If there’s a bit too much darkness in the world of the Dark Knight for you these days then you need to go old school with the campy antics of Batman ’66. But it’s not all krazy Kapow’s and zany Zzzaps as a villain from the present day makes his ’60s debut and gives the caped crusader another back-breaking beatdown.
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Scott Kowalchuk
Price: £0.69/$0.99 per issue from ComiXology
Batman ’66 is a fantastic breath of fresh air for fans of the caped crusader as it returns the dark knight to the camp silliness of the 1960s TV series. However writer Jeff Parker makes sure the Bat-universe doesn’t just stop in 1966 and reinvents one of Batman’s most fearsome modern villains for this old school adventure as Bane make makes his ’66 debut!
In this universe, Bane is a mysterious wrestler from south of the border who is brought into Gotham at the behest of the Riddler. Channelling great Mexican luchadores like Mil Mascaras and El Santo (who both get a brief cameo) Bane is portrayed as an all powerful masked grappler and his in-ring antics are more like modern boxing matches or MMA than the pantomime we think of as modern pro-wrestling. Powered by a chemical that is produced via a crystal skull that the Riddler steals from Gotham museum, Batman and co head south of the border to hunt down the self proclaimed warlord and get back the valuable skull, but only after Bane beats Batman in the ring and leaves him broken!
Yes, you read that right – as well as being a campy Batman story, mixed with pro-wrestling, this is also Knightfall done 60s style! Despite reinventing Bane for a older era Parker and Kowalchuk brilliantly use elements of this classic story (including the iconic back breaking scene) but they just resolve it in a classic 60s Batman fashion. Although this could take away from the aura of such an potent character, they do this very adeptly thanks to a well thought out build up and a clever use of the conventions of the world they have created. All of which makes Bane every bit as formidable as he is in the modern day, but without any of the angst or mumbling dialogue that we saw in his recent cinematic outing!
Visually the stories look great, and artist Kowlachuk is clearly revelling in this technicolour world while Mike and Laura Allred’s covers continue to be a fantastic addition to every episode. Unfortunately these latest episodes lack the Guided View trickery of the first 3 issues, yet Batman ’66 is stll one of the most innovative and enjoyable digital comics around. But most importantly in this age of superhero over exposure, it captures the wit and humour of the original series, as well as the fun of the what it is to read a Batman comic without ever turning into a parody or joke!