Monday, 16 June 2014

New Beginnings - Batman ’66 meets the Green Hornet #1

by Matt Puddy

Kevin Smith is known for a variety of things - indie film making, being Silent Bob, comic book writing, podcasting and general geekery to name few. One of his partners-in-crime from the SModcast is Ralph Garman and together they have taken us back to the past for this review title.

Batman ’66 meets the Green Hornet is exactly how it sounds. Set in the era of Adam West and Burt Ward, the story opens in a typical scene from the TV series. A mundane moment for the Dynamic Duo sees them relaxing and Dick getting ready for a date with the daughter of the Mayor. Things are going well until the special telephone in the study rings.

As with many of the old TV episodes the premise of the Sixties' Batman series was quite simple. A gentle opening followed by an almost random piece of information or situation leading to some kind of conveniently linked escapade over several episodes. Much in the same way, this first part of a six issue series uses the same mechanics. In this instance the scene setter is the fact that a valuable – and yet undisclosed – artefact is being shipped out of Gotham and is believed to be the target of the criminal element. 

So off our valiant Caped Crusader goes sporting the non-disguise of Bruce Wayne to accompany the transit on the Gotham Express. In an unusual twist, the Boy Wonder is given the evening off and allowed to go on his date, but later this becomes an apparent ruse to be used when things go awry, to allow Batman to officially enter the scene complete with hammed up third party self references to continue the pretence of dual identities. 

Whilst aboard the train Bruce meets Signore Bollo – the overseer of the artefact  - and then finally Britt Reid and his man servant, a duo who suffer a similar fate to Wayne and Grayson in that they both have secret identities – The Green Hornet and Kato.

Green Hornet and Batman have crossed paths in the past, coincidentally over the villain in the shadows here too, and the camaraderie/competitive nature of their relationship comes out. A fledgling argument between them both is stopped when the train comes to a halt all due to a strange super adhesive on the tracks. On reboarding the train the villain and his cronies are revealed – General Gumm.

No Sixties Batman episode would be complete without the obligatory cliffhanger which this issue delivers with aplomb, seeing not only the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder, but also the Green Hornet and Kato, all glued to the train roof with a low tunnel not far away. 

Ty Templeton provides the artwork for the issue and has a strange job to do. On one hand there is a change to put his own style on the issue, but on the other it is deliberately drawn to showcase Adam West et al accurately – which he does. Fans of the old TV series will easily recognise all the regulars from the show complete even with trademark looks and glances. He’s done a great job of that in fact.

This is an issue, and series, that fans of the original series will love. It has all of the components that made up the original stories and flow of episodes all the way down to hammy acting and – at times – cringeworthy dialogue. It doesn’t try to be a new take on Batman or expose him to a new threat or different angle. The depiction of Green Hornet is nothing new either and even their personas from the original show are also represented well. For a standalone story arc it’s not for my liking or to my tastes, as I used to get frustrated with the spoonfed nature of the show, however for what this comic is trying to be, an homage to the show and it’s values, it does a great job. 

Matt Puddy wil be back again soon, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

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