Batman ’66 #27: “Bane Enters the Ring/Batman Does His Thing”
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated and Colored by Scott Kowalchuk
Lettered by Wes Abbott
Jeff Parker is on a roll introducing previously unused characters into the Batman ’66 universe. Of the nine issues published this year, five of them have either retooled a previously seen villain or introduced new characters altogether. The trend continues this month with the introduction of Bane, and even into October as we see the premiere of the Scarecrow and Killer Croc.
I’m hardly complaining, as I love the addition of rogues that wouldn’t have worked on screen for whatever reason, but sadly, the reason for this is because this book is coming to an end this December. What our Comic Chief Andrew Asberry calls “the last Batman book that actually has Batman” has indeed been canceled, which is truly, genuinely heartbreaking. Thankfully there will be a six-issue miniseries featuring a team-up between Batman and the agents from The Man from U.N.C.L.E., as well as a rumored upcoming mini with the Avengers (the Steed/Peel variety, not the other one), but it’s not the same.
But hey, at least we have a few more months. On to the issue at hand.
As I said above, this month sees the premiere of Bane, a character who couldn’t have appeared on television in the Sixties as he hadn’t been created yet. That’s a little more understandable than the omission of someone like Poison Ivy.
Here, Bane is already an underworld figure in South America whose name is spoken in hushed whispers even in Gotham City. Before the Dynamic Duo can track down the bruising behemoth, though, they must first take care of that pernicious prince of puzzles, the Riddler.
Before he can be apprehended, however, the Riddler uses a dose of knockout gas on Batman and Robin and makes his escape. Naturally, he leaves behind a clue regarding his next crime, which leads the Dynamic Duo and Batgirl to a wrestling ring, thanks to the latter’s input on the case.
The Caped Crusaders and the Dominoed Daredoll attend a Friday Night Brawl to cheer on the Hangman, and are then introduced to the challenger: Bane.
Bane’s is also accompanied by the Riddler, who is serving as his corner man. After making quick work of the Hangman, our heroes attempt to take him down so as to arrest the Riddler for his earlier heist.
It does not go well.
No bonus points if you can guess how Bane incapacitates Batman.
It’s an overused image at this point, but Bane is literally a luchador in this comic, actually fighting Batman in a wrestling ring. I’m not a fan of the sport, but even I can admit that’s one of the greatest things to ever happen, so all is forgiven.
With Batman finished (he’s not), Bane and the Riddler make haste to Mexico, where they seek refuge in El Ciudad Del Craneo, or Skull City. Our three heroes are headed to rendezvous with Gordon and O’Hara, and, well…
I just now noticed the building behind Gordon says “Moench,” which is a nice reference.
Batman (who was saved from a broken back by a well-stored Batarang, chums), Robin, and Batgirl arrive to find Gotham’s Finest captured, being held prisoner in a pyramid, along with the mayor of Skull City, Carlos Exposición (I made that name up, but it might as well be).
See, Bane has control over the city and maintains that control by beating people in wrestling matches. He uses the crystal skull the Riddler found to make Venom, which boosts his strength, and beats any and all challengers so as to remain head honcho.
Batman, never one without a plan, challenges Bane again, but before he can pull a Space Jam, Bats whips out his latest contraption:
This issue is fun, plain and simple. Kowalchuk draws some great scenes and has a lot of fun with the concept, and Jeff Parker is having a lot of fun as well. You can tell he’s been enjoying stretching the narrative limitations with this series by taking Batman to new locations and introducing new characters the past few months, and that feeling is contagious. My only real problem with this issue is that I’m not entirely sure why the Riddler is involved, but hey, no big deal. It’s still a great time, and we got to see Bane’s posse again. That’s a win if there ever was one.
- You like the ’66 TV series.
- You’re a fan of Bane.
- Or wrestling.
- You like comic references that are subtle and less in your face, but still incredibly effective.
- The Riddler’s here too, I guess?
Overall: Just a fun issue, from beginning to end. It has everything you’d want from this series: good humor, great throwbacks, and silly cliffhangers and resolutions, while also capitalizing on the different directions and opportunities the creators can take with the comics medium. Plus you get to see Chief O’Hara as a Mariachi musician, which is just incredible.