Batman ’66 #15: “Caught In the Widow’s Web”
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Wilfredo Torres
Colors by Tony Aviña
Letters by Wes Abbott

You watch a clip like this one and it has everything that made Batman great: over-the-top peril, charming low-budget effects, and absolutely brilliant deadpan humor. Even with forgettable one-time villains like the Black Widow (quite possibly remembered more for being portrayed by Tallulah Bankhead who may not have been in on the joke than anything that actually happened in that arc), the show never failed to elicit at the very least a chuckle.

Month in and month out, this comic series has provided the same nostalgic feeling that the television series did, with pitch perfect writing and vibrant illustrations. Something was off this month, though, but I’ll get to that.

The plot is fairly boilerplate and basic: robberies and heists are being put on by the Black Widow, who has teamed up with the Penguin to help carry out her schemes. Batman and Robin intervene, are caught in a trap, then escape and apprehend the criminals.

You could hand that in as an outline for just about any episode of the series and it would fit. That is the main problem with this issue: it just seemed lazy. That’s really unusual, as even the lesser issues at least had some life and verve to them, and Jeff Parker has proven to have a deft hand at writing dialogue that could have easily been spoken by West, Ward, and the like. This issue was so underwhelming, though, that I honestly had to check to see if it was written by Parker.

Generic plotting and dialogue can easily be forgiven, but there was one scene that was completely uncharacteristic and ultimately unforgivable: the Penguin swears. It’s censored via the use of some wordfilter characters, but the very fact that it was done is just jarring. There have been some fairly racy jokes before, but it’s all double entendre and tongue-in-cheek. A blatant display of profanity just came off as completely tone deaf and may very well have contributed to my overall dislike of the issue.

The art didn’t really do the story any favors, either. It’s far from terrible, but Torres’ pencils came off like Parker’s plot: a rough draft before all the details are put in. The faces are off, the characters’ anatomy is weird (in one panel it looks like Batman’s left leg is a good foot shorter than his right), and even action scenes are dull and lifeless.

I know this series and the writer are capable of so much more, so hopefully this is an off month and the series will be back on form next month. At the very least we have some more adventure with Batman and the Green Hornet next week.

Recommended if:

  • You love the tv show and this series.
  • You like seeing obscure villains given the spotlight.

Overall: A definite low point in the series. If you’re a new reader, don’t pick this as the jumping on point. Read the previous two issues, as they’re just about perfect. Hopefully this is a one-time hiccup, an off month dumped between greater stories.

SCORE: 5/10