Review: Batman '66/ Author: Jeff Parker / Artist: Jonathan Case / Publisher: DC Comics / Release Date: Out Now
Holy Comixology, Batman! Gotham City's cheeriest version of the Dark Knight returns in Batman '66, a better-late-than-never revisit to the Caped Crusader's Adam West days. The beloved television show may not be available on DVD or Blu-ray just yet (although it never seems to be off ITV4) but we have the next best thing in Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case's adorably beautiful, cheery little book. Biff!
From its very first panel, Batman '66 oozes psychedelic sixties Batman and Robin. “A special ceremony in Gotham Park!” shouts the narration, as to-the point as ever. “Two of the distinguished guests are millionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward, Dick Grayson!” Almost straight off the Bat(man), I'm reading the narration in William Dozier's voice. POW!
The Riddler's Ruse part 1: Mirth from Above sees the Riddler attempting to steal a very valuable statue from Gotham Park, beneath the very noses of Commissioner Gordon, Police Chief O' Hara and the other gathered guests. Riding in on a stolen aeroplane, it looks like the “pasha of puzzles” (lovely turn of phrase, O' Hara) has gotten away with his crime. But what's that? The Batmobile! Why, it's Batman & Robin! Sock!
Where Batman '66 could very well have coasted on pastiche, it quickly becomes evident that Parker and Case have a little more up their sleeves than that. Daring scenes of mid-air combat, car chases, Bat gadgets and a massive explosion – this is sixties Batman with a modern day budget. As the Riddler boots Batman off his aeroplane high up in the sky, the Dark Knight (although he's never looked so not-Dark as he does here) unfurls a fantastic pair of giant gliding wings and catches right up with him again. No plastic sharks or tediously slow death traps for this Batman – it's a wonderful revitalisation of the most fun iteration of the character and his enemies. And yet the spirit of the original series remains intact, the scripting spot-on. “Let's be grateful that no lives were lost today, old friend,” says Batman to Robin, in one of the issue's best exchanges. While the Batman of the New 52 continues doing the whole grim and gritty thing (not that it doesn't work for him) it's refreshing to see such lovely optimism. And the art is simply gorgeous too, particularly in its depiction of a howling mad Frank Gorshin. Wallop!
Batman '66 is the best Batman comic in years. My only criticism is that it isn't nearly long enough. While its cliffhanger ending may not be as nail biting as those West and Ward once faced, I can't wait for the next issue, all the same. Ka-Pow. Batman '66 is a knockout.