Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Batman '66 #49 Review

Written By: Jeff Parker
Art By: Richard Case
Cover Price: $1.99
Release Date: December 10, 2014

Bats, Books, and Crazy Crooks

From the time Batman '66 first launched it was clear what this book was meant to be--a forum for writer Jeff Parker to continue the adventures of Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, that were first started in the 1966 William Dozier TV series, Batman. During that time Batman and Robin fought many criminals played by a variety of guest stars. As the series progressed, it was decided that Batgirl would be featured in some episodes in order to attract more female viewers. Batman '66 #49 continues that tradition, presenting a tale of the Bookworm, originally portrayed by Roddy McDowall, facing off in a library against the one and only, Batgirl.

What struck me as most interesting about this story going into it was the subject matter. At times, the campiness of the TV series shines through but the overall story covers something a tad bit more out of tone for the series--magic and the dark arts.

Bookworm shows up at the library just before closing, offering head-librarian Barbara Gordon a trade: the very first book he ever stole--a 12th edition copy of The Wind in the Willows--in exchange for a book on the occult written in 1743. Considering Batman was aimed at the children of the 60's, this caught me off guard. Given my love of magic in stories, however, this was also a welcome addition to the tale.

Being head librarian at the Gotham City Public Library has it's perks, including the ability to have your own personal Batgirl-Cave hidden behind the shelves, and that perk is put to good use this time around. Despite the fact that the Dynamic Duo are nowhere to be seen there is still plenty of bat-action to be had.

This story is clearly a one shot, which I assume will be used in print to back up the previous digital tale. That's almost a shame, as Jeff Parker shows in this story that come Hell or high water he is capable of writing a Batgirl story that is just as compelling as any of those featuring Batman and Robin. The characterization of Batgirl is spot on--no small task considering she wasn't featured on the show as strongly as the titular Bat-hero.

What really blew me away though was Richard Case's art. Every story of Batman '66, it seems to me, has a new artist drawing the book, while Jeff Parker is the glue that holds it all together, scribing the main stories each time. Despite that, Case manages to create a fantastic universe for Batgirl to exist in. Given the occult themes in the story and certain events to unfold, Case had a chance to show off drawing some really incredible pieces that would have been borderline impossible to do on Batman.

Given the 60's TV series influence the story gets a little outrageous at times, although this is something I've come to expect with a passion from any book that bears the title of Batman '66. It's not a perfect story by any means but it creates a strong foundation upon which to build future Batgirl stories. Using Bookworm was a great way to test the waters and create a link between the two characters, but I can think of a lot of Batman villains I would love to see Batgirl face off against in the future, with future backup tales.

Bits and Pieces

When you look at the source material it's hard to fault any Batman '66 story for failing to live up to the standards set by Scott Snyder on the main Batman book or even by Paul Dini on Batman: The Animated Series. The series still is what it is: a fun continuation of the 1966 adventures of Batman and Robin that can touch on serious subjects but still do so in a campy and overly fun way.


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