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Batman 66 #9

March 28, 2016

 

BATMAN 66 #9 

DC COMICS

Written by Jeff Parker

Pencils David Hahn

Inks Karl Kesel

Colored by Roberto Flores

Cover by Laura Allred & Mike Allred

 

Holy rusted metal…Batman ’66 teams up with The Man from UNCLE to deliver a solid KAPOW!

 

The 1960s was an era of high tension between the United States and former Soviet Union, falling squarely in the midst of what we now refer to as the ‘Cold War’. The threat of nuclear annihilation was tangible and the years were punctuated by pivotal moments: the birth of the civil rights movement; the Cuban Missile Crisis, ‘space race’; assassination of JFK in ’63; America’s involvement in Vietnam, violent protests at Columbia University protests and finally – a highlight – the Lunar landing in 1969. To counteract all of this seriousness, 1960s television was awash with irreverent and often campy shows which helped take the population’s mind off their collective woes. One such TV show, the landmark television series “Batman”, kicked-of on the 12th January, 1966 bringing costumed superheroes and their villainous foes to life like never before. I remember watching re-runs of it as a kid and I loved every second of it, especially the animated introduction. DC comics’ “Batman ‘66” comic book series is a meticulously crafted homage to this small-screen cult-classic.

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon Solo and his Russian counterpart Illya Kurayakin represented an unlikely pairing between the United States and its enemy, the communist Soviet Union. Although this combination wouldn’t work in the political climate of the day, it was well received by the American viewing public and ran for four seasons. What U.N.C.L.E. actually stood for was never clear to me; I always thought that it was a reference to the United Nations, or ‘Uncle Sam’ (the American government) but research indicates that it was, the “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement”. Although the dynamic duo of Solo and Kurayakin are vastly different and decidedly more serious than our other dynamic duo, Batman and the ‘Boy Wonder’, Jeff Parker has wound them together neatly into his expanded universe and this title provides opportunities for each to play to their strengths. Batman ’66 manages to strike a good balance between seriousness and having a laugh at itself. The writing and characterizations are perfect, and it’s easy to imagine the characters interacting as they’re portrayed. The stereotypical 1960’s villain, Dr Hugo Stange, is played true to form (he just needs a cat) and, as you’d expect, our heroes are left imperilled with a traditional ‘cliff hanger’ ending.


The artwork is gorgeous. I was immediately hypnotized by Michael and Laura Allred’s dynamic cover which shows our team of intrepid heroes surrounded by man-eating sharks, with Batman grasping frantically got his can of ‘Bat-Shark Repellent”. Vintage Batman was known for being a little OCD and meticulously labelled all of his contraptions such as the Bat-Computer, Bat-Ladder and the Bat-Shark Repellent (made famous in the 1960s big-screen movie). Now, I never could understand how Batman could operate an aerosol can under water nor how he knew to pack it in his Utility Belt, but it was the 1960s and every super-villain seemed to have at least one shark tucked away - I digress. Once inside, the artwork flips to David-Kahn’s quirky, retro-styled illustration which brings this unusual pairing to life and is ably supported by Karl Kesel’s inking and Madpencils’ vibrant colours. This is great stuff; well thought out and executed with a bonus 3D panel thrown in to consolidate the OTT 1960s-ness of the strip.

Batman 66 issue 9 is a definite buy for me and I’ll be back for the next issue at the same Bat-Time and same Bat-Channel next month.

 

-Jimbo Picton

 

 

 

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