Batman ’66 #1
“The Riddler’s Ruse: Part 1”
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist & Colorist: Jonathan Case
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artists: Michael and Laura Allred
Review by Eric Owens
If you’re like me, some of your earliest exposure to Batman was through reruns of the old Batman TV show, which was about as far from the grim and gritty Batman in the comics I’d see at the local comic shop as you could get and still be about the same character. That bright, bold, fun Batman is perfectly represented in DC’s new Batman ’66 digital comic even down to little details like Wes Abbott using the same font for the story title as the show used for the episode titles.
Jeff Parker’s writing seems like it could’ve been swiped from a pile of unused scripts from the TV series, it’s so faithful to the original. From midway through Bruce Wayne’s first line of dialogue, I could hear Adam West’s voice in my head and the same went for the rest of the cast. Everything from Robin’s “Holy [terrible not-quite-a-pun], Batman!” to Chief O’Hara’s “Begorrah!” is still here, as are the giant stylized sound effects. I’m hoping we eventually get a “ZLOPP!”
The plot, which involves the Riddler stealing a statuette being awarded to Commissioner Gordon, is as simple and silly as anything from the show, but Batman ’66 has the kind of action that the show’s writers could only have dreamed of including. Batman ramping the classic Batmobile off an unfinished overpass so Robin can hook a batarang onto Riddler’s stolen plane is quite a sight. The ensuing fight on the looping and later burning plane adds an element of real danger that the show’s comical deathtraps could rarely manage.
Jonathan Case has a good handle on translating the look of the show to comics format. He does a terrific job of capturing the likenesses of the actors, especially Frank Gorshin’s Riddler in all his paroxysms of madness. His face is hugely expressive with wild eyes and a maniacal cackle. As befits the source material, Case works largely in primary and secondary colors with Ben-Day dots galore.
Batman ’66 is the first comic in DC’s DC2 initiative, which makes use of the freedom of digital comics to do things like zoom in or pan on panels or have new panels or speech bubbles appear with each tap. If you’ve checked out the comics at thrillbent.com (and I suggest you do so), then you have some idea of what the effect is like. It works really well in this issue since it allows the giant sound effects to pop up on cue just like on the show, though without the accompanying trumpet blasts. There are also some clever transitions, such as one where the smoke from the Riddler’s downed plane turns into a question mark. To get the most out of the effect, I recommend reading the comic on a tablet or smartphone, as I found those methods more enjoyable than the computer.
So should you check it out? For ninety-nine cents, you certainly should. Just be prepared to not want to wait to download the next Bat-issue from the same Bat-website, or something like that. For those of you who aren’t into digital comics, you’ll be able to get the whole first storyline collected in print format on July 17. Oh, and if you have any idea what the answer is to Riddler’s clue, click the link to my Twitter account and let me know. I’m stumped.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @EricDOwens