Thursday, November 20, 2014

Batman '66: The Lost Episode Review

Written By: Harlan Ellison and Len Wein
Art By: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Cover Price: 9.99
Release Date: November 19, 2014

The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face

If you have ever read one of my Batman '66 reviews, you know I am a huge fan of the property, as Batman '66 story ever written has finally been seen by the public. Two-Face was one of the most iconic villains from Batman's comic book history that never actually made it onto the small screen. Fortunately, since DC has been revisiting the Batman '66 property in full force since straightening out the rights issues, one piece of unfinished business finally wrapped.  As well as the current line of comics DC publishes set in that universe. As of today, what may be the greatest

Comic book legend Len Wein was tasked with taking Harlan Ellison's original treatment for The Two-Way Crimes of Two Face and converting it into a comic book one-shot that shows the world of Batman '66 in a light it's never been seen. For the first time in the history of the property, Batman '66 is borderline dark. The trademark colors and most of the iconic styling are still present throughout the story, but the character of Harvey Dent lends himself to something a bit more sinister than giant umbrellas.

Wein was able to take the treatment (which is published in its entirety in the back of the book) and convert it into something magical. From the moment I first heard DC was undertaking this project I knew it would be something particularly special. All of your classic Batman '66 characters are present and accounted for--from Batman and Robin to Commissioner Gordon to Chief O'Hara to Alfred and Aunt Harriet. Not every character takes the same amount of screen time as they normally would, but their appearances are welcome and don't feel shoe-horned in.

Reading the issue it's easy to see how the episode never made it into production. Based on the cost of doing a show like Batman in the 1960's this episode would have had to be on par with a second movie, which was a commitment I'm sure no one was willing to make. Seeing the story in comic book form really shows how glorious it could have been.

At times, the story even shows bits and pieces that I couldn't fathom in the original series, such as a side area of the Batcave, filled with Batman's trophies from his many villains and phenomenal action shots of the Caped Crusader pulling off stunts its hard to imagine the actual Adam West pulling off.

Tasked with visually bringing the story to life was comic book artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, who has drawn projects for DC Comics since the 1970's. Batman '66 loans itself to a particular style and Garcia-Lopez found the right way to merge that with how he draws the characters. His biggest task, bar none, was creating the visual appearance of the story's antagonist: Two-Face. Creating the look was no small task, as is documented in back of the book prior to the printing of the original treatment.

Garcia-Lopez really is in top form on this book and shows why he has managed to remain an artist with DC (albeit a bit more infrequently due to age) for as many years as he had. As a tribute to the hard work he put into penciling the book, the story is printed twice. The first half of the book is the full story, with inks by Joe Prado, colors by Alex Sinclair and letters by Wes Abbot. The second printing of the story strips it down to its most basic element: the hand drawn pencils by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, which gives the opportunity to really appreciate the work that was put into drawing the story.

Rounding out the artistic talent is a phenomenal cover by Alex Ross, who also did the covers for Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet, a six-issue miniseries that served as a sequel to the classic two part crossover.

Bits and Pieces

The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face was initially written as an episode of Batman that never made it to production and then was forgotten over time. DC Comics found a way to pay tribute to both writer Harlan Ellison and the entire community of Batman '66 fans by bringing in some of the finest talent in the industry to put together a phenomenal presentation that shows how amazing the world of Batman '66 can look.


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