Monday, May 26, 2014

Batman '66 by Jeff Parker issue #3

Reading Batman in comics, especially keeping track of his New 52 line-up titles, is not always an enjoyable experience because the tone and atmosphere of most of his stories these days can be depressing as hell. Watching the Nolan trilogy wasn't fun either. They have made the cinema experience of Batman so stressful. Even Paul Dini's writing in the Arkham games is gritty and this was the same man who created and perfected the balance of campy and serious elements in Batman: The Animated Series.

So my generation has been pretty much saturated with the darker inclinations when it comes to Batman narrative and storytelling in its present-day adaptations which is essentially harmless if you're a devoted fan like me. But playing Batman so straight and broody has a tendency to alienate potential fans who might always see Batman as the less friendly choice of superhero. Not everyone can get into the gritty aspect of his character and story after all, so even I was grateful that DC released the Batman '66 issues because the world still needs the idyllic and iconic interpretation of Adam West and Burt Ward, alongside the show's writers, who have made the Gotham's caped crusader accessible and entertaining in ways that even the Nolan or even Tim Burton films can only dream of captivating its viewers through such an endearing and quirky presentation that was once a national phenomenon back in those days.

The third issue of this readily lovable series is once again composed of two stories (written by Jeff Parker), like the back-to-back episode format of the actual show. In The Joker sees Red, the clown prince of crime is introduced to the villain Red Hood (if one can remember Alan Moore's The Killing Joke or at least Burton's 1989 film , you will get the importance of this reference). Harley Quinn herself makes an appearance but only as her former psychiatrist persona in the Arkham Asylum--a character originally created in the nineties by Paul Dini for the animation series BTAS (so she should look out of place in the '66 era and yet it still worked). These clever shout-outs are simply fantastic to read since it manages to pay tribute to the well-known elements of the Batman mythos. These characters were incorporated pretty well into the story too, and the Joker is just as colorful as he used to be (minus the crazed anarchist angle popularized by Heath Ledger). The story ends with an ominous note but even then you don't feel a great sense of danger where people will meet tragic ends because that's not what Batman '66 is all about. It's about Batman halting villainous schemes and putting the bad guys in chains and behind bars, while making the chase absolutely fabulous and thrilling along the way.

The second story, Batman Scrambles Egghead is so far the one that really captured the cheesy, laughably self-aware (if not slightly meta) dialogue that was recognizable in the Adam West show itself. A villain you can't take seriously because his name is Egg-Head decides to capture Batman and Robin, suspend them from air while inside a huge, transparent egg container and watch them fall to their deaths. It sounds horrific in theory but since this is Batman '66, the villain does not get to kill anyone at all but he does revel in a cringe-worthy amount of 'egg' puns that's enough to make you want to punch him yourself. I had to stop reading once in a while just to laugh because I could literally hear West and Ward speaking the words themselves and that really took me back from when I was watching the show for the first time.

Both Joe Quinones and Sandy Jarrell's artwork in the Joker and Egghead stories respectively are very lovely to look at. The vibrant and loud colors were wonderfully mixed within the pages as well, almost ready to jump at you at any second. Every Batman and Robin illustration while they're in action is just memorable to look at, giving readers a heightened sense of adventure all throughout the issue.


* My favorite issue so far. This one is a bag of fireworks. There is an instant magnetic pull page after page after page.

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