“Holy digital comics Batman!” the caped crusader has joined the 21st century with this digital-first exclusive from DC Comics, showcasing their new DC2 interactivity. But it is a step too late for the dynamic duo?
Following in the footsteps of Marvel’s Infinite books, DC Comics have joined the fully-fledged digital comics revolution with Batman ’66 the first title to showcase their DC2 Interactivity. Instead of going for the modern- era of Batman for it’s continuity, writer Jeff Parker and artist Jonathan Case have gone back to the campy 1960s TV show for Batman ’66 giving the book a high camp feel with super saturated colours and explosive sound effects that makes a perfect combination for this new venture.
It’s a stunning book to look at with Jonathan Case’s innovative use of off-set colouring giving the book a really psychedelic feel. With it’s landscape format (the now compulsory orientation for any digital book worth it’s salt) it’s a real assault on the senses and the likenesses of Adam West, Burt Ward and co are rendered brilliantly to make the link to the show as explicit as possible. It’s a brilliant trip down memory lane for anyone who grew up watching the show on TV, but it never loses focus on the fact that it is still DC’s top character that is the centre of the action.
Getting the balancing act between campy novelty book and over the top cheese-fest is not easy, but Parker manages to strike a perfect balance, featuring enough knowing nods and references to the silliness of the TV show but retaining an air of action and adventure that we never saw West and Ward achieve, even with the aid of a sideways camera and a wall set. Especially in the place chase scene that sees Batman winched out of the Batmobile into an exploding biplane!
As a book in it’s own right Batman ’66 is an absolute blast, with it’s retro styling and simple story featuring the Riddler at his troublesome best. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel for this new format, just tell a fun super hero story with some extra features, and that’s great. But as far as it being a showcase for the new DC2 Interactivity then it falls some way short of the mark. It’s not that it doesn’t work as a digital title, far from it, there are some great moments where the camera zooms across the page and action appears sequentially across the screen in order. It’s just the fact that we have seen this all before that means it doesn’t feel new any more.
From the aforementioned Marvel’s Infinite, to Madefire, Powerplay, Thrillbent and more, animated pages and smart transitions are old news now and you need to come up with something genuinely new to be seen as revolutionary. A company the size of DC should be one of those innovators, but it feels like they are playing catch up with Batman ’66 instead of innovating. If this was released 12 months ago, it would have been a game changer, but at this point it feels like a bit of an after thought, which is a shame because as a fun comic book it’s really top notch and well worth a read for Batman fans of all ages.
DC’s first foray into interactive digital comics is a brilliantly crafted effort with cracking visuals and a fun, campy story based on the 1960s TV show. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t offer anything more innovative for something which has been launched with such fanfare.