Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Batman '66 #9

The first story in this issue features Zelda the Great, from the first season of the TV show.  Writer Jeff Parker does a nice format change, by starting the story with the cliffhanger (Batman and Robin buried to the neck in sand with scorpions approaching them), then flashes back to how the Dynamic Duo got there.  Bruce and Kathy Kane are chaperoning Dick's date with Haley, at a magic performance by The Great Griselda, whom Bruce and Dick instantly deduce is really Zelda the Great. Haley volunteers to be Zelda's assistant as Bruce and Dick slip away to become Batman and Robin.  The audience thinks the Dynamic Duo are part of the show, but once overpowered, they end up in the cliffhanger.  Young Haley seems quite enamored with Zelda's dangerous and exciting lifestyle.  Batman uses throat singing to repel the scorpions.  Zelda puts the Duo in another death trap, but as she continues to lecture Haley on the thrills of being a super villain, the Duo escape and capture Zelda and her henchmen.  But young Haley runs off, apparently determined to become a glamorous super villain.  The story by Parker is good, but he misses the mark on Zelda's character.  In the TV episode, she was bound by her Illusion Specialist Technician, Eivol Ekdal, to rob banks to pay his fee for helping her become the greatest magician since Houdini.  She really wasn't evil, rather she was forced to be a criminal.  Here, Eivol is no where to be found, and Parker makes Zelda evil, and quite happy to corrupt a teenage girl to join the criminal underworld.  The art by Craig Rousseau is a little mundane, yet has a charming anime quality to it. Since Parker really seems to be hit or miss with the scripts, I'd like to see Andy Fish brought in as a writer, as he really understands what made the first season episodes so great, and why the second and third season episodes went downhill.

The second story is a quick and enjoyable character piece featuring Alfred's lookalike cousin, Egbert (last seen in The Joker's Provokers episode, where he was on the take from the Joker).  The story opens with Egbert being released from the Wayne Foundation Halfway House For The Halfway Corrupt. Alfred picks him up, and he quickly knocks Alfred out to switch places, and purloin the Wayne fortune.  After Egbert answers the Bat-Phone, nearly exposing our heroes' secret identities, Batman and Robin figure out Egbert switched places with Alfred.  They take Egbert on a wild urban jungle obstacle course, which results in him admitting he's not Alfred.  He leads the Duo to where Alfred is, and Alfred proceeds to punch out his cousin.  Writer Tom Peyer does a good job with the script, and the art by Chris Sprouse is much better than the art in the lead story.  Overall, this issue earns a B-.