Batman ’66 #16
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Brent Schoonover
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters by Wes Abbott

After a less than stellar adventure last month, can the Dynamic Duo’s escapades return to form? Or have their rogues succeeded in doing the unthinkable: making Batman boring?

The answer is yes.

…or… no.

Err….

…….

This issue is good, is what I’m saying.

The charm of this series, particularly the writing, goes two ways: it’s fun reading stories that could have easily been broadcast on television in the Sixties, with the comic serving as a true continuation of the series, but it’s also great seeing writers take the stories places that the budget of a fifty-year-old television show wouldn’t have allowed.

This issue is definitely the latter.

Batman and Robin rush to downtown Gotham City to face the city’s newest threat: a UFO. But this isn’t just any unidentified object.

It’s shaped like an egg.

Cue your best Vincent Price impression.

Yes, the foul fiend has come to eggs-act vengeance on those he deems lesser than himself. And also egg puns. Soooo many egg puns.

To carry out his scheme, however, Egghead has done the impossible: sped up the evolutionary process on himself so as to become a hyper-intelligent being on par with a 40th century mind. So, the egg wasn’t a spaceship at all, but an incubator.

He uses his newly acquired mental powers to make short work of Chief O’Hara…

Bejabbers

Bejabbers indeed.

…and then devolves our intrepid heroes!

NotGorilla

Don’t get too excited. They aren’t actually apes.

At first I thought he’d turned them into monkeys, but he actually devolved them to a Neanderthal state. You’d think with a hyper-intelligent mind he wouldn’t make a simple mistake like that, but this is a comic book where a guy grows his brain by sleeping in an egg for a little bit so maybe I’m splitting hairs.

Anyway, the Dynamic Duo may look primitive, but they still have their wits about them, which proves Batman’s theory that Neanderthal-man was just as intelligent as Cro-Magnon man. Makes sense.

There are some cameos from Mr. Freeze and the Riddler, which only leads to Egghead questioning the point of having such an advanced intelligence if he’s just going to keep robbing banks. His henchwoman’s response?

Lament

Hands-down one of the funniest lines I’ve read this year.

While this issue didn’t quite reach the highs of some earlier issues, it’s definitely a great read, especially considering the villain isn’t one of Batman’s main rogues. Vincent Price was always fun to watch on the TV show, don’t get me wrong, but he was one of those original villains that never had the popularity or versatility of the classic Bat-villains. Egg based crimes and yolk puns weren’t nearly as adaptable to other situations as the Joker’s crimes, for instance.

Still, Parker’s writing is great fun, with the requisite gags, puns, and tone that makes the book work. Cro-Magnon Batman, for instance, accosts a young boy for questioning their odd appearances, but calls him a “young crimefighter” which is precisely what Adam West’s Caped Crusader would have done in the same situation.

The art, as always, is nice and lively. Schoonover’s Mr. Freeze in particular was spot-on, looking exactly like Otto Preminger’s take on the character. The only complaint, and it really isn’t a complaint as much as a stylistic request, would be that they’ve used that character design for every appearance of the character in the book so far. It’s a great look, don’t get me wrong, but they’ve had issues with Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt’s separate Catwomen so it would have been fun to see a different take on the character in each appearance. Really, though, there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing here.

I’m glad that, after such a disappointment last month, this series is back up to form, though that does seem to be the norm lately: three or so great issues followed by a disappointing one. Hopefully that’s a streak that they’ll break soon, but with this, the final issues of Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet and the upcoming adaptation of the Harlan Ellison penned lost Two-Face episode, not even to mention the long-awaited release of the series on DVD and BluRay, we should just be thankful to have so much classic Batman in our lives.

Recommended if:

  • You enjoy a good, old-school goofy Batman story, especially those weird Silver Age sci-fi tales from the Fifties.
  • You love Batman ’66.
  • You can’t get enough of heroes being turned into apes. It’s not quite the same, but close enough.

Overall: A breezy, silly story that features one of the under-appreciated original villains from the classic television series.

SCORE: 8/10