Sock! Pow! Zok?! Well, that’s what I got out of the original 1960s Batman TV series when I used to watch the reruns every Saturday morning when I was a kid.
The good news is that the Dynamic Duo is back in sixties-style to battle all the dastardly fiends that threaten Gotham City in DC Comics’ Batman ’66 #1, starting with the Riddler, who has launched a plan to steal the prestigious Lady Gotham statue. And he almost gets away with it (after stealing money and jewels from the citizens who came out to simply have a good time, of course), but Batman and Robin vroooooom onto the scene from out of nowhere in that most classic of Batmobiles and foil the foul felony the Riddler and his partners in crime have committed. But will the emperor of enigmas escape the Batman’s long wings of justice, or will he escape to wreak more havoc of the mind’s kind another day?
Batman ’66 #1 most definitely transports us back to that ultra-colorful Gotham City of Adam West and his faithful Ward, Burt. The comic reads just as campy as the original series was to watch, with tons of sound effects (oh, how I miss those!) rapping and poomfing off the panel, and even sports a giant conclusive “Kaboom!” And yes, the Boy Wonder most definitely has a “holy something-or-other!” moment, so rest assured, writer Jeff Parker has done all the homework to really make this first installment of “The Riddler’s Ruse” harken back to everything we loved and perhaps shake our heads at today about the TV series.
But Batman ’66 doesn’t solely serve as a step back to a simpler time; it’s actually quite cutting edge in terms of employing ComiXology’s Guided View reading technology, and seems to have been made for this particular digital platform. I’m not a fan of digital comics necessarily –– I still go to the comic store and buy my physical copies –– but reading issue #1 of Batman ’66 and having the speech bubbles suddenly appear on the panels and the Riddler’s green gas filling another really helped me to appreciate both the artwork and the story all the more.
And speaking of artwork, Jonathan Case’s illustrations are what really make Batman ’66 shine out amongst the Bat-droppings. Case didn’t try to model the characters after the iconic ’60s stars, but drew them in a unique and new way, keeping the costumes intact from the original series. And perhaps the most stunning thing about bringing Batman from the small screen to the digital page is that we get to see things we’d never have been able to see in the series, like one truly magnificent panel of the Batmobile roaring off an unfinished road to intercept the Riddler making his getaway on a biplane, or another of Batman snapping open his “wings” and soaring through the sky like an actual bat. We’ve seen it in the movies of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, but never on television.
All that said, I can’t recommend Batman ’66 #1 enough as a digital comic book. It keeps in the camp but pushes the envelope on storytelling. Perhaps the only thing missing is the opening theme!
Jeff Parker (W), Jonathan Case (A) • DC Comics, $0.99, July 3, 2013.