When last we left our dating crime-fighting heroes, they were caught in the slippery tentacles grip of a giant octopus.
Will our heroes escape the ghastly grasp of the gargantuan sea creature?
Can they stop Hugo Strange before he brainwashes the whole world?
Do Solo and Kuryakin get more time in the spotlight this time around?
Well… yes, to all of the above (and “kind of” to the third).
Batman’s adventures with the men from U.N.C.L.E. come to a close as the Dynamic Duo and Dominoed Daredoll from Gotham and agents Solo and Kuryakin close in on Strange. To do so, they form an unlikely and uneasy alliance with Batman’s rogues, allowing for some interesting dynamics and unsurprising double-crosses.
It also confirms something I’ve long suspected: Egghead can dish out the egg puns, but he can’t take them.
In a fun twist, the heroes don’t get the villains to cooperate by trying to appeal to their humanity or make them see the danger that they’re in under Strange’s control, but instead hit them where it hurts the most: their egos. Scarecrow may not be totally concerned with anybody else’s life, but being seen as nothing more than a lackey? That’s unacceptable.
The first half of this issue is the strongest, with a promising build-up to a final confrontation that never really comes. These books have never really been about big set pieces or sprawling fight scenes, which is keeping perfectly in step with the series that serve as inspiration. When the big bad is taken out so swiftly and unceremoniously that I didn’t even notice until the heroes tried to escape the undersea base? That’s almost lazy.
It’s not enough to bring the book down, though. The creative team are still having a good time with these characters, and once again Qualano and Hahn wring some fun visuals out of Jeff Parker’s script. Parker himself inserts some of the ’66iest moments he’s ever written, and could this be a sneaky reference to the Ten-Eyed Man?
In all seriousness (ha), there’s a moment late in the proceedings with an exchange that is so spot-on that, had you read it to me out of context and told me it was from an episode of the show, I would have believed you.
From Batman’s leading questions and Robin’s exuberance to their eventual escape, this plays out like a scene between West and Ward about as well as anything I’ve seen from this comic.
If individual moments make the finale enjoyable, the issue as a whole is unfortunately lacking. The build-up of the first half is interesting, but the lack of a satisfying payoff keeps it from being great. I’d hesitate to say there needed to be another installment, as the series was already spinning its wheels at points in its six issues, but more focus in the final chapters especially would have made the ordeal more satisfying. Instead, Strange’s plan is introduced at a deliberately slow pace, only to be brushed aside with little in the way of a final conflict. It’s a sad waste of an intriguing setup.
The little things work, though, and as always the book is enjoyable simply on account of what it is. Following the light-hearted, campier Batman is always a blast, and seeing him interact with characters from other properties really opens up storytelling opportunities. And while Solo and Kuryakin didn’t get as much to do as I would have liked, Solo gets the biggest laugh of the series.
It’s funnier in context, I promise.
As a whole, I’ve enjoyed this crossover quite a bit. While it never reaches the heights that the Green Hornet series attained, as an experiment at least it works well. The biggest drawback is the lack of characterization for the co-stars, which is understandable to a degree: even with a recent film (which, again, is great), they don’t have a cult following to the degree that the Green Hornet and Kato or even the Avengers Steed and Peel do. Regardless, even with its shortcomings and a rushed ending, it’s still great fun, and sometimes that’s all you need.
- You love Batman ’66.
- You like The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
- You just want a good, fun read.
Overall: A disappointing ending to a pretty good series, the parts that are great make it worth it even if the whole isn’t quite satisfying. It’s fun while it lasts, though, and we don’t have long to wait until the next crossover. Plus, I don’t ever have to type U.N.C.L.E. ever again, so, you know, bonus.