Warning: That cursed clown-prince of crime may have dropped spoilers in this review!
By the forces of divine intervention, or a few phone calls between publishers, DC Comics and Dynamite Entertainment have collaborated to bring readers Batman ‘66 Meets The Green Hornet, co-written by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman with pencils by Ty Templeton. Way back in the distant land of the 1960s, the famed Batman television series was a pop-culture fixture, reaching it’s peak during a crossover with the other masked hero show The Green Hornet. Now, nearly 50 years later, fans are treated to a digital first sequel of the first major live-action crossover. Given Kevin Smith’s polarizing take on the Caped Crusader (Cacophony, The Widening Gyre) and Ralph Garman’s untested skills as a comic writer, fans are sure to be asking if this will be any good. Fear not, citizens. Batman ‘66 Meets The Green Hornet #1 is a POW! BAM! ZAP! success.
Before going any further about the story, major praise needs to be laid at the feet of Ty Templeton. Though this is not his first foray into the world of Batman ‘66, this is certainly his finest work. Assisted by the DC2 digital format, Templeton brings Smith and Garman’s script to life with vibrancy and attention to detail. For example, there is a sequence in which Bruce Wayne is on a train conversing with an archaeologist. As the reader progresses through the sequence, Bruce’s hand moves as one would over the course of a conversation. If readers also pay attention to the train window, they will notice the scenery change as if the train were actually moving. These little details which Templeton includes enriches the reading experience.
Speaking of details, Templeton nails the looks of the cast. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are spitting images of Adam West and Burt Ward, respectively. The same can be said for Britt Reid and Kato, who are spot on recreations of Van Williams and Bruce Lee. This attention to detail extends beyond the leads to the rest of the cast. This is not to say the art is perfect. There are a couple panel’s where Bruce’s eyes are not aligned, and in one shot Dick Grayson looks more like Burgess Merideth’s Penguin than young Burt Ward. However, these are minor quibbles that do not take away from an otherwise fantastic penciling (and inking ) performance.
One of the defining attributes of the Batman television series was the vibrant use of color. However, it is often forgotten that the bright primary colors only made their way to the screen if there were costumed characters afoot. Given the understated nature of this opening chapter, readers ought to commend colorist Tony Aviña for his restraint in keeping the issue straight-laced. With the exception of a certain red telephone and a last-page reveal, the issue is done in standard, true-to-life colors – which is exactly what it needs to be.
Anyone that has listened to Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman talk about Batman knows that they hold a special place in their hearts for Batman ‘66. Garman himself might be the biggest fan of the 1960s series, with a collection of memorabilia that is the envy of all Bat-fans. This love and passion for the subject matter is evident with each line of dialogue, each voice-over narration, and each character gesture. An early exchange between Bruce and Dick strikes the right chord of heartfelt cheesiness which could only work in the world of Batman ‘66. Kato is clearly the standout character of the issue, as his subtle interjections to a conversation between Bruce and Britt will elicit more than a few chuckles from readers. Batman ‘66 Meets the Green Hornet #1 is a near-perfect beginning to what should be a raucous camp-fest.