(DC Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
WRITTEN BY: Jeff Parker
ARTWORK BY: Jonathan Case
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Jonathan Case
COVER ARTWORK BY: Mike & Laura Allred
Recently DC has gotten a reputation for its dark, gritty and often violent subject matter, well none of that is present in the new digital first Batman ’66 and it is one heck of a joke-filled, action-packed thrill-ride. I grew up on re-runs of the old Adam West television show that this book is based and let me just say, “Holy Attention to Detail!” even the likenesses of the actors who portrayed these characters are there; Adam west, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar and Frank Gorshin go from the small screen to the printed page in all their 1960’s campy glory.
This first print collection of digital stories focuses on the Riddler and his heist planned to pilfer some of the great Oskar Villkoop’s art. What ensues are nothing short of thrilling action sequences punctuated with brilliant Jeff Parker dialogue and the kind of genuinely exciting chase scenes you would expect to see in Neal Adams era Batman comics. The opening aerial conflict is actually an edge-of-your-seat page turner that ends with Batman and The Riddler battling it out on the wings of a bi-plane. From there the action centers on The Catwoman resplendent in her shiny black cat suit circa ’66 and surrounded by her denim and leather clad henchmen who make excellent punching bags for the Dynamic Duo. The fights are staged amid large set pieces exactly as they were on the television show that inspired them complete with KRASH! And POW! Sound effects. Still pursuing the missing Villkoop pieces of art our heroes are forced to, at least for the moment, do the unthinkable and take Catwoman back to the ultra-secret Bat Cave where they can make use of the super-high tech Bat Computer. Of course she is knocked out for the ride over to the hidden lair headquarters. Once inside the unlikely trio figure out that all of the Villkoop pieces fit together like a puzzle to form a clue. It points out the location of the last remaining Villkoop piece. The Riddler gets wind of the discovery and re-enters the fray, however now it’s Batman’s turn to leave the head scratching enigmatic clues. While The Riddler is puzzling over the perplexing piece the Dynamic Duo swing in to start the final fight scene in dramatic fashion. This time with the temporarily turned teammate, Catwoman on their side Batman and Robin make short work of apprehending the Riddler and saving the Villkoop artwork for all posterity.
Jeff Parker nails the tone of the Batman television show capturing the flavor of the dialogue and walking that line of not taking the subject matter too seriously yet not making fun of it completely. It’s a sophisticated paradigm to follow but he does so flawlessly. Although most of the issue is written tongue in cheek it possesses subtleties as well as laugh out loud moments of sheer hilarity. The dialogue is first-rate, peppered with snappy quips and intentionally cheesy banter.
I first really started to follow Parker’s work when he wrote Dark Reign: The Hood, a mini-series back in 2009 and then his Thunderbolts run caught my attention. He is one of those names that will make me give a book I wouldn’t normally read a second look. So when I saw he was writing a Batman boon albeit one of a more comedic nature I was all in.
Jonathan Case does a bang up job with the artwork. His characterizations are spot-on down to the design of the Batmobile. He transports us back in time with his pencil. He renders the action sequences with such kinetic energy that the pages literally pop with electricity. His use of color adds a dimension of pop art sensibility to the book; it’s slick and modernly nostalgic. Top all of this off with a BEAUTIFUL Michael and Laura Allred cover and you have 5 out of 5 all day long. I wouldn’t recommend this being the only Batman title on your pull list but I would unreservedly suggest that you make room for it just for the fun to be had. Batman ’66 is pure escapism and unadulterated fun and in a world like this what’s so wrong with that? So until next time, see you at the comic book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629