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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

The Widening Gyre

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: January 2010

My Mother has never liked violent movies. She recently went to see Quentin Tarantinos Inglorious Basterds and was somehow surprised that it was horrifically violent. She used to stand in the living room while my brother and I watched movies, and sigh loudly every time someone was shot or dismembered. She had a theory that was probably garnered from some program on public radio, that if only movies made you sit through a full length funerals for each fallen characters, the mindless killing of extras would cease to exist. At these remarks, my brother Spencer and I would exchange a knowing glance and whoever had the remote would turn up the volume. Bless her heart though, she really is the most nonviolent person I know.

 In any case, although violence is certainly isn’t the focal point of this weeks review, although in the miniseries at hand, it certainly is prevalent. When Kevin Smith released Batman: Cacophony, it received very mixed reviews. It seems that Smith is destined to have staying power and a reliable fan base, but according to some his powers of creative intuition may be slipping. In his newest miniseries, Batman: The Widening Gyre, Smith has once again teamed up with Walt Flanagan to create a new project. Poison Ivy and Etrigan the Demon are featured in the first issue, with (sorry Mom), very gratuitously violent and unnecessarily sexual results. It seems that Smith has taken Poison Ivy’s already sexually charged characteristics and pushed them into overdrive. In this depiction, she’s portrayed as a naked lunatic who is barely coherent. Smiths version of Etrigan the Demon is also disturbing, although in more of an overly violent type of way. To his credit though, he handles the intended Shakespearean rhyme scheme better than most writers.

 That’s not to say this miniseries isn’t worth reading. Smith’s writing style stands out in a few different points, especially the flashback sequences where Batman is trolling around town with Robin. The Widening Gyre is definitely worth checking out, if only for the first few issues. This six issue miniseries is almost wrapped, with one or two issues to go. Although this isn’t going to be a life-changing read, it’s still worth your while. There are some serious flaws within the Smith-Flanagan partnership, but within those muddy waters there are enough glimpses of promise that I’m willing to bet we can expect better things from these two in the future. 

Arielle Mullen