Thursday, 14 May 2015

Batman '66 Volume 2 Review (Jeff Parker, Ty Templeton)

Gosh darnit, old chum…

I LOVED the first volume of Batman ‘66 - it was fresh, funny, and bursting with ideas using an old concept. It was a departure from DC’s usual dark and gritty nonsense and an embrace of colourful imagination - a side to the Dark Knight rarely seen these days and one of the few Batman books suitable for kids and adults to read alike. 

So it’s disappointing that the second volume, while not terrible, doesn’t live up to the standard set by the first. And this one has a story with King Tut in it too, one of my favourites from the TV show! 

I did like a few stories though. The Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder square off against Bookworm, whose nefarious plan to steal a giant novelty chequebook halts all charity payments in Gotham! Egbert, Alfred’s evil twin, reappears in a dastardly plan to relieve Bruce Wayne of his family treasures, and Batgirl takes on Cleopatra! I’d like to see more Batgirl actually - just the one story isn’t enough for this volume. 

We get to see cowboy Batman, he makes hippo noises in the King Tut story, and there are appearances from obscure characters Shame, Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, and the Great Griselda. 

The problem is the stories don’t have the same sizzle as they did before. Maybe it’s a concept that works sporadically, or as a one-off book rather than a series, but seeing Batman and Robin defeat the characters in increasingly mundane ways just wasn’t working for me. Even the WHAM!s and BIFF!s, Adam and Burt’s familiar visages, and wonderfully corny one-liners all felt overplayed. 

Batman ‘66 obviously isn’t a very deep concept and it’s aimed mostly at kids so maybe that’s why - Jeff Parker and co. basically reached the limit of what they can do with the setup and ended up repeating a lot of the same beats. It’s not so noticeable in one volume but in two? It’s a different story. Or isn’t, as it goes. 

Luckily there is a raft of talented artists to provide page after page of glorious eye-candy for the reader in lieu of engaging stories. Ty Templeton, Ted Naifeh, Chris Sprouse, and Joelle Jones do excellent work but hats off to Ruben Procopio’s art on the King Tut and Shame stories, which was different both times and really beautiful twice too. And of course Mike and Laura Allred continue to provide some of the coolest-looking comics covers as well. 

Writers Jeff Parker and Tom Peyer try but, for me, only hit the mark a few times. Batman ‘66 Volume 2 is an ok effort but felt like a very underwhelming sequel. Oh well. Keep fighting the good fight, Caped Crusader, you're still better than most of what DC puts out anyway!

Batman '66 Volume 2

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