Batman ’66 is perpetually stuck in the late Sixties. That’s part of the charm of the book, of course, and it’s what makes it work. After all, we’ve seen what happens when you try to take the West and Ward Caped Crusaders out of their very specific time and place and it just doesn’t work. Bring in more characters and build the world? Sure. The Batman ’66 comic series proved that it can be done successfully. Take them back in time or, worse, flash forward? Doing either loses a crucial ingredient in what makes the crazy mod stylings of the show appealing, and you also end up with darkness and twists that nobody needs.
Now, keep in mind that I firmly believe that Batman is a character that can work in almost any situation, but that doesn’t mean every version of Batman will work in any situation. He’s a guy that makes sense solving street-level crimes, working alongside superpowered heroes to fight interstellar threats, and anything in between. The fact that Batman ’66 even exists is proof of this, since it’s effectively a comedy played completely straight, and Batman still works in that environment. Take, say, Adam West’s Batman and put him in something like The Dark Knight Returns, though? That just doesn’t work. There’s always a Batman for someone, but not every Batman works for everyone.
The Archie comics are cut from a similar cloth: even if the time and place are relatively nebulous, the comics clearly take place in a world that’s still at least somewhat stuck in the Fifties. The clothing, the proliferation of soda shoppes, and even some of the dialogue is remarkably (and charmingly) old-fashioned. It works, though.
So what do you get when you take the Archies, who are stuck in the Fifties, and team them up with a Batman who is stuck in the Sixties? You get a pretty enjoyable comic that doesn’t always work, but it gets close.
Ultimately, this is two separate stories in one comic: a Batman ’66 story, and an Archie story. Other than a few references throughout the issue, the characters don’t interact until the very last page, and even that isn’t in person. As such, this issue is all set up for the rest of the series. It may not deliver on the promise of Batman meeting Archie, at lest as of yet, but it’s still a pretty good time throughout.
It kicks right off with a really fun action scene, as Batman, Robin, and Batgirl fight Poison Ivy and her plant henchmen. It’s vibrantly illustrated and colored by Dan Parent, J. Bone and Kelly Fitzpatrick, and the high-energy opening carries the momentum through the entire issue.
Plus we see Poison Ivy use a bazooka that shoots red peppers, which is just amazing.
While the Dynamic Duo and Dominoed Daredoll are dispatching Ivy and her goons, Bookworm takes advantage of the distraction to steal a one-of-a-kind electronic book from a nearby exhibit. I really dig Bookworm, so any appearance is welcome in my book (haHAAAA), and I’m looking forward to the part he’ll play in the story. Especially when we get the resurgence of the most devious disposition of dastardly devils: the United Underworld.
Yes, those fiends who were last seen in the 1966 Batman: The Movie are at it again, no doubt plotting to take over the world through the use of amazing riddles and aquatic puns.
As I said, there’s not an awful lot of crossover between the characters. Archie and Jughead hear about the heroes’ fight with Poison Ivy as they’re listening to the radio, and the Siren puts the father of one of the characters into a trance, but it’s not a true crossover yet.
It does, thankfully, feel true to both properties, though I think it reads more like an Archie story featuring some Batman characters than the other way around. That’s ok, though, because the tone of Archie manages to fit Batman ’66 pretty well: the “aww-shucks” corniness and bright colors of the visual aesthetic work great with the deadpan silliness of Batman ’66, and I’m definitely looking forward to where this story can go. This is just a good, fun, clean comic, and you know what? That’s what I needed to read.
BONUS: A bevy of bonus covers, each more delightful than the last.
- You like Batman ‘66.
- You love Archie.
Overall: An enjoyable start to the crossover. The wheel isn’t reinvented, nor is any new ground is broken. It’s simply a colorful, easy-reading comic starring beloved characters. The visual aesthetic is the issue’s strong point, with great character designs and colors that pop right off the page. It looks like an Archie comic for sure, but thanks to some fun action the Batman characters feel right at home. Here’s hoping the narrative becomes a little more involved down the road, but for now, it’s enjoyable enough.