Batman ’66 #24 review

Batman ’66 #24: “Diamond Disaster!/Batman Moves Faster!”
Written by Ray Fawkes
Illustrated by Jon Bogdanove
Colors by Roberto Flores and Omar Estevez
Letters by Wes Abbott

Sometimes, a villain just needs the right story.

I’ve never been a big fan of the Ventriloquist as a Batman villain (who isn’t in this, but bear with me). I don’t know what it is; the character just never clicked with me.

Oh, wait.  Ventriloquist dummies are terrifying.  That's my problem.
Oh, wait. Ventriloquist dummies are terrifying. That’s my problem.

However, look at The New Batman Adventures and one of the very best episodes, hands-down, was “Double Talk” which dealt with Arnold Wesker’s reform.

Sometimes, a villain just needs the right story.  And this is the right story for Marsha, Queen of Diamonds.

Either in the show or in this comic series, I’ve never particularly enjoyed stories featuring the character.  Nothing ever really clicked with me to make her a very compelling villainess, and while her Aunt Hilda had a pretty memorable cameo in last month’s issue, Marsha herself has never really had a great story of her own.  And while this issue may not go down as one of the greatest of all time, it’s still a cracking good read with plenty of good laughs and fantastic artwork.

Those are some weird faces, but yes, it is still fantastic.
Those are some weird faces, but yes, it is still fantastic.

When Gotham City’s millionaires all begin to empty their bank accounts, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson take it upon themselves to investigate the matter at the Gotham City Museum’s Diamond Gala to Benefit Wayward Youth.

Sometimes you just have to strut.
Sometimes you just have to strut.

The Gala is, of course, where Marsha strikes next, hypnotizing everybody in attendance except for Bruce Wayne. With even Robin, the Boy Wonder out of commission, and every notable wealthy citizen of Gotham (and even some less wealthy) willingly giving the Countess of Crime all of their possessions, Batman must race against the clock to both restore the citizens to their proper mental faculties and stop Marsha before she makes off with her bounty.

The plot is fairly thin, yes, but as long as you do something good with it that’s okay. Ray Fawkes drops some pretty clever lines in here, and really nails the tone of the series: character interactions are appropriately tongue-in-cheek, Marsha is appropriately over the top without coming across as pure camp for its own sake, and above all, Batman is the squarest of squares.

“Thank you, driver. But please maintain a safe driving speed.” -Actual thing Batman says on the next page

Like I said earlier, stories featuring Marsha never really did anything for me, but this one hooked me pretty early: the concept was goofy enough to provide a decent two-installment arc, and Fawkes takes full advantage of the situation to just have some fun.

What really struck me with this issue, though, was Jon Bogdanove’s art. He drew one installment of Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet and I absolutely loved his pencil work on it, so when I saw he was credited with this issue I got excited.

Right off the bat (ha HA!), he draws one of the most spot-on Neil Hamiltons I’ve ever seen:

You can practically hear him slightly over-enunciating each word while waiting for O’Hara’s charmingly shaky Irish accent.

It’s not just Bogdanove, though. His figures are striking, with incredible likenesses, and the action moves fluidly across detailed backgrounds, but the colors get straight-up trippy at points. Kudos to the coloring team of Roberto Flores and Omar Estevez for bringing us such gems as this:

And that's the least weird page in Robin's deprogramming.
And that’s the least weird page in Robin’s deprogramming.

And if you read it digitally, the medium is fully taken advantage. From something as simple as characters walking to objects crashing into each other in a fight scene, they really make the panels come alive. My personal favorite moment was small, but really effective in its presentation:

And, uh, sorry for the poor quality. They were small panels.

You can see Marsha’s eyes get slightly wider with each passing panel, and it’s a great example of “acting” on the page.

While I love this series even when it’s not exactly top-quality, it’s been on a winning streak for the past several months, and this issue is no different. Fawkes, Bogdanove, and the rest of the team have taken a villainess that hasn’t always been given the best material and spun a fun yarn that excels based on the collaborative strength of the whole creative team. It’s not as game-changing as last month’s issue, or as close to perfect as March’s installment, but it’s still a fun diversion regardless.

I mean, in the end, how bad can an issue be when even the onomatopoeia’s are clearly having fun?

I don't know whose responsibility those are, but I'm going to guess Wes Abbott, since he's the letterer.  That "Klonk!" with the mouth on it?  GENIUS.
I don’t know whose responsibility those are, but I’m going to guess Wes Abbott, since he’s the letterer. That “Klonk!” with the mouth on it? GENIUS.

Recommended if:

  • You like Batman ’66.
  • You like comics to have some fun.
  • Under appreciated characters given a fair shake intrigues you.
  • This book has been on a hot streak for months now, and with Harley Quinn finally debuting next month and the recent announcement that Bane will appear soon (as an actual luchador OH MY GOSH), it doesn’t look like that will end any time soon.

Overall:  An issue that succeeds because it’s just plain fun, this outing featuring Marsha, Queen of Diamonds makes me love reading this book more than I already did.  Tight plotting, funny gags, and fantastic visuals make for any book to be a fun read, and none more so than the continuation of Adam West and Burt Ward’s legacy as the Dynamic Duo.  Pick it up if you’re a fan of the Bat, a fan of West and Ward, or just a fan of comics in general.

SCORE: 9/10