013
I do understand and appreciate some of the other reviewer's negative views of the book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The artwork is very well done with lots of awesome moonlit night scenes. The book has some neat little Easter eggs from the 60's Batman TV show (Julie Newmar's Catwoman, Adam West's Batmobile, Robin saying "Holy King Ghidorah Batman!") which I enjoyed spotting. There are also some neat and humorous crossovers with characters such as Superman and Aquaman. I also felt the idea of Bruce Wayne settling more into married life was quite well thought out. Great job! Looking forward to volume 2!
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on 12 December 2015
love it
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