Batman 66 #11 / Digital #31-33 a Riot of TV Show Nostalgia
Writer Jeff Parker dreams up a ridiculous premise, with Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Chief O’Hara attending “Pageant Night” at the local insane asylum, where Catwoman, the Joker, King Tut, the Siren, and False Face — who impersonates other criminals — are showing off their talent acts. The undercover crimefighters are accompanied by Commissioner and Barbara Gordon and hosted by Dr. Quinn. Yes, it’s the implied introduction of Harley Quinn to the Batman ’66 universe, although she doesn’t put on a costume.
Of course, there’s an attempted breakout, using a device that induces laughter, which calls Batman, Robin, and Batgirl into action. This Catwoman/Joker teamup story, which includes a whole bunch of characters, even with several of them as cameos, is the kind of thing that comics can do so much more easily than any other medium. Plus, I can’t say enough about Jonathan Case’s art, from the accurate likenesses (which are never stiff) to the super-saturated colors, which capture the pop art feel of the original show beautifully.
I compared this print issue to the equivalent digital releases, since this story first appeared in that format. It ran as installments #31-33 of the digital first Batman ’66, and I am surprised to say that it’s even better in that fashion. It’s one of the “DC Squared” titles, which means instead of just stringing together a series of images, the digital comic has been enhanced with transition effects. So many of these details can’t be captured on the printed page, at least not in the comparatively short page count. For example, the first chapter (of the three) includes 100 screens instead of the usual 20 or so. It allows for emphasis effects, such as this “page” with its psychedelic coloring.
Scene changes slide in, dialogue balloons and panels appear in sequence, colors change to draw the reader’s attention, surprises are revealed, and characters react through head turns and expression changes. It’s not animation, thank goodness, but it is an enjoyable experience worth checking out on your tablet. (I tried to watch it in my web browser, and it locked up.)