Do you remember the episode of Adam West & Burt Ward’s television series in which the dynamic duo battled “The Sandman”? I didn’t, but I was eager to see this character return for one more battle and we’re going to talk about it in this review right here, right now!
The Sandman Says Good Night
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Ruben Procopio
Colors by Matthew Wilson
I am loving Jeff Parker’s choice in villains for this series lately. Rather than recycling the A-listers like Riddler, Joker, Penguin, etc. etc. he’s using the villains that only a comic like Batman ’66 can and it’s working brilliantly. In issue #4 we see Batman and the Boy Wonder collide with Dr. Somnambula himself AKA The Sandman, a villain that artist Ruben Procopio altered from the Michael Rennie version from the TV show to look more like a cross between Aladdin‘s Jafar and Green Lantern‘s Sinestro but with a Pimp coat and he looks really great, actually. But not only that– he has a really good plan for taking over the city. And even MORE, he has a great plan on what to do with all of the riches he collects while the city is his! While we already dive into hallucinations and Batman’s darkest memories with characters like Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and Hugo Strange, this story truthfully had me wondering, “Do we have room for this Sandman in mainstream Bat-comics?”
Now while it might be easy to look at this story at a glance and say “Oh, it’s another one of those ‘Batman trapped in his own mind/an illusion stories” you have to realize that this is the Adam West Batman and it’s going to play out way different and way funnier than what you would see from one of the film or any of the darker New 52 titles. And that’s not the only unique twist on a Batman staple we have here, either. Think of all the things we take for granted in the Batman iconography and realize how most of it has never been applied to the Adam West incarnation. With this comic, that can happen. Smashing through a skylight? Holding a punk upside down and interrogating him? Massive battles in the streets of Gotham? Standing atop a gargoyle at night as spotlights and zeppelins fly by? The ’66 TV show didn’t have the budget for it, but with a comic anything is possible!
“The Sandman Says Goodnight” perfectly captures the spirit of the TV show from top to bottom. Procopio’s pencils deserve as much attention as you can give them as they blend the aesthetic of the live-action show along with something new and wonderfully cartoony. The colors and warped visuals of the hallucination sequence are particularly interesting to look at. This is a must-read and one of my favorite stories to come out of this title so far.
Tail of the Tiger Topaz
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Colleen Coover
While Batman and Robin are away on a trip that’s a terrific nod to classic Manga stories (Yep, there were fully-licensed Japanese Bat-Mangas made in the 1960’s as a response to global Bat-mania), it’s up to Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl to save the day when Catwoman attempts to steal the rare Tiger Topaz from the Gotham Museum of Science.
Does anybody else miss simple stories about a hero just trying to stop a bad guy from stealing a MacGuffin of some kind? I read a lot of current Batman comics (obviously) and it would be great to actually get a New 52 title in which Batman is just trying to stop a genius criminal from taking something that’s not easily took! No end-of-the world plot, no homicidal rampage– I just want to mix things up a bit, ya know? While I can’t get a story like that in any of the New 52 Batman titles, I can always turn to Batman ’66, which is nice. However, this short back-up tale featuring the first appearance (well, first for this comic) of Batgirl and Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman is rather uneventful and the pages are laid out in a rather boring way (especially in comparison with what we saw in the Sandman story). Basically, Batgirl intervenes to stop Catwoman from taking the jewel and the two fight for a while. It’s a few pages of Batgirl stalling for time until the cops arrive.
While it was cool to see the ’66 Batgirl go toe-to-toe with the Eartha Kit Catwoman, I need more than the novelty of that confrontation to hook me. I want to see Batgirl in a bigger and better story than this and the back-up simply didn’t have the visual flair or the laughs that The Sandman’s main event had.
- You love the Adam West TV series that inspired this comic
- You’re eager to see Batman (even a campy Batman) fight an old and forgotten villain
- You love vibrant pop art. This continues to be a beautiful book
- A great done-in-one read belongs on your pull-list
- Laughter and a tremendous sense of fun are missing from your comic stack
- You’re curious about what a top-of-the-line all-ages comic looks like
The Sandman story is brilliant. You’ve seen the “Dark Knight trapped in an illusion” story a million times now, but I bet you’ve never seen Adam West’s Batman trapped in an illusion! It’s exactly what you’d want it to be and personally I thought it was fantastic. The back-up story featuring Batgirl, however isn’t quite as fun and is what dropped the score down a tad, but a very, very small tad.