There are these things that spark a sense of comfort and rightness in this oft-cruel existence. For me, some of those things include strawberries, the sound of a Yankee game on the radio, and my wife’s bad singing. These things make me feel warm and safe. They make me remember sensations, memories from childhood, and the magic of seeing someone feel free and secure around me.
The Bat Symbol — specifically the one used in the old Batman TV show — is another one of these things, burnt into the leather pages of my memory, recalling the first glimpses I had of a character that I have been distracted by for 5/6’s of my life.
That familiar Bat Symbol is the first image that greeted me when I swiped open issue one of Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case’s Batman ’66, and in that moment, they were halfway to the heartland and my fierce and unyielding defense.
How they got to the other 50% — and they did get there — is an interesting formula.
I’ll say 25% came from both Parker’s story and Case’s art. There is a reverence for the tone and look of the original show. Reverent, but not a slavish re-creation of the high camp and mod that many of us drank in thanks to the now-faded institution that was afternoon re-runs.
Parker knows to observe the line, he knows that imitation wouldn’t be regarded as flattery or even tolerated as anything more than a sad attempt to harvest the past magic of something long since retired or traded in for the dark and the gritty, so he tried to tweak and twist and faintly make this his own while still giving it the same scent. This is both soothingly familiar and seemingly different.
As for Case’s art, it’s everything you would hope for — The Riddler looks just enough like Frank Gorshin and the Bat-Man looks a bit like Adam West, but Case doesn’t stifle his creativity, allowing his vibrant and fun color choices to sell us on the tie to the past while his art veers towards his own unique interpretation more often than not. He’s commenting on the show with his pencil, not through it.
I’ll get to that last 25% in a moment, but before I get there, I have to mention the negative, and that’s the weekly digital comic model, with a 99 cent price point and the promised tomorrow of a bundled monthly print book that keeps each offering painfully short. Each issue breaks down to about 10 pages worth of story, but while that’s still about 1/2 a comic for the price of 1/3 of a comic, it still sucks to have enjoyment like this meted out like Government cheese, which really just feels like a saying more than an actual thing now.
Alright, back to the search for the last 25%, those last bits that makes this worthy of that 5 star rating.
That’s all. It’s a fun book and that is mainly because of the motion elements that make you something like a conductor or a puppeteer, advancing the action with the swipe of a finger.
I got to look at a drawing of Batman and then make the word “Poomf” appear. That’s it. I “Poomf”-d and thus, this is perfection.
Mock me if you like, wag a finger because I should be immune to such things, but while that opening glance at the Bat symbol quickly reminded me of the first time that I discovered Batman, and while Jeff Parker’s words and Jonathan Case’s art reminded me of that silly show that I have surely over-romanticized by the sheer will of my distance from when that was all that it took to entertain and captivate me; it is that moment, the “Poomf” moment, where I giggled with innocence.
Once and twice I made the “Poomf” appear, inspiring a half smile and a simple glow at the existence of a secret door that I had been shown, a door that led to a moment of pure youthful joy, and that, fair friends, is what Batman is all about, and what he did in that crystalline moment when I first discovered him.
Batman ’66 is available via ComiXology