Comic Reviews: Batman #51 and Batman ’66 Meets Archie #1!
Batman #51 (DC Comics)
Tom King continues to put the Dark Knight into new and interesting places, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Batman #51, which puts Bruce Wayne into a situation we’ve never seen him in before: jury duty. Partnered with artist Lee Weeks, the latest issue of Batman doesn’t directly tie into the events of the previous “wedding” issue, but it does feature some truly remarkable moments that could go down as a new classic Batman story.
When Bruce Wayne is called into Jury Duty, it’s an inconvenience. Since he can’t go out on patrol while on duty, he has Dick Grayson filling in for him. But when the trial he’s on is one that involves not only Mr. Freeze, but also features Batman’s interference heavily, it starts to weigh an incredible toll on Bruce Wayne’s soul. Is being the Batman worth it? Is he doing the right thing in fighting his war on crime the way that he is? Is the recent turmoil in his love life affecting his methods in a more brutal way? And is Mr. Freeze actually innocent of the crimes Batman made him confess to?
None of these questions are directly answered here, but it’s a credit to Tom King for finding a very unique way for Bruce Wayne to have this crisis of the soul. We’ve seen him question his methods before, but never in such an entertaining backdrop like jury duty. Surrounded by regular citizens of Gotham, Wayne sticks out like a sore thumb, and King wisely limits his dialogue to just a series of quick sentences. But it’s what Bruce doesn’t say that really sticks out in this issue, as his silence speaks volumes.
This issue wouldn’t be as effective without Lee Weeks’ art. Even though he’s a new player to King’s run unlike other Batman artists Clay Mann or Mikel Janin, Weeks’ art is still just as good as those two, even if it is distinctly different. The silences in King’s script allow Weeks to really let loose, with extremely effective emotional beats and subtle body language ticks from Wayne when he’s around the other jurors. It may not be an action packed issue, but Weeks’ art is proof that it doesn’t really have to be when the art is this great.
It’s a testament to Tom King’s talents as a writer that he’s still finding new and interesting ways to put Batman into different predicaments this long into his run. Typically a lot of writers would have either lost steam or left the book by now, but King is using his longevity on the title to really dig into the idea of Batman, and make us, and Bruce Wayne, question his methods. While there’s only a few vague nods to the events that happened in the previous issue, it’s used in a way to make you understand exactly where Batman is coming from in his moments against Freeze, and it’s done in such a way that you wonder if Batman has truly gone too far. And if you’re questioning it, and Bruce Wayne is also questioning it, then maybe he has.
Batman ’66 Meets Archie #1 (of 6) (DC Comics)
The Adam West Batman has gotten a lot of mileage out of DC in recent years. First, he met the Green Hornet in a sequel to the old crossover episode from the classic show. Then, he met the Linda Carter Wonder Woman. But now, he’s met America’s oldest teenager, and things will never be the same, for the Caped Crusader has now met Archie, and he’s going to need his help to clean up Riverdale in Batman ’66 Meets Archie, written by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci and drawn by classic Archie artist Dan Parent.
Tired of being lumped in with other, “lesser villains”, the main four baddies from the classic TV show (namely The Joker, Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman), decide that they should set their sights on somewhere less well-known than Gotham, but still full of riches for them to steal. Settling on Riverdale, the four set off their plan, and when Veronica Lodge’s father is the first to fall under the criminal’s thrall, she sends out a radio transmission that reaches the only people who could help her: Batman and Robin!
Simply put, this issue is a lot of fun. I have a pretty big soft spot for the original Batman TV show, and Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci nail the tone of that series. From the narration boxes that mimic the announcer of the old show to the spot on dialogue for Batman and Robin, the two have a lot of fun with the Batman side of the book, but the Archie side is a little less fun, as it reads more like a regular Archie book (which now that I think about it, is probably the point).
Dan Parent is no stranger for longtime Archie fans, with a style that is pretty much synonymous with the “classic” look of that world. It’s no surprise that his art for the Archie sequences are great, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how great his art was for this type of Batman as well. While it’s not as realistic as some of the other Batman ’66 comics, Parent’s cartoony style still works really well with this type of story, and its actually kind of cool to see well-known versions of the ’66 characters done in the style of Archie.
If you’ve read any of the previous Archie crossovers or Batman ’66 comics, you’ll find a lot to like with this crossover. And even if you’ve never checked out either of the those titles before, you’ll find that this issue is a lot of fun. It’s a little cheesy, sure, but that’s also the charm of both the Batman TV show and Archie comics. In all honesty, I’m surprised no one thought of combining these two worlds earlier.
Posted on July 18, 2018, in Comic book reviews, Comic reviews and tagged Adam West Batman, Archie, Archie Comics, Batman, Batman '66, Batman '66 Meets Archie, Bob Parent, DC Comics, Jeff Parker, Lee Weeks, Michael Moreci, Tom King. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.