Friday, January 9, 2015

Batman '66 #51 Review

Written by: Jeff Parker
Art by: Leonardo Romero
Cover Price: $1.99
Release Date: January 7, 2015

Foggy Bats Can't Be Beat

last we left Batman and Robin they were trapped by an angry mob, instigated by the villainous Marmaduke Ffogg and his despicable fog. I complained quite a bit last time that I didn't like the cliffhanger considering it felt a lot like the one used in the King Tut story several issues back. I will say I was more impressed with this issue than I was the last issue, though I felt this time around there were some inconsistencies.

Despite the fact that the villain of the story is Professor Marmaduke Ffogg, a clear reworking of Lord Marmaduke Ffogg from the 1966 Batman TV series, in this issue the sole reference to his name is Phineas Ffogg, which is rather close to the name of the protagonist of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. That character is named Phileas Fogg.

Outside of that I was pretty much fully aware of what was going on. Batman and Robin weren't going to fight the citizens of Gotham so they flee to higher ground and make sure to keep the fog from getting into their lungs--that's a surefire way to not fall under Ffogg's "curse".

The character of Ffogg wants to defeat Batman and Robin but he wants to do it his way. He knows what other villains have tried in the past which gives him a clear idea of how not to kill a Batman but at the same time you have to ask what exactly he can do that would be unique in this respect. He was unique the first time he tango'd with the Dynamic Duo and that didn't pan out so well for him. This time should be no different.

Jeff Parker put in some effort here to clean up from the last issue but not nearly enough that it significantly enhances the overall tale. Despite the fact that the story starts on a weak note it ends on a rather high one--specifically the big old "The End" on the last panel. I'd have no problem reading a story featuring these characters again if there was just an ounce more originality thrown into it.

Leonardo Romero was able to craft an overall good-looking book although there were even times on his side of the book where I felt I was seeing something wrong. In one panel I know I was seeing Ffogg from a distance but the mustache was too dark and the mutton chops were missing. Still, Romero did a fine job with the close-ups and I think that is what really matters at the end of the day.

Bits and Pieces

Despite the amount of potential that both Marmaduke Ffogg and Lady Penelope both bring to the Batman '66 series it's hard to not feel that the potential was squandered by using the characters in a paint by numbers story. This was really one of the more difficult stories of the series to get through and that is coming from someone who loves Batman '66. Hopefully next week's story will either be stronger or feature Batgirl.


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