Review - Batman: Widening Gyre

Obviously I have to talk about this since I talked about the other Kevin Smith penned Batman mini series. This one is 6 issues (supposed to be 12, but more on that later) and it sort of touches on all the history of Batman. One thing this story sort of has in common with a lot of Grant Morrison stories is that it addresses a bunch of stuff associated with the Silver Age of Comics and finds a way to bring them into the modern age. I like the context of how they started off not really as criminals but people with big egos who wanted attention. It wasn’t until the Joker appeared and started killing that the others decided to do the same in an effort to be taken more seriously. Granted this isn’t a huge part of the story in this series, but it does connect to a larger idea.

This story is about looking at the Batman, looking at how he has conducted his life, and then showing him a way where he could actually move on and have a better life. I mean, he won’t ever stop completely, even he admits that in this story. But he realizes it’s okay to try and find some happiness. So in comes one of his past love interests, Silver St. Cloud, a woman who has shown several times in several different versions of the character’s history. They find a way to resume their relationship and balance out his life as a crime fighter. But this is also supported by the fact the story shows the family he has created for himself over the years, such as Dick Grayson & Tim Drake. But one of the bigger reasons why Bruce feels like he can move on now is due to a new crime fighter in Gotham - Baphomet! BUT he isn’t a new character. In the 6th issue, it is revealed that he is actually Onomatopoeia, the mysterious villain from the previous mini series. He changed tactics, working his way into Batman’s inner circle. And now he has gotten close enough to see who is under the cowl, putting on his old mask just as he slits Silver’s throat and then…!

Nothing. That is where the 6th issue ends. The plan was to take a short break and then come back with the remaining 6 issues but that never happened. Why? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I do know this book gained a little bit of controversy.

Following a team-up between Baphomet & Batman, the new vigilante talks about some inadequacies he feels he has that won’t make him as good as Batman. That’s when the Bat tells him a little secret regarding an iconic moment from his past. The story it comes from is Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One” where Batman breaks into a mansion where a bunch of corrupt politicians and criminals were at. One where gives a quote that’s still iconic to this day. The secret Batman tells Baphomet is that he underestimated the firepower he was using to break into the house and the surprise intensity of the heat causes him to wet himself in his Batsuit. This is usually referred to as one of the more controversial moments in Batman history. And it might be the reason why the series was cancelled before it could finish.

And…that’s the dumbest reason ever. That iconic story Kevin Smith was referring to was penned by Frank Miller. A man who after TDKR was published had been getting increasingly worse as a writer and artist. Not only did he write a god awful sequel to TDKR but he would go on to write “All-Star Batman & Robin”. Also known as the story where Batman has sex with Black Canary after a dock explosion probably killed several people, where he laughs while beating up criminals like a psychopath, calls his newly kidnapped sidekick “r******d” and makes that same boy eat rats hours after witnessing his the death of his parents. Also, even TDKR has come under some critical re-evaluation.

My point is that this secret from Kevin Smith’s story doesn’t even crack the Top 10 for most controversial Batman moments of all time. Actually, given the context of the situation and why he told it in the first place, actually makes him more human and relatable. That’s what this whole story is about. Making Batman more human than legend and actually trying to put him through positive growth and change. Granted, this isn’t a perfect story. Some of the more comedic Kevin Smith moments don’t work as well as others, the female characters could be written a little better, and on a personal level I do prefer Batman with Catwoman.

But I still really like and respect this story. There were warm, feel good moments that showed respect for the character and his history. And I’m sad it was cancelled before its time.