Genius. Sheer genius.
What Jeff Parker is doing in the pages of Batman '66 is nothing short of sheer genius. It's pretty close to rocket science. Batman '66 14 opens with The Clock King committing a crime based on precision and on a tight time schedule, rather than centered around a clock or timepiece theme. However, he is quickly and easily thwarted by the newest addition to the Batman Family: The Robot-Batman! Developed by The Bright Knight and Professor Overbeck, from Arkham Institute, the Bat-bot will protect Gotham 24/7/365!
Professor Overbeck is one of a couple new characters introduced by Jeff Parker in Batman '66. A few issues back, Parker brought the original The Red Hood to the Batman '66 continuity, along with Dr. Quinn and Professor Overbeck. The Professor's rehabilitation device was very Classic Star Trek in nature. The Professor is an interesting addition to The Bright Knight's supporting cast. Here, he attempts to atone for his sin of complicity in criminal activity by taking all of Batman's crime-fighting brilliance, and collecting it in the form of an iron giant defender. Overbeck even provides the commissioner and Gotham police chief with a portable Batphone! Gordon and O'Hara are skeptical. The question of "Batman Forever" has been raised.
"The Batrobot Takes Flight" is an enjoyable story by Parker, with art split between Paul Rivoche, Craig Rousseau and Tony Aviña with letters by Wes Abbott. The Rivoche section features the Batbot thwarting The Clock King and Louie The Lilac. Bruce and Dick are left with nothing else to do but actually go fishing instead of just saying they are going fishing because they are really fighting crime.
The Rousseau section opens with The Batbot thwarting The Archer, cutting a ribbon at a grand opening and recovering the Large Lad from Dunbar's Drive-In. Bruce and Dick are out fishing in their boat, the Old Chum, where they are joined by Gordon and O'Hara. They hear about a mysterious riddle on their transistor radio. The Dynamic Duo ultimately join The Batbot in confronting The Riddler and The Joker!
There are some nice asides in the story, like the Old Chum, and a Bat-climb cameo by the late Jonathan Harris's Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost In Space.
Every month, DC Comics has come up with a different theme for variant covers. One month, the Batman '66 took over a number of DC Covers. In upcoming months there will be Lego covers; Dawyn Cooke DC New Frontier covers; Harley Quinn covers and The Flash 75th Anniversary covers. The drawback with these covers is the ratio. In some cases the ratio is one in twenty-five, so the cover is rare. It's not like a fan can just order a copy of both the regular and variant cover. That rarity creates a greater demand and a higher price. There were a number of variant covers for the first six to seven issues of Batman '66. Great covers, but rare.
Batman '66 14 features the "Selfie" theme variant cover. The "Selfie" month theme is a brilliant idea. DC is a business in business to sell comic books. The drawback in the Batman '66 Selfie variant is a minor nitpick. The variant features Robin using the Batcamera phone...the desktop hotline from the study table. He's taking a Selfie of himself and Batman, sliding down the Batpoles. It's a fun cover. A better Selfie cover would have been one of the Bat-villains taking one during a death-trap, or Robin taking a Selfie of capturing one of the rogues. The idea of a Selfie is a picture taken to share with the universe through social media. Which chronologically, did not exist in '66. However it's still a fun, wacky cover idea. The Boy Wonder taking a Selfie! Still, Robin taking a Selfie of sliding down the Batpoles just doesn't seem to make sense. It's a minor nitpick, because it's comics and comics don't always need to make sense. Yet, in some cases even comics need to follow some common sense. What would inspire The Boy Wonder to take a picture there's no way he can share with the world? It's a fun cover, but it's like staring at a painting hung slightly off center: it just calls out to be straightened.
The Bottom Line
Never judge a comic book by its cover. Batman '66 14 is a fun story. Hopefully, Professor Overbeck will be back and so will The Batbot. It would be great to see The Professor move from Arkham Institute to a '66 version of S.T.A.R. Labs!
It is pretty cool, the world-building that Parker is doing slowly and methodically in Batman '66!