Granted, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen every episode of the Batman TV series, but I had zero recollection of who “The Bookworm” was going into this issue and I like that. One of the things I’ve really treasured about Batman ’66 so far is that writer Jeff Parker has been unafraid to tackle the more esoteric villains that most fans might have forgotten all about. It’s a terrific way to approach this series. Nowhere else will you find the likes of Chandell or Siren. Plus villains like Mad Hatter or Clock King are pretty recognizable compared to their mainstream comic counterparts so seeing those foes a few issues ago was also a rare treat. Unfortunately, while I was absolutely blown away by such appearances as Egghead or The Sandman, I’m sorry to report that Bookworm was on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The main feature of this issue that collects the digital first series based on Adam West’s famous show is called “The Conqueror Bookworm” and it’s written by guest writer Tom Peyer and illustrated by Ty Templeton, who has drawn for ’66 before and he even did the Bill the Boy Wonder book (it’s a biography on Bill Finger). It opens with Robin delivering a speech as a part of a fundraiser that will conclude with Bruce Wayne bestowing an over-sized $4,999.99 check. But as soon as the press cameras begin to flash the event comes under attack by Bookworm, who steals Bruce Wayne’s giant checkbook and escapes into a cloud of pink smoke.
Obviously it’s a pretty corny setup what with the novelty check coming from an actual checkbook and all, but that’s exactly the sort of thing I want from a series based on the 60’s TV series. However, that’s about where my enjoyment of the story ends. I think that this could’ve easily been condensed into an entertaining back-up story like what we saw with Siren or Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman, but nothing terribly exciting is done with this little-known villain and the chapter fails to give us a spectacle in the form of a visually stunning set piece, something else I like to see from the series. What’s great about the comic format as opposed to the old TV show is that we can see things that technology and an 60’s ABC TV budget couldn’t permit. “The Conqueror Bookworm” doesn’t take advantage of any of that and we get some pretty boring locations.
The short back-up story is written by series regular Jeff Parker and illustrated by Ted Naifeh with colors, again, by Tony Avina who adds much more color to this piece. “Queen of Cossacks” has Egghead’s distraught girlfriend seeking a new beau who just so happens to be Batman. This story adds some continuity to the Batman ’66 series as it references an issue from a few months ago and it offers more laughs and over-the-top visuals than the Bookworm story did. Most importantly though, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. There’s not all that much substance here what with Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, asking for Batman’s hand, being refused, and then we get a quasi-cliffhanger, and finally a resolution so it flies by quickly and leaves you feeling fairly satisfied. It certainly won’t go down as anyone’s favorite chapter of Batman ’66, but it’ll definitely leave you feeling better for having purchased issue #6. The artwork by Naifeh is more cartoony and works really well given Parker’s more comedic leanings. I would recommend that readers go buy this one online for 99 cents and skip the Bookworm storyline.
- You love the lesser known villains that only appeared on the TV series
- You’ll take whatever lighthearted Bat-campiness you can get
I see issue #6 as the first installment of Batman ’66 that can be skipped.