COMIC REVIEW: BATMAN ‘66: THE LOST EPISODE / AUTHOR: LEN WEIN / ART: JOE PRADO, JOSÉ LUIS GARCÍA-LÓPEZ / PUBLISHER: DC COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Ever since the launch of Batman ‘66, the series lovingly inspired by the Adam West TV show, it has gone from strength to strength and in this one-shot special edition we are given the opportunity to see what nearly could’ve been. As Bat-folklore goes, legendary sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison turned in an outline which would have introduced Two-Face into the series (it was long rumoured that Clint Eastwood was lined up for the role). But it wasn’t to be. Whilst the outline was green-lit, it wasn’t made and Two-Face became noticeably missing from the series’ rogue’s gallery. Following an end to the contract dispute between Fox and Warner Brothers, which give birth to Batman ‘66 and its DVD release, Ellison’s outline has been made available for adaptation, and provides the reader with what could’ve been; but was it worth the wait?
The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face opens up at the famous Northby’s Auction House, in the heart of uptown Gotham, in which Two-Face reveals himself in gruesome style to stake out the Chang Dynasty Blue Porcelain Glazes, to the tune of $2 million (Harvey’s type of number!). However, upon the arrival of the Dynamic Duo, Harvey’s coin, falling on its good side, decides to return the Porcelain via two St.Bernard’s dogs, with interest. A series of similar crimes leaves the Caped Crusaders confounded and they split up to pursue two possible leads against the “Duke of Duplicity”. Ultimately, Batman is faced with the two barrels of Two-Face’s shotgun with Harvey’s coin deciding the outcome! Which way will the coin fall? Be warned: the worst is yet to come!
Upon reading The Lost Episode, one feels incredibly sad that this story was never produced on screen as this treatment is wonderful. Legendary writer Len Wein (of Swamp Thing and Wolverine fame) has gone to great lengths to camp up Ellison’s original outline and you get a true sense of how a gruesome villain such as Two-Face would have fit into the series without anything feeling out of place. Two-Face retains all of his classic traits such as his coin, his obsession with the number two and his origin story, which were omitted for a number of the classic characters in the series. Also, the perilous cliff-hanger which Batman finds himself has a solution which screams “60s Batman!” (Without being spoilt of course!). Meanwhile, artist José Luis García-López also gives Harvey a very psychedelic ‘60s attire which again is in keeping with the flamboyant series.
As well as the story come to life, readers are also given the original typed outline that the Lost Episode is based on, and the original pencils. All of this, coupled with a front cover designed by the great Alex Ross, makes this edition of Batman ‘66 a real treat as it provides one of the great missed chances of Bat-history not only to ‘66 fans, but to whichever Bat-comic interpretation you follow.