Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 in a Ridiculous New Comic
Marc Andreyko, Jeff Parker (script), Karl Kesel, David Hahn (pencils)
January 18, 2017
I don’t read Batman comics. It’s been so long since I read one that when I mentioned on Twitter that I was finally reading one, a friend asked me if everything was ok. It wasn’t a cry for help folks, I just thought this one looked cute. It helps too that Batman’s presence is ameliorated by Wonder Woman’s. I do read Wonder Woman comics, is the thing.
Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 is the least obnoxious crossover comic to come out of DC or Marvel in ages. It’s self-contained and unselfconsciously ridiculous—it’s exactly what you’d think would happen if the Batman from the 1966 Adam West show met the Wonder Woman from the 1977 Lynda Carter show: wholesome hijinks and a whole lot of puns. Catwoman appears at the start for a short punny cameo, all rolling Rs and slinkiness. Ra’s al Ghul swans around in a cape. In that respect, this comic wholly fulfills its promise.
Unfortunately though, the comic as a whole falls a little flat. The plot is somehow spot-on for both shows, capturing the absurdity of Batman ’66 and the sincerity of Wonder Woman ’77: young Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul hide in a hedge maze while Nazis battle Wonder Woman and Ra’s for possession of some rare books. Wonder Woman jumps over a hedge maze. The Waynes senior putter around uselessly, not happy about Nazis interrupting their auction/party, but not particularly overcome by it. Perhaps its unfair to judge a six issue miniseries on this first issue but I’m going to do it anyway. This comic is basically okay and while it’s charming, it doesn’t particularly sell the series as a whole and frankly, it’s not funny enough. The pencils and colouring are cute and accessible. The cadence of the dialogue is welcoming, nice in the way that things intended for kids or nostalgia are nice, even when there’s some dramatic tension. This is a cute comic, sure, but where are the jokes? Where is the camp? And more importantly, where is that dramatic tension? Although the comic ends on a cliffhanger, it’s not a cliff I’m worried about falling off of.
Just as the jokes miss the mark or are straight up missing, Marc Andreyko and Jeff Parker’s attempt to hang that cliff and spice up that plot don’t quite work. This isn’t the kind of comic that one breathlessly live tweets, but… I should care about what’s to come. Mostly I just want to know if Catwoman is coming back. Somewhere in the blending of Batman and Wonder Woman, this comic exchanged sight gags and silly speeches for a fairly straight-forward (while admittedly ridiculous) plot. And it’s not that it’s lacking in character details or relevance—we learn that young Bruce was always trying to help out Alfred and that he had a crush on Wonder Woman, not just because she’s pretty, but because she’s a great hero. While we don’t learn much about Diana, Steve and Etta, since much of the comic is a flashback to Bruce’s childhood, they’re spot on. Nazis, meanwhile, are back in the news (again AGAIN!) thanks to the election of Donald Trump and the accompanying rise to prominence of the Neo-Nazi “alt-right,” so it’s interesting to see the vintage stock villain Nazi make a return. But they are too stock to be good villains, here. Their dastardly plot—get Hitler some rare books so he can find magical weapons, etc.—lacks the feeling of dastardliness. Like everything else in this comic, it has no sense of urgency or importance.
Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 #1 is a fairly bland first issue, and while that’s not to say the mini won’t get better (maybe it’s actually amazing?), it’s never good to start a relationship with a decently firm but clammy handshake.