Don’t Turn That Dial…!
The Batman ’66 episodes generally followed a predictable structure. A first half hour long segment which brought in the villain for the episode, and left Batman, Robin, and sometimes Batgirl in a deathtrap by the end of the episode. A second half hour long segment where they fist save themselves, and then go about the business of dealing with the bad guys’ plot, often by just winning the same kind of fight that they had lost to get put into the deathtrap.
It was a fantastic formula. In each half hour there were radical twists and turns with no preamble whatsoever. Often, Batman had precisely the tool that was needed just sitting in his Utility Belt, pretty much making his preparedness the model for Boy Scouts everywhere. You didn’t need any set up or foreshadowing for it…OF COURSE Batman has the mini blowtorch on him, or the bizarre secret circus training that allows him to whistle in a way that drives off scorpions. He’s Batman, after all.
Modern storytelling in comics has gotten far, far away from that set of ideas. In modern comics, if Batman is going to get a new Belt Buckle, that’s an eight issue limited series (BuckleQuest) which explores the ramifications and story consequences, to every member of the ensemble cast, of that Belt Buckle. Gone are the days when things like that happened between panels, with MAYBE a throwaway line to indicate that something had taken place. If Batman is going to have a new skill, you need to foreshadow that three issues in advance, and then there will be a pages long explanation of it afterward.
I miss the sheer momentum of Silver Age books. Batman ’66 (the TV show and the recent comic) captured that energy, that momentum, pretty much by only explaining the things that you needed to explain, and not worrying all that much about realism. Notice, in the two panels above, Cap, who can just punch out bears, or throw them directly into the Sun, is concerned about how to deal with them. Heck, she wants to call Elsa, who will presumably freeze them? Hard to say. I think she’s definitely concerned with how PETA would respond to her just punching a bunch of grizzly bears.
Batman, though…he’s “got this.” He’s SO unworried, he takes the time to chide Cap on her foul language. Propriety is important to a proper Batman.
Keen eyed readers might notice that Cap doesn’t have the Robin “R” on her suit…neither the traditional one, or the more modern one. In at least one previous post referring to the Batman ’66 book, and a probable partnership, she had her common star emblem in that spot…but since doing this week’s posts, I decided to not go that route at all. She just doesn’t have a logo, because on some level, she’s kind of a stand-in for the job. I’ve pretty much thought of her as a post-Jason Todd replacement…but pre-Tim Drake, and the updating of the suit.
You know…in case any continuity buffs of either this strip, or Batman, really cared about that kind of thing.