THIS REVIEW OF ‘ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN ’66’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
By Clyde Hall. For a Batman incarnation that took, has taken, and continues to draw significant flak for belittling the legacy of the World’s Greatest Detective, Batman ’66 has been getting a lot of attention. And that camp version of the Dark Knight Lite has also been teaming with other 1960s and 1970s iconic personages of similar absurdist stripe. As a kid, I loved the visual element of the show, the vivid colors, and the costumes. But its silliness (and Bruce Lee, natch) drove me to become a Green Hornet fan so far as TV superheroes of the time were concerned. With hindsight and an adult perspective, I’ve come to appreciate and revel in the Adam West and Burt Ward Dynamic Duo (Thrilling Threesome if you include Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl) tentpole of 1960s culture.
And while Batman and the Boy Wonder had a run-in with Mystery, Incorporated as an animated episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, it remained a more baffling enigma than the identity of the Miner Forty-Niner how the Scoobies could meet Josie and the Pussycats but not Archie and the rest of the Riverdale gang. Or at least Sabrina and her Groovie Goolies cousins. The beginning of Shared Universe continuity weighed heavily on this kid’s mind. So seeing 1966’s Batman and Archie come together provides a degree of closure to the confused 9 year-old in me. If they had blended in Scooby-Doo as well, maybe as the connecting thread, it would have been truly golden!
Golden but not necessary, because the first issue of Archie Meets Batman ’66 has all the cultural winks and nostalgic infusions a comics fan could hope for. Retro-tech views of current technology. Nostalgic Batman comics villains who never got an episode in the TV series. Batman TV villains who were not initially in the comics but are fondly considered honorary members of his Rogues Gallery. The combined crookery of the United Underworld. Funny era-appropriate product and commercial shout-outs. Writers Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci work up an effectively connected world for the iconic teaming, and then handily chart the opening chain of events that lead the Batman Family onto a venturesome course with the Archies.
Readers are dropped into a conflict with the 1966 Batman and Robin squaring off against Poison Ivy, with a little manipulation from the Bookworm. After seeing a powerful but ‘ingénue’ member of their colorful maniacs crowd hustled off to Gotham’s crossbar hotel, senior members of Batman’s unified foes decide to test the criminal waters of a location apart from Gotham City. A place with millionaires in residence, a largely ineffective police force, and most importantly, no Batman. A place where the only concern might be snoopy kids, at most. They even add to their ranks another TV felon to insure success.
In Riverdale, Archie works on his jalopy to enter an upcoming Festival Parade, Jughead grapples with tests, and teen life is consistent, predictably, sweet. Except that Veronica has noticed some unusual goings-on that the rest of the gang are happy to ignore. In a manner that would make Vicki Vale proud, Ronnie conducts her own investigation, then recruits some technical assistance to get to the bottom of the matter.
Logic isn’t always something held to a high standard in campy, zany comic stories, but Parker and Moreci make a good cause-and-effect rationale that tailors the tale. Their dialogue for quite an expansive array of characters is also estimable; the voices of Gotham City and Riverdale read consistently well, except for Poison Ivy. Though she’s been scripted before as having a distinctive drawl in her Batman ’66 incarnation, it still puts me more in mind of Shame than Ivy every time I encounter it.
Dan Parent’s handling of the art chores is especially appeasing, his style a definitive bridging plus between the conjoined worlds of Riverdale Classic and the comic book portrayal of the Batman TV series. That includes the bushy pallor of the Joker’s upper lip, the mid-60s fashions of ever-chic Veronica Lodge, and the luscious detailing of Batgirl’s Batcycle.
Archie Meets Batman ’66 #1 succeeds in doing what all first issues should, and that’s making us long for issue #2 while simultaneously filling our imaginations with all that could lie ahead. Reggie, a Catwoman henchman? Hot Dog and Ace lending the heroes a paw (I know, Bat-Hound was never part of the show, but neither was Poison Ivy). Batman, Robin, and Batgirl cutting a mean Batusi to the soulful musical stylings of The Archies? The creative team has proven once again how versatile the Riverdale teens can be when it comes to crossovers, even the unlikely ones. Archie vs Sharknado happened, after all. This one, however, has been helmed to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or, if you’re Jughead, the Sixteen-Hamburgers-in-One Burger.
Written by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci.
Art by Dan Parent.
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.
Letters by Jack Morelli.
8 out of 10