Overview: Archie and Batman finally team up to defeat the dastardly villains who have taken over Riverdale!
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): We open on a summary of the last five issues, ending with Batman in bonds as his partners Batgirl and Robin, aided by Archie and his friends, escape from the mind-controlling mendacity of the Gotham villains taking over the town of Riverdale.
As Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, and Joker celebrate their victory, Batman, tied to a lamppost, has faith in his young friends.
Meanwhile, Archie believes that Batman has heroically sacrificed his life for them, but Jughead, Robin, and Batgirl remind him to “live to fight another day” as Batman said in the last issue. The teens start planning to take down the mind control device when they receive a pager message from Batman, trapped in the town square. He reminds them that the Batmobile has the supercomputer they need to complete their plan. Archie tells Robin and Batgirl he can distract the villains so they can get the Batmobile back from the Joker.
Back in the square, the villains gasp in shock as a new Bat-truck crashes their party, driven by a whole crew of caped teens. The young people make short work of the villains’ minions and quickly set about freeing Batman and the Batmobile. Just in time, as the mind-controlled adults begin to mob our heroes, but Batman turns the tide, buying teen genius Dilton enough time to use the supercomputer to break the mind control. As the adults shake off the effects, they quickly round up the villains and apologize to their children. Archie and the gang thank Batman and his partners for letting them team up, and before our heroes head back to Gotham, the whole gang dances at Jughead’s father’s club.
Analysis: So many stories feel like they are too big for the length given them. Unfortunately, “Archie Meets Batman ’66” is not one of them – this story could have lost at least one, if not two, of its middle issues, and been much more satisfying as a result. While the first three issues of this crossover gave us some really fun moments, like Batgirl and Robin undercover at Archie’s school, or the Gotham villains masquerading as regular adults, the last three have really been only one or two issues worth of story stretched out. Additionally, that stretching comes at the expense of any real moments of fun or surprising delight – all of the revelations and action beats feel completely predictable. The teens piling out of a makeshift Batmobile (with no explanation of how it was constructed or where they got their costumes) should be a moment of joy, but everything has been so relentlessly pleasant that no real tension built up to be released at this moment.
While penciller Dan Parent does a fine job of keeping all of the characters on model, none of the expressions really engage the audience with the characters’ moments of fear or pain, leaving the script by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci, which does try to achieve those moments, without real impact. The final dance party sadly leaves with some winces instead of grins. Hopefully, if another crossover happens (as it hinted by Betty’s reference to an aunt living in Gotham), editorial will pare the number of issues down to fit the story. Perhaps, too, an artist like Rick Burchett could draw the characters in the Batman ’66 style, instead of the Archie style, and allow some of the darker moments to pay off with joyful goofiness.
Final Thoughts: A fun, if overly stretched and predictable tale gives us another glimpse at the mash-up potential in the DC universe.