While everything good is either burning, bleeding, or behind bars in Batman Eternal, you can always take a break from the darkness by picking up a copy of Batman ’66, where it’s summer time in Gotham and even The Dark Knight can be seen walking about in the daylight– actually, he seems to always be out in the daylight.
The Summer of Freeze
Written by Jeff Parker
Pencils by David Williams
Ink and colors by Kelsey Shannon
Although he’s an A-list villain today, few viewed Mr. Freeze with any sort of favoritism during the ’66 William Dozier series. In fact, Mr. Freeze really wasn’t a worthwhile villain until the B:TAS episode “Heart of Ice” came around. Still yet, Jeff Parker stayed true to the source material and delivered an honest Otto Preminger characterization of The Commissar of Cold and as a result we get the best ’66 Mr. Freeze adventure ever. This comic was a blast from start to finish with the only real problem being that it had to finish soon!
It’s such a perfect ’66 plot, but on a grand scale that could never have been brought to life on Television all those years ago. Taking these characters into places never thought possible on the ’66 TV budget is where this comic works best and “Summer of Freeze” is a prime example. In this story, Mr. Freeze sells pocket-sized “You-Cooler” personal air conditioners for $2 dollars a piece during a Gotham heatwave only the devices hide an even greater and more nefarious purpose that will ultimately plunge Gotham into the next ice age. During this tale, you’ll learn the origin of Mr. Freeze, see Batman in full science mode complete with lab apron, more than one “Holy ___, Batman!” lines, and an absolutely hysterical Batcave exit. Really, the issue is full of a number of laugh-out-loud moments, many of which regard Robin or just how “square” he and Batman are. If you haven’t listened to the Batman: The Movie commentary by the late Lorenzo Semple Jr. then I suggest you do, he goes into detail about the proper characterization of the ’66 Batman and Robin and I gotta say that Jeff Parker nails it every time. Plus you get to hear him use lingo like “square” and dish about old Hollywood.
This issue also had some classic ’66 tropes that I don’t recall seeing in previous chapters. This includes the scene transition where we see the bat emblem before a swirling background and Parker also mimics the broken speech pattern of an Adam West deep in thought and on the cusp of a breakthrough, “But he must..be..broadcasting a freeze-wave from a central location!” You can practically hear the inflection in West’s voice and the immediate fist-to-palm from Robin in agreement that’s undoubtedly soon to follow.
Of course, besides its original plot, spot-on characterization, and wonderful sense of humor, “Summer of Gotham” also features some amazing artwork by David Williams with vibrant colors by Kelsey Shannon. An important part of any ’66 story is ensuring that the pages have the right look an feel of the TV series and this tale hits all the right notes. Not only do the characters closely resemble the actors who played them, but we have a vivid Gotham (well, ’66 TV Gotham so… southern California) both in summer and in snow (a beautiful effect was used to achieve this), and lots of energy. There’s a great sense of motion in every panel where the performances really come across and you get a sense of how everyone behaves. It’s not just about a smile or a grimace, Williams puts painstaking detail into every gesture and posture of these characters.
The only draw-back to “Summer of Freeze” is that the ending wraps things up a bit too quickly and it feels like we ran out of pages to see the story come to a more natural conclusion. Still, it’s a glorious ride and shouldn’t disappoint.
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Jollie Jones
Colors by Nick Filardi
Great artwork on this issue all around as even the back-up story brings its A-game. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Batgirl short story so finding this at the back of the latest issue was a lovely little surprise. And as someone who gets bored of the dark and sometimes depressing tone of the New 52 Batgirl series, it’s amazing to see Barbara Gordon have an adventure that doesn’t involve excessive gore or her losing control of her emotions at some point.
While it’s marvelous to have a lighthearted and, above all, fun episode of Batgirl to enjoy, what really stood out about this issue is that over 40 years later, Jeff Parker made Lee Meriwether into a true Bat-villain all her own! What am I talking about? Well, Meriwether played Catwoman in the film Batman: The Movie, but that’s a role that was shared between Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt on the TV series. Meriwether would later show up on two episodes of the show as Lisa Carson, a girlfriend to Bruce Wayne, but not a villain. Parker brings back the character Lisa Carson and expands on the concept of a particular King Tut episode to give Meriwether a recurring role and a place not just in Batman’s rogues gallery, but Batgirl’s!
Now, this story about an incapacitated Bruce Wayne and a race to find out who poisoned him is a quick-paced one and like “Summer of Freeze” feels like it’s over a bit too quickly but maybe that’s just because I’m having such a good time that I’m upset when it’s over. It also has another problem that many will overlook, but I found it a bit jarring given the subject matter. I loved the artwork and the colors, but during the traditional BANG! POW! ZAP! fight sequence that always comes at the end of these hero vs. villain adventures the visuals get a bit intense. In two consecutive panels it looks like Batgirl snaps the leg and then arm of a henchman to the campy sounds of “kkwhack!!” and “ssssstrike!” (a snake bites the goon as well). There’s nothing wrong with the way these panels are drawn, but I just felt that it wasn’t appropriate for ’66 as the action looked too violent for the material.
Batgirl fans and fans of ’66 in general should get a kick out of this short story both for its bold choice of villain and attractive artwork.
- You’re a fan of the classic TV series the comic is based on
- You’re looking for an easily accessible comic with a beginning, middle, and end all in one book
- Variety is the spice of life! This comic has not one, but two ’66 Bat-adventures
- You’re a Batgirl fan
- Something lighter is in order. This is a great comic for all ages
Issue #10 features the best adventure that the ’66 Mr. Freeze ever had and offers a Batgirl solo-adventure that’s just as entertaining. I felt that the Mr. Freeze portion was over a bit too quickly, but that’s one of the only complaints I have. This was a fun and hilarious ride with gorgeous artwork. A great book for new readers to pick up on Free Comic Book Day. Note: This issue was originally intended to be read as a DC2 Motion Comic so you might get an even greater experience by reading the comic online!