Full disclosure and a much needed disclaimer: I've been a fan of Walt Flanagan ever since his podcast Tell 'Em Steve Dave and AMC show Comic Book Men, and finding out that he was the artist for Kevin Smith's series of Batman stories was a highly pleasurable discovery, so in reading Cacophony, I retained that bias. Nevertheless, I'm still able to view most of his illustrations for this comic book critically. I acknowledge that he has a potential to become a full-pledged professional artist and Cacophony has showcased that, though I think he definitely needs a more focused work regimen if he ever hopes to break the mold of his initial attempts, and come up with a more nuanced and remarkable result, artistically speaking.
But I digress because I am getting way ahead of myself. I should begin to put things in better perspective for Kevin Smith's script for Cacophony first which wasn't entirely as mediocre as most reviews I've read online make it to be. The writing is entertaining at best, filled with sparkling dialogue and witty humor, most especially with the way he interpreted and conveyed the Joker's character. I didn't have any problems with his Batman at all but that's probably my prerogative. I truly enjoyed the insights he put in pertaining to the dynamics between Batman and the Joker, and my most favorite scenes are definitely whenever Bruce Wayne and Alfred are conversing.
For the former, I believe Smith didn't really contribute much to the already established twisted relationship between Batman and the Joker, but he did emphasize the reluctant co-dependency that is shared between them, and how uncomfortably hypocritical it is for Batman to let the Joker live in blind hopes that there is still something worth saving, given the clown prince of crime's exhausting list of inhumane deeds that also personally affected Batman as a human being.
For the latter, it never fails to make my insides go soft every time his trusted butler hits the sweet spot when it comes to the motivation that drives most of Bruce Wayne's actions, both as a crime-fighter and as a noble man with a code. Here Smith shows that Alfred truly is the one person in the world who understood him best because he is the closest thing to a family he had left and that therefore gives him the great opportunity to unmask Batman better than everyone else.
I could tell that Kevin Smith understands Batman in a way that I have embraced him as a childhood hero, and I suppose that is the immediate charm and appeal of Cacophony. You get the sense that this is truly something written by a long-time fan for equally emotionally-attached fans like himself and my own.
Going back to Walt Flanagan's art: there is so much more that he could have done and he does get a chance to develop those potentials (I've read that he had improved his work in The Widening Gyre), and I suppose I will give him a pass here since this is his first debut and it clearly shows. In time I sure hope he refines his style and execution, just as much as I hope that Smith adds more dimension, flavor and a much needed substance to his storylines for the Dark Knight.
* Worth the look-through especially if you're a fan of either or both writer and artist.