I love Batman ‘66 - I love the TV show with Adam West, I love the comics series by Jeff Parker. I don’t love Kevin Smith. However, that’s not enough to dissuade me from his recent foray into comics, Batman ‘66 Meets the Green Hornet, with podcast co-host, Ralph Garman, and Batman artist extraordinaire, Ty Templeton.
The setup of the comic has Bruce Wayne going on a train which also happens to have Britt Reid and his valet Kato aboard which gets hijacked for its valuable cargo. They change into costume and fight the campy villain. It’s actually fine for a Batman ‘66 plot but the execution is just really, really boring.
Take, for example, Jeff Parker’s Batman ‘66 story where Penguin and Mister Freeze create a giant iceberg in Gotham harbour. This leads to an underwater submarine sequence, a fight atop the iceberg, visually interesting scenes inside the iceberg - there’s a lot you can do with that scenario that’s fun and imaginative.
Now take Smith and Garman’s Batman ‘66. It’s a train that gets stopped with glue on the tracks. The villain wears a pink suit and is covered in glue. They try to fight but get their feet glued to the floor. So nothing happens. Train. Static characters. Exposition. Done. Zzz…
Smith/Garman are clearly huge fans of the series and they’ve got the voices and the tone down cold, but their story is a complete non-starter. Granted they leave the issue with an exciting cliffhanger but the rest of the comic is sooooo dull, even if you’re a fan of the series. It’s the same structure Smith used in his last Batman book, The Widening Gyre - boring story for most of it, exciting final page. But I’ll be really disappointed if the resolution is “Wait, old chum - it just so happens I have…” (reaches into belt). I know it’s in keeping with the TV show, but please be more creative, Smith/Garman!
Ty Templeton has worked on Parker’s Batman ‘66 as well as other Batman comics (not to mention illustrating Marc Tyler Nobleman’s excellent book on Batman’s creator, Bill Finger: Bill The Boy Wonder), and his artwork here is as superb as you’d expect. Also, Alex Ross’ cover is quite good - it’s really cool to see Adam West’s Batman painted photo-realistically on the front of a Batman ‘66 comic. It’s like a still from the series!
Maybe the other issues will improve and, hopefully, given Smith’s track record of delivering late comics, they’ll actually all come out within 2014! But, based on this first issue, I’m not very interested in this Batman ‘66 story. Batman and Green Hornet chase a glue dude? Eh. Next! (Phew, avoided all the glue puns!)