While I consider myself a huge fan of the '66 Batman TV series, I confess I never thought there would be a resurgence in popularity with a toy line and ongoing comic book based on TV series. DC Comics has now released a 160 page trade paperback containing Batman stories from the '40s, '50s and '60s from which certain episodes were based on and adorned with an Amanda Conner cover.
What you'll get: A surprising introduction from Michael Uslan. Uslan, the executive producer of the Batman/Dark Knight movie franchise, who if not despised the '60s Batman TV show, certainly hated elements of it. He was the last person I expected to write any text piece for this particular book; I found his writing very candid as was his explaination for writing the forward.
Ten stories! Not bad for $14.99 retail (and likely cheaper through Amazon.com or your local comic book shop). The book includes reprints of classic stories; including the first appearances of the Riddler, Mr. Freeze (originally called Mr. Zero), and Barbara Gordon. The book also includes cover reproductions from the issues where the stories first appeared. There are three Joker stories (one that was reworked into a Riddler episode), two Riddler stories, and stories featuring the Mad Hatter, Penguin, Killer Moth (a revived villain used in an aired Batgirl test pilot which can be found on Youtube), Mr. Zero (Freeze), and Eivol Ekdal – which was later reworked into the "Zelda the Great/A Death Worse Than Fate" episodes.
What you won't get: Despite the stunning Amanda Conner rendition of the Catwoman on the cover, there are no stories with Catwoman in the book.
Stories that are less formulatic and campy as you might expect. Yes, most episodes of the '60s Batman TV episodes followed the same pattern: A villain strikes, Batman and Robin are summoned by Commissioner Gordon on the hot line, Alfred answers and uses a ruse in front of Aunt Harriet to relay the request to Bruce Wayne, our heroes rush to Gotham City Policy Headquarters to get a course of action, the confrontation with the villain, a batfight versus henchmen, the heroes captured and put in a deathtrap, and the heroes escaping from the deathtrap and coming out victorious in the following episode. While the stories may have served as blueprints for episodes on the show, they are a bit more elaborate (as they are for the respective time period when they were originally released) allowing for a bit more character and plot development here.
Bottom line: This is a must for any fan of the '66 Batman TV series, and a nice bit of affordable Bat-history even if you are not. If you've never seen the first comic appearances of some key characters in the Batman-verse, here's your chance.
Batman: The TV Stories:
Reviewed by Chris Karnes