Monday, July 31, 2017

Batman '66 Meets The Legion

Batman '66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (Sept 2017)
title: "Atomic Batteries to Power, Flight Rings to Speed"
storytellers: Lee Allred & Michael Allred
colorist: Laura Allred
letterer: Wes Abbott
asst. editor: Rob Levin
group editor: Jim Chadwick
cover: Michael & Laura Allred
reviewer: Jude Deluca

This was so much fun! I wasn't worried about this issue like I was with the Looney Tunes one-shot, and my faith paid off in the end. There are a bunch of Silver Age Legion references but nothing that serves as a detriment to the plot or would make it difficult for newbie readers to enjoy. The humor makes light of some of the continuity issues that have plagued the Legion but not to the extent it ruins the story. The plot is simple and doesn't utilize any convoluted time-travel nonsense like time loops or self-sustaining paradoxes. It's simply the Legion teaming up with Batman and Robin, and a simple story is a story Legion fans really need. I do think, however, there's an in-joke referencing Mike Allred's "Solo" issue from the 2000s. I'm pulling it out for this review.

Once upon a time in a faraway land called Gotham City, a group of wholesome young teenagers break into stately Wayne Manor by violating the mind of the elderly butler.

Wait what?
A group of teens tell Alfred they wish to see Dick Grayson, and moments later Alfred's eyes become swirly and he allows them inside. The teens gush at how cool Bruce Wayne's study is (but find the fish mounted on the wall to be barbaric), and have the trip of their lives as Alfred shows them to the Bat-Poles. In the Bat Cave, Batman and Robin are horrified that Alfred has blown their secret identities, and it's not even to the Joker or Catwoman, but some juvenile delinquents. But don't worry, because the teens reveal to Bat-Gramps they're really...



From the year of 2966, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Phantom Girl, Ferro Lad, and Shadow Lass have come looking for the greatest super-teen evah... ROBIN THE BOY WONDER!

(Clark WHO?)
Unfortunately, the Legionnaires are still teenagers, so of course no one thought there'd be a problem with just parking the Time Sphere in the middle of the nearby park, leaving it open to be stolen by none other than Egghead! Come ON Brainy, where's that 12th Level intellect you won't shut up about? While Egghead makes away to the future, the Legionnaires explain that they're looking for their old brainwashing foe Universo. Suddenly, Brainy gets the alert that the Time Sphere has been stolen. That's what happens when you leave the keys in the ignition. Batman and Robin split the Legion group in half: Batman will go to the future to deal with Egghead while Robin will help defeat Universo.
Batman's given a flight ring and is so adept at it they say he could teach newbie Shadow Lass a few tricks. On the way, Ferro Lad worries they might return to a 2966 where the Time Trapper's killed him with a Sun-Eater again. Brainy comments THAT particular timeline was a doozy to fix. And to think Jim Shooter the putz couldn't figure out a better way to use poor Ferro Lad.

In 2966, Batman is marveled by the scope of the Legionnaires and all their different abilities (though it seems Fire Lad STILL couldn't get in). And then Batman makes a disparaging comment about computers and pisses Brainy off. Don't be a technocist, Bruce!
Robin, however, is not having as much luck with his flight ring, and Cham is demanding to know where the giant penny and T-rex are in the Bat-Cave. Robin deduces that Universo may be hypnotizing Gotham's mayor, and the Legionnaires ask for him to show off more of his powers. Robin denies having any powers, which confuses the Legionnaires, mentioning that their records include Giant Robin, Zebra Robin, Owlman Robin, Mermaid Robin, and Giant Turtle Olson Robin, but it's THAT one Saturn Girl objects to. Meanwhile, somewhere in Metropolis, a young James Olsen stops and senses something is wrong...
Owlman Robin is the reference I enjoyed the most because I know that one happened and at some point I need to get a commission of it. I think it was one of those stories where Robin became older or something.

Batman and his Legion team investigate a 30th Century space farm, where super space chickens lay eggs that can either be eaten or used as bombs, because Future. Batman insists Egghead would be more interested in finding the tech which makes the eggs so he could have an endless array of them, spouting off the old adage about teaching a man to fish. It flies over the Legionnaires' heads, since eating fish is barbaric.

"If it swims in the sea, it should stay there!" cries Shadow Lass.

Uh, excuse you Shady! You better hope Tellus never hears about this when he joins or you're in deep space shit! So rude.

