Review: Batman in the Sixties

At this point in time it would be pretty safe to assume that everyone with a connection to the internet and the ability to come across this site knows who Batman is. But how well do most people know his history? Outside of the famous origins story that we’ve all come to know and love, I doubt too many people are familiar with the introduction of Poison Ivy or the inclusion of characters like Bat-Mite. For those interested in learning about such things, DC Comics released the Batman in the Sixties collection. How did the Caped Crusader hold up during the swinging age of free love? Let’s dig in and find out!

First of all, no collection of Batman during the ’60s would be complete without mention of Adam West. Luckily this collection starts of with an introduction by the man himself, making it much easier to draw the line without going out of the way. It’s quite interesting to note that despite the show still to this day being berated for its silly and whimsical manner, it’s actually not a far stretch from how the comic books played out during this time. If you’re expecting Batman to be as serious or dark as we’ve come to know him during recent years, prepare to be surprised.

During the entire first half of the collection, the only real logical case that Batman solves involves visual clues that, even looking back, are impossible to detect within the comic. Strangely this is easily the most straightforward comic in the collection as well. After that we get to meet characters such as Bat-Mite, who isn’t too far away from The Great Gazoo (of The Flintstones infamy), using a near-magical form of advanced science to help Bat-Girl gain Robin’s attention.

It’s quite interesting, especially during an age where people cry sexism in recent comics, that female Batman characters during the ’60s never really fared better than Bat-Girl in the previous example. Their only goals, so far as this collection is concerned, are to get together with a member of the Dynamic Duo. It gets especially bad with the introduction of Poison Ivy, who’s only goal in her criminal career is to best the other female villains and show Batman and Bruce Wayne both how strong she really is.

Although as strange as it sounds, this crime angle is actually more straightforward or logical than that of some of the other villains. As crazy as the idea of starting a life of crime to romance a super-hero sounds, it’s almost normal when compared to how villains like The Riddler, The Penguin, and The Joker deal with their crimes. In fact, the way that Batman solves these cases is often more ridiculous than any caper they attempt. Often deducing the exact time and place based on an item delived to the police office without a single word.

The art is what you’d typically expect from a comic series from back in the ’60s, and it’s not until the later half of the book that we start getting some more dynamic action sequences. It isn’t just the art that gets a boost after the first half either, almost everything improves at the same time. The storylines start getting a bit more complex, the problems Batman faces actually start to become more than just a slight nuisance, and aside from the silly amount of pun, the writing gets better as well.

It might be worth mentioning that the collection ends with Batman moving from the Wayne Manor into a penthouse apartment in the Wayne Foundation building, signalling in the end of an era with the changes that would slowly turn Batman into the much darker hero we know today.

Pros

  • 17 classic Batman stories
  • More camp nonsense than one person can possibly handle
  • Great introduction to those unfamiliar with the earlier stories

Cons

  • Not all comics have aged gracefully
  • More camp nonsense than one person can possibly handle
  • Bat-logic gets a bit too much at times

This review was originally posted on Guerilla Geek.

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