“Bane Enters the Ring”/”Batman Does His Thing”
Writer: Jeff Parker
Art & Color: Scott Kowalchuk
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Michael & Laura Allred
Assistant Editor: David Pina
Group Editor: Jim Chadwick
Batman ’66 #27 finds the Caped Crusaders (joined by Batgirl!) tangling with the Riddler, and introduced another new character to the Batman ’66 universe – Bane! #27 is the third issue in a row to introduce an extra-canonical character to the comic book universe of Batman ’66. Next month’s issue will follow suit, introducing not one, but two new rogues.
This issue takes a more lighthearted approach to a brooding character. Bane is portrayed as a Luchador – a professional wrestler from south of the border – with extraordinary strength gained from a mystical source. Riddler steals a “crystal skull” which possesses power. Later, we learn it’s the source of Bane’s venom and his freakish strength.
The art was fantastic in Batman ’66 #27. The use of a retro, techni-color pallet, texture, and shadow made the panels pop with color. The panels moved well and provided a lively pacing. Characters’ actions were well drawn and added much to the story. I still think earlier issues were higher quality, but Batman ’66 #27 delivered a well-rendered, well-colored issue.
Perhaps most enjoyable for me were the numerous tips of the cap to Bane and Batman lore outside the Batman ’66 universe. First, Riddler and Bane teaming up is reminiscent of pre-Knightfall issues. The Riddler starts with a face that resembles John Astin, who portrayed The Riddler in two episodes of the 1966 television series (“Batman’s Anniversary”/”A Riddling Controversy,” Feb, 1967). This disguise is promptly removed by a batarang to reveal a more Frank Gorshin-esque version of the character.
Of course, with any Bane story some character has to use the phrase, “Break him/you/the Batman,” at some point and issue #27 didn’t disappoint. Bane does, in fact, attempt to break Batman’s back in the same way as Batman #500 and The Dark Knight Rises. Speaking of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman throws a batarang, which expands to form a mask over Bane’s face, preventing the venom to grant its super-strength – clearly a reference to the finale of Nolan’s trilogy. Another panel displayed retired jersey’s on the roof of the arena high above the wrestling ring – the names on the jerseys? Aparo and Nolan. Nice!
Batman ’66 #27 was a well-paced issue with some excellent panels. The pro-wrestling version of Bane was believable in the Batman ’66 universe. The Riddler seems a bit out of place here, and serves little more than a “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart figure to Bane’s Hulk Hogan (old-school WWF reference there, youngsters!). Still, the issue is a solid and fun read, especially with nods to the larger Batman universe. Fans of the Batman ’66 series and, likely, younger readers will enjoy the art and story of this issue, while more mature Batman fans will smirk at those references mentioned above…and maybe find more?
Sadly, Batman ’66 #27 starts the countdown to issue #30, recently announced to be the series’ last. I will miss this lighthearted and nostalgic version of the Caped Crusader, with its fun gadgets and over-the-top writing style. Hopefully, for 1960s Batman fans and younger readers, future “one-shot” episodes (Man from U.N.C.L.E., etc) and special editions will come along in time.