By Jeff Parker, Joe Quinones, & Sandy Jarrell
History has a strange tendency to repeat itself; events we are taught in history classes suddenly have a new resonance when compared to modern trends. Comics are not exempt from this universal constant, and to be in the middle of a reborn Silver Age could be considered a reward for enduring recent lean times. Batman ’66 is definitively part of this movement that has slowly gained speed, paying homage to more comic traditions than fans might be aware. Back when Batman was still airing new episodes, Bob Kane, one of the two creators of the Dark Knight, visited the set. Kane made a point to approach Adam West, shake his hand, and thank him for portraying Batman in a way that aligned with his original vision of the character. While Batman the TV show was simultaneously tapping into the fun nature of comics it also inadvertently tapped into the essence of the characters as imagined by one of the creators himself. Now with Batman ’66 history appears to be repeating itself.
I have maintained for a long time that Jeff Parker is one of the most under appreciated writers in comics. Going back 10 years it’s difficult to find a single story he’s written that could convincingly be called a stinker. From Agents of Atlas, to Age of Sentry, and even his work on X-Men First Class, Parker knows how to tap into his subjects and force some fun out, whether they are willing participants or not.
Setting Parker loose in the world of Batman ’66 is easily one of the best editorial decisions DC has made since the New 52 restructuring. Every issue has been an echo of that fateful meeting between Adam West and Bob Kane; it examines the core of Batman from his beginnings, extrapolates that essence Kane was thankful of, and repackages it in a way that remains true to its source material, the complicated amalgamation of comics and TV, actors and comic creators.
So far the artist collaborations have been willing accomplices to the wacky nature of classic Batman, and the comic world is better for it. Seemingly padding his resume with fantastic Batman work Joe Quinones captures a unique aspect of the original TV show, rendering highly cinematic moments with excellent detail. Every page feels like a storyboard to an unaired episode, always incorporating a characteristically overblown dramatic suspense, a key element of what made the source material so endearing. In a particular scene where the Joker realizes the depth of his own comical madness he takes a moment to revel in his success, releasing a triumphant fit of laughter. This scene was so vibrant, so perfect, the forboding background music and maniacal chuckles roared off the page. Adding a bit of drama to the prior mystery, Sandy Jarrell compliments the book with a short bit of suspense and a little more action to round out the issue. It’s clear this comic in its entirety was drawn with a smile on the faces of the artists.
When you add everything up, Batman ’66 is one of the best values in comics. Fun on every page, and teeming with historical nods, Jeff Parker and company (Joe Quinones and Sandy Jarrell this issue) continue to deliver one of the most rewarding reads in comics today. From my perspective, it’s a no brainer: a Batman comic that’s fun, is faithful to its source material, and (heaven forbid) is suitable for kids and fun for adults? Sold.