Beard: Pow! DC announces 1966 Batman TV series comic bookWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When asked to name his favorite character from the 1966 “Batman” TV series, comic book writer Jeff Parker told Toledo Free Press Star, “Julie Newmar, Catwoman. She burned an impression in my brain that has affected me for life! She really brought in that theater background where once she walked out on a set, she completely owned it, and everyone else is in orbit around her — incredible presence.”
Parker will have plenty of time to spend with Newmar’s Princess of Plunder, as he’s joining artist Jonathan Case on a new DC comic book debuting this summer based on the classic show. The series will launch as a digital-only edition, and then be offered later as a print edition. The announcement came at a special party in Los Angeles where other merchandise based on the show was unveiled under the watchful eyes of the Caped Crusader himself, Adam West. In all, fans of “Batman” are being treated to a cornucopia of “Biff! Bam! Zowie” since the news last year that merchandising rights for the show had finally been made available after more than 45 years of legal wrangling.
“That show is still extremely cool and timeless,” Parker said. “I can watch it with my kids and we all enjoy ourselves. That’s the way I want the [comic] books to read.”
The writer kicked off his comic book career in the early 1990s, primarily as an artist, and worked for DC, Dark Horse and Image Comics until segueing into scripting at Marvel Comics. There, he’s become well-known as the writer for a series of Hulk stories as well as lesser-known characters like Agents of Atlas and Hercules. The Batman ’66 series marks his return to DC as well as a chance to revisit cherished childhood memories.
“This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities where you get to do something for the child you used to be,” he said. “Eight-year-old Jeff who spent so much time making batarangs and capes would be doing backflips at knowing he’d be working on Batman ’66.”
DC also announced that the first story in the series will feature Frank Gorshin’s Riddler as the villain; artwork that was shown at the LA party revealed images of Cesar Romero’s Joker as well as, yes, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman. The books’ covers will be provided by artist Mike Allred, a devotee of 1960s pop art sensibilities and one of the biggest fans of the Batman TV series alive today.
Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment, enjoys the quirky idea of a comic based on a classic, old-school television series being published digitally. “The juxtaposition of offering a retro Batman ’66 comic as a current and modern digital first title is fun,” she noted in an official DC statement. “DC Entertainment is the most prolific producer of digital first comics and, as we work to create new and compelling content, this is a great way to also preserve the legacy of our characters. It’s exciting to roll out the new Batman ’66 comic as part of this bigger initiative with our Warner Bros. Consumer Product partners.”
A perusal of online comments from fans concerning the announcement evidenced excitement, but also some concern over whether DC, Parker and the rest of the creative crew will “get it,” meaning, be able to understand the show’s multilayered construction and successfully translate that into a modern comic. Joseph F. Berenato, one of the writers of “Gotham City 14 Miles,” a critical examination of the show (edited by this author), questioned how the comic book would capture the unique feel of “Batman.” “Handling that specific level of camp may be hard to replicate,” he opined in a Facebook posting. “Especially when you no longer have the deadpan delivery that West gave us, or the manic deliveries of Gorshin or Romero.”
Along with the DC comic, fans will also be able to procure a series of Mattel action figures based on the show this summer, a set of Batman Barbie dolls, various papergoods, apparel and housewares, as well as a special “Batusi” boxed Batman figure offered as an exclusive item at this year’s San Diego ComicCon. The sky’s now the upper limit in terms of what can be made from the show, with the license open to all manufacturers and consumers waiting in line for over four decades with money to burn on Bat-products.
Now, where are those DVDs and Blu-rays of the TV episodes? Holy omission, Batman!