Sunday, October 4, 2015

'Batman '66 meets the Green Hornet' review

"To the Batmobile, Robin!" — Batman 
"Let's roll, Kato!" — The Green Hornet 

In about six months, we'll finally see the highly anticipate "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" film — the first time the two superhero icons have been on the big screen together.

But did you know two TV comic book icons appeared together almost 40 years earlier when Batman and Robin were onscreen with the Green Hornet and Kato? This was the first-ever live-action crossover. Historic indeed!

I finally tracked down the trade paperback of BATMAN '66 MEETS THE GREEN HORNET through the Norwalk Public Library. The six-issue limited series is a follow-up to the March 1 and 2, 1967 episodes featuring the two Dynamic Duos' historic collaboration.

Pop culture enthusiast and film director Kevin Smith co-wrote the story with Ralph Garman with art by Ty Templeton, best known for his work on the comics series based on "Batman: The Animated Series." Topping off all this fan goodness are the covers by Alex Ross, whose artwork is suitable for framing.

The creative team does a bang-up job of nailing the kitschy feel of the "Batman" TV series. The dialogue especially sparkles.

Until I refreshed my memory of the team-up episodes, I didn't realize just how close the BATMAN MEETS … series tied into the TV story. Just as it says in the episode guide of the "Batman" TV series box set, the Green Hornet and Kato "are not above suspicion" in a "rare stamp counterfeiting operation" overseen by Colonel Gumm and "the Dynamic Duo finally realize they're on the same side" as the other masked heroes.

This time, that realization doesn't come until the end of the series. After all, GH and Kato have to pretend to be criminals — and there's no love lost between the Dynamic Duos. Mistrust abounds, more by Batman and Robin than visa versa.

The utterly ridiculous Gumm has promoted himself to General Gumm after a horrific lab experiment goes wrong and his Super Instant Glue Gone bonded to his face permanently. Gumm has teamed up with The Joker and mayhem, extortion and fisticuffs ensue.

The series includes several ongoing schticks. One that works decidedly well is the heroes quoting Confucius and other literature. (My favorite such moment is Robin paraphrasing Shakespeare as he decks a henchman, saying "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your chin.") The other fun schticks are each pair's usage of knock-out gas on each other and the "Bat-climb." (Yup, Green Hornet and Kato join the Dynamic Duo on their infamous vertical building climb — complete with a cameo by soon-to-be President Richard Nixon.)

One scene that would be awesome to see onscreen is Robin and Kato being forced to fight each other after being captured by Gumm and The Joker. Can you imagine Burt Ward's Boy Wonder going at it against a young Bruce Lee? Fan goodness indeed!

This is fun, must-read stuff. Grade: A

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