Nearly fifty years ago, television was graced with the presence of the Caped Crusader of Gotham City for the first time.  Batman faced many classic villains in his TV adventures, but there was at least one major villain Adam West never crossed swords with.  Your Major Spoilers review of Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 awaits!

Batman66LostCoverBATMAN ’66: THE LOST EPISODE #1
Writer: Len Wein (From A Treatment by Harlan Ellison)
Penciler: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $9.99

Previously in Batman ’66:  Many people know the story of District Attorney Harvey Dent, but not so many know of the checkered past of the Two-Face character.  Harvey Dent was introduced back in the 1940s as “Harvey Kent”, a name that was later changed thanks to the existence of  that mild-mannered reporter guy over at the Daily Planet.  Dent/Kent Two-Face only made a handful of appearances before his deformity was repaired and Harvey was given a happy ending.  Throughout the 40s and 50s, there were a number of Two-Face imitators using the nom de guerre, but as none of them were ever considered major threats.  Two-Face went by the wayside for many years of comics, finally resurfacing for good in 1971, thanks to writer Denny O’Neil, but there were at one point plans to include him in the 1966 Batman television show.  Young actor Clint Eastwood was eyed for the role, and the script treatment was written by none other than Harlan Ellision. then a young scribe, now a legendary writer and larger-than-life figure in his own right.  What might Two-Face have been like in the brightly-colored world of West and Ward?

LOST HISTORY OF THE CAPED CRUSADER

Fans of the 1966 Batman series will tell you that it’s lighter, more mainstream tone is part of the fun of the package, while the detractors will cite the same things as the reasons why it’s the worst, so it’s easy to see how the monstrous Two-Face wouldn’t have been an easy fit for that world.  Still, this issue does a good job of setting up Harvey Dent in a manner that fits the sensibilities of Bill Dozier’s TV world, showing us a Two-Face who always does what his lucky coin tells him, who robs movie theatres during double-features, and returns the missing matched pieces of an antique china set when the unscarred face comes up.  Batman and Robin are in rare form during this adventure (thanks partially to the strong plotting of Ellison and partly to the excellent Silver Age sensibilities of writer Len Wein), giving us expert exposition of Two-Face’s origins and computing his next crimes using scientific principles and a little elbow grease.  It’s a charming little story, one that shows Batman winning with a combination of knowledge, prowess and a good right cross.  Being as it’s a comic book, we even have lovely moments like Batman busting through a skylight and a harrowing near-crash in a speeding Batmobile, as well as Robin racing off on the Bat-cycle like a (you should excuse the expression) Batouttahell.  The story ends with a lovely TV twist, leaving us with Bruce Wayne smiling and musing on the nature of fate…

A PRICEY PACKAGE

The big stumbling block of this issue isn’t one of story (it’s pretty great) or art, but one of packaging.  The story is 30 pages of action, and while there are some great moments in the book, there is the matter of the ten-dollar price tag to consider.  DC follows the presentation of the story with the entirety of Garcia-Lopez’ pencils, which are UTTERLY gorgeous work, and nearly as pretty as the finished product.  Indeed, the art in this issue is just beautiful, flawless in its execution of a familiar Adam West Batman with the comic-book aspects of the choreography turned up to 11.  Even Robin looks cool and heroic, which is difficult given the nature of the suit and the grown man in it.  The last third of the book presents Harlan’s original treatment for the story from 1966, which is a fascinating insight into the writing processes of the man and the way scripts were assembled back in the day, but even with these impressive bits of additional material, I’m hard-pressed to tell you that this book will be worth $9.99 to everyone.  Students of the medium, fans of Harlan, fans of TV Bats and those with completist streaks are sure to love this title, but a budget-conscious reader might find herself hard-pressed to justify the purchase of this one…

THE BOTTOM LINE: GREAT ART, FUN STORY, TOO SPENDY

As Major Spoilers resident amateur comic historian (read that as Old Dude), it’s great to see a couple of legendary creators rolling in a modern format, and Garcia-Lopez has not lost a step in his art.  This whole issue is simply beautiful to look at, and Wein makes the tongue-in-cheek tone work for him, even with a character as tragic and unusual as Two-Face is, and I would recommend this issue to anyone and everyone at $3.99.  I’d recommend it to most everyone at $4.99, and even hard-sell at $5.99, but at $9.99 this book is priced way outside of the range of the payback.  In short, Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 is for the hardcore fans of its core constituencies, a lovely-crafted collectible for those who already love the creators or the setting within, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I honestly considered lowering the rating, but since our star reviews are gauged with the quality of the material in mind, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so just put an asterisk on this one, and remember that not everybody can or WILL spend this much scratch on one book, even a lovely one…

Nearly fifty years ago, television was graced with the presence of the Caped Crusader of Gotham City for the first time.  Batman faced many classic villains in his TV adventures, but there was at least one major villain Adam West never crossed swords with.  Your Major Spoilers review of Batman '66: The Lost Episode #1 awaits! BATMAN '66: THE LOST EPISODE #1 Writer: Len Wein (From A Treatment by Harlan Ellison) Penciler: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Inker: Joe Prado Colorist: Alex Sinclair Letterer: Wes Abbott Editor: Jim Chadwick Publisher: DC Comics Cover Price: $9.99 Previously in Batman '66:  Many people know the…
A gorgeously drawn, clever story that just plain costs too much...

BATMAN '66: THE LOST EPISODE #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

A gorgeously drawn, clever story that just plain costs too much...

User Rating: 4.9 ( 1 votes)

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. Oldcomicfan
    November 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    You know, as cynical as I sound when I pan the various Event comics, movies badly based on tv shows, stunt casting in comics and movies, and the like, I’m actually sort of interested in this. But not at ten dollars.

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