Batman 1966- ‘True or False-Face’

Batman – True or False-Face/Holy Rat Race

BATMAN_Robin_1966 Batman_FalseFace Story 17/18 Transmitted March 9-10, 1966

The 1966-68 Batman TV series is, like many in my age group, an integral part of my childhood. Unlike older kids, I took the TV series at face value, missing the absurd comedic angle and instead focusing on the crime fighting, detective work, bizarre villains and weekly death trap cliffhangers. Much later I re-watched the program with a renewed interest in the serial. The revival of interest in the 66 Batman thanks to the new monthly DC series by Jeff Parker and company along with an elaborate array of collectibles and toys thanks to the long-awaited conclusion to the legal entanglements surrounding the Warner Bros./20th Century Fox property. I have decided to revisit the episodes as well, focusing on some of the more obscure villains and those created especially for the small screen. False Face always creeped me out as a child because he wore a clear plastic mask over his face so that his expressions could be seen through a weird semi-transparent veil. I had assumed that he was a stand in for Two-Face (for no real reason), but False Face is a master of disguise, blending into one situation after another with effortless ease. His clues are always contrary, giving Batman a hint to his next action when the caped crusader reverses each action that is signposted. The False Face two-parter is pretty pedestrian on the surface and hardly up to the quality of the weirder and more over the top stories which may be why this villains only appearance made such a strong impact, False Face is attempting a robbery that will allow him to replace genuine currency with counterfeit bills. Throughout the story, False Face jumps from one person to another with wild abandon and laughs wickedly each time (not with the signature looniness of Gorshin’s Riddler or Romero’s Joker). He also uses what appears to be cling-free wrap to tie the dynamic duo to underground railway tracks in part one which is also pretty creepy on account of its commonness. His dubious nature makes him a slippery foe and one that sends Batman and Robin on a merry chase. The stand off at the movie studio is an exciting and explosive conclusion that shows the ingeniousness of Batman who was duped so thoroughly in the first part that he uses deception and trickery to foil his nemesis’ plans in the concluding installment. Actor Malachi Throne (and isn’t that a name destined for a Batman association?) plays the role with a cruel and wicked nature, avoiding the campness of previous ‘guest villains.’ His is of coourse a familiar face in cult TV, having previous appeared in the Outer Limits, Star Trek, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Star Trek The Next Generation and more. Like many devoted comic book fans, I had no idea that False Face had ever appeared in the Batman monthly comic and always assumed that he was one of many rogues specifically created for the William Dozier TV series. Imagine my surprise when I learned that there had been a previous (albeit brief) appearance by the master criminal in print back in 1958. Batman_FalseFaceComic So while False Face was not created for the TV series, his one-off appearance is based on an equally short-lived legacy in print. Go figure! Bookworm, Egghead and King Tut await… and maybe more. Recommended: 

Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays on Why the 1960s Batman TV Series Matters

DC Comics Classic TV Series Batman and Robin Action Figure, 2-Pack

Batman: The Movie [Blu-ray] (1966)


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