Review by Karl Verhoven
Sick of their slippery schemes forever foiled by Batman, Gotham’s first rank villains hit on the idea of finding somewhere else to commit their perfidious plans. Where better than Riverdale? It’s identified as a city with no defences and wealth aplenty. However, the villains haven’t reckoned with Veronica Lodge, who realises something’s wrong and manages to contact the Batcave. What’s the solution? Why Batgirl and Robin will have to work undercover as students at Riverdale High School!
Because the whole of Riverdale is affected, writers Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci are able to introduce us to not only Archie’s major characters, but those not as frequently seen, so from that viewpoint Archie Meets Batman’66 is a trainspotter’s delight. However, it succeeds on almost every other level besides. The 1966 TV versions of the Gotham villains fit cackling and giggling right into the slapstick of Riverdale, easily managing to control the adults, but puzzled as to why teenagers can resist their techniques.
Batman himself is a little slower to arrive in Riverdale, first having to cope with the Bookworm in Gotham. “You’ve constructed a puzzle worthy of a writer who was no stranger to labyrinths”, Batman muses, “Jorge Luis Borges. And it was Borges who wrote about how not one outcome is possible, but all outcomes”. Parker and Moreci capture the tone of the 1960s Batman so perfectly that you can imagine Adam West trotting out those lines in thoughtful mode. The authentic voices of the villains also shine through with clarity.
Regular Archie artist Dan Parent draws the entire six chapters, and while bringing the Riverdale residents to vibrant life is his day job, he’s also excellent with the Batman cast likenesses, and is creepily imaginative. His fourth chapter reworkings of the Archie gang with the Joker’s face (complete with the moustache that Cesar Romero refused to shave off when playing the role) are the stuff of nightmares.
Parker and Moreci keep supplying funny ideas such as torture by a monkey clapping cymbals toy, use clever asides to be picked up on by fans of the 1960s Batman show, and mix the casts well, keeping everyone true to their personality, and using their traits inventively. Jughead’s constant eating plays nicely, as does the use of Miss Kitka.
Teaming Batman’66 with other characters hasn’t always delighted as hoped, but this is a gem to be treasured, and among the best Batman’66 material.