Batman Adventures volume 1

By Kelly Puckett, Marty Pasko, Ty Templeton, Brad Rader, Mike Parobeck & Rick Burchett (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-5229-8

Batman: The Animated Series aired in America from September 5th 1992 until September 15th 1995. The TV cartoon show – ostensibly for kids – was devised and designed by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm and quickly revolutionised the image of the Dark Knight, subsequently resulting in some of the absolute best comicbook tales in the Dark Knight’s decades-long publishing history as the series spawned a comicbook spinoff.

By employing a timeless visual tone (dubbed “Dark Deco”) the TV episodes mixed iconic elements from all iterations of the character and, without diluting the power and mood of the premise, perfectly honed the grim avenger and his team into a wholly accessible, thematically memorable form that the youngest of readers could enjoy, whilst adding shades of exuberance and style that only most devout and obsessive Batmaniac could possibly find fault with.

Naturally the comicbook version became a cast-iron certainty for collection in the newly-emergent trade paperback market which stormed into and out of shops in the mid-1990s. Now those titanic all-ages tales have been rediscovered and gathered here are the first ten titanic tales epics The Batman Adventures comicbook (first seen from October 1992 to July 1993) in a smashing, straightforward sampler of Fights ‘n’ Tights fantasy.

The moody magnificence action begins with ‘Penguin’s Big Score’ by Kelly Puckett, Ty Templeton & Rick Burchett. Each story was divided into three chapters and ‘Charm School Dropout!’ found the Bird of Ill Omen taking tips on how to rehabilitate his nefarious reputation from The Joker, whilst in ‘Top of the World, Ma!’ the Foul Fowl’s new standing as a philanthropist had all Gotham agog.

The sinister scheme was finally exposed by Batman in the climactic third act ‘Power of the Press’, but the hero had no idea that the real winner was the Clown Prince of Crime…

In issue #2, ‘Catwoman’s Killer Caper’ (Puckett, Templeton & Burchett) kicked off with a gem heist before, on Joker’s insistent urging, sultry Selina Kyle visited England’s Tower of London to swipe ‘The Family Jewels!’

In hot pursuit, the Gotham Gangbuster headed across The Pond to quell ‘Panic over Londontown’ and solved the mystery of a seemingly impossible theft in ‘Midnight Madness’ – but not before the Harlequin of Hate snatched the real prize…

All that crafty conniving culminated in ‘Joker’s Late-Night Lunacy!’ from #3 by Puckett, Templeton & Burchett, with Gotham’s airwaves hijacked and Commissioner Gordon kidnapped by the larcenous loon who made himself literally unmissable viewing in ‘A Star is Born!’

‘I Want My JTV!’ saw District Attorney Harvey Dent make it onto the Joker’s inhospitable guest list, but Batman was again one step ahead of the game and lowered the boom in the explosive ‘Flash in the Pan!’

Writer Marty Pasko and penciller Brad Rader joined inker Burchett for a gripping two-issue tale of terror guest starring Robin as ‘Riot Act’ describes ‘Panic in the Streets’ after a strange plague caused citizens to lose the ability to read.

Even with utter chaos gripping the city the Teen Wonder’s ‘Help on the Wing’ results in a huge step forward but when ‘Robin Takes a Fall’ the mastermind reveals himself and the drama intensifies in #4 with ‘Riot Act: Johnny Can’t Read!’ as the Scarecrow steps up his campaign to teach all the slackers of the modern world a harsh lesson….

However, the Dynamic Duo are well aware of the ‘Hi-Fi Hijinx’ at the root of the problem and, with the help of a repentant henchman, end the crisis in ‘Those Who Can’t Do!’

Next comes a crafty change of pace as Bruce Wayne is arrested for murder in ‘The Third Door!’ Crafted by Puckett, Rader & Burchett, the cunning locked-room mystery opens with ‘The Party’s Over’ as the prime suspect details the facts of the case to young Dick Grayson, before being locked up with a mob of dangerous thugs in ‘Crime and Punishment’, leaving the wonder kid to ferret out the real killer in tense conclusion ‘War and Peace’…

After a mere half-dozen superb stories the comicbook adventures took a step towards utter perfection when then-rising star Mike Parobeck assumed the pencilling duties.

Although his professional comics career was tragically short (1989 to 1996 when he died, aged 31, of complications from Type 1 Diabetes) Parobeck’s gracefully fluid, exuberant and magically kinetic fun-fuelled animation-inspired style revolutionised superhero action drawing and sparked a resurgence of kid-friendly comics and merchandise at DC and everywhere else in the comics publishing business.

His timeless tenure began with ‘Raging Lizard!’ which sees shady pro wrestler Killer Croc face a long dark night of the soul in ‘Requiem for a Mutant!’ when he’s scheduled to fight Masked Marauder – a grappler who had humiliated and broken him in their last match…

Batman meanwhile is searching for Chicago mobster Mandrake who’s planning on taking over Gotham by ousting reigning crime czar Rupert Thorne in ‘Eye of the Reptile!’ Naturally all those trajectories converge in the third act for a major throw-down ‘Under the Waterfront!’…

From issue #8 ‘Larceny, My Sweet’ begins with the hunt for an unstoppable thief who can ‘Break the Bank!’ with his bare hands, whilst TV reporter Summer Gleeson divides her time between chasing scoops and being romanced by a dashing stranger in ‘Love’s Lost Labours’. Sadly when the Gotham Gangbuster crushes the crime-wave he also exposes monstrous old muck menace Clayface and ends the affair of ‘Beauty and the Beast!’

In #9 ‘The Little Red Book’ everyone is chasing holds all Thorne’s dirty secrets and Commissioner Gordon is presiding over a ‘Gangster Boogie!’ With the cops and entire underworld looking to win out over ‘The Big Boss’, it takes all Batman’s energy and wits to bring the diary to DA Dent for the beginning of ‘Rupert’s Reckoning!’…

Wrapping up the all-ages action is‘The Last R?ddler Story’ which describes ‘Nygma’s Nadir!’ as the perpetually frustrated Prince of Puzzlers considers retirement. Dispirited and despondent because the Caped Crusader always solves his felonious games, the villain grudgingly accedes to his faithful hench-persons’ pleas to give it one more try in ‘Days of Wine and Riddles!’

How upset would Eddie Nygma be if he knew Batman isn’t even aware of him, absorbed as he is in apprehending infamous trio Mastermind, Mr. Nice and The Perfesser in ‘Triumph or Tragedy …?’

Breathtakingly written and iconically illustrated, these stripped-down rollercoaster-romps are quintessential Bat-magic, and this long-awaited compilation is a treasure every fan of any age and vintage will adore.

Pure, unadulterated delight!

© 1992, 1993, 2014 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.