Holy shit Batman!


1) When I first watched the 1960’s Batman TV show it was with the intense seriousness only a 6 year old can muster. Whilst it’s generally regarded as a benchmark in high camp pop-art, for me it was high drama. Of course later,  once the (giant) penny dropped, I could appreciate the show in an entirely new way. I could revel in the glorious straight-faced performance of Adam West and the gee-whizz mock innocenece of Burt Ward, and soak up the joyous technicolour props and sets. Yet this new take didn’t diminish my previous viewing. Rather it added to it, making it that much richer. The show could be both camp and serious, could homage the 4-colour world of it’s inspiration as well as gently lampooning it. The vibrancy and energy of the comics panel was here in spades, and in its own silly way the Batman TV show was pretty post-modern experimental stuff. It was my prime Batman experience, and established the key elements of the bat-mythos that would stick with me for life: Comissioner Gordon, faithful Alfred, the Bat Signal, the Bat-mobile, the twisted colourful Villains…and of course Batman & Robin.


2) Frank started it. In 1986 he took Batman back to his roots, and reworked him for a modern, cynical audience. He infused his Bat-verse with Cold War paranoia and fears and reminded us that what we needed now were legends.

In 2001 he did it again. It’s just that no-one really noticed.  DK2 is a work of twisted genius – a fizzing neon Batman who absolutely loves his job. Miller seeks to strip down superheroes again, removing swathes of continuity baggage and relationship angst. He wants to make them fun, immediate and ridiculous. He saw the future…and the future had colours that went outside the lines.


Fast forward to ASSBats (Best. Acronym. Ever.) which was ven more nuts – a ludicrously overblown hardboiled Batman in a candy coloured Jim Lee world. A Robin who was cocky, bratty and rebellious. This was a Batman to enrage the purists and those who enjoy linear, coherent stories. It was shit loads lot of fun too. Bright, wild and crazy and packed full of strange gadgets and lunatic Bat-science. Say ‘lemonade’ and the true believers will know what I’m talking about. A brave, strange Batman for the new millenium.

3) When I was very small my big brother and I had Batman & Robin outfits. Well, that’s not quite true. We had matching Batman capes that my Mum made us. It didn’t matter though – we knew that there couldn’t be two Batmen. There had to be Batman and Robin. They were a team, they went together. Without one there wasn’t the other. Being the younger brother, I naturally was deferred  to the role of  Robin. I hoped one day though to wear the cowl myself.


4) 1989 was the Year of The Bat. Tim Burton’s movie was about to be released, and the Bat-symbol was everywhere. Billboards,  T-shirts, temporary tattoos. Sweets, books, comics and the top of the charts. I’d never been as excited. For a small town comics kid lost in a 4-colour universe I couldn’t believe that my dreary world was being invaded by superheroes.

When I saw that film I was at the exact right age. Pointing feverishly at the screen every time a part of the mythos appeared, until a punch on the arm from my brother stopped that.  I enjoyed every sweet second of that movie. Critical faculties be damned, Burton’s vision of Gotham was a monstrous urban fairytale. This was a world where drug dealers and prostitutes could co-exist with giant typewriters. It embraced the absurd and the grotesque and celebrated the ridculous. The Joker and his merry band of psychos embodied carnivalesque anarchy – quite literally at the climax of the film.  Plus it had a killer Batmobile. You’ve always got to have a better Batmobile.

5) Neil Hefti’s theme tune to the 1960’s Batman TV show is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. The simple repetitious twang of it’s surf guitar riff, it’s sense of frantic urgency and of course the unforgettable ‘BATMAN!’ refrain make it a proto-New Wave masterpiece of infectious simplicity. It was the soundtrack of the playground, and it still rings in my ears whenever I’m in a hurry. Running for the bus… ‘Dinnaninnainnannina…‘ Racing round the supermarket…‘BATMAN!‘ The Jam once covered it, and for that I can almost forgive them for Paul Weller’s later career.

In 1989 Prince graced the world with ‘Batdance’. Lazy-assed, phoned-in obligation to Warner Bros? Perhaps. But to my ears it sounded like the future – a weird, bleepy, sample heavy jam. To a provincial kid just awakening to electronic music it seemed absolutely modern, cutting edge and cool. ‘Stop the Press!‘ It wasn’t no ‘Controversy’ or ‘I would Die For U’ but it was pretty fucking cool.


The brilliant Batman: the Animated series featured an absolutely boss reworking of Danny Elfman’s sweeping soundtrack for the Burton movie. Elfman specialises in breathlessly kinetic, rollercoaster scores. His theme to The Simpsons is fantastic – a high speed mash up of every conceivable TV theme ever. It makes Kid 606 look like…well, a kid. The Animated series took the movie theme and compacted it into a thrilling minute and a half. It suited the sweep and verve of the show to a T.

Fact is Batman needs a soundtrack. A good Batman story has rhythm and beats. And a hook, always a hook. Possibly even a virtuoso solo or two.


So then: What about Morrison and Quitely’s Batman & Robin #1?

Simple. It’s the Batman comic I’ve waited for all my life.


Read the rest of the mindless get stuck into batrob:
Botswana Beast
Amy Poodle

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