Welcome to What The Fuck Are You Reading, my weekly take on comic book lore that I’ve had the privilege of passing through my eye sockets. You know, it’s a shame this isn’t a podcast or a vlog, because I think that introduction would be better suited for one of the two. But, as of today, our production funds are a little tight and our studio is, well, non-existent. But, I digress.
This week, I had the pleasure of reading Batman Cacophony by SIR Kevin Smith, thanks to the purchasing power of a certain Dr. Greg Hayhurst over at the 500 Words On… blog. Seeing that I’ve been a longtime fan of Smith’s film work, from Clerks to Red State, I knew I had to give it a shot. I have to say, despite his harsh self-criticism in the book’s introduction, Smith did a great job at taking on the Cowled Crusader.
*Warning: Spoilers to follow*
Cacophony begins with a daring, yet, easy break in at Arkham Asylum by a masked criminal named Deadshot. His goal was to find everyone’s favorite clown, the Joker, and murder him. But, as soon as he has the Joker is his clutches, in comes another masked criminal who speaks only in vocalized action sounds. We later learn (well, I learned later) his name was Onomatopoeia.
He managed to help the Joker slip from Deadshot’s clutches and allowed him to flee with a large briefcase full of money. The Joker decided to use his new found freedom to attack a man named Maxie Zeus, a former criminal turned entrepreneur, who has been manufacturing a drug called “Chuckles,” which was a combination of the Joker’s venom and Ecstasy. After blowing up a school with his nephew in it, Zeus had another mental break and returned to his toga’d former self, The Mighty Zeus.
After burning down Zeus’s nightclub, The Olympus, and fleeing Batman’s clutches, The Joker found himself in one of Clayface’s old hideouts watching the TV as The Mighty Zeus turned himself in to the police. That’s when The Joker hatched the idea to storm the Gotham Central jail and kill Zeus himself. But, he didn’t know that Onomatopoeia had the same idea.
A battle ensued between The Joker, The Batman and the masked stranger on the rooftop. Both the stranger and Batman had used The Joker as bait for the other. As the battle concluded, Onomatopoeia pulled out a knife and plunges it into The Joker’s chest, leaving Batman to choose to save his number one foe or to chase after the new masked vandal. Batman chose The Joker, a decision he seemed to be sure would be a mistake in the future…
Unlike other Batman stories I’ve seen or read, this one makes the Joker out to be more creepy than I remember. From the first issue, you get a view of the Joker that you’ve never seen before. You see a more sexual and dirty minded Joker that sort of grossed me out.
There is a panel after the prison break that made me feel ill, not because of what was depicted on the page but what thoughts it invoked in my mind.
I imagined this panel in a film. I imagined the Joker being played by Steve Buscemi. I imagined Mr. Buscemi dropping trow and spreading his brown eye for all to see. That old, gray and hairy ass shining brightly in the moonlight. Being the actor Buscemi is, I can imagine him ad-libbing a line like, “To get the candy inside this pinata, you’re gonna have to get in there fist deep.”
If you know anything about Kevin Smith and his dialogue, you’ll understand where his Joker comes from. Out of all the characters, however, I think he did the best with Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s faithful butler and confidant. To me, Alfred needs to not only be full of useful input, but needs to be able to criticize and entertain Bruce Wayne in a way no one else can; as a man with the knowledge that Bruce is Batman.
If you’re a Batman snob, you may not like this one. But, if you’re a comic book geek looking for a good Batman story, you should crack the spine on this one. My only regret is not buying the sequel, The Widening Gyre, Book 1. I suppose that will be for a later posting.
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