Archie Meets Batman ’66 #1
Michael Moreci (Writer), Jeff Parker (Writer), Dan Parent (Artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colours), Jack Morelli (Letters)
Archie Comics and DC Entertainment
July 18, 2018
There’s never a quiet moment in Gotham, as visitors to the 1966 World’s Science Fair find out in Archie Meets Batman ’66 #1. Poison Ivy, recently escaped from prison, attacks the fair with her latest creation in tow, the Winged Snapdragon. Fortunately, amongst the screaming civilians, a familiar sight appears: the Batmobile! But what’s this? More than one villainous affair is afoot. Bookworm and his trusty sidekick, Footnote, are lurking about the library, just as Batgirl enters the fray. Can the Dynamic Duo and Batgirl save the day and uncover Bookworm’s plot?
One spinning Bat-transition scene later, we find ourselves in the peaceful suburb of Riverdale where Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper are trying to get Jughead Jones in the right frame of mind for their upcoming history test. In comes Veronica Lodge, hopelessly distressed, because she believes something is wrong with her father. She insists that he is not himself anymore. When even the chief of Riverdale police can’t help her, Veronica turns to school tech-whiz, Dilton Doiley, to help her contact someone who can. Who could it be?
I wasn’t sure what to expect in Archie Meets Batman ’66. I was excited at the prospect of this crossover, but I couldn’t figure out how it would work logically. Well, the writers establish fairly early on that Riverdale exists in the same geographical region as Gotham. Archie is introduced to readers listening to a news broadcast about Batman’s fight with Poison Ivy. I like that writers Michael Moreci and Jeff Parker managed to remove any ambiguity about space and time between the two stories within the first few pages. It would have been frustrating to read yet another alternate dimension story, an idea that was cool at one point but has now been done to death.
What really made this comic for me, though, were the colours. The art is great, and I will come back to it, but the colours are so vivid and so reminiscent of both the ‘60s TV show and the early Archie comics I grew up reading. Also, barring Batman’s costume, which looks a bit too blue, all the other superhero/villain costumes are eerily similar to the show. As for the Archie characters, I might as well have been reading an issue from my childhood. I would love to know how colourist Kelly Fitzpatrick managed it!
Of course, there would be no colour without Dan Parent’s art, which is immensely rich in detail. With the Riverdale segments, he has a long comic history to delve into for artistic influence, and he manages to replicate the aesthetic of the classic Dan DeCarlo books expertly. It was a bit trickier for the DC characters, considering they were based on the live-action Batman TV show. His take on their designs is practically seamless, though Parent captured the villains better than the heroes. His quirky style is just a little off-kilter when detailing the facial features of Batman, Robin, and Batgirl, whereas his art is completely on-point for Bookworm and his cohorts. However, this is a minor gripe and in no way detracts from the enjoyment of seeing the heroes in their ’60s-style costumes grace the page.
There are several throwbacks to the TV show that I loved, but chief among them was the narrator’s voice. You remember the narrator, William Dozier, from the Batman show? He had this thick, old-fashioned, alarmist tone, and would ask you the important questions, like whether Batman was going to die, or if the Penguin would get away. Well, he’s back, this time in written form. I love that the text boxes immediately call to mind the tone of the show’s narrator; one can’t help but read it in Dozier’s voice. How did writers Michael Moreci and Jeff Parker so perfectly capture his intonations? It makes the story so much more cohesive and really roots it into the universe of the TV show.
This book is an excellent start to what will definitely be an enjoyable series. The creators have implied that the crossover event will include many more characters from the Batman ’66 and Archie universes than 2017’s smash-hit Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica limited series. This is to be expected as most media now follows the bigger and bolder formula for sequels. It also raises the concern that the series will try and go too big and cram in more than the story can handle. Judging from this first issue, there is already a lot that is planned for this series so one hopes that the writers will tread carefully.
One would expect a slow-burn in the two sets of characters meeting each other but, I had hoped for a more concrete connection between the two teams in this opening issue of the crossover. I was influenced by the numerous variant covers that had me expecting a full-on crime-fighting team-up to take place in this very installment. I did feel misled by that so was a bit disappointed when the characters barely meet. I would urge readers not to be swayed by the covers like I did; they are a preview of what is to come. This is very much a first chapter and one must keep that in mind.
When the team-ups finally do take place, I will be excited to see how the characters interact with each other. What will Archie make of the caped crusader? Will the Joker find a new nemesis in Jughead? How will Betty and Veronica get along with Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon? We’ll find out next month, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.