Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes #1 review

When Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes was announced, I was a little taken aback.  Part of that was because Batman’s team-up with Wonder Woman was coming to an end, and that series was… ok at its best.  Frankly, I was a little burnt out.  Did we need another crossover between the Caped Crusaders and a property that wasn’t Superman?  Much as I love the West and Ward take on these characters, I needed a break.  The main comic ended perfectly, only to be followed by a string of series with diminishing returns.  After the damage done to the character in the otherwise dull Wonder Woman crossover, why cross over with the Legion?

And then two things happened.  One, it was announced that the Legion story would be a one-shot, not a miniseries.  This alleviated my fears a bit.  Then I saw that the Allred family would be writing and illustrating the story.  Needless to say, at this point, I was on board.

Friends, let me tell you, if this is the last Batman ’66 book we ever get (which I doubt), it’s going out on a high note.

From the get-go, this little one-shot is non-stop silliness and forward momentum.  When the Legion’s arch-nemesis Universo travels back to the Twentieth Century, the teen heroes follow and enlist the aid of the greatest teen superhero of all time: Robin.  To make matters worse, Egghead, who is revealed to be Universo’s ancestor, takes one of the Legion’s Time Bubbles into the future.  With two time-displaced villains wreaking havoc in different eras, there’s a need for action in both centuries.  There’s very little exposition here, as the Legion effectively show up in the past, make their case, and split up into two teams to subdue the threats.  It’s economical storytelling that doesn’t waste any time getting going.

And, like I said, it’s silly and hilarious.  Batman accompanies Shadow Lass, Ferro Lad, and Brainiac 5 to the future, while Robin stays in the past with Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, and Chameleon Boy.  One of the funniest gags is how the Legionnaires explain their history to Batman, yet there is not a single attempt made to try and rationalize anything.  Ferro Lad talks about the time he died which is completely brushed aside, and there’s a reference to that one time they had a guy who could start fires… which did not end well.

I’ve never been a big Legion fan, though I do know just enough about them to get by.  Even so, while this isn’t a crash course in the characters by any means, there’s enough information so even completely new readers at least know what their deal is: they’re from the future, they each have unique powers, and more often than not their names end in Boy/Girl/Lad/Lass.  Pretty simple… even when it isn’t.

Not being a stranger to the ridiculous, Batman pretty much just rolls with everything.  While the sci-fi zaniness of the Legion may seem a bit left field for the tone of Batman ’66, the straight-faced way it’s played off is perfect.  Batman seems more dumbfounded by the future-teens’ reliance on computers over smarts than he is in interacting with an orange guy with antennae coming out of his head, for instance, which is a fact that drives Brainiac up the wall.  There’s no shortage of little one-liners and asides as the Caped Crusader from a very specific point in time takes the future in stride.

The idea that Robin is the greatest super-teen of all provides the biggest laughs, though.  I love Robin, make no mistake about that, but he’s always so earnestly square that it’s difficult to see him becoming the role model for an entire team a thousand years down the line.  What’s even better is the fact that the Legion seems to be confusing him with other heroes: they reference Zebra Robin and Mermaid Robin, both of which happened to Batman, and my personal favorite, Giant Turtle Olsen.

Yes, it appears the Legion of Super-Heroes have confused Robin with Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.  That is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.

The lack of a complex plot or threat is completely forgivable when the result is just so much fun.  The Allred’s aren’t looking to write some earth-shattering installment of Batman ’66 or reinvent the wheel with a new direction.  No, they just want to play in the sandbox and have a lot of fun doing it.  To that end, they succeed.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of true inspiration that stick out.  I’m of the mind that Adam West’s Batman doesn’t need to be dark, brooding, or violent, but there is something about seeing even the Bright Knight strike fear into the hearts of criminals.

Even knowing that he’s not really a Batman who would cause too much harm to a villain (nor should he be), that’s still an appropriately menacing sequence of panels there.  Love the over-the-top look of terror on Egghead’s face, too.

After providing covers for the various ’66 series for so long, it should come as no surprise that Michael and Laura Allred’s visual style is perfect for this iteration of the Caped Crusader.  It’s a shame they weren’t able to provide more interiors, but hey, they’re batting a thousand at this point.  Their collaborative work is the perfect balance of realism and exaggeration that this book needs, a perfect visual realization of the show’s campy nature.

And of course I mean that in the best possible way.  Though (and maybe because) it’s a one-shot, this is still one of the better ’66 stories to come along in quite some time.  It’s great Batman on its own, and it may even make some fans of the Legion while it’s at it.

And, look, guys: Batman punched Universo so hard that he went through the onscreen onomatopoeia.  How is that not amazing?

Recommended if:

  • You love Batman ’66.
  • You love the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • You’re willing to love the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • You’re all about those in-jokes.

Overall: A worthy sendoff to the series, at least for the time being.  The worst thing I can say about this one-shot is that I wish it could have gone on just a bit longer, though there’s still plenty to love here.  The story holds together pretty well, almost every single joke works, and the wonderful visuals from the Allred family are a welcome sight.  If this is the last Batman ’66 comic we ever get, then at least it ended on a high note.

SCORE: 9/10