I really wish this had been billed as simply “Batman Meets Wonder Woman.” Take a Golden and Silver Age jaunt through these characters’ histories, all the while seeing them unravel a decades-long villainous plot? That would have been fantastic. The pieces are there, and the idea is sound. The problem, this month as well as last, is that the execution just isn’t working. I love Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77, and this just doesn’t feel like either of them.
The problem is in the writing. Rather, the problem is the writing doesn’t fit these properties. The dialogue is perfectly fine, and the plot is innovative and rather engrossing. There’s just something missing. Batman ’66 books typically have that endearing corniness that makes you laugh at how preposterous it is. While the tone is marginally better and more fitting than the first issue, that campy charm is still largely missing. Instead of corny dialogue that’s played absolutely straight, it’s just… dialogue. Throw it in a book that takes place… well, maybe not today, but it’s dialogue that could have easily been nestled into a filler issue from the late Nineties.
…I’m pretty sure I mean that as a compliment.
Point being: this doesn’t feel like Batman ’66, and that’s a shame. There are moments here and there that pop with a bit of life and vigor, but everything is played so frustratingly straight. There’s scarcely a hint of the show’s trademark wry humor and ridiculousness.
Robin sounds fine, and Alfred reads well, but Batman… I don’t know. I just can’t imagine Adam West’s Batman saying half the lines he’s given here.
As before, Wonder Woman fares a little better, considering the more straightforward, dramatic storytelling style fit in with the tone of her show. There are a few action set-pieces where she gets to shine that are illustrated well and show just how regal and inspiring Diana can be, and her brief interactions with a young Bruce Wayne are charming and even a little touching.
Even still, there are some questionable choices made that left me scratching my head. The biggest gaffe is having Diana fly around unassisted for a few stretches. In the show, she could jump fairly high and far but couldn’t actually fly, and at first that’s what she was doing here. Late in the issue, though, it becomes clear that she is indeed flying, not simply jumping. I know over Wonder Woman’s comics history there have been periods where she could and could not fly unassisted (hence the ever popular Invisible Jet), but the Seventies television series made it clear that she could not fly on her own.
This continues to astound me, as Jeff Parker has more than proven his ability to write Sixties Batman to near perfection, and Marc Andreyko has done some great work on Wonder Woman ’77. Are they swapping characters? Is Parker writing the Wonder Woman portions while Andreyko covers Batman? I have no idea, though that would certainly explain the uneven feeling of the book.
Thankfully, the book looks pretty good. Besides are few… questionable likenesses (i.e. “The Chins” above), David Hahn turns in some solid work. The narrative flows nicely under his pencils, which helps elevate the script even just a touch. Hahn’s Ra’s Al Ghul in particular continues to impress, imbued with a surprising sense of menace that actually works within the story. I know I went on and on about how this doesn’t feel like Batman ’66, but even without a corny bone in his body this Ra’s still feels like he’d be at home in that world. His sense of worldly grandeur isn’t too far removed from the international exploits in Londinium or Japan. Hopefully the series finds proper footing to allow this Ra’s to make his mark.
The best sequence comes around the midway point, when Bruce falls down a boarded up hole in the yard and… I’m sure you know what he finds. It’s a familiar scene for sure, and the suspense of the situation makes it feel fresh. While it’s still an accident, Bruce stumbling upon the cave by fleeing from an enemy adds a lot of tension to an already dramatic moment. It’s inked well, and the colors make it moody and a bit scary without being overly terrifying or oppressive.
This isn’t what I wanted it to be, there’s no question about that. What it is is a pretty good story about Batman and Wonder Woman that stretches across several decades. The time jumps are interesting, the villain is great, and the plot is fairly intriguing. I just wish it felt like the shows it’s supposed to be emulating.
- You can forgive this not feeling much like Batman ’66 or Wonder Woman ’77.
- If you can, then you’ll get a pretty good Batman and Wonder Woman story.
Overall: Still a disappointment, though there’s plenty of time to course correct. Perhaps things will start coming together once the narrative moves into the “present” (1966) and the “future” (1977). As a representation of the ’66 Batman and ’77 Wonder Woman it falls short, failing to strike the appropriate tone for either series. The sum, as such, may not be satisfying, but the parts work: the art is generally nice, there are individual moments that are really effective, and even the dialogue reads well if you take it out of context. It may not be great Sixties Batman, but it is pretty ok Batman in general.