Wednesday Is Comics Day! Batman ’66 – Batman vs. Bane!
By Dave Newman on 19th August 2020
When I reviewed the Jim Cornette story compilation from IDW someone asked if I would do more “wrestling comics”. The answer was no, but I have found some wrestling-related comics that I think will be interesting. A big one will be coming next week, but for now it’s Batman vs. Bane in the Batman ’66 comic, which is written and drawn as if it’s the classic TV show with Adam West and Burt Ward. Let’s go to the match!
Bane Enters the Ring/Batman Does His Thing
These are the 66th and 67th “chapters” of the comic, which was a digital-first book, with only half a dozen more to go after. The writer plays into the idea of Bane looking like a Mexican wrestler with the mask, so he faces the Hangman in a wrestling match. It’s a very of-the-era wrestling match, with the typical arena, exaggerated moves, a round system like boxing, loose sense of the rules (Hangman gets chucked out and Batman takes his place), etc. The Riddler acts as Bane’s corner-man, having recently stolen a mystical crystal skull. A bit of terminology is mixed in as Bane is described as a luchadore – “more than mere wrestlers — they often deal with supernatural forces”. This is used to make Bane seem not only more important than the typical “underpaid goons” but also having “the might of a pro wrestler”. The cliffhanger at the end of the first “part” is a reproduction of the famous scene where Bane is holding Batman over his head and ready to bring him down over his knee to “break him”.
The second “part” picks up with Bane in the Yucatan, returning home a victor with the crystal skull and the Riddler as part of his entourage, having broken the Batman “in two”! But Batman is at the controls of the Bat Boat with Robin and Batgirl along for the ride – how can that be?! Turns out the cracking sound (“EL CRACK!”) was a Batarang he keeps in the back of his utility belt – cheap and lazy, I say!
Bane is looked at as a dictator in his homeland. It’s a bit incongruous to see him using realistic helicopters and tanks, feels like they should be more cartoonish. A bit of comedy is provided with Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara “undercover” dressed in a poncho and matador attire. The Riddler is far more athletic than Frank Gorshin would attempt to be! Mil Mascaras and El Santo get to make cameos in a wrestling match before Bane’s pyramid base.
Turns out that Bane’s strength is derived from an elixir produced from the crystal skull. No coincidence that one of his assistants holds up a book on how to do this written by Albert Desmond – or Doctor Alchemy, to Flash and DC readers. It’s also an obvious steroids metaphor. Knowing this, Batman battles him again when Bane challenges anybody to wrestle him. To block him from drinking the elixir he gags him with a mouthpiece that heavily resembles the Tom Hardy mask. Cue badly depicted dropkicks, Rock Bottoms and torture racks as they wrestle. Then Bane has to wrestle the angry luchadores who have been wronged by him before.
This was all alright, it ends a bit abruptly, but they get in some nice little references. The writer has the freedom to take this series outside of Gotham City and to a more exotic location, which the TV budget probably wouldn’t have allowed. It’s pretty much on par with how the old Superman show would do the wrestling episode too. Not essential reading, but a fun diversion.