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Batman ’66 #2 [Review]

batman66002Emperior Penguin & Chandell’s Chanteuse

Written by: Jeff Parker
Art by: Ty Templeton & Jonathan Case
Colored by: Wes Hartman
Lettered by: Wes Abbott
Cover art by: Michael and Laura Allred
Edited by: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

When I first heard of this digital-first series, I wasn’t that impressed. New comic stories based on the campy 45-year-old tv series? Where’s the fun in that? Yet, due to the price point–only 99 cents for the first digital chapter–I gave it a try anyway, and something about it pulled me in. I went ahead and bought the second chapter, but then discovered that unlike others, the print edition and third digital chapter would hit the same week–so I decided I’d “go print” on this.

The same issues I had with the first–particularly the art–are present here. I can “appreciate” the visual style for trying to evoke the ’60s and such, but it’s not that appealing to me personally. Yet, it certainly fits the story, so in and of itself I don’t really have much complaint. The character designs certainly bring back memories of the characters as played by the real-life actors, which I would say means goal achieved, placing these stories as fitting the classic series.

Story-wise, the plot definitely fits. A giant iceberg floats into Gotham harbor, blocking shipping traffic. Turns out the block of ice is ruled by The Penguin–now recognized as Emperor Penguin–as the iceberg’s been declared its own country (legally binding and all that!). Batman and Robin get involved where the police can’t, and the duo quickly discovers the Penguin’s ally–Mr. Freeze! Of course, things go cold before warming up, and the dizzying duo of detectives declares fowl (er…foul) and things come to a head.

In the back part of the issue, Bruce flies solo on a date with Kathy Kane, and winds up facing someone called the Siren as Batman, who eventually winds up benefiting from Kane’s assistance. I have no idea if this character ever appeared in the classic series or not, but I have no interest in the Siren, and this sort of story especially comes as a turnoff for me–in this comic as well as the way it always did in the tv series.

All in all, not a bad issue on the whole, though at only 2 issues, some of the novelty is already wearing off. If this were a mini-series there might be more appeal for me, but I have to wonder how long this will hold my attention as an ongoing. Despite that…if only for wanting to support what I see as one of the few things DC‘s doing “right” lately, I added this to my pull list, and hope to give it at least a few more issues before I’m “driven” to dropping it.

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Meeting of the Minds

The Leader and his group of intellectual villains work behind the scenes through Marvel’s history to assemble the lost knowledge of the Library of Alexandria.

fallofthehulksalphaWriter: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: Guru eFX
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Dave Stewart
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Nathan Cosby
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this issue, except perhaps a jumping-on point in preparation for the coming Fall of the Hulks "event." What I did not expect was what seems to essentially be an "Illuminati" of intellectual Marvel villains and their "backstory" throughout Marvel’s past.

This issue basically follows The Leader, M.O.D.O.K., Egghead, The Wizard, The Mad Thinker, The Red Ghost, and Dr. Doom as they assemble the contents of the formerly-believed-lost contents of the Library of Alexandria through the years. Their first mission is an incursion into the home of the Eternals. Here the protagonists discover there are other locations around the planet with further Alexandrian contents, including Wakanda and Atlantis. Bucking the silver Age trend of simplicity, here we see that it takes months and years for the protagonists to prepare to actually launch a mission to gain the knowledge they’re after, as well as the explanation that allows for what we’ve already seen in the last half-decade of continuity regarding these characters. As the issue closes out, we get some info regarding the Red Hulk, which actually intrigues me after never before this having any interest in even the concept of that character.

The story is pretty good in and of itself. It’s not spectacular, and I’m not a huge fan of retcons…but for my understanding of things, the backstory that is here inserted into existing continuity seems to work. Additionally, I feel like I have a better understanding of who The Leader and The Red Ghost are now than I ever did before.
The art is also quite solid…while keeping its own feel, it also evokes some of the feeling of the different eras the story touches upon.

Though I came to the issue familiar with little more than the characters’ names and visual representations (excepting Dr. Doom), everyone was quite recognizable, and I really enjoyed the visuals.
Even though I’ve not followed the Hulk side of the Marvel Universe since World War Hulk ended, I still really enjoyed this issue and found that I didn’t need to know recent events. I’ve often enjoyed stories that flesh out villain characters and give them depth and motivation, and true explanation for why they would door act as they do, and this is one such issue.

I expect this is little more than set-up in the grand scheme of things, but if you want a Leader story involving a teaming-up of supervillains (including death and betrayal) reminiscent of 1980s stories but with a modern feel, this is a great issue for that.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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