Look at it. LOOK AT IT. We are about to go down a dark road, my friends, but it’s a road that’s been tread many times before. There is no shortage on the internet of Widening Gyre shit-talk. But there can never be enough. There must never be enough.
I want to make it clear right from the start that I am not one of these people who thinks Kevin Smith is a total hack who has no business writing comic books. In fact, I thought his work on Green Arrow was very, very good and that his Daredevil stuff was also decent. I thought Onomatopoeia was a cool and fun new character, and was disappointed that no other DCU writers (as far as I know) ever ran with him. I thought Kevin Smith really had promise back then. That’s why it’s so unbelievable that when he decides to take on the single coolest character in all of superhero comics, The Widening Gyre is the utter horseshit that emerges.
I don’t even know where to begin. Well, yes I do. Comics are a visual medium and as such, my blog entries about comic books will inevitably contain a lot of pictures. In the case of this particular comic book, those pictures might be pretty uncomfortable for you to look at. Walt Flanagan, longtime Kevin Smith collaborator, may have a gifted flair for playing such diverse characters as Walt Grover the Fanboy and Annoying Customer on the silver screen, but it appears those god-given talents don’t necessarily extend to drawing pictures on pieces of paper. I mean, I understand that if you’re Kevin Smith, you want to help out a friend, but if that friend makes Batman look like this…
…it might be time to go with a talented and experienced colleague instead. But hey, do what you want, it’s only a fucking BATMAN comic, right? Jesus Christ. I’d say this was analogous to pissing all over Neal Adams’ face if Neal wasn’t doing that himself with this Odyssey horseshit (but that’s a rant for another post).
The other major problem Kevin Smith has is with dialogue. However you feel about the dialogue in his movies, I think we can all agree that a story about a couple of dickheads sitting in a room probably calls for a different approach than a story about noble supermen saving the world from evil monsters and shit. As I said earlier, I thought the Kevin Smith approach worked reasonably well for a dude like Green Arrow, but oh my god something has gone terribly wrong. Let’s take a look at the shit Kevin Smith makes some classic Batman villains say.
The Joker must be one of the most difficult characters to write, particularly when it’s a conversation between him and Batman. Every exchange between the two of them must be pregnant with bloody history, with philosophical conflict, with tragic symbiosis… every encounter a failed struggle to understand, to relate. The Joker’s voice has to be that perfect mixture of potent menace, black humor, and underlying regret and sorrow. It must be a difficult scene for a writer to tackle. Probably not so difficult that you have to resort to The Joker calling Batman a “goth jerktard” though. Jesus.
Do you know what the worst part of this is? It’s not when Poison Ivy fantasizes about Batman performing cunnilingus on her – although that is just goddamn embarrassing. The worst part is that in this panel, Poison Ivy’s thought isn’t even finished. It’s all just set-up for her to tell Batman what she likes about him. Three connected balloons filled with about a thousand stupid words, not to mention a digression into the topic of oral sex, just to set up her quip. By the time she gets to the point of what she’s talking about (which is on the next page), you don’t even know what the fuck you’re reading anymore. I’m not even going to tell you what Poison Ivy likes about Batman because after all that, who could possibly give a shit?
Well at least Killer Croc is easy to write for, right? He’s just a big dumb thug. How could you fuck that up, right?
Oh. Oh god.
But wait, I haven’t even told you about the story of The Widening Gyre‘s first chapter yet, have I? Well, there isn’t really much of one. It begins with a pointless flashback of Batman and Dick Grayson’s Robin fighting Nazi supervillains, then it cuts to a dumb stupid present-day story about Batman and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing fighting Nazi supervillains. This seems to just be a catalyst to Batman thinking about Robin and inner-monologuing about how he never wants to endanger a young life again, and that if he ever wants another partner it should be a trained and capable adult. Kevin Smith should have just told Annoying Customer to spread the word F O R E S H A D O W I N G out among these panels.
Anyway, from there, he has to go to Arkham because Poison Ivy has taken over the facility. After she tells him about how awesome she bets his tongue is, guess what she does next? If you guessed that she gets Batman stoned as fuck, congratulations, you’re Kevin Smith. Yeah. In this comic book, Kevin Smith makes Batman get high on weed. I wish I was joking, but here’s the shitty-looking proof:
After that, I dunno, Etrigan the Demon shows up for some reason and begins eating people (and if you think Kevin Smith’s non-rhyming dialogue is embarrassing, you ought to see the nonsense he makes Etrigan say), and then Batman is about to die, but… OUT OF THE SHADOWS! A new hope! Some new costumed vigilante shows up out of nowhere and saves him. Since this new guy is supposed to be all mysterious and badass, Kevin Smith knows to keep his dialogue brief, subtle, and oozing with intrigue.
So that’s how issue #1 ends. I will return soon with more from The Widening Gyre. Hang on tight, kids, because it only gets worse from here. Seriously, like much much worse.