BATMAN ’66 #1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Jonathan Case
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche Ain’t it Cool News)
Come back with me for a second to a time when McCarthy-era sensibilities had yet to be smoked out by the “Age of Aquarius.” A time when virtue was coveted as opposed to ridiculed, and a time when the good guys would always save the day despite the most harrowing of cliffhangers. BATMAN ‘66 is a perfect homage to a world where campy was the bedrock of television programming, and the dynamic duo had yet to be run through the proverbial wringer of societal cynicism.
I grew up in the dark age of comics, so to take any of BATMAN ‘66 seriously is a near impossibility. However, I can fully appreciate the spirit from whence it came. Just because it’s not my book shouldn’t negate the fact there is still a ton of fans that desperately thirst for heroes who skip the anti hyphen and always save the day.
There isn’t one element of the original TV series’ themes that haven’t made it into ’66. A boy wonder that is more acrobatic than academic, a PSA interspersed between puns and an honest to God beginning middle and end are all awaiting Batfans on Batchannel One. Adam West always had a bit of a condescending delivery, and as an adult I now realize it’s because Burt Ward was about as smart as a real Robin. Parker pulls no punches in this talking down, but it never becomes jokey. BATMAN ’66 is truly authentic, with a small dash of hindsight thrown in for even more fun.
The plot is almost incidental to the experience of BATMAN ’66. The Riddler has stolen a precious statue called The Lady of Gotham, one of 3 golden statues crafted to commemorate something or other. Again, it doesn’t matter, because what nostalgia makes you wait for is the chapter break alliteration, the horrific puns that only an actor like Burt Ward could deliver with sincerity and the overly heavy gravitas Adam West would deliver in every line whether he was delivering a morality lesson about crime or talking about the importance of fire extinguishers. I would love to get a teenager’s take on this book. On one hand, the child in me sees all this as talking down, while the man who is going to be a father thinks that maybe we’ve given up on our kids and we actually should explain the world to them in a bit more detail.
Frank Gorshin isn’t the only villain to make an appearance in this tale; we also get a few moments with super keen cat-suit clad Julie Newmar, a woman who still exudes sex despite the fact she hit menopause when Nixon was in office. Case was very careful with these characters; while they all bear a striking resemblance to their small screen counterparts, none are so hyper-detailed that it crosses into the often stilted likenesses that plague licensed properties. Also, there’s absolutely no apologies in using the Silver Age trope of jumping from one harrowing scene to the next with little explanation. This is a compliment, believe it or not. We often fault Morrison for this tactic, but we forget a time when a bomb would go up and we wouldn’t learn how the heroes escaped until tomorrow’s action packed episode. There’s no freaking way any of it is plausible, but the explanation’s deep complexity just makes you roll with it.
Again, these new stories won’t be for every comic collector, but for anyone who laments the current morose state of heroics, salvation awaits you each month at the same Bat-time in the same Bat-comic shop.