Brainy scoffs at Batman's "bat hunches" and insists they follow 30th Century protocol, which leads to my favorite page, the board game.
I swear to God I can't be the only one who heard the "Yakkity Sax" chase song from Benny Hill reading this page, and Hey,  Celebrand! That's two Wanderers references in a year, that's a big accomplishment for them!

And of course it turned out Batman was right all along, because unfortunately Brainy you're in a comic where his name comes first in the title, which means he's always right.
In 1966 Gotham, Universo has managed to brainwash nearly everybody in Gotham, including the police, most of Batman's villains, and even poor Aunt Harriet! NOT COOL. Of course the bloom is off the rose and the Legionnaires assume Robin won't be able to handle Universo without superpowers, but the Legionnaires must retreat when Universo sics the National Guard on them. Robin deduces they have to break Universo's concentration and it seems like... Phantom Girl has a plan? But Saturn Girl cryptically tells Tinya to hold off. Cham flies in and transforms into a bat-like creature to startle the bald villain. With that done, Robin orders the Legionnaires to retreat into Gotham's sewers to form a new plan.
Batman and the Legionnaires hunt for Egghead in a science museum. Egghead is not impressed by the variety of space armor (featuring cameos from many space adventurers such as Adam Strange), but is briefly impressed by "30th Century Egg Shell Armor."

Ferro Lad. It was Ferro Lad.

And he made that sign all by himself!

But alas, Egghead makes quick work of the Iron Teen. Suddenly darkness descends and Egghead is approached by a truly menacing creature!

It's just Batman aided by Shadow Lass. And this next segment, on the merits of being dark and scary, feels like the Allreds are providing commentary on how "dark" you make Batman. I read into this like they're saying anybody can make Batman scary, but that's like pandering to the lowest common denominator. ANYTHING can be scary if it's dark enough. Hell, Barney the dinosaur can be scary (and he kind of is).

Unfortunately, while Batman and Shady discuss intimidation tactics, Egghead got the best of Brainy and took control of an old Time Cube. Ugh, those things are soooo 2947. Surprise surprise though, because Universo and Egghead run into each other in 1966 Gotham and realize they're related! Does this mean Rond's gonna go bald?! The villains make a temporary truce, but Universo is pissed off Egghead didn't bother to learn Batman's secret identity while in the future. The fact that neither is considering betraying the other is a breath of fresh air for me because that trope can be overplayed.
Robin and the Legionnaires have rounded up every non brainwashed Gothamite, including Batgirl, Catwoman (but not the Eartha Kitt version), Alfred, Solomon Grundy, Mad Hatter, Bookworm, Shame the cowboy actor-turned-criminal, and... two kids, one of whom seems too interested in making Universo bald.

I double checked and yes these two are caricatures of Mike and Lee Allred from the story they did in "Solo," and the hair joke refers to how they defeated Mad Mod by cutting off his hair. No I don't know which is which.
I've owned this issue for years so when I saw the two kids I wondered if they were the same ones from "Solo," and lo and behold they were. I love shit like the, the deeper, more obscure references the creators throw in more for themselves that don't throw off the story.

Robin decides the best bet is to ambush city hall, but Tinya's worried they might change history if anyone gets injured. But wait! What's going on with Tinya's shadow? And what's Robin saying about a secret Legion weapon? Hmmm...
Robin and the Legionnaires attack, but Egghead and Universo start to brainwash some of their allies,  including Shame and Solomon Grundy (who wishes the voices in his head could agree on something). The Allreds missed a chance to have Grundy say "Grundy Only Pawn In Game Of Life" but I guess there's always next time. Luckily Batman and the other Legionnaires return to even the odds, and Batman reveals he also knows about the secret weapon, that is...

That Phantom Girl is really Princess Projectra!
Jeckie unleashes an illusion that succeeds in brainwashing Universo with a mirror image of him and his rays, and since Jeckie's been saving her mental energy she quickly overpowers Universo. Batman and Robin deliver a dual sock to the jaw on Universo and Egghead, thus saving the day (but not poor Chief O'Hara's hair). Batman and Robin reveal how the figured out who Jeckie really was.
Bruce seriously I know your name comes first in the title but there's no need to show off. Maybe eat some Bat-Humble Pie.

