In broad strokes, the plot for Archie Meets Batman ’66 is remarkably similar to that of Batman: The Movie. There’s an increased focus on the Bruce Wayne persona, not just Batman; an undercover Catwoman, infiltrating intellectual institutions under the guise of Ms. Kitanya Irenya Tatanya Karenska Alisoff (or Kitka, a charming acronym); and a team of the most dastardly ne’er-do-wells to ever commit crimes in the fair city of Gotham. It could easily be written off as derivative, and perhaps it is. But… I don’t know. Even though there’s not a lot going on in this series, I find it almost comfortably quaint.
It’s all incredibly low stakes, almost surely by design, as the driving conflict (“villains want to take over
the world Riverdale and then maybe the world”) takes a backseat to scenes with characters just… doing stuff. That’s an incredibly ineloquent way of putting it, but it’s true: the characters interact and do things, but they don’t do an awful lot. It’s a very laid back narrative, free of any sort of controversy.
Honestly? I’m more than okay with that. Neither Archie nor Batman ’66 need to be edgy, and certainly not when they team up. They’re fun properties, and that’s all they need to be. After the bad taste that the Wonder Woman crossover left in my mouth, I’m perfectly fine with a comic that has no higher aspirations than just being a good time.
And a good time it is, especially when Dan Parent, J. Bone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick are allowed to let loose a bit. They manage to balance the somewhat accurate likenesses of the Batman characters with the purely fictional Archie cast, and I love their Cesar Romero Joker in particular. He’s a pure delight any time he’s seen on the page, frequently wearing increasingly more ridiculous hats and outfits. His attempts to break Jughead are great comedic fodder, and the bright pop art stylings of the scenes evoke the Batman show and the Sixties in particular.
The real MVP is Jack Morelli, whose letters take the already energetic fight and action scenes and give them a welcome sense of camp.
The plot, as there is one, is thin at best, as I said before. Even with such a thin narrative, though, the story never real feels like it meanders. Early issues did have a sense of “wheel spinning,” that’s true, but now that the story has settled into a groove, Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci seem to just be having fun writing that characters. There’s not a lot to analyze or much in the way of thematic depth, but there are dodgeball fights so I’d say it’s a wash.
One of my favorite aspects of this issue– and I’m sure Adam West would approve– is the fact that it’s Bruce Wayne who gets the lion’s share of focus, not a costumed Batman. He attends a party hosted by Veronica’s dad, finding out firsthand just how much of a crapbag that guy is, and is equipped for any emergency as befitting a crimefighter.
There’s nothing revelatory in this scene, just some fun character interactions. I do like that Parker and Moreci are utilizing the United Underworld as the main villainous presence, while cleverly incorporating a more obscure foe like Siren at the same time. It makes the story feel more fresh instead of the outright retread it could have been, and her unique skills make sense in how the other baddies are trying to take over the town. It makes the world feel just a little bit bigger when characters like her are used.
This is a book that’s easy to read, but kind of hard to review. The quality is consistent and at the very least good, if not outstanding, and it never feels like a chore to get through. Even still, there’s not much to talk about with each passing issue other than its positive consistency, though I suppose that’s better than being consistently negative. In the best possible way, Archie Meets Batman ’66 is a safe book that doesn’t aim any higher than it needs to. It’s entertaining and almost comforting in how safe it is, and really? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bonus: As always, delightful variant covers from the likes of Rebekah Isaacs, Les McClaine, Joe Quinones, Billy Tucci, and Chip Zdarsky.
- You like Archie.
- You like Batman ’66.
- Dodgeball fights!
Overall: Archie Meets Batman ’66 is a book you go into expecting a good time, and that’s exactly what you get. The writing is light and funny, the visuals are bright and engaging, and the lettering ramps up the campiness to make it feel like an episode of Batman jumped off the screen and onto the page. It’s not remarkably deep, but it’s consistently entertaining, and the creators are clearly having a good time. It’s not a book that aims to change the medium, nor does it need to strive for that goal; this is exactly what you would think a Batman and Archie crossover would be, and that’s precisely why it works.