Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #1: “On the Wrong Track”
Written by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman
Illustrated by Ty Templeton
Colors by Tony Aviña
Letters by Wes Abbott
Cover by Alex Ross
Oh man, this is a big one, but before I begin you should go watch the episodes “A Piece of the Action” and “Batman’s Satisfaction” from the ’66 Batman tv series. Go ahead, I’ll be here when you get back.
I don’t know how high anticipation was when it was originally announced that the Green Hornet and Kato would appear alongside Batman and Robin, but dollars to donuts it was deafening. This miniseries may not be at quite the same level, but that’s due more to the market of 2014 and the fact that we get team-ups each month than anything else. That shouldn’t matter, though, as this team-up serves as a fantastic follow-up and continuation of the ’66 universe.
DC seems to have high hopes for the story as evidenced by the level of talent they’ve brought together: a script by comics mainstay and screenwriter Kevin Smith and Batman ’66 Über-fan Ralph Garman, pencils by the great Ty Templeton, and gorgeous covers by the legendary Alex Ross. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m an authority in these matters, but I think it’s safe to say they put it in good hands.
Before getting into the praises, about the only complaint I have is that Green Hornet and Kato’s development is a bit lacking. This is Batman’s show, no doubt, and they’re the guests, but it still would have been nice to have an aside explaining their history or origin. Understandably, that probably would have been out of character, as even the tv series didn’t delve too deeply into anybody’s background, but if you don’t know much about Britt and Kato you won’t really learn an awful lot here either.
From a storytelling standpoint though, focused on this one adventure, everything works: the script is sharp, the art is fluid and detailed, and the colors are characteristically vibrant.
If you ask me, the most fun part of the television team-up was seeing Bruce Wayne and Britt Reid be jerks to each other as both of their identities. Seeing the normally cool, collected, straight-laced Bruce get annoyed by the smug attitude of Reid was a delight, and Smith and Garman capture that atmosphere in spades.
Whatever your opinion on Kevin Smith’s scriptwriting, know that he perfectly emulates the humor and dry tone of the original series. This is honestly one if the most tightly written scripts in terms of dialogue that this book has had: the dialogue is fresh and snappy, every line landing with life and personality, and the puns and one-liners are sharp without being mean-spirited, crass or cutting.
The plot is fairly standard, but well-structured with enough action breaks and cliffhangers to keep things moving along. I’m not sure how much input each writer had on the script, if one handled dialogue while the other mapped out breakdowns or if it was equal in both sides, but they’re a good team that I would gladly read more work from.
I’ve long been a fan of Ty Templeton’s art since his days working on the various Batman: The Animated Series Comic tie-ins. His work back then followed the series standard of the animated models and designs, and while it’s a little more rough here, he’s still a great fit. An annoyed Bruce Wayne’s furrowed brow, Dick Grayson’s youthful exuberance, and an archaeologist who totally looks like Bill Murray are definite character highlights, and the action scenes are well staged with great, wide panel shots. Templeton draws the issue almost like it was a storyboard for an episode of the tv series, and it makes the story leap off the page while serving as a perfect companion to the dialogue.
As a “new old fan” of this Batman, the team of Smith, Garman, and Templeton have satisfied my Batman ’66 fix and crafted one of the most engaging comics I’ve read in ages. If this mini stays at this level of quality, I don’t know if six issues are going to be enough.
Further points in the spoilers:
- It isn’t outright necessary to have seen the two-part team-up to enjoy the story, but it helps. I didn’t take my own advice and read the issue before watching the episodes and had to look up who Colonel Gumm was.
- If you get a chance, check out the digital releases as well. They really up their game with the panel to panel action, and it really makes things as simple as a phone ringing and as energetic as the helicopter scene jump off the screen.
Recommended if:-You like the work of Kevin Smith.
- You love Batman ’66.
- Heck, if you just like good comics in general.
Overall: A strong start to one of the most anticipated team-ups this year, this book delivers on every front.