Archie Meets Batman ’66 #6
Jeff Parker (Writer), Michael Moreci (Writer), Dan Parent (Artist), J. Bone (Artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colours), Jack Morelli (Letters)
Archie Comics and DC Entertainment
9 January, 2018
The villains of Gotham have captured Batman, and by using the Siren’s song, now have complete control of all the adults in Riverdale. With Riverdale in their grasp, the Gotham villains set their sights on a bigger target—the rest of the world!
The teenagers—Robin, Batgirl, Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, and Reggie Mantle—are the town’s only hope now. But what can they do when even the great Batman has been defeated? Fortunately, Batman manages to send a coded message to Dilton Doily, whose monitoring of the frequencies between Gotham and Riverdale was so invaluable at the start of this series. Together, the teenagers and Batman hatch a plan to free Riverdale and capture the villains. But it’s going to require a great deal of bravery from the teenagers. After all, the fate of the world rests on their young shoulders.
This issue was a fun conclusion to this mini-series and made me wish it had been longer. Despite the central premise of the crossover, which I loved, this series has often been frustrating in its handling of the various groups of characters. Far too often, the heroes were left out in the cold, with writers Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci focusing on developing the Gotham villains in preceding issues, a tactic I never quite understood.
In this issue, however, the villains are shortchanged as the heroes come to the fore. But as much as I’ve enjoyed getting to spend time with the Batman ’66 villains, I don’t really mind that they don’t get as much page-time here. They’ve had their time in the spotlight; now it’s everyone else’s turn. This installment is better for its change of focus. The young heroes are vibrant and funny, and gel excellently together. I love how they band together and riff off each other’s strongest traits to fight the bad guys. The whole point of this mini-series was to have the Riverdale and Gotham heroes team-up, so why keep that till the very end?
As I suspected, the subplot of Batman chasing after Bookmark and Footnote had absolutely no bearing on the major series plot. It was merely a gimmick to keep Batman away from Riverdale, and the real action, for a considerable amount of time. Having finished the series, I can’t help but wonder why the creators thought that was the best decision for this story. Batman should have arrived in Riverdale much sooner, and that would have given the Riverdale gang more time to cement themselves as a formidable, and cohesive, force against the villains.
With so much of the character interaction being left for later in the series, this book pushes the limits of readers’ suspension of disbelief. Are we really meant to believe that the Riverdale gang were able to whip up costumes within mere hours? And that Batman just happened to have some important tech handy with which to send messages to Dilton? Wouldn’t the Gotham villains have taken his utility belt, or at the very least ensured he couldn’t reach anything that might help save him? I know the ’60s Batman show was campy, but these moments in the book look less like an homage to the cheesiness of the show and more like an attempt to rush the story to its preconceived conclusion.
Having said that, I did love this issue because it was pure, nostalgic fun. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, but if you loved the show and loved the Archie comics as a child, you will enjoy reading it. Plus, those team-up moments filled my inner teenager with so much joy. As a fan, I can’t not internally whoop when Robin, Batgirl, and the Archie gang beat up henchmen, and Batman socks it to the cackling Joker. There were so many moments that put a big smile on my face, a smile that continued long after I’d finished the book. At the same time, it makes me wish that the rest of this series had had the same impact.
If there is another series, I really hope there is some more diversity in it. This series, particularly this issue, was woefully lacking in representation of anyone who wasn’t white, straight, and abled. There are few enough characters of colour or queer characters in these two properties as it is. How about giving them some of the spotlight?
The art has been consistently good throughout this series. Once I got used to the comic versions of the Batman ’66 characters, I was able to appreciate how well-rendered all the characters have been. There is a lot of action in this book, and it’s all beautifully laid out, serving as a great homage to the fight scenes in the show. The characters are extremely expressive in this issue and the artists, Dan Parent and J Bone, do a good job of realising the varied emotions of the characters. I particularly liked the way the panels were unevenly laid out in this book. I like asymmetry usually, and here it helps draw the reader’s eye towards the action.
Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colours have been a constant source of joy for me throughout this series, and she has outdone herself with this book, a major feat considering how amazing her colour work has been in the past five issues. In this book, Fitzpatrick does overtime, having to colour full page backgrounds, while still maintaining the vibrancy of the characters’ eclectic costumes. She knows how to make the panels pop out of the page, and it is her work more than anything else that I’m going to miss now that the series has concluded.
Though inconsistent, Archie Meets Batman ’66 has been an enjoyable read with beautiful artwork and a stunning colour-scheme. Had the story been more focused from the start and put the heroes in the spotlight, this conclusion would have been that much more satisfactory. In the end, even though it does feel rushed, this story will scratch your nostalgic itch.