The joke is on those not reading this series…
Cover by Mike Allred
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Joe Quinones
Colours by Maris Wicks
Beware of serious spoilers!
This week The Joker finally makes his entrance to the Batman ‘66 comic universe and he does so in a chapter that’s jam packed with references to the wider Bat-verse and with a great original story to boot.
This issue is a massive love letter to everything that The Joker has been to the Batman mythos in all forms of media.
The issue opens on page one with giant balloon parading through the centre of Gotham (reference #1 – Batman ‘89), on page two we meet Red Hood (reference #2 – Detective Comics #168), on page nine we meet Dr Quinn (reference #3 – BtAS) who works at The Arkham Institute (reference #4 – A Serious House on Serious Earth).
As an aside on page seven there is a panel depicting punk goons wearing stolen jewels and carrying diamonds… a reference to Batman Forever perhaps?
Throw in the villains inhabiting Arkham when the Dynamic Duo come to visit and that’s a bucket load of cameos in one issue.
I continually praise Jeff Parker but this issue nearly completely blew my mind. Juggling the sheer number of facets to The Joker’s character from the various TV series, cartoons, movies and comics that are on display here Parker makes it look like childs play.
The story is simple: The Red Hood (whoever he or she may be) has got a score to settle with The Joker and Batman is going to need to protect him and solve the mystery under the hood.
My expectations for the beginning of this arc were high but this opening issue completely surpasses those expectations.
What Parker does so brilliantly here is to take all those easter eggs and cameos and knit them together to make a perfectly coherent story that fits under the Batman ‘66 banner. The plot is maniacal that it’s hard to imagine it not having been a real episode.
Joe Quinones art is nicely kitsch and is a nice fit for this series. I still think that Jonathan Case has nailed the individual look of this series but Quinones finds a great balance between modern comic and the 60s look. His character renderings and unlike others we’ve seen in previous issues; West and Ward are still a little lost in translation but Cesar Romero is instantly recognisable from the moment his face first appears.
Note: look out for a guest appearance by Romero’s moustache!
Seeing the inclusion or Dr Quinn and Arkham was a massive fanboy moment for me. It’s intriguing to see these famous aspects of the mythos appear for the first time in this context both visually and also as plot devices.
Bringing these kinds of aspects in to the ‘66 universe also cements the fact that this is no cash-in on the licence but a real well thought out and cared for title in the Bat-catalogue.
If you haven’t yet read any of this series I implore you to start now!
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