‘Batman ’66 Meets Steed & Mrs Peel’ Comic Review
written by Ian Edginton; art by Matthew Dow Smith; colors by Jordie Bellaire; letters by Wes Abbott
Another surprising treat from Boom! Studios. Teaming with DC Comics, Boom! Studios brings us a tea-up that no one saw coming and actually works really well. “The Bowler and The Bat” sees Adam West’s Bruce Wayne having a chance encounter with Emma Peel and John Steed—The Avengers. For those not in the know, The Avengers was a British TV show produced in the 1960’s and had an action-espionage flavor. It captured the spirit of the decade over here in the UK in much the same way as Batman did in the US. So for the two franchises to cross-over makes it almost too cool for its own good.
As the story starts, Bruce Wayne is making a deal to do business with a British company called United Automation. Its CEO, Michaela Gough is talking sexual equality with Bruce when they’re rudely interrupted by Catwoman and her goons. Needless to say, Bruce can’t change into his tights without revealing his secret identity so he signals Alfred and Robin in the Batcave. They arrive too late, however, as Catwoman and her thugs are dispatched with ease after the timely arrival of Emma Peel and John Steed.
While it is a short intro to the series, it is definitely one that grabs attention. The setting is firmly in the era that both shows are set and Ian Edginton’s dialogue confirms that. It’s very reminiscent of the dialogue from Batman, in particular, with its puns and alliterations. The treatment of the debate on sexual equality may come across as a little heavy-handed and makes it seems as though the character of Michaela Gough has a bit of a chip on her shoulder but I guess one would if they’d been treated differently because of gender.
Visually, this book really grew on me. I wasn’t keen on Matthew Dow Smith’s work at first but by the time the end came, I loved it. In some respects, it reminded me of Frank Miller’s work on The Dark Knight Returns, in particular the use of black and flat color. The likenesses are a bit of a mixed bag, however. One in particular stands out, and that’s the likeness of Patrick McNee as John Steed. It really does look like him.
Bruce Wayne occasionally looks like Adam West but also like Michael Keaton in some panels, but is that such a bad thing? Overall though, the art is a triumph of style. Colorist, Jordie Bellaire makes some bold choice in muting the background colors so that the reader’s eye is drawn to what should be the focal point in each image. In most cases, the background has almost no color at all.
This book sets up what will hopefully be amazing team-up between two iconic sixties institutions. There’s so much potential and based off of the first issue, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.