Batman ’66 #29: “Parker Breaks Out/Catwoman Comes About!”
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Dean Haspiel and Jonathan Case
Colored by Allen Passalaqua and Jonathan Case
Lettered by Wes Abbott
Here we are, the penultimate issue of one of the most fun Batman comics to come along in years. It’s been a phenomenal ride, full of ups and downs, but always consistently entertaining. We’ll say our goodbyes next month, though, so let’s have a good time while we can.
Like last month, this issue consists of two separate stories, but unlike most issues of its kind they’re actually connected. In fact, you could even draw a line from the Killer Croc story last month through these two tales, as they form a semi-coherent arc of sorts: Croc was imprisoned last month, is set loose in the first half here, and then wreaks havoc in the latter before being confronted by our heroes again.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Things kick off with a shootout on the streets of Gotham City, spearheaded by Ma Parker, because really, who better to kick off one of our last adventures than Ma Parker?
I know what you’re thinking, but bear with me. This is a good one.
To see what led to this chase, we get a “look back to earlier today,” where Commissioner Gordon calls the Dynamic Duo to inform them of a riot at the women’s prison. Batman, sensing further foul play, requests to visit Ma Parker’s cell, as inciting a riot so she could escape is perfectly within her M.O.
Turns out he was right.
And thus begins a string of phenomenal sight gags and terrific lines. Truly, this is one of the funniest issues in ages.
Noting that the only thing Parker cares about more than money is her own family, Batman and Robin race to the men’s prison, but not before Ma can spring her sons, along with Killer Croc, Killer Moth, and Solomon Grundy.
We’ll see more of those three later, but first the Dynamic Duo have to deal with the problem at hand.
The car chase that began the issue ends with a crash off a bridge, and the first of two altruistic actions made by the villains in this issue. For a series that exists pretty much because the villains will never truly reform, they’re still capable of doing good if it benefits them.
Parker’s at the top of his game here, cutting some great one-liners and moving the action along with true buoyancy and lightheartedness, but it’s all the visuals gags that really make this story shine. Ma Parker was never one of those villains I showed much interest in, but like the Marsha, Queen of Diamonds issue a few months back the creative team have crafted a lively, energetic story that’s much more fun than anticipated. Dean Haspiel’s pencils are a little rough around the edges and really cartoony, and that works remarkably well given the slapstick elements at play here.
This story ends with a stinger that leads right into the next, something I wish this series had done a bit more often: overhearing a news report that four major villains are still at large after the prison breaks, Catwoman says she doesn’t know who the other three are, but she’s the “major one.” As a bi-weekly digital installment, this was a fun little cliffhanger.
In pursuit of the escaped convicts, Batgirl and Robin are ambushed by Croc, Moth, and Grundy and held captive. Each villain gets his own taunt, with Moth acting pompous as usual, Croc not… quite understanding what an M.O. is, and Grundy getting the biggest laugh of the entire issue.
Batman, who is pursuing Catwoman by himself, apprehends her only to discover that his partners are incapacitated. Catwoman, with an uncharacteristic feeling of gratitude toward Batman saving her life, volunteers to help him rescue the two young heroes.
And also flirt shamelessly.
Seriously, that’s some phenomenal writing right there. Perfectly in character for the stalwart to a fault Batman and the sensual, flirtatious Catwoman. It’s a piece of dialogue that would be just as at home in the television show as it would in an exchange between a more modern Batman and Catowman, and that’s an impressive feat. This story is loaded with such exchanges, and as much as I say a script is “the best ____ has written in ____,” Jeff Parker’s at a whole other level here.
The rest of the story goes about how you’d expect, but that doesn’t matter; it’s in the journey, not the destination, that a story is told.
Series regular Jonathan Case has a deft touch with the material, using his unique color schemes to give the book a distinct look, while also serving the action and humor remarkably well.
It will be sad to see this series go, but if the final issue is anything like this, at least it will go out on a high note.
- You like Batman ’66.
- You just like Batman in general.
- The “comic” half of “comic book” has been lacking in your regular reading and you just want a good time with some great laughs.
- You like to see lesser-used villains get a shot, particularly when they’re utilized to great effect.
Overall: A fun, fast-paced, good time all around. I’m not a fan of Ma Parker, but if her half of an issue is just as great as one with Catwoman, that’s a pleasant surprise if I’ve ever heard one. Jeff Parker, Dean Haspiel, Allen Passalaqua, Jonathan Case, and the always great Wes Abbott have given us a fine penultimate installment of a truly remarkable Bat-book.