Welcome to MTV Geek’s New Comic Book Day Pull-List! Each week, we’ll look at the best new releases hitting comic shops, and point you at the books you should be reading.
This first issue of the new DC series based on the classic Adam West/Burt Ward TV series is, like the show that inspired it, a brightly-colored blast of pop art delight. Author Jeff Parker has an innate grasp on the essential elements that made the program work so well: the all-encompassing deadpan humor, the absurdly over-the-top plot devices, Batman’s staunch insistence on honesty and lawfulness, the well-intentioned but bumbling Gotham Police Department, the righteous gullibility of Robin, and, of course, the spectacular array of guest stars.
Parker also has the ideal collaborator in artist Jonathan Case. The visuals are the perfect match for the text, inspired by the TV show without being imitative or slavishly precise – this is, first and foremost, a COMIC BOOK, with all the kinetic insanity and limitless budgets that the medium can provide. The story is structured in three chapters, allowing for a couple of prime ’66-style cliffhangers; the set pieces are appropriately insane and madcap; we get the excitement of having TWO special guest villains (The Riddler and Catwoman); and everything ties up neatly in the final page, as the Dynamic Duo once again keep Gotham City safe for law-abiding citizens. If you’re a fan of the TV series, this won’t disappoint you. And if you’re not a fan, or not familiar with the series, pick this up anyway, and be amazed at just how much fun a super-hero comic can be.
Roger Langridge is one of those creators who seems to work wonders with whatever property he touches – his ’Snarked!’ series was a brilliantly madcap comic filled with the supporting cast from Lewis Carrol’s ’Alice’ books, his Muppet Show comics possessed the same anarchic spirit and joyous silliness of the original TV program, his Thor series for Marvel was one of the best all-ages superhero comics of the past few years, and his Popeye series for IDW perfectly captures the dry absurdity of E.C. Segar’s comic strips, without seeming dated or old-fashioned.
So it was only natural that, as IDW has been producing new Rocketeer comics with handpicked creative teams, Langridge would get his turn at the plate – and, accompanied by the refined cartoon stylings of artist J. Bone, he knocks it right out of the park. This story (collecting the four-issue limited series) manages to bring together all the elements that made Dave Stevens’ adventure hero an instant icon, and then add some new ingredients to the mix, just for good measure: swashbuckling adventure, vaudeville slapstick, the glamour of 1940s Los Angeles, beautiful pin-up girls, moustache-twirling villains, lunkheaded G-Men, mad scientists, Lovecraftian octopus beasties, high-flying aeronautical action… It’s all here, and more. Langridge not only knows his stuff, he revels in it, populating the story with familiar faces, period references, analogues of well-known fictional characters (a private detective couple with an uncanny resemblance to Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles are central characters), and even a healthy helping of Marxian wit and wordplay (with one of the famed Brothers making an unexpectedly understated appearance). And Bone captures all the finery and fisticuffs in his animated style; the faces, features, and feeling of an era brought to life in pen and ink. This is one to read and treasure for anyone attracted to the razzle-dazzle of classic Hollywood, or any fan of good old-fashioned adventure stories.