Nostalgia is the name of the game with Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case’s all-new DC2 “Batman ’66” #1 digital comic. The campy, cool interpretation of the caped crusader from the ever-popular television show elicits all sorts of emotions from comic book readers: from embarrassment to pure joy, but there is simply no denying that this version is the one most recognizable among non-comic book readers. Personally, the television show — coupled with Batman and Robin on the “Super Friends” cartoon — is what informed my early understanding of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. Since that time, I’ve held warm memories of the over-the-top absurdity of the show and did a little fist-pump once I heard Jeff Parker would be the writer to translate this version to comics, albeit through the filter of DC’s new DC2 initiative.
More than simple scans that fill the screen of a computer or hand-held device, the DC2 comics are DC Entertainment’s version of Marvel’s revolutionary Infinite Comics. This initial release weighs in at ninety-five screens, with many of those being repetitious images with new colors or lettering applied to infer motion, plot development or story progress. This new approach to digital comics could use some finesse. Some of the digital transitions are rough, delayed or in need of a re-do, but the story itself captures the essence of the show and celebrates the over-the-top buoyancy as only comics can.
Heavy on the Ben-Day dots, Jonathan Case’s art is completely beholden to the television show, but filled with modern-day sensibility and grace. Case draws only what needs to be drawn, providing ample detail, but not covering anything or impeding story. The end result is a beautifully bawdy comic that is filled with tremendously brilliant color. Case uses some color shifts to set tone, much as the show did and his characters are cut from the film, with Frank Gorshin every bit the Riddler here. Nifty, throwback sound effects are layered in over action and event, further polishing this story with an extra coat of nostalgia.
All of this comes together in Jeff Parker’s story. Parker balances the playful know-it-all of Adam West’s Batman with the gosh-wow impetuousness of Burt Ward’s Robin and celebrates all of the things that made the television show so very much fun: the Batmobile factors heavily into this story as does Batman’s readiness for any circumstance. Even Batman’s dialog, “Let’s be grateful that no lives were lost today, old friend,” spills out from the grandeur of the television show. Not limited by a television budget, however, Parker is able to take Batman and Riddler through the skies over Gotham, providing an adventure that is larger in scope than the show could have delivered, but filled with every bit as much frivolity as the four-decade-plus institution.
This installment is part one of “The Riddler’s Ruse: Mirth from Above” and ends with queries to prime the pump for the next installment. I could almost hear William Dozier’s voice as the swipes across my iPod revealed the set up for next week. DC Entertainment has a nostalgia stuffed innovation in this comic that is filled with a fun — that’s right, fun! — story and striking art delivered by topnotch talent. I, for one, will be tuning in each week waiting for that brief reunion with childhood entertainers.