Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #5: “The Duo Sticks Together”
Written by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman
Illustrated by Ty Templeton and Jon Bogdanove
Colored by Tony Aviña
Lettered by Wes Abbott
Cover by Alex Ross

Batman is on television, speaking to a reporter who caught the Dynamic Duo leaving the police station. When asked if she can have a word, Batman replies “of course. A free press is the cornerstone of our country’s democratic system.”

If you’ve read this far and still had any doubts that Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman know how to write these characters, that should eliminate any lasting fears.

After a slow issue last month, the miniseries is back on track in its penultimate chapter, which may ultimately be a problem: will the final issue be able to deliver?

We’ll have to wait until next month to see, so let’s just take this issue on its own merits. And boy, is this a good one.

When we last left our heroes, the Green Hornet and Kato had eluded the Dynamic Duo and gotten away in the Black Beauty, while Batman and Robin themselves fell into the clutches of General Gumm and the Joker. And you know what that means? Ohhhhhh yes, a ludicrously complex deathtrap.

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Not “how will we get out?!” or “oh, surely we’ll die!” but “uh, pasta what now?” Robin, this is why you’re my favorite.

But we’ll get there.

One of my main complaints with this series has been the almost superfluous use of Hornet and Kato. While they’re still second fiddle to their more famous counterparts (Batman does get top billing, with good reason), they have quite a bit more to do this issue. It doesn’t come into play until the second half of the issue, but the narrative threads start to come together: the involvement of Batman, Robin, the Green Hornet, and Kato, the team-up between Gumm and the Joker, and their apparent endgame and goal for the train robbery.

But first, let’s talk about the death trap. Scroll back up and look at that thing.

It’s magnificent. Overwrought, implausible, kind of dumb, and absolutely incredible. The death trap was a staple of the comics going back to the Fifties, especially silly ones with gigantic versions of common objects, and of course they were a mainstay in the television series as well. Even the ’66 comic series, including the incredibly disappointing most recent issue, utilizes death traps in varying degrees. This one isn’t the best, or even the most ridiculous, but it’s a fine example of how pretty much everything in this mini has been spot-on and surprisingly consistent.

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Remember chums, attempted murder is not to be taken personally.

Plus, when they escape from peril (uhh, spoilers?), they don’t breathe a sigh of relief or have a breakdown at almost being smashed to death. No, Robin says he’ll pay more attention in chemistry class, much to Batman’s approval, and then laments that he smells like “Aunt Harriet’s Coleslaw.”

Dibs on that band name.

Once the plot gets moving again, both duos agree to team up again when it is discovered that Franco Bollo (the fossil guy. I’d forgotten about him too) is suing both Gotham City and Green Hornet’s hometown (which I just realized is never named, and apparently never has been) for the theft of his fossils. And also for “negligence” on Batman’s part, which I find hilarious.

It’s the combination of sharp writing and vibrant art that makes this series worth coming back to each month, and it’s no different this time. Ty Templeton turns in some great work as usual, with great little details making the panels come to life (look again at the deathtrap illustration and the various little things going on in that image), but the second half is illustrated by Jon Bogdanove with probably the best pencils so far.

I don’t know that I’d ever heard of Bogdanove (a quick search shows that he used to do work on Superman titles years back), but he’s made me a quick fan here. The best thing I can say, and I truly mean it as a compliment, is that I didn’t notice it was a completely different artist until I checked the credits page at the end of each digital issue.

There were differences I noticed, sure, but the styles were similar enough that it could have been attributed to different coloring techniques or inking. His style works well with Templeton’s, with great costume detail and facial expressions, and the last few pages are particularly lush and almost beautiful. My only complaint was that his Batarangs were slightly off-model, but that’s just being picky.

Keeping in mind that this is the penultimate issue, I hate to see this series end, but if the finale lives up to what’s gone on before it then it will be a story that could go down as one of the Dark Knight’s finest.

Recommended if:

  • Like always, if you just like good Batman stories you should like this.
  • You’ve been reading thus far, as you should.
  • Death traps!
  • Seriously, this is the best thing Kevin Smith has ever been involved with. Considering how polarizing he is that might not mean much to some people, but it’s a genuinely great comic with some great talent behind it.
  • You want a minor history lesson in pasta stamping. You know who you are.

Overall: Possibly the strongest issue yet, it starts high, and that energy never falters throughout the issue. There are laughs, there’s peril, and the plot is coming together in a pretty logical manner. A genuinely great comic that demonstrates how Batman can be used believably in most any situation.

SCORE: 9.5/10