Print

Riddle me this, Batman: Where can we find the 1960s TV series transformed into a digital comic book?

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

RiddlerPanel

I started reading comic books haphazardly -- some Marvel (Spider-Man, X-Men) and DC (Superman) superheroes here, Archie there -- but all that changed when an art teacher told pointed out that comic book illustrators are brilliant at human perspective. For example: a well-muscled teenager in Spandex, holding onto a web and swinging right at me, feet-first. Seeing as if for the first time how those artists created action with a stroke of a pen and well-placed color opened up comic books for me in a whole new way, and I've been hooked ever since.

Now coming right at us is the digital comic-book world -- DC Comics has reimagined the campy 1960s "Batman" television series as an interactive story, and it's easy to warm to the idea in this incarnation. The drawings are simple, but it's easy to recognize Adam West behind the mask and TV's Emmy-nominated Riddler, Pittsburgh native Frank Gorshin. (Check The Digs to see the ark of the late actor-impressionist's career, from Pittsburgh to Hollywood to Broadway.) 

The first installment of Digital-First comic "BATMAN '66 #1" (99-cent download) became available on ComiXology last week. It incorporates new DC2 technology, which according to the comic-book distribution site is "the latest digital reading innovation from DC Entertainment. DC2's dynamic artwork brings the classic TV show's action and retro attitude to life for comic readers through an expanded storytelling canvas as each comic panel tells a multi-dimensional story through layered artwork and sequences."

DC2 is exclusive to DC Comics or ComiXology apps or online through www.readdcentertainment.com or comixology.com.
"BATMAN '66 #1," subtitled "The Riddler's Ruse," is inspired by the classic TV series and the Jonathan Case artwork is a bit "Batman" opening credits meets Roy Lichtenstein, as befits the 1960s theme. One thing is unmistakenable: When the mask is off, this clearly is Gorshin, the Pittsburgh native who created the role on the show and made 10 appearances as the Riddler. I expect that means we'll see Burgess Meredith's Penguin and Cesar Romero's Joker, but I wonder which Catwoman we'll see in later comics?

The release on the series says, "Written by Jeff Parker, the series features artwork by Jonathan Case and a cover art by Michael Allred. Readers will put on their go-go boots and get ready to 'Batusi' back to the Swingin' 60s. The all-new stories portray The Caped Crusader, The Boy Wonder and their fiendish rogues gallery just the way viewers remember them. In the first adventure, The Riddler's out to steal valuable artwork from under the nose of Gotham's police force and Batman gets help from an unlikely source: a certain femme fatale dressed in feline finery."

The way it works, the pages play like a horizontal slide show, either as full panels, a series of panels or a frame in which panels will be added as you click through. Each click might bring up a new dialogue box, a character entrance, a new panel or a new page. (I played the "Batman" theme as I started clicking through, and it made me smile.)

For fans, there's a "holy ..." Robin reference, and Batman declares the Riddler "a fiend." Testing DC2 tech for this PG story was a good choice; the tech is very simple and something that would be easy to share generation to generation, so folks like me, who grew up with the TV series, can get their nostalgia on, while also sharing their memories of a simpler, sillier Batman that the 21st-century version with their kids.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.