This is about as close as Adam West is going to get to a Lethal Weapon 2 “It’s just been revoked!” scene. In Batman ’66 #2, Penguin has built a giant iceberg in Gotham harbor that has been recognized as the independent nation of Penguinia. Penguinia is blocking all shipments from entering Gotham, but for the right price the floating continent will drift aside. Unwilling to stand by and watch his longtime foe extort his city for money, Batman along with his sidekick Robin intervene.
It’s a fun concept and after John Layman’s recent Penguin arc it’s kind of funny to see the term “Emperor Penguin” get thrown around again, but let’s face it, a giant block of ice isn’t a very exciting backdrop to this world, is it? One of the fun things about issue #1 was that we visited several settings and got a feel for the 1960’s Gotham atmosphere. The change in scenery also gave the story some added momentum whereas this tale literally chugs along at glacial speed. With most of the story featuring figures on a boat yelling at figures on a block of ice, the visuals by Bill the Boy Wonder illustrator Ty Templeton never really have a chance to shine and colorist Wes Hartman is utterly wasted on something so dependent on blues and whites.
The funny lines and on-the-nose characterization of these TV characters is there just like it was in the Riddler issue, but that story felt like a full episode (actually it felt like a traditional 2-parter) while “Emperor Penguin” came off as a really long moment.
Unlike last month’s issue, however, this comic is supplemented by a bonus story that once again features artist Jonathan Case, who I’m far more partial to but, again, it seems unfair to compare his work with Templeton’s just yet because Templeton was given so little to work with in that iceberg story. Case dazzles yet again and Wes Hartman kicks the colors into overdrive with bright reds and oranges everywhere that give the book that pop-art feel that was missing from “Emperor Penguin” and made the Riddler issue an absolute must-buy.
This bonus story features not one but two lesser-known villains from the TV show, Lorelei Circe and Chandell. Fun fact: the most watched 2-parter that the Batman TV Series ever aired was not a Joker, Penguin, or even a Riddler episode, it was the 2-part Chandell caper that starred Liberace as the main villain. However, I was a bit disappointed to see that Case did not capture the likeness of Liberace in this comic, but I wonder if maybe that’s a legal thing. Perhaps they didn’t have the rights to use Liberace’s likeness?
Either way, this was a far more fast-paced and fun story with superior artwork that even changes style midway through as Batman sees bizarre visions that make reference to classic Adam West episodes (remember the yellow swim trunks?). It’s a visually stunning back-up story and one that actually ends with a bit of mystery as though writer Jeff Parker is building toward a big mystery villain with an over-arcing plot that will develop as the series continues. He’s definitely starting to take some chances here and there and bring newer elements of the Batman mythology into the Batman ’66 world. For instance, the “Arkham Institute” is mentioned off-hand in this installment and I’ve heard that a ’66-version of Harley Quinn shows up in an upcoming issue.
The Penguin story is a bit of a letdown, but the book is lifted back up again with a wild Circe & Chandell back-up story that once again features Jonathan Case’s artwork. This is a done-in-one adventure once again so if you haven’t checked out Batman ’66 yet (and I highly recommend you pick up issue #1– I gave it a 10/10) then now’s the time to hop aboard and do the batusi.