And so everybody learned a valuable lesson about teamwork and trust and blah blah blah Saturn Girl hugs Robin and offers him Legion membership, but Batman's a wet blanket and says 1966 Gotham needs him more. But hey, maybe Robin could team up with some teen heroes from 1966 say, oh, I don't know, a fish boy, an archer, a speedster, an Amazon with a messed up backstory, a teen psychic, a cave boy, a schizophrenic clown girl, and two walking stereotypes about the debate over Vietnam. It could happen! Rob Liefeld keeps getting work so there's hope for everyone.
As the Legionnaires depart, Brainy wonders if this version of 1966 is truly the past of the Legion's time or if they wandered into an alternate world, but figures in the end it doesn't really matter.


Final Thoughts: What a lot of fun! I'm always up for Silver Age-style stuff that has nothing to do with Hal Jordan or Barry Allen. I thank God Saturn Girl had a starring role in this after being a background character in the Looney Tunes issue and the Solo references were fun too.

I noticed there were no Super Family cameos, yet Lana Lang got to appear as Insect Queen. I like that the Allreds were trying to focus on the LEGION, not Superboy or Supergirl.

Brainy insisting he knows how best to deal with Egghead is perfectly in character for him since he's so stubborn, so it made sense to match him off against Batman's logic instead of having the Legionnaires assume he's a 20th Century bumpkin.

I'm glad they used a TV-specific bad guy instead of someone like the Joker or Catwoman, because it reinforces this comic was about the Batman TV show. Using one of the comic villains would've been too easy.

My favorite part besides the board game page was Cham transforming and going "BOOGITY-BOOGITY-BOO." That was amazing.

BUT SERIOUSLY WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REAL TINYA? If Jeckie was her the whole time where did they have the real Tinya? Was she stuck in the Phantom Zone with Mon-El?

Science Police Notes:  
  • The television series "Batman" aired on ABC-TV from January 12, 1966 thru March 14, 1968 (the airing of the last new episode). 
  • The Legion at this time appeared in Adventure Comics #342 thru #368
  • Ferro Lad made his debut in Adventure Comics #346. Universo made his debut in Adventure Comics #349. Shadow Lass made her debut in Adventure Comics #365. 
  • In actual Legion continuity, Ferro Lad never met Shadow Lass. 
  • Batgirl, though shown in this story, did not make her debut on the "Batman" series until September, 1967. 


  1. You're correct about Owlman Robin. It was from Batman #107 (1957). Dick Grayson got exposed to some Kryptonian chemicals and transformed into an adult. Over Batman's orders, he became Owlman so he could continue crimefighting. But, he made several stupid mistakes because it was only his body that was grown, not his mind. (An impulsive kid in an adult's body? Shazam!)

    I don't remember there ever being a giant Robin or Batman, but I do recall a giant Superboy story -- just can't remember the story details or what issue it was in.

    I think the whole Jeckie-as-Tinya thing was a sendup of the Sensor Girl mystery, with 'slight' alterations. Remember, these Legionnaires come from another timeline where Ferro Lad survived, so maybe that caused ANOTHER change wherein Projectra was an early member of the team, then had to leave for some reason then came back as Phantom Girl (who never existed until then), only to be exposed by the Caped Crusader. (I better stop there, I'm about to get a headache.)

    Did'ja see how Ferro Lad is posed as he was on the cover of Adventure Comics #352, the first Fatal Five story? (Look at Clip Panel #5.) And, I like how Egghead stopped Ferro. Very inventive, if only in a Silver Age fashion.

    And why, Oh WHY?!, didn't you note that Alfred's glasses, after Saturn Girl zaps him, look just like the classic X-ray Glasses, that were for sale on the back covers of practically every Silver Age comic book ever published?

  2. This was an insane amount of fun. The Allreds are masters at keeping the flavor of the 66 show, and they worked in the classic Legion flavor as well.


    1. Totally agree!!
      This was a blast.

    2. I do so miss getting a REGULAR dose of the Legion, but this kind of fun keeps me hoping.
      My favorite tip-of-the-hat in the story was the sewer quote from Adv. 359, one of the - in my opinion - great Legion stories from the early Jim Shooter era.

  3. I assumed PP took on PG's appearance to get close enough to Universo with out him getting wise. Same with calling in the reserves and subs for a big crowd scene, so as not to notice PP is missing. Also note PG is the only Legion member that can go back to her home world without being noticed leaving the clubhouse. I actually saw this coming when I saw the cover weeks ago and thought PP or Proty might be SL to explain how she and FL are both members at the same time. I loved the identity switch, a great homage to the silver age trick, Batman and Superman, did about once a year between World's Finest and their combined 10 tittles. They even pulled it on Dr. Light once in JLA. Was PP projecting their 20th century togs or was that SG? Can she do that? Probably, I know Tellus can. Great fun story.