There is a place under the sun for every incarnation of Batman.
There is grim and gritty Batman. Batman and Robin. Solo Batman. Ironic Batman. Cheesy smiling 50s Batman. Camp Batman. Alternate universe Batman. Dark and depressing Batman, Bizarro Batman etc.
Batman paints the town Red
Now, I like my Batman in solo stories, sans Robin, and on the darker side of dark, rather than goofy or camp. But you can go TOO dark. The Christopher Nolan movies went there, as did Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns, although Miller did lighten things up in The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
I love those Miller books and Nolan films, but I think for tone, the 90s Batman the Animated Series with Paul Dini got the tone just right. It didn’t just get the tone right, but channelled many great old stories of varying quality, and made them all work under one roof. The tone was consistent, unlike the comics or the movies, which are all over the place as creators or directors come and go.
The Batman 66 show with Adam West (God bless ’em) was goofy and kitsch as hell. And I hated it, I mean I hated this show with a passion. I never liked it as a kid, I just thought it was stupid and goofy and “not Batman” to me at all.
I don’t why I felt so strongly, because at that point I had not read ANY Batman comic books. It was not until my teenage years that I read my first Bat-comic, which only further cemented my loathing of THAT show with it’s lame villains and annoying idiotic Batman who smiled and ran around in the sunlight.
Fast forward a few years (well two decades) and in my 30’s, I love that show. I still refuse to watch it. But I recognise what camp and kitsch are now (words that meant nothing to a kid). I love Adam West, I’ve just ordered his autobiography “Back to the Batcave”.
I have a new found respect for the guy after hearing him tell his life story to Ralph Garman in a special episode of Hollywood Babble On, which you can find on the Smodcast.com podcast network. The actors on that show did a tremendous job, hell even the costumes were pretty damn good for television. I even have “The Batman Movie” on DVD where he fights the shark while hanging from a rope ladder underneath the Batcopter.
It’s ironic that I hated that show so much as a kid, because I love humour and especially parodies. I used to read MAD magazine religiously, around the same time that I got into comics I read MAD. Also, I love The Tick animated show (and comics) and also the Mystery Men movie, which I watch at least once a year.
I love superhero parodies, but not so much ones of Batman. Although there is the odd back up feature strip or Batman Black and White comic that manages to pull off decent Bat-humour, which to me are the best examples of Batman themed humour, other than numerous internet memes.
But Batman 66 was a LOT of people’s first Batman, and will always hold a special place in their hearts. I think it is awesome that DC have launched a Batman 66 comic book with short stories and a rotating artists and writers. There is space in the multi-verse for ALL incarnations of Batman. Even all those goofy 1950s stories where Batman was on the moon, or wearing pink or just generally being a dick. Some of the best episodes of The Brave and the Bold animated show come straight out of that era.
And I find it interesting in times such as these which are permissive, we a get an authoritarian vigilante dark Batman. In contrast, the repression of the 1950s in the post-war era lead to the lovably goofy and wonderfully imaginative Batman stories. Stories where Batman might travel to to other planets to fight invisible space hamsters, or fly around on a jet-pack while punching space-crime in the face, or meeting his counterparts from alternate worlds.
Well, that about does er, I’ll talk some more about why I love Batman in my next post, and a hundred more like it, you’re welcome to stop by anytime Bat-Brothers and Bat-Sisters.