Make no mistake: I’ve been enjoying this series right from the start.  It’s hardly earth-shattering or groundbreaking storytelling, nor is that its intent.  Archie Meets Batman ’66 is an easy-going, enjoyable read, full of charm, wit, and humor.  It’s packed with references and nods to both properties that are easily recognizable without being distracting, and so many character appearances that it’s a wonder they’re pulling it all off.  The main criticism I have is that there really hasn’t been a lot going on, with a pretty simple plot serving as a clothesline from which to hang moments of fan service of the best sort.

Now that the series has reached its penultimate issue, every positive statement listed above still stands: there are tons of recognizable characters and references, and an undeniable sense of easy fun.

Added bonus: stuff starts happening.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s been the framework of a plot.  Gotham’s felonious fiends are orchestrating a takeover of Riverdale, and Batman, Robin, and Batgirl have rubbed elbows with the Archie gang to prevent that dastardly plan from coming to light.  Any forward momentum was at a leisurely pace, though, so even when something major happened it was still relatively subdued.

After being separated from the better part of three issues, Moreci and Parker finally bring Batman, Robin, and Batgirl back together.  They do so in the most ridiculous way possible, and I absolutely love it.

If you’ll recall, the previous issue ended with a mysterious signal shining in the night sky.  The teens of Riverdale were astonished, as they never imagined they’d see the fabled Batsignal over their home town, yet something seemed… off.  The symbol wasn’t quite the iconic bat we’re accustomed to seeing, but billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne rightly deduced that it would nonetheless lead him to his partners.

You see, Robin, Batgirl, and Jughead were tied up and left to endure the torturous sounds of a monkey clanging cymbals until it drove them insane.  Jughead, reaching the end of his rope, accidentally threw his signature hat onto a spotlight, which Robin and Batgirl managed to turn on and point toward the sky.

Jughead Jones: the face of heroism.

Truly a man we should all aspire to emulate.

Even with some forward momentum, the plot is still pretty basic: Gotham’s most wanted want to take over Riverdale… and remake it in their own image(s).  In over-the-top, Batman ’66 fashion, that means themed areas of town that are decidedly on-brand.

Incredible.

It’s such a simple yet goofy plot, and it works perfectly. Unlike some of the previous crossovers, there is a perfectly valid reason for Batman’s rogues to make their way to another city: if their plans are constantly foiled in Gotham, why not just go somewhere that doesn’t have a masked vigilante?  True, they didn’t account for the plucky fortitude of the Archie gang, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler would have a chance of getting away with it.

Too bad for them that a true crimefighter is prepared for all eventualities.

The writing for the Batman TV series was smarter than you might be tempted to give it credit for, with tongue planted firmly in cheek and each joke played completely straight.  In that vein, Moreci and Parker’s writing here is full of wit and verve, with some pretty snappy dialogue peppered throughout.  Catwoman gets a few self-aware jabs in that are pretty delightful, and Reggie Mantle has a line or two that genuinely had me rolling.

More than that, the series tropes are played up to great effect: Batman being prepared for all circumstances, for one, and the labels.  Ohhhh, are there labels.

I want need a lab of crime sign to hang in my house.  Delightful.

Also delightful?  The art stylings of Dan Parent, J. Bone, Kelly Fitpatrick, and Jack Morelli.  The book has a simple, bright color palette that’s ideal for both properties, and Parent melds the two worlds together nicely.  It’s a simple, clean aesthetic that is distinctly Archie and distinctly Batman ’66, which is no mean feat.  Morelli’s lettering is used to great effect as well, particularly with sound effects and Jughead’s “burger speak,” making an already funny joke that much more hilarious.

Plus, we get the Batmobile and the Batboat in one issue, and the latter has some wicked flames painted on the side.

Radness.

As I said, this whole series has been fun, but this is the best issue so far.  It takes what’s already been working well and elevates it with a new sense of purpose and direction, injecting some new energy as the book reaches the home stretch.

Bonus: Excellent variant covers from Laura Braga, Bill Galvan, Jamal Igle, Pat & Tim Kennedy, and Cory Smith.

Spoiler

Recommended if:

  • Like always, you love Archie…
  • …and Batman ’66…
  • …and just a good time in general.

Overall: There’s no question this series has been a good time from the beginning, but with the penultimate issue here, the story is really kicking into gear.  While the tone is still pretty firmly rooted in “fun,” the pacing has become much more focused thanks to the reveal of the United Underworld’s ultimate plan.  The visuals are bright and colorful, the dialogue is snappy, and there’s even a label or two.  What more could you ask for, chums?

SCORE: 8.5/10

Disclaimer: Archie Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.