Welcome to the D-List: Onomatopoeia
Some comic book characters love to hear themselves talk, and boy, it can get annoying. I wish that Red Skull and Darkseid would condense their tirades to a sentence or two, because I’m too busy to read a novel’s length of hate-speech. Since my generation has no attention span and is always on-the-go, a villain of few words is actually refreshing.
Onomatopoeia is exactly the kind of criminal that you’d expect – the only words that he speaks are sound-effects. That’s right, this guy functions just like the “Bat-Fight” words from the terrible 60s Batman series, but with deadlier results. To my knowledge, only one writer has ever utilized him and done nothing more than tease at his backstory. A mysterious villain with such a simplistically interesting gimmick, it’s time to welcome Onomatopoeia to the D-List with a “BANG!”
Created by Kevin Smith and Phil Hester in 2002, Onomatopoeia first appeared in Green Arrow vol. 3 #12. The hero, Buckeye, came home to find his wife’s lifeless body hanging in the shower. Onomatopoeia sat next to the brutal scene and calmly said “DRIP” every time a drop of the woman’s blood splashed into the tub. The villain then shot Buckeye in the head, killing him.
Right from the beginning, this villain was absolutely ghoulish – he wore a trench coat, a mask, and didn’t give any clues as to why he just killed Buckeye and his wife. But really, anyone can hide in a bathroom and shoot someone in the head (disclaimer: don’t actually do that), so what made Onomatopoeia so special? Did he fail out of mime school and seek vengeance on the world that wronged him? While no motive was initially stated, he overheard a news report mention Green Arrow, so Onomatopoeia decided to target the Emerald Archer. During this period of time, however, there wasn’t just one Green Arrow, there were two – Oliver Queen and his son, Connor.
Onomatopoeia managed to sneak up on Connor, shoot him in the head, and flee before Ollie could catch the villain. Because comics, Connor survived, but was in critical condition at a local hospital. Onomatopoeia followed the young hero there, but of course, so did Oliver. The elder Arrow and Onomatopoeia engaged in one hell of an operating-room battle, and the villain took many arrows to the back and through his arms. The fight continued onto the roof of the hospital, where Oliver pinned Onomatopoeia with a well-placed arrow. The villain broke the arrow and fell to the ground, many floors below. By the time Oliver arrived downstairs to detain him, Onomatopoeia had escaped. (Surprise!)
Though it was an interesting opening-arc for Onomatopoeia, no mannerisms other than a desire to murder and mimic sound-effects were evident. For some reason, this new villain, with an extremely limited vocabulary, thought that he could just throw down with a member of the Justice League. Although I had my suspicions of the villain’s intent, Smith had the opportunity to officially clarify Onomatopoeia’s motives in 2009’s, Batman: Cacophony.
Onomatopoeia helped break the Joker out of Arkham Asylum for a supervillain team-up in order to get Batman’s attention. When the hero arrived, Onomatopoeia managed to cut Batman very badly, but, because he’s fucking Batman, the masked villain fell short of killing him. After the battle, Batman searched for information regarding Onomatopoeia, but not even the mighty Bat-Computer could produce any results. However, Bruce deduced that the villain was purposely targeting heroes who were non meta-humans. Way to go, Batman, I had deduced the same exact thing simply by reading a few comics (“world’s greatest detective,” my ass). Onomatopoeia and Joker lured Batman to a rooftop for another battle, but again, he’s fucking Batman, so the hero kept the upper hand throughout the fight. Onomatopoeia realized that he was going to have to cut his losses, so he stabbed Joker in the chest. (Get it? Cut his losses?) The villain rightfully assumed that Batman would choose to save the clown instead of fight, so Onomatopoeia escaped.
As the comic ended, a middle-aged man was shown returning to his suburban house. His beautiful wife, two kids, and a dog, welcomed him home to this perfect picture of normalcy. The man, whose face was not shown, entered the basement into a secret room. This was his trophy room – there were masks of all the dead heroes he had slain, with an empty jar, labeled, “Batman.”
So Onomatopoeia was nothing more than a bored suburbanite? I can totally identify! While this villain was certainly psychologically disturbed, he lived a double life so perfectly that no one in his family suspected that anything was wrong with him; outwardly, he was the textbook definition of normal. I guess Onomatopoeia’s only quirk was a murderous sound-fetish (don’t judge, you’re probably into freaky stuff too).
Not long after Cacophony concluded, DC began releasing another Smith-penned miniseries entitled, Batman: The Widening Gyre. I initially thought the purpose of this series was to put Batman on the path to retirement. Bruce spent much of his time reflecting on the past, and rekindled a romance with socialite, Silver St. Cloud. Why would Batman even consider retiring? Because a new vigilante arrived in Gotham, wearing a goat mask, and calling himself Baphomet…which doesn’t sound nearly as cool as Arm-Fall-Off-Boy (real character, look it up).
Baphomet frequently aided Batman while fighting crime, and eventually, the two developed a close friendship. This couldn’t have come at a better time, because Bruce proposed to Silver –everything was going right in the hero’s life. Bruce eventually decided to take the ultimate step in his relationship with Baphomet and brought the vigilante to the Bat-Cave. Batman revealed his true identity as Bruce Wayne and introduced Baphomet to Silver. Bruce turned his back to take off his belt, which made a “KA-KLAK” noise, and the sound was verbalized behind him. Bruce turned around to find Baphomet wearing the Onomatopoeia mask, and the villain had slashed Silver’s throat.
“Holy crap, Jonathan! What happened next,” you ask? Who the fuck knows?! Though he has pledged to for years, Kevin Smith has yet to write a conclusion. Smith has done nothing more than name the third and final book in his Batman series – Batman: Bellicosity. The writer/director has unfortunately broken many promises regarding when it will be finished and released.
Regardless of the cliffhanger that has been dangling for over 6 years, Onomatopoeia was a villain that was clearly willing to go to any lengths to get close to Batman, and that took immense dedication. While I doubt that Onomatopoeia would be the villain to finally murder Batman, he certainly had an enormous pair of balls to risk being discovered and imprisoned. But how does this guy act when he’s around his family? What does he do in his spare time? How does he take his coffee? With a “SPLASH” of creamer?! Fans can only speculate.
Outside of DC Comics, Onomatopoeia was briefly featured in a DC Nation Shorts cartoon and was allegedly going to appear on the CW show, Arrow. Apparently, Smith stated that the villain could not be adapted to the small-screen, so the producers created the character, Mr. Blank, based on Onomatopoeia. Personally, I think Onomatopoeia would be an excellent character for TV, because the villain has not had a substantial appearance in a comic since the final issue of Widening Gyre.
Onomatopoeia was a character shrouded in mystery because only one writer has granted him any depth but hasn’t utilized him in years. It’s possible that because of the lingering storyline that Smith created, DC refuses to use this villain in any other capacity. I would love to learn more about his origins and his family. I would love to find out what happened to Silver and how Batman would deal with such a dire situation. Rather than “BOO” and “HISS” however, I love this character and simply hope that DC utilizes him in the future. Unfortunately, fans are left still waiting for Batman: Bellicosity. “TICK-TOCK” Mr. Smith, your move.