Back in 1967, the Caped Crusader and the Hornet met on TV, thanks to the powers of synergy and network crossover madness, but now Kevin Smith has brought hero and anti-hero together again for a little pop art camp madness. Your Major Spoilers review of Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet #1 awaits!
BATMAN ’66 MEETS THE GREEN HORNET #1
Writer: Kevin Smith & Ralph Garman
Artist: Ty Templeton
Colorist: Tony Avina
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Publisher: DC Comics/Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Batman ’66 Meets Green Hornet #1: Batman comics were a little bit wacky back in late 1950s, which is undoubtedly why TV producer Bill Dozier chose to create a TV version of the then-not-so-Dark Knight as a tongue-in-cheek action comedy series, with heaping helpings of meta and a dash of camp. The success of that show led to another project for Dozier and his company, a more straight-forward adventure series featuring pulp hero The Green Hornet, featuring a young Bruce Lee in the part of Kato. The two shows even crossed over for two episodes in the spring of ’67, making me even sadder that the program is unavailable by legitimate means. With the 1966 Batman back in his own adventures at DC, and Dynamite providing continuing adventures of the Green Hornet (in multiple eras, I might add), it seems only fitting that these two disparate properties should meet again…
NANA NANA SOMETHING SOMETHING
First off, I ‘d like to apologize for that header joke, but anyone reviewing Batman ’66-related properties is contractually obligated to reference the TV theme song, upon penalty of death. We open at Stately Wayne Manor, as young Dick Grayson prepares for a date with the prettiest girl in his high school, while Bruce Wayne accompanies a collection of priceless artifacts aboard the Gotham expresses. Once on the train, though, Bruce coincidentally meets his old college friend Britt Reid, publisher of the Daily Sentinel, and the two men have a really charming interaction where each spars with the other verbally while teasing about their true identity. Even Kato gets in on the action, remarking about the Hornet’s “mysterious masked sidekick” that the man should really have hiss own codename. “The Black Bee? The Dark Wasp? No…” Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman deliver a script filled with perfectly in-character 60s Batman moments, including a bit wherein the Caped Crusader admonishes Robin that interactions with ‘the fairer sex’ are an important part of any young man’s growth, and urges his partner to go on his date. When a pink-clad baddie holds up the train, it’s the Hornet who arrives first, and confronts the villain, while Bruce Wayne watches with the patented Adam West raised eyebrow. Perhaps the best scene comes when Robin arrives via Batcopter, and tosses Bruce a case, loudly announcing that Bruce should find Batman and give him “this important piece of crime-fighting equipment!” Said equipment is, of course, his Batman uniform and utility belt, aaaaaand we’re off!
TEMPLETON NAILS IT
Aside from the pitch-perfect scripting, artist Ty Templeton makes this issue absolutely enjoyable with his realistic renderings of the Batman (a solid Adam West), The Green Hornet and company, and injects a little bit of comic-book action sequence without breaking the show’s internal reality (which, as you may recall, involved a lot of running and climbing, but not a lot of Muy Thai or face-smashing). All four heroes end the issue in a cliffhanger, as befits any story set withing the 1966 Bat-series, and it’s a testament to what the creators have done here that I want the next issue RIGHT NOW (and, in fact, will probably buy the digital version as soon as it’s available.). Those who only know Kevin Smith from his View Askew ‘Clerks’ movies might be surprised by how well he captures the staid voices of TV Batman and Robin, and his lighter tone serves this story well (and will probably be more palatable than his previous Batman work.) The asides and dialogue are really fun and clever, and villain General Gumm is a nice throwback as well, having appeared as the villain of the original TV Bat/Hornet crossover (played there by the inimitable Roger C. Carmel, known also as Harry Mudd.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: SAME BAT-FUN, SAME BAT-ENTERTAINMENT
I am a bit puzzled as to why Carmel’s likeness doesn’t appear in the issue while a passable Van Williams and a so/so Bruce Lee do, but thaz’s a very minor quibble in an otherwise very entertaining issue. Smith and Garman work together seamlessly, showing off strong story-telling chops and a real facility for this version of the Batman character, while keeping the guest-starring duo awesome in their own right. Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet #1 is a strong story, with excellent art that works not only a love-letter to Bill Dozier’s TV output, but as a first chapter of an ongoing tale and as a Batman story, